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Hello all - I'm Barbara Buono, the Senate Majority Leader in the New Jersey State Senate, and I've written this piece with Assemblywoman Linda Stender. You can learn more about me at www.BarbaraBuono.com. (Cross-posted at Blue Jersey.)

We face a serious crisis of conscience in New Jersey right now.

While campaigning, Gov. Chris Christie opined that we needed to do more about global warming, only to turn around after being elected and publicly express doubt over whether humans are impacting climate change. Just this week, he returned to his previous position that humans do play a role in climate change, yet yesterday announced that he is withdrawing New Jersey from one of the most monumental anti-global warming initiatives we have undertaken.

Experts have been warning us for years about the impact our dependency on fossil fuels will have on our climate, not to mention our national security due to the heavy reliance this creates on foreign oil. From Hurricane Katrina to massive flooding in the South and Midwest, to the recent widespread destruction caused by tornadoes in the South, we are witnessing more extreme weather patterns each year. By the end of this century, experts predict that coastal areas such as the Meadowlands and Atlantic City will likely be uninhabitable because of chronic flooding.

We have been firmly committed to taking a proactive approach to address climate change. In mid-2007 and early 2008, we sponsored two landmark measures that passed and were signed into law — the Global Warming Response Act and the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, designed to work hand-in-hand to curb our dangerous overreliance on fossil fuels.

RGGI is a regional agreement among 10 northeast and mid-Atlantic states to implement a cap-and-trade program on carbon dioxide emissions from power plants, essentially a major vehicle to achieve the goal of the Global Warming Response Act, which is to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050.

Through RGGI, energy companies in each state are capped at a certain allowable tonnage of carbon dioxide they can emit, which is broken down into units or credits. The states that implement efficiencies to lower their greenhouse gas emissions can sell their excess credits at periodic auctions where businesses in other states that have not reduced their emission levels can then purchase these credits. States then invest the proceeds from these auctions into consumer benefits, such as energy efficiency, renewable energy and other clean energy technologies.

According to a recent RGGI report, pollution is down 15 to 30 percent since its launch, almost 18,000 jobs have been created and the region’s economy has grown by more than $2.3 billion. Weatherization and retrofitting programs funded by RGGI proceeds also have helped consumers realize energy bill savings of 15 to 30 percent.

In New Jersey, just the first dozen projects funded through the program will help reduce our carbon dioxide emissions by 84,000 metric tons each year and help businesses generate more than 167,000 megawatt hours of clean energy per year — enough to meet the equivalent annual electricity needs of more than 19,600 typical Garden State households.

The funds RGGI generates for New Jersey are used to promote energy efficiency and renewable energy in the commercial, industrial and institutional sectors; to assist limited-income households with their electric bills; to help local governments reduce greenhouse gas emissions; and to invest in protecting and restoring our forestry and tidal marshes.

This cooperative initiative is a step in the right direction toward stemming climate change by encouraging lower carbon dioxide emissions and alternative energy use. Weaning ourselves off of our fossil fuel dependency will ultimately help ease the acceleration of climate change.

Despite the fact that the program has spurred the development of green jobs, reduced pollution and been championed by environmentalists and businesses alike, Christie’s proposed budget confiscates the entire $65 million allocation for this program and he has announced New Jersey’s withdrawal from RGGI altogether.

At this crucial juncture, we cannot afford to make short-sighted decisions. Congress is dragging its heels on this issue. States must take the initiative now.

The time to create a more sustainable future is now. Everyone should join us in calling on the governor to remain committed to the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Governor Christie's ongoing efforts to leave... (8+ / 0-)

    ...NJ worse than he found it would be shocking if they were not standard operating procedure for every Republican in the country.

    I hope NJ Democrats take a firm stand against every action this Governor takes.  He has only one constituency he cares about: his corporate donors.

    The bear and the rabbit will never agree on how dangerous a dog is.

    by fromer on Fri May 27, 2011 at 05:45:56 AM PDT

    •  Next he will be trying to roll (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      fromer

      back the ocean dumping ban! One of the last things Florio did was ban ocean dumping. Christine Whitman tried to overturn it the entire time she was in office. Their corporate masters want this done like yesterday. Our ocean, here in South Jersey, went from being muddy brown, to beautiful blue in a matter of two years. The dolphins came back on Brigantine Island, which was hysterical the first time I saw them! I was sitting on the beach, saw the fin and thought shark! I jumped up to start screaming, thank goodness, before I opened my mouth, I heard people marveling over the dolphins, lol. Now they travel up the beach in the morning and back down the beach in the afternooon, playing and frolicking, like only dolphins can.

    •  Hey fromer (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      fromer

      you had done a very nice diary on Christie recall. I think it's time to dust that baby off and take it for another spin. His approval ratings are falling quickly. And being courted by some of the most repulsive republicans for a run at president puts him right back into the spotlight. I live in South Jersey, lots of republicans (lots of pineys and "christians"), but even they are grumbling.

      •  yeah... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Nica24

        ...life took a hold of me and free-time has been less than scarce.

        But....

        I think getting a recall drive going in NJ is the absolute right thing to do.

        Maybe time to test the waters here for concrete support, see who would be willing to donate time and effort to get the necessary petitions in order.  I honestly don't think the state can take another 2 1/2 years of this corporatist buffoon.

        The bear and the rabbit will never agree on how dangerous a dog is.

        by fromer on Fri May 27, 2011 at 10:11:41 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Count me in! (0+ / 0-)

          I am right outside of Atlantic City, quite a mixed bag as far as political affiliation. The tide does seem to be turning, the republicans are becoming a lot quieter and not so ready to brag about voting for him. In 2008, there were only 3 Obama signs on the front lawns, myself being one, It was a sea of McCain/Palin. In 2010, there were a lot less ready to brag about being republican, lol. LoBiondo has got to go too!

  •   Gov. Cartman: "I had to drown the Shore (0+ / 0-)

    to save it".  

    It's not a fake orgasm; it's a real yawn.

    by sayitaintso on Fri May 27, 2011 at 05:55:27 AM PDT

  •  It will be interesting to see Christie's new (0+ / 0-)

    Energy Master Plan.   I suspect that it will stress using more nuclear energy as a means to offset the lost carbon mitigation.  

    Do you know when that's due out?  

    If you lose your disc or fail to follow commands, you will be subject to immediate de-resolution. That will be all.

    by SpamNunn on Fri May 27, 2011 at 07:14:31 AM PDT

    •  Nuclear? (0+ / 0-)

      We already have the oldest nuclear plants in the nation, which are built on the exact same model as Fukushima. Every day., I wake up wondering if this is the day that Oyster Creek is going to develop a catastrophic problem. Can you imagine the blow to the entire nation - not to mention that stae - if one of those past-their-lifetime plants begins to melt down? Let's not even mention the financial disaster to NJ residents, as nuclear contamination is not covered by homeowners' policies.

      Unless Christie has developed some alternative to storing 60 years worth of nuclear waste on site, it's hypocritical of him to propose even more plants.

      Democracy *means* Anti-Plutocracy. Democrats, be true to your Self and win!

      by Louise on Fri May 27, 2011 at 09:39:50 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  They are not built the same as Fukishima. (0+ / 0-)

        There are significant differences.   Maybe the Feds should issue some permits for renovating these plants, or building new plants, instead of simply renewing operating permits for nuclear sources of electrical generation that they have no realistic plan for replacing.

        They have to store the waste on site because the Feds won't allow the use of Yucca Flats.  Call your congressman.  

        Last, Oyster Creek is not on a fault line and it's not on the shoreline.  It's on an estuary.   Try the decaf, please.  

        If you lose your disc or fail to follow commands, you will be subject to immediate de-resolution. That will be all.

        by SpamNunn on Fri May 27, 2011 at 10:07:05 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  "Pass the decaf"? (0+ / 0-)

          Are you one of the 3.5 million people living in a 50-mile radius of Oyster Creek? Exelon continues to have problems with water leakage and corrosion around the containment vessel.

          Perhaps it's not on a fault line or a shoreline, but it is adjacent to the New Jersey aquifer.  Contaminated water from the plant is already reaching it. It doesn't have to melt down to poison half of New Jersey's residents.

          I have called my congressmen, as well as my Senators, Lautenberg and Menedez. They are all fighting for a sensible waste disposal system as hard as any Democrats can. But I don't see any solution coming from the Congress anytime soon, do you?

          NJ could have a excellent windmill farm off the coast if it had the support of the Governor. Instead, he continues to propose more nuclear facilities - even though we still don't have any plan to deal with the decades of waste from the ones we've got.

          Democracy *means* Anti-Plutocracy. Democrats, be true to your Self and win!

          by Louise on Fri May 27, 2011 at 10:29:10 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Only my summer home. (0+ / 0-)

            Call your your congressman re the wind farms.  He doesn't support them.  He doesn't support Yucca Flats, either.

            PS:  What is "sensible waste disposal"?  

            Based upon the actions of Congress over the past 50 years, that means "NIMBY, store it on site until closure and then we'll deal with it, someday".

            If you lose your disc or fail to follow commands, you will be subject to immediate de-resolution. That will be all.

            by SpamNunn on Fri May 27, 2011 at 10:53:45 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  No action = exactly the point (0+ / 0-)

              If we have no "sensible waste disposal," what is the point of making even more waste and passing it on? That's exactly why we have the problem now. What is your solution, since you seem to support nuclear?

              PS. It's not my fault that my Congressman doesn't support wind farms or Yucca Flats. I am only one constituent. Even organizing with others hasn't seemed to make a difference - yet.

              Democracy *means* Anti-Plutocracy. Democrats, be true to your Self and win!

              by Louise on Fri May 27, 2011 at 11:50:14 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Use the salt domes, as proposed, after we recycle (0+ / 0-)

                our spent fuel rods, as the French do.   They don't seem to have a problem producing the majority of their "juice" with nukes.   The U.S. Navy has been operating reactors, at sea, for 60 years, without incident.   Only mass anti-nuke hysteria is preventing us from charging up a fleet of electric cars with cleanly produced / carbon free electricity.  

                We will only get this when OPEC cuts us off, and the well intentioned but utopian windmill and solar crew has no answer for our energy needs.  

                If you lose your disc or fail to follow commands, you will be subject to immediate de-resolution. That will be all.

                by SpamNunn on Fri May 27, 2011 at 12:35:48 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

  •  Barbara, thank you for posting on dK (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Nica24, JayinPortland

    I try to follow you when you do.  This is a very positive outreach.

    What Christie has done to this state and is brazenly trying to continue to do should bring people into the streets.... and yet...crickets.....

    Living in a very red part of the state I understand that monied interests don't care re the long term welfare of the commons, but only their near term profits.  And this is Christie's constituency.  Along with the fundies of all stripes.

    However, I have been sorely disappointed by the Democratic leadership in the state - not withstanding the uphill battle they face.  Frankly, they don't seem very organized.    Your step to come to this blog is a great one and thank you for that.

    I know the unions organized marches for the teachers and we had marches for gay marriage....

    When are we going to have marches against This anti-environmental stand of the 'celebrity governor'?  I believe that we should activate public protests with each and every idiotic thing that he tries to do.  

    Of course, he is running for the presidency and, imo, has been since he got into office.  So, his actions have been designed to further his career and the welfare of the corporations and fundamental groups that are his puppet masters.  

    To the Democrats of the state of New Jersey:

    BUILD IT AND THEY WILL COME!

    Calls to the governor's office are not enough.  I believe that a LOT of people are sick and tired of his bullying and grandstanding ways and the breathtaking way he is trying to destroy the communal infrastructure.

    If the Dems organize rallies, protest marches, etc., and are savvy on how to get the word out, I believe that they will get a significant response.  

    What do you think?

    Frankly, I feel so frustrated by what is going on in NJ, I am seriously thinking of moving.  I read an article yesterday about how new jersey is regressing in the medical insurance fight over parity and medical necessity... and basically allowing the insurance companies to get the upper hand.  

    Do you know that my health insurance premium was raised over 15%?  Where are the Democrats?

    If one of us is denied civil rights, all of us are denied civil rights.

    by SeaTurtle on Fri May 27, 2011 at 07:43:44 AM PDT

  •  "Troublesome"? (0+ / 0-)

    That's the strongest word you will use?

    Rep. Buono, I love your work. But if we are going to beat the Bully in the State House, we have to be as blunt as he is. This decision he made is a fiscal disaster for New Jersey taxpayers, as well as harming out Northeast environment. Financially, it is foolish to get rid of it.

    Let's be blunt This plan brought back far more money to the state than was ever allocated to it.

    In fact, in addition to reducing New Jersey’s emissions by around 80,000 tons per year, this “gimmicky” program brought back $29.6 million to New Jersey ratepayers in 2010, supporting enough clean electricity to supply 20,000 homes. A new progress report out from RGGI shows that for every dollar invested by the program, states have gotten $3 to $4 in benefits.

    Christie is getting rid of all NJ's environmental programs in order to attempt to close the budget gap he created without getting the Legislature involved.   How does the Legislature feel about this?

    You DO recognize that a large part of the reason Christie did it this way is because he is pandering to Right Wing out-of-state voters? From the very beginning, Rove's plan for Rove's Big Boy has been to have Christie hold off until his announcement seems the only way to save the Republicans from an ignominious defeat in 2012. Christie could jusy as easily announce after Iowa - it's not like Iowa has so many electoral votes that Christie couldn't win without them. In the meanwhile, Christie is doing everything on the Koch Brother/ALEC wish list: trying to disempower public unions, turn over public schools to corporate interests, bring in massive anti-environmental  development plans, turning over public assets to private developers. ("American Dream," anyone?)

    I can understand if you do not feel that you can publicly take an outspoken, candid and even brusque tone when you speak of the Governor's misfeasance and even malfeasance. But surely there must be someone on the Democratic side of the aisle who is willing to stand up to Christie as a firebrand. We need a movement in the state that will bring Democrats of all ages into the local organization, and provide the with, yes, an organized way to express their outrage and disgust with the direction the state is headed, and the character and tone of the Governor.

    Speaking of the environment, here in Middlesex County we're looking at a week of temperatures in the high 80s - before Memorial Day! This is late July weather two months early! There is no Spring anymore. We go from sweater weather to sweltering in one day. This is climate change that every New Jerseyan can understand. Who in the Statehouse is going to stand up and tell the citizens, without beating around the bush or using conciliatory language? The greater amount of smog we have in our skies, the more we will be suffocating under toxic blanketed heated to oven-like temperatures. Christie's environmental decisions are going to kill people without air conditioning - outdoor workers, the elderly and the poor who can't afford the electricity, asthmatic children and those with heart and lung diseases.

    Christie is sacrificing these, his citizens, in order to ingratiate himself with the Koch Brothers, the oil companies, and the Tea Party.

    Democracy *means* Anti-Plutocracy. Democrats, be true to your Self and win!

    by Louise on Fri May 27, 2011 at 08:49:12 AM PDT

  •  Thank You Majority Leader Buono (0+ / 0-)

    I'm sorry you picked a Friday before a holiday weekend to write about this. The subject is so important to the planets survival as we know it.

    I hope you return again with more about what you are doing in New Jersey.

    Thank You x 1000 for your effects

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