US: Official says court ruling could force New Jersey back into RGGI

28 March 2014 14:46 Source:ICIS

New Jersey is likely to rejoin the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), A Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) official said on Thursday, following a recent court decision.

The Superior Court of New Jersey Appellate Division ruled on Tuesday that Governor Chris Christie violated the law when he pulled the state of the US’ first carbon scheme in 2011 ( see EDCM 26 March 2014 ).

The court ruled that the state must repeal or amend carbon regulations in the next 60 days. The suit was filed by NRDC and Environmental New Jersey in 2012.

Peter Lehner, the executive officer of NRDC, said the court’s decision could cause New Jersey to decide to formally rejoin the RGGI programme, which primarily regulates electricity emissions from nine northeastern states.

“They are going to have to do something,” he said. “Rejoining RGGI makes the most sense.”

The court’s ruling comes as a New Jersey legislative committee is also debating a proposed bill by Democrat Senator Stephen Sweeney on Thursday that would require the state to rejoin the carbon scheme ( see EDCM 25 March 2014 ).

The bill is unlikely to be signed into law by Christie, who has vetoed two similar bills by Democratic lawmakers.

Since New Jersey pulled out of the programme, RGGI officials have reduced the overall cap by 45%, causing allowance prices to rise from $3.00 tonne of Co2 equivalent (tCO2e) in December 2013 to the mid-$4.00/tCO2e range.

Market participants said the revisions likely would cause price to continue to rise over the next few years. Dan X. McGraw

By Dan X. McGraw