-Posted by Meteor Blades on the Daily Kos
February 25, 2012- As one of its many objectives, the Koch Bros.-founded and -financed Americans for Prosperity has been out to defund the seven-year-old Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. It seems to have succeeded in New Jersey. Republican Gov. Chris Christie has just scooped up the $473,000 left in the RGGI coffers and plunked them into the general fund along with $210 million from the state's clean energy fund.
Myopia? Buffoonery? Hardly. It's a calculated effort to block clean and green energy programs as well as anything smacking of "climate change" mitigation. While Christie himself is not personally a climate-change denialist, the tea party and oil-soaked AFP most definitely fit in that category. Thus does Christie align himself with the most retrograde of his party's movers and shakers.
This is not the first time the governor has raided each fund:
Although repeating a budget-balancing move he has used in the past — Christie diverted more than $400 million in clean energy funds to balance his first state budget — the proposal irked clean energy advocates. In his first three budgets, the Governor has diverted approximately $620 million in clean energy money into the general fund.
"They're cutting the program to pay for tax cuts for the wealthy," said Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. "When people go to buy an energy-efficient appliance, they won't be getting any rebates."
Ten Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states established RGGI as a cap-and-trade program in 2005. It limits CO2 emissions from power plants and charges them for every ton of CO2 by which they exceed the limit. Plants that can't get below the limit are required to buy pollution allowances in state auctions. At least a quarter of the auction proceeds must be spent to benefit utility customers. Typically, the money is used to fund energy-efficiency and conservation programs for businesses and home-owners.