TRENTON – Saying that “Reducing greenhouse gas emissions is a critical first step in stemming the tide of global warming,” Senator Barbara Buono welcomed Assembly Telecommunications and Utilities Committee approval today of the Assembly companion bill to S-2114, the “Global Warming Response Act.”
“The United States has five percent of the world’s population, yet produces over a quarter of all greenhouse gases,” said Senator Buono, D-Middlesex. “As a leading producer of greenhouse gases, we have a moral obligation to future generations to cut those emissions now and prevent the catastrophic consequences that may result from global warming.”
Senator Buono noted that most leading climatologists agree that significant reductions in green house gas emissions in the near future would begin to reverse global warming trends. The bill, S-2214, would require that NJ reduce greenhouse gas emissions to at or below 1990 levels by the year 2020. Furthermore, emissions would be required to be 80% below 2006 levels by the year 2050.
“These are ambitious goals, to be sure, but they are obtainable and critically important. Fortunately, the benefits of reducing greenhouse gases go beyond reducing the effects of climate change and include economic gains from increasing energy efficiency and reducing dependence on foreign oil,” added Senator Buono.
In order to accomplish the goals in the bill, the Department of Environmental protection would be required to inventory greenhouse gas emissions within the State at the current, 2006 and 1990 levels.
Additionally, the Department would establish a monitoring program by 2009 that would identify all significant sources of greenhouse gases in New Jersey and report the changes in annual emissions with notes on the progress towards the 2020 and 2050 goals.
“The Bush administration has failed us on global warming and energy policy. We can’t afford to wait two more years for the next president to implement these changes. 2050 may seem like it’s a long time off, but we must ensure that progress is being made every day towards our goals,” explained Senator Buono.
Senator Buono noted that automobiles and public utilities are the biggest sources of greenhouse gases and that DEP efforts will focus on those areas.
The bill would require the DEP, the Board of Public Utilities (BPU) and other state agencies to make recommendations to the Legislature no later than June 30, 2008 for reaching the 2020 goals and no later than June 20, 2010 for reaching the 2050 goals. The BPU would also be authorized to adopt electric and gas energy efficiency portfolio standards that would require public utilities to reduce utility usage by 20% by the year 2020.
The Assembly amended the bill today to allow DEP to levy fees against those entities which would be monitored under the bill at amounts sufficient to cover the costs of that monitoring.
“This legislation will make us a national leader in the fight against global warming. I hope that other states will follow our lead and enact similar legislation, so that we can work together to make the United States part of the solution on global warming,” said Senator Buono.
The bill passed the Committee by a vote of 7-1.