CHRISTIE ADMINISTRATION SEEKS ADMINISTRATIVE STAY AND
RECONSIDERATION OF EPA’S CLEAN POWER PLAN
GOVERNOR CHRISTIE SAYS RULE CONSTITUTES UNLAWFUL REACH OF AUTHORITY
BY EPA AND PENALIZES NEW JERSEY, ALREADY A LEADER IN CARBON EMISSIONS
REDUCTION, RENEWABLES AND ENERGY EFFICIENCY
(15/P73) TRENTON – The Christie Administration today formally requested an Administrative Stay and Reconsideration of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan, stating it constitutes an unlawful extension of authority by the federal agency, threatens New Jersey’s existing authority to manage and oversee its own energy future and disproportionately places an unfair burden on states that have already significantly reduced carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants and other sources over the years.
The state’s opposition to the Clean Power Plan, also known as the 111(d) Rule, is outlined in a letter from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to U.S. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy requesting an Administrative Stay and Reconsideration of the rule.
“The Clean Power Plan is yet another example of the Obama Administration inappropriately reaching far beyond its legal authority to implement more onerous and more burdensome regulations on businesses and state governments alike,” said Governor Chris Christie. “This is a fundamentally flawed plan that threatens the progress we’ve already made in developing clean and renewable energy in New Jersey without the heavy-handed overreach of Washington.”
The letter from DEP Commissioner Bob Martin to EPA states that the rule exceeds the EPA’s regulatory authority and contends that it cannot be implemented due to “vague, ambiguous, uncertain provisions that remain unsolved.” He adds that the plan “will burden the citizens of our state with unjustifiable increases in electricity costs while also complicating New Jersey’s efforts to make further reductions in carbon emissions.”
Despite being a highly industrialized and densely populated state, New Jersey already has the fifth lowest carbon emission rate in the nation, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
This is due in large part to the state’s aggressive efforts over the years to replace coal, the nation’s single biggest source of carbon emissions, with cleaner natural gas, renewable energy and energy efficiency. In addition, 52 percent of New Jersey’s power is generated by carbon-free nuclear energy.
From 2001-2012, New Jersey had already reduced carbon dioxide emissions from its power sector by 33 percent, which is more than the 32 percent reduction goal that EPA has set for the entire nation to reach by 2030 under the Clean Power Plan. New Jersey’s prior reductions are not given credit under the 111(d) Rule. The Clean Power Plan also fails to credit renewable energy sources and increases in nuclear power plant capacity developed before 2013.
“New Jersey is already a national leader in reducing carbon emissions and air pollutants such as sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide and ozone through combined-cycle natural gas, strict emissions controls, energy efficiency and renewable energy,” Commissioner Martin said. “Yet instead of being rewarded, the rule jeopardizes the value of our entire Renewable Portfolio Standard and punishes the state for all of our good work in the recent past.”
“Consistent with our 2011 Energy Master Plan, New Jersey has already promoted cleaner and more efficient energy. Adding this cumbersome and poorly designed federal regulation is counter-productive and unfair to the people of New Jersey,” Commissioner Martin states in his letter to EPA Administrator McCarthy.
The Christie Administration has taken strong steps to improve air quality in New Jersey, including taking legal actions to force power plants in other states to reduce pollution that crosses into New Jersey and taking actions to ensure power plants and other industries within New Jersey meet tough air-pollution control standards.
In addition, through its Energy Master Plan (EMP), the Christie Administration is committed to driving down energy costs; promoting a diverse portfolio of clean, sustainable in-state power; promoting energy efficiency and conservation; capitalizing on new technologies; and achieving a robust renewable energy portfolio standard.
Other key facts:
- New Jersey’s carbon emissions rate is half that of most other states; is far lower than all other states in the PJM region; and is lower than seven of the nine Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) states.
- Though one of the smallest states in land area, New Jersey ranks among the top three states for total installed solar capacity as a result of policies that promote installation of solar panels on commercial buildings, brownfields, and residential properties.
- In 2012, New Jersey attained the 2020 carbon emission reduction targets established under state law.
- New Jersey’s existing fossil fuel sector collectively meets EPA’s final limits for new power plants under its 111(b) Rule.
- New Jersey is already well ahead of EPA’s proposed standards for new power plants, with the state’s new facilities emitting less than the limits finalized under the 111(b) Rule.
- The state’s ratepayers have already invested more than $3 billion in solar energy and energy efficiency over the past 14 years.
- Coal-fired power plants account for just four percent of the energy produced in the state. There are only seven remaining coal-fired units operating at five power plants.
“We are concerned that the federal agency’s overreaching plan will have a harmful impact on the state’s ability to plan for its energy future and to meet its responsibility of ensuring reliable, affordable power is available for New Jersey’s residents and businesses,” said Richard S. Mroz, President of the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities. “There is a real concern among state and federal regulators and those in the industry that the EPA’s rule, even with the addition of a so-called reliability safety valve, will threaten the reliability of the electric grid, leading to brownouts and rolling blackouts and ultimately higher electricity costs.”
The EPA first proposed the 111(d) Rule in June 2014, and received more than 4.3 million public comments, including comments from power-industry leaders who say electricity rates will inevitably increase as a result of the rule’s provisions.
While the EPA addressed some of New Jersey’s concerns, the final 111(d) rule still contains carbon baseline-reduction targets that would disproportionately affect the state, said Commissioner Martin.
The state’s efforts to eliminate coal as a fuel source in power plants has also resulted in drastic reductions in other pollutants that can have serious human health and environmental impacts, including mercury, sulfur dioxide and particulates, Commissioner Martin said.
“One of the greatest ironies of the so-called Clean Power Plan is that while New Jersey has made great strides in reducing carbon emissions and other pollutants as well that cause smog and other air quality problems, states that are upwind of New Jersey actually are assigned emission reduction goals that fall far short of what New Jersey has already achieved,” Commissioner Martin said.
“While we remain committed to our goals of even more efficient and cleaner energy, this rule sends a message to our residents, businesses, and to other states that, absent a federal mandate, doing the right thing doesn’t count for much,” Commissioner Martin said.
For a copy of the letter, links to New Jersey’s comments on the rule and other documents, visit:
For background on the state’s efforts to reduce carbon emissions, visit: http://www.nj.gov/dep/sage/climate-energy.html
For more information on the New Jersey Energy Master Plan, visit: http://nj.gov/emp/