O’Malley hits Christie for ditching cap-and-trade program

O’Malley said that RGGI and it’s pollution permit auctions have been very helpful.

“RGGI has avoided dangerous carbon dioxide emissions in Maryland equivalent to taking nearly 3,500 cars off the road. Through last year, we’ve raised $162.4 million in RGGI proceeds – funds that have been used for programs that reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” O’Malley said.

Christie, at a press conference Thursday, said RGGI “does nothing more than tax electricity, tax our citizens, tax our businesses, with no discernable or measurable impact upon our environment.”

His decision drew a cheer from Americans For Prosperity, a conservative group founded by David Koch, who along with his brother helms Koch Industries and supports right-leaning political causes.

Phil Kerpen, the group’s vice president for policy, called Christie’s action a mortal blow to cap-and-trade as a viable concept. National cap-and-trade legislation collapsed in Congress last year.

“With Christie’s fabulous leadership, New Jersey will be out of RGGI by the end of the year, punching a huge hole in the middle of the regional scheme, lending momentum to burgeoning repel efforts in New Hampshire, Maine, and New York, and leading, perhaps, the final and total end of cap-and-trade as a politically viable concept anywhere in the United States,” he writes in a Fox News op-ed Thursday.

The group Environment America, for its part, took aim at the Koch-linked group in attacking Christie’s decision.

“The efforts to roll back RGGI are primarily fueled by Americans for Prosperity, a corporate front group bankrolled by some of the nation’s leading polluters, including Koch Industries, who have been aggressively supporting nationwide efforts to eliminate key environmental safeguards,” the group said.

RGGI itself issued a statement saying that the remaining states will forge ahead, noting that the next auction of carbon allowances will continue as planned on June 8.

The group said that RGGI “is delivering more than 700 million dollars in investments in the clean energy economy that are saving energy consumers money, making businesses more competitive and creating jobs throughout the region.”