On 29 January 2018, New Jersey’s Governor Philip D. Murphy signed an executive order directing the Commissioner of the Department of Environmental Protection and the President of the Board of Public Utilities to prepare New Jersey’s re-entry into the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a power-sector cap-and-trade system in the Northeastern United States.

The Department of Environmental Protection now has 30 days to initiate a rulemaking process to prepare New Jersey’s rejoining and to define guidelines to ensure that revenues will be allocated to benefit communities particularly disadvantaged from climate change. Rejoining RGGI will require negotiations between New Jersey and the current RGGI Member States to adjust the joint cap.

According to the Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) latest data on state-level emissions, power sector emissions in New Jersey grew from 15.6 to 17.9 MMtCO2e between 2011 and 2015, an increase of about 15%. Meanwhile, power sector emissions in RGGI states have decreased.

New Jersey has been a founding member of RGGI, but left the initiative under then-Governor Chris Christie in 2012. In his executive order, Governor Murphy,  who was elected in November 2017, stated that he considered leaving RGGI a mistake, foregoing significant auction revenue that could have been used to transform New Jersey towards a clean energy economy. He also emphasized New Jersey’s vulnerability to climate change as the United States’ most densely populated state with a coastal geography that had left it heavily affected by superstorm Sandy in 2012.