On Tuesday May 22, 2018, at 7 pm. Jonathan Lu of the Princeton Student Climate Initiative gave a presentation at the Morristown & Morris Township Library titled “Tackling NJ Fossil Fuel Pollution”. Attending were 3 people from Sustainable Morristown, several from Morristown and other local chapters of Citizens Climate Lobby (CCL), and several other interested people. All participated in a highly informative discussion.
The proposal is basically an application of the CCL carbon fee and dividend approach specifically to the state of New Jersey. It centers around applying a carbon fee at the first point of sale in NJ to raw fossil fuels or their derivatives as well as electricity. Since New Jersey does not extract any fossil fuels directly from the ground, the first point-of-sale would basically be when oil, gas, coal, gasoline, propane, diesel or other fossil fuels are brought into New Jersey to refineries or to be used directly as fuel or when electricity is purchased from outside the state or generated in New Jersey.
Under consideration are three alternatives carbon fees: a low, medium, or high fee that would increase yearly at different rates and would end after 5 years and need to be re-approved every 5-years. But longer-term and even unending alternatives, like the CCL approach, are also being considered.
It was pointed out that in New Jersey most of the pollution is caused by motor vehicles. Thus this approach would be very effective in reducing carbon and other pollutants.
Unlike the CCL approach which would return all revenues (less any minimal overhead) back to the people, this proposal would return about 85% of the revenue (minus overhead) back to low and middle income people. The remaining revenue would be used to aid business who are very heavily impacted by the increased costs and cannot easily or quickly switch to alternatives that are not subject to the carbon fee and to help speed up the introduction and more firmly establish alternative green energy sources. This would likely include more plugin station for electric vehicles, faster movement toward 100% electricity generation from green renewable sources,..
Lu pointed out that in New Jersey we are highly susceptible to some of the negative impact of climate change particularly from sea rise as well as coastal storms. However a statistic that is not commonly known is that about 8,000 death per year are currently attributed to air pollution.
As impressive as is this presentation may appear, we should remember that this is still a research project and far from actually being introduced as legislation. There are still many issues to be resolved as well as politicians to be educated and convinced. However, there are plans to continue to work with CCL as well as other organizations who will ultimately take it over and move it forward as it gets beyond the research stage.