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Christie’s RGGI Exit Violated State Law, Judges Find

Chris ChristieThe way that New Jersey governor Chris Christie’s administration withdrew from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative violated state law, a state appellate court ruled.

The three-judge panel said the state must start amending or repealing its climate change regulations within 60 days, Bloomberg reports.

Christie declared in May 2011 that New Jersey would withdraw from RGGI, then the only mandatory cap-and-trade program in the US.

At the time he said the program’s allowances were never expensive enough to change behavior, and that New Jersey has brought its carbon emissions below its 2020 goal as a result of market forces rather than cap-and-trade.

Several environmental groups responded by suing.

The appellate judges found that state laws were intended to enable New Jersey’s participation in RGGI. To withdraw from the market, the department should have taken steps to repeal or amend the regulations, the panel said. 

The nine RGGI states set their 2014 emissions cap at 91 million tons — a 45 percent reduction from last year’s CO2 cap. Greenhouse gas emissions fell in those states by 6 percent in 2013.

Takeaway: Judges are forcing New Jersey governor Chris Christie’s administration to undertake a more formal process for the state’s withdrawal from the RGGI cap-and-trade program.

Tamar Wilner is Senior Editor at Environmental Leader PRO. 

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