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New Jersey Governor Chris Christie's Nuclear Plan To Ruin New Jersey

Activists in the Garden State are capitalizing on Governor Christie's sagging poll numbers to push back against his anti-environmental energy plans.

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But RGGI works. Multiple studies have shown that the system creates jobs, saves energy and reduces carbon emissions. Funds raised by the auctions provide seed money for green energy programs across the region. Hundreds of business groups have signed a letter in support of the policy. In New Jersey, RGGI pumped $29.6 million into “12 large-scale energy efficiency and renewable energy projects in the commercial and industrial sectors.” (RGGI actually generated well over $100 million for New Jersey, but Christie seized a significant chunk of the fund to address the state’s deficit.)

For all these reasons, the clean energy industry and environmental groups have closed ranks to defend the program. Ten thousand signatures were quickly found for a petition against New Jersey’s exit from RGGI, a surprisingly large number given the wonky complexities of the policy. Democrats in the state assembly and senate were quick to pass legislation requiring continued participation.

“It’s rare that you see that kind of outcry that quickly from that many people,” Elliot says. “We’re working in coalition with fifty groups across the state: Religious leaders, business leaders, civic groups, [organizations] you wouldn’t expect to be rallying around something like RGGI. The issue struck a chord [when we] realized that the governor is ignoring the will of the people and just doing his own thing.”

Environmental groups hope  the governor’s sagging poll numbers will provide a good backdrop for citizen and activist pressure on the legislature’s Democratic majorities. The Democratic bill to save RGGI hasn’t been vetoed yet (although Christie probably will kill it) and the new Energy Master Plan still has two hearings to get through. “Christie overreached, he’s gone too far,” Kresowik says. “New Jersey citizens are going to make that clear to him at these Energy Master Plan public hearings."

Jake Blumgart is a researcher for the Cry Wolf Project and a freelance journalist based in Philadelphia.