NJ May Sign on With U.S. Climate Alliance to Curb Carbon Pollution

Multistate initiative hopes to counterbalance Trump’s decision to yank United States out of Paris Climate Accord

Polluting smokestack
New Jersey may soon be joining an alliance to combat global warming, working cooperatively with 13 other states to achieve the aims of the Paris Climate Accord.

The Assembly is expected to vote to have the state join the U.S. Climate Alliance, a multistate initiative to curb carbon pollution in the wake of the Trump administration’s decision to pull out of the Paris Accord.

The legislation (S-3317) already has cleared the Senate. Its approval by the Assembly would send the bill,

sponsored by Sen. Bob Smith (D-Middlesex) to Gov. Chris Christie for consideration. Three Democratic governors from California, Washington, and New York formed the alliance after the United States withdrew from the world agreement to reduce climate change.

The alliance is designed to act as a forum to strengthen existing climate programs, promote the sharing of information, and implement new programs to curb emissions of greenhouse gases from all sectors of the economy.

New Jersey has a long history of joining with other states to battle air pollution on a regional basis, beginning with efforts to curb emissions that contribute to smog, perhaps the nation’s most persistent air pollutant.

The state also joined Northeastern states in forming the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a multistate effort to reduce emissions from power plants contributing to global warming. Christie yanked New Jersey out of RGGI early in his first term, calling it a tax on consumers. He has vetoed Democratic lawmakers’ efforts to rejoin the initiative.

The state is expected to rejoin RGGI soon after Gov.-elect Phil Murphy takes office. Murphy also has expressed support for the alliance, saying it is up for governors and states to address the problems posed by climate change.

New Jersey also is part of another multistate initiative that is following California’s lead in promoting the advancement of zero-emission vehicles. Beginning this year, a certain percentage of those vehicles must be sold in each of the states participating in the California program.

The move to join the U.S. Alliance is backed by environmentalists.

“The Legislature is standing up for the people of New Jersey and doing something about climate change,’’ said Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “The people of New Jersey have been devastated by the recent storms and flooding. Continuing to ignore climate change is outrageous, dangerous, and puts people at risk. We need to act as a state to fight climate change and we can do so by joining the U.S. Climate Alliance.’’