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Senator Raymond J. Lesniak, D-Union, the prime sponsor of legislation to allow casinos to operate Internet wagering sites, testifies before the Assembly Regulatory Oversight and Gaming Committee on his bill.

TRENTON — Senator Raymond Lesniak announced today that he has submitted a statement opposing Gov. Chris Christie’s efforts to withdraw from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a 10-state compact that employs market-based regulations to limit harmful carbon dioxide emissions.

Lesniak’s statement was sent to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, which is accepting comments until Sept. 3 on a rule change that would withdraw New Jersey from this 10 state compact. The agency has a scheduled public hearing on the rule change on Friday, at 10 a.m.

“As we are dealing with record breaking extremes in hot and cold temperatures, increasing prevalence of ice storms, hurricanes that have caused billions of dollars of damage, and an increasing degradation of air quality, specifically ground level ozone that exceeds unhealthy standards, New Jersey is preparing to run from the problems we’ve helped create,” said Lesniak (D-Union) in his statement.  “If New Jersey were to withdraw its support for RGGI it would be a fundamental betrayal of the historical character of our state: New Jersey has always stood as a bastion for innovation and success, yet by abandoning RGGI, the state would become the embodiment of timidity and irresponsibility in these times of climate change.  If New Jersey withdraws, the NJDEP will have fundamentally and unquestioningly failed in its established mission of protecting the environment to ensure public benefit and a failure to our neighboring states that have all agreed to work together.”

RGGI is the nation’s first auction to sell and trade carbon dioxide emission credits to large-scale CO2 polluters such as coal-fired plants. The proceeds from the auction go towards clean and renewable energy investments and energy efficiency programs. Ignoring science and appealing to the right-wing of his party, Gov. Chris Christie withdrew from the program in 2011 but earlier this year a state appellate court ruled that he failed to follow the law when doing it unilaterally. He is now attempting to use the rule-making process to make it official.

“In addition, RGGI can be used as an economic tool to benefit the State of New Jersey. RGGI has attracted innovative clean energy enterprises, spurred capital investment, and created jobs in a sector of the economy that is poised for tremendous growth. RGGI has also used proceeds to boost energy efficiency and lower overall energy bills for residents and businesses alike, making New Jersey a better place to do business,” wrote Senator Lesniak. “When one examines the facts, it becomes apparent that attempts to withdraw from the commitment we made in RGGI are misguided, misplaced, and irresponsible. The failure to support the RGGI would also be a fundamental failure of the NJDEP mission.”

“At one time, New Jersey was a state in which policy was guided by scientific advancement and human integrity,” said Lesniak. “For the sake of generations to come, I hope it still is.”