TRENTON - Gov. Christie said today New Jersey will withdraw from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a cap-and-trade agreement between 10 northeast states, by the end of the year.
The governor acknowledged that humans play a role in global warming but said the program does not address the problem.
"This program is not effective in reducing greenhouse gases and is unlikely to be in the future," said the governor, standing alongside Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin at a statehouse news conference.
The goal of the cap-and-trade initiative, the only one of its kind nationally, is for participating states to cap and reduce carbon dioxide emissions 10 percent by 2018, investing proceeds from emission auctions into clean energy. Power producers are required to pay for every ton of greenhouse gas they emit by buying credits at quarterly auctions.
New Jersey joined RGGI in 2008 under former Gov. Jon S. Corzine's administration.
Christie has repeatedly criticized New Jersey's participation in recent months, saying it makes the state less competitive for businesses. Pennsylvania is not part of the agreement.
"I'm concerned about the burden that it places on our businesses, making them less competitive with Pennsylvania, because our businesses have greater costs involved than in Pennsylvania," the governor said in March at a town hall in Nutley.
Today, the governor said the state would pursue initiatives for wind and solar power and overall conservation of energy.
"We're not going to participate anymore in something that doesn't work, but that is not abandonment of our commitment to continue to work towards more renewable energy," Christie said.
Christie said his administration would also ban future coal power projects.
The announcement drew sharp criticism from some environmental advocates.
"Christie is taking the side of corporate polluters and the coal industry over the environment and health of the people of New Jersey," Jeff Tittel, director of New Jersey Sierra Club, said in a statement.
Last year, the administration diverted $65 million in proceeds from the program to help offset the $11 billion budget deficit. Other states also have diverted cap-and-trade revenues to offset budget shortfalls.
RGGI most recently has been controversial in New Hampshire, where the Senate voted to maintain that state's participation in the program after the House approved withdrawing from it.
Other participating states are Connecticut, Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts, New York, Maryland, Delaware, and Rhode Island.