Just Friday morning, the Murphy Administration, along with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), Board of Public Utilities (BPU) and Economic Development Authority (EDA), released the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) Strategic Funding Plan (SFP)for 2020 through 2022 which calls for investment of an estimated $80 million of New Jersey’s RGGI auction proceeds each year to qualified programs focused on reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, environmental justice, clean energy and coastal community resiliency, just to name a few.
As detailed here, New Jersey began negotiations to rejoin the RGGI in 2018 culminating this year in New Jersey formally rejoining the RGGI and allowing the state to begin participation in quarterly carbon dioxide allowance auctions. During the March auction, New Jersey realized more than $20 million in proceeds which, per the Global Warming Response Act, will be allocated to the EDA, DEP and BPU for investment into qualified programs under the RGGI.
The SFP specifically details how the proceeds from the March auction and future auctions over the period of the SFP will be used to further the following four main initiatives: Catalyzing Clean, Equitable Transportation, Promoting Blue Carbon in Coastal Areas, Enhancing Forests and Urban Forests, and Establishing a New Jersey Green Bank. Even with four initiatives, the release this morning highlighted that one of the main emphases of the SFP will be a focus on electrifying new Jersey’s transportation. Specifically, the focus will be electrification in areas impacted by severe air pollution. This also goes hand in hand with Governor Murphy’s goal of achieving 100% clean energy by 2050 which is starting to be realized with the increase in wind energy coming to the state as described here.
However, the main catalyst for releasing the SFP today relates directly to the state’s response to COVID-19. Governor Murphy stated that the hope is for the investments made under the SFP will “promote health, equity, and environmental protection, helping us build a stronger and fairer New Jersey.” DEP Commissioner McCabe furthered that sentiment by stating that in addition to changing the state’s clean energy and transportation systems, “At the same time, the projects spurred by this plan will create opportunities and job growth in green technologies that will help New Jersey emerge stronger from the economic impacts of the current COVID-19 crisis.”