NEW JERSEY — The New Jersey House on Thursday voted overwhelmingly in favor of a bill that would ban the state from taking any action to limit greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired power plants.
House Bill 1170, which was sponsored by state Rep. Eric Gaffney, was approved by the full House of Representatives by a vote of 96-1, with all Democrats voting against it.
Gaffney had said in an earlier interview with the New York Times that he was considering voting no on the bill because it would be “unacceptable” for New Jersey to be a party to a “war on coal.”
“It’s time to make sure New Jersey is not a party that goes into a war on coal,” Gaffley told the Times.
He told reporters he would vote no because “the people of New Jersey are going to suffer, I know that.
And I think we need to be careful with this.”
Gaffey, R-North Bergen, told reporters that the bill was an attempt to “get people to look at the science,” but added that it would “probably be the most environmentally harmful thing that we could possibly do.”
He said it would also lead to “big, expensive projects.”
“I think this is a terrible piece of legislation,” Gafney said.
He said he was trying to make New Jersey the “greenest state in the union.”
“The reason why New Jersey has been so green is because we’ve gotten off fossil fuels,” Giffey said.
Gaffe and a climate change denier?
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has been vocal in his opposition to the proposed ban.
Christie said in February that he would veto any measure that could “legitimize a war against clean air and clean water.”
“If we’re going to have a discussion about climate change, we’re not going to do it with the most extreme climate change-deniers,” he said.
“I will veto any legislation that makes us even more dependent on fossil fuels, that makes it even more costly for New Yorkers and New Jerseyans,” Christie said at the time.
The legislation would also create a commission to study the impact of greenhouse gas regulations, a move that Christie has said could cost $3.5 billion in state subsidies.
The commission, which will be chaired by Christie, would be charged with developing a study on how carbon emissions could be mitigated and what strategies to take to minimize the damage caused by greenhouse gas pollution.
The New Jersey Coalition for Clean Air, a coalition of industry groups, environmental groups, and business leaders, applauded the bill.
“While climate change and the environmental crisis is real and urgent, New Jersey remains the nation’s leader in green energy production and we have already seen a dramatic decline in carbon emissions, with nearly all of this decline coming from our power plants,” said Jim O’Neill, executive director of the coalition.
“This bipartisan bill would help to ensure that New Jersey continues to lead the nation in green technology.”
New Jersey already has one of the nation.
The state has been on track to be the second-most polluting state in America, according to data compiled by the Environmental Protection Agency.
In 2015, New York City emitted almost 7,000 tons of CO2, the equivalent of putting out 6.6 million cars.
The next-highest emitting city was Chicago, which emitted 6,500 tons of carbon dioxide.