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NJ DEPT. OF ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION NEWS RELEASE
RELEASE: 4/23/98
98/46
CONTACT: Amy Collings or Elaine Makatura
609-984-1795 or 609-292-2994

COMMISSIONER SHINN OUTLINES GLOBAL WARMING INITIATIVE FOCUSED ON SEA LEVEL RISE

Recognizing the potential impact of global warming on the Jersey shore and regional air quality, State Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Shinn today outlined a strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in New Jersey and has formed a task force to coordinate the initiative.

Speaking at a regional conference on climate change at Ramapo College Institute for Environmental Studies in Mahwah, Shinn announced plans to reduce the emissions of carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, sulfur hexafluoride, hydroflurocarbons and fully fluorinated compounds by 3.5 percent below the 1990 levels by the year 2005.

He also pledged to design and implement an emissions banking system to encourage New Jersey companies to voluntarily reduce these greenhouse gas emissions. The proposal is being reviewed in the Netherlands as the basis for an international emissions trading agreement which could be signed by early summer.

"Sea level rise threatens our coastal communities, natural resources, ecosystems, public health and our economy," said Shinn. "If sea levels continue to rise as predicted, the impact on our prized Jersey shore and tourism industry will be very serious. In addition, higher heat means more summertime smog and pollution which would endanger the health of young children, those who exercise outdoors, and the elderly, with an especially high impact on people with asthma and other respiratory problems. Clearly, there are substantial reasons to take the Kyoto Treaty reduction seriously."

That proposed international treaty, which was forged in Kyoto, Japan and has not yet been ratified by the U.S. Senate, calls for greenhouse gas emissions worldwide to drop by at least 7 percent below the 1990 levels between 2008 and 2012.

"The United States produces 22 percent of the world's greenhouse gases, with only 5 percent of the world's population. Obviously, from an energy perspective alone, there is much that can be accomplished," said Shinn, who supports state-level initiatives to address the issue.

The New Jersey climate change initiative was discussed at the Environmental Council of States (ECOS) meeting in New Orleans last month. Commissioner Shinn is president of ECOS and co-chairs the ECOS/U.S.EPA global climate change committee which was formed in 1996 to promote state action plans and other measures to combat global warming. New Jersey's plan is particularly focused on sea level rise and supports Governor Whitman's sustainable state initiative.

The New Jersey strategy outlined today includes:

  • creating a comprehensive greenhouse gas inventory for New Jersey.

  • creating a landfill methane gas reduction program, building upon successful methane extraction projects underway at landfills in the state.

  • creating a banking system to quantify and credit voluntary carbon dioxide emission reductions by New Jersey companies. This will be developed in cooperation with the Center for Clean Air Policy, a Washington D.C.-based leadership group where Commissioner Shinn serves as vice chair.

  • supporting the development of clean fuel fleets - motor pools that use cleaner-burning fuels - in the public and private sectors, working in cooperation with the state Department of Transportation and NJ Transit.

  • supporting state Board of Public Utilities efforts to find new energy conservation measures.

Commissioner Shinn has formed a Climate Change Workgroup consisting of representatives from the business and environmental communities, the state Department of Environmental Protection and other state agencies. They are evaluating cost effective options for lowering or stabilizing greenhouse gas emissions in New Jersey.

Commissioner Shinn also has established a Geothermal Subcommittee to investigate the potential for reducing carbon dioxide emissions through the use of geothermal technologies for heating and cooling. He also has created a greenhouse gas bank advisory committee to design an emissions trading program.

New Jersey produces about 2 percent of the nation's greenhouse gases, or more than 129 million tons a year, predominantly from the burning of oil, coal and other fuels for heating, cooling and motor vehicles. Carbon dioxide is a by-product of that process. Methane is a naturally produced as materials in landfills decay and as food goes through the digestive tract of domestic animals. Nitrous oxide production is accelerated in soils with the use of fertilizers. The three other greenhouse gases are manmade chemicals.

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