Greenhouse gas debates continue in state houses

Gov. Chris Christie’s announcement last week that New Jersey would leave the Northeast’s Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative was a major setback for the nation’s only operating cap-and-trade system, Josh Goodman writes at, but it’s only one development in the ongoing debate whether and how states should fight global warming.

Though Christie’s decision pleased conservatives, his rationale might not: Christie said he believes man-made pollution is contributing to global warming, and pledged that New Jersey would continue to fight it on its own. RGGI standards, he said, are too loose to achieve the goals of cutting emissions.

Meanwhile, New Hampshire’s legislature also is considering a measure to remove the state from RGGI, but appears to lack the votes to override an anticipated gubernatorial veto. The other members of the compact are Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont.

Cap-and-trade measures also are under fire in the courts. In California, a judge has ruled that the state can’t take any steps to implement its own cap-and-trade system until it reviews alternative ways to reduce emissions, such as carbon taxes. And in Virginia, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli is continuing his fight in U.S. District Court against federal greenhouse gas regulation.