This piece was produced by our partners at NJTV News.
By Michael Aron
Gov. Murphy held a press conference in Highlands on Monday morning to announce he’s rolling back another Christie-era policy.
“In just a few minutes I’m going to sign an executive order to start the process to get New Jersey back into RGGI,” said Murphy.
RGGI is the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. Nine Northeast states participate in it. It’s a compact to control carbon emissions.
Former Gov. Chris Christie famously pulled New Jersey out of it in 2011.
“RGGI does nothing more than tax electricity, tax our citizens, tax our businesses, with no discernible or measurable impact upon our environment,” Christie said at the time.
Murphy sees the issue differently.
“For many years, New Jersey was a leader in smart policymaking on both sides of the aisle I might add. That makes sense for today, but frankly even more sense for tomorrow. Unfortunately over the last eight years, New Jersey lost that part of its soul,” said Murphy.
Highlands at the northern tip of the shore was heavily hit by Superstorm Sandy.
Murphy’s announcement was held in a ferry terminal much used by Monmouth County residents.
The governor linked Superstorm Sandy to climate change and criticized the Trump Administration’s policy toward it.
“At a time when President Trump is trying to open up our coast for fossil fuel exploration, we must have the ability to fight back with smarter, forward-thinking solutions: solutions that begin with recognizing that climate change is real and it is a real threat to our state,” Murphy said.
First lady Tammy Murphy said leaving RGGI had cost the state $279 million left on the table.
“The threat of climate change isn’t going away. But that doesn’t mean we do nothing. We can fight back. Everything we do to combat climate change is worth doing,” she said.
The executive order is a signal of intent: there is a process for getting back into RGGI. But in a roomful of Democrats and environmentalists, it was all welcome news.
“He’s not just talking about getting us back into RGGI, but really putting an emphasis on our ports which have been badly and sorely needing some help in reducing our carbon footprint,” said Amy Goldsmith, state director of Clean Water Action NJ.
“Gov. Christie unilaterally us in his quest to become President of the United States that was failed, but we now have a governor whose putting together these solutions instead of sound bites and it’s exciting for our state, said Ed Potosnak, executive director of the NJ League of Conservation Voters.
“This press conference is a breath of fresh air, literally and figuratively,” said Sen. Bob Smith.
Gov. Murphy continues to strip away parts of the Christie legacy. Senator Smith, who is chairman of the Environment and Energy Committee, called him perhaps the greenest governor in America.