NJ adopts rules to rejoin Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative

New Jersey now has a plan for rejoining the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, or RGGI.

On Monday, the state Department of Environmental Protection adopted official rules for how the state will implement the cap-and-trade program to limit carbon dioxide emissions.

The first rule sets a carbon dioxide cap for the state’s electricity generating sector at 18 million tons for 2020. New Jersey’s cap on carbon emissions will decline by 30% through 2030.

According to the DEP, electricity generation produced 20.7 million tons of greenhouse gases in 2016.

Gov. Phil Murphy’s administration plans to reduce carbon emissions by pushing renewable energy, which currently accounts for about 5% of the state’s electricity generation. Last year, Murphy established a goal of 100% renewable energy by 2050.

The second rule focuses on how the Department of Environmental Protection will spend proceeds from the sale of power plants’ carbon allowances on environmental justice projects.

Nine Northeast states currently participate in the regional compact, which became the nation’s first mandatory, market-based regulatory program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in 2009.

New Jersey was a founding member of RGGI, but Gov. Chris Christie withdrew the state from the agreement in 2012, claiming the program had “no discernible or measurable impact upon our environment.”

Murphy signed an executive order reversing Christie’s decision in January 2018.