Christie announces N.J. will seek stay on EPA rule

Source: Elizabeth Harball, E&E reporter • Posted: Friday, September 4, 2015

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) formally came out against the Obama administration’s new rule to regulate carbon emissions from power plants yesterday, announcing that his state will seek an administrative stay on U.S. EPA’s Clean Power Plan.

The governor, who is also pursuing the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, called EPA’s rule “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.”

“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,” Christie said in a statement.

It is not the first time the New Jersey governor has knocked the Clean Air Act Section 111(d) rule, having told Fox News he was “totally opposed” to it on the day of its release.

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection is also formally requesting reconsideration of the rule. DEP Commissioner Bob Martin yesterday submitted a letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy stating that although the state “supports clean power,” it “cannot, however, support EPA’s ill-conceived Clean Power Plan, which is uncommonly cumbersome, difficult and costly to implement, could undermine reliability, and would yield insufficient results given the effort to comply.”

“The Final Rule is riddled with vague, ambiguous, and uncertain provisions and the cost-benefit analysis lacks credibility,” the letter stated, further arguing that New Jersey will “suffer irreparable harm should the Final Rule not be stayed.”

In the final Clean Power Plan, EPA asked the state to slash its emissions rate less than in the draft rule — 23 percent, compared with 43 percent.

But New Jersey DEP maintains EPA has not given the state sufficient credit for emissions reductions already achieved. In a news release, the agency noted that between 2001 and 2012, the state cut CO2 emissions from its power sector by 33 percent. New Jersey also invested $3.27 billion in renewable energy and energy efficiency during this period.

In the letter, Martin also faults EPA for significant changes made in the final rule compared with the draft rule, stating that the plan unveiled in August “includes changes that could not be raised during the public comment period but are of central relevance to the outcome of the Final Rule.”

New Jersey formerly participated in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, an interstate cap-and-trade system. But Christie announced his state would pull out of the program in 2011.

Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club and a frequent critic of the Christie administration, yesterday blamed the governor for “using his national political ambitions to hurt our environment.”

“This is an outrageous abuse of power that directly threatens the health and environment of New Jersey,” Tittel said in a statement. “Christie wants to lead the charge to dismantle clean air safeguards and is going around the legislature and the public to do so.”

Tittel noted that New Jersey was among the 12 states that prevailed against EPA in the 2007 Supreme Court case that forced the agency to regulate greenhouse gas emissions as pollutants.