04/17/2018 | News release | Distributed by Public on 04/16/2018 21:55
1. a. The Legislature finds and declares that:
(1) Climate change is one of the greatest threats facing the State today and in the future. Reducing emissions of carbon dioxide, other greenhouse gases, and other pollutants by preserving and expanding zero-emission electricity generation within and outside the State is critical to mitigating the impacts of climate change.
(2) Nuclear power is a reliable, zero-emission source of energy that has supplied New Jersey's energy demands for decades.
(3) New Jersey has historically relied on a diverse mix of energy supply sources, including nuclear power, to meet the needs of its residents and businesses.
(4) Reducing emissions of carbon dioxide, other greenhouse gases, and other pollutants, and preserving and developing zero-emission electricity generation sources within and outside the State that currently provide electricity to customers in New Jersey, are critical to improving air quality for New Jersey residents.
(5) The Energy Master Plan of New Jersey, last updated in 2015, requires significant revisions to ensure that 100 percent of the State's electric energy needs are generated by clean energy sources by 2050, and any update to the Energy Master Plan by the State must include a focus on the expansion of renewable and zero-emission sources of energy.
(6) The existing renewable energy portfolio standard has been successful in promoting the growth of renewable energy generation to reduce air pollution in New Jersey; however, to achieve its near term environmental goals, New Jersey must expand its commitment to zero-emission energy generation and value the air quality and other environmental attributes of zero-emission generation sources that currently fall outside the scope of the existing renewable energy portfolio standard, including but not limited to nuclear power.
(7) Nuclear power generation is a critical component of the State's clean energy portfolio because nuclear power plants do not emit carbon dioxide, other greenhouse gases, or other pollutants; in addition, nuclear power is an important element of a diverse energy generation portfolio that currently meets approximately 40 percent of New Jersey's electric power needs.
(8) Several of the existing, licensed, and operating nuclear power plants within and outside the State that currently provide electricity to customers in New Jersey are at risk of abrupt retirement due to a variety of factors.
(9) The retirement of nuclear power generation will inevitably result in an immediate increase in air emissions within New Jersey due to increased reliance on natural gas-fired generation and coal-fired generation.
(10) Poor air quality has a disproportionate impact on the most vulnerable citizens of New Jersey including children, the elderly, and people living in poverty. Fossil-fuel power plants drive increases in pollutants like ground-level ozone, which aggravates respiratory illnesses for individuals with decreased lung function. Public health and environmental justice necessitate a reduction in these pollutants to protect the most vulnerable of our citizenry.
(11) As a coastal state, New Jersey is particularly exposed to many of the effects of global climate change, such as rising sea levels and more extreme storms. Many of New Jersey's most important commercial and tourism assets are located in coastal areas, and events like Superstorm Sandy have demonstrated the imminent and tangible threats that intense storms pose to New Jersey's economy and environment.
(12) Given the overwhelming scientific consensus that fossil-fuel use is causing potentially irreversible global climate change and the attendant environmental catastrophes, it is a moral imperative that the State invest in energy infrastructure within and outside the State that does not produce greenhouse gases.
b. The Legislature therefore determines that:
(1) The abrupt retirement of existing, licensed, and operating nuclear power plants within and outside the State that provide electricity to customers in New Jersey, and any concomitant increase in the proportion of New Jersey's electricity demand met by natural gas and coal, will result in a substantial increase in emissions of several serious pollutants, and associated adverse public health and environmental impacts. The pollutants resulting from increased fossil-fuel generation and drilling include emissions of carbon dioxide, methane, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, particulate matter, volatile organic compounds, mercury, and nitrous oxides, and the creation of ozone.
(2) New Jersey is currently not projected to meet certain federal and State air quality standards and emissions level requirements, counties of the State are currently designated as nonattainment for the federal 8-hour Ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standard, and the abrupt retirement of nuclear power plants that serve New Jersey combined with increased reliance on natural gas-fired and coal-fired generation will substantially impede the State's ability to meet those federal and State air quality standards and emissions level requirements.
(3) In light of the primacy of natural gas use for heating in New Jersey, increased reliance on natural gas-fired generation will render the electric generation and delivery systems less resilient and more vulnerable to the impacts of extreme winter weather events, natural gas pipeline accidents, and other factors affecting the deliverability of natural gas to electric power generating stations in and around the State.
(4) The model of providing credits to zero- or low-emission energy generation sources as compensation for their environmental attributes has proven successful for Class I and Class II renewable energy sources, which receive renewable energy certificates, and solar electric power generators, which receive solar renewable energy certificates.
(5) A program that recognizes and compensates nuclear energy generators in a manner similar to other non-emitting energy generation resources to the extent required to prevent the loss of nuclear energy, subject to independent review as provided in section 3 of this act, which the State's residents and businesses rely on for approximately 40 percent of their electricity needs, could, in the absence of equally or more cost-effective clean energy alternatives, further the State's interest in environmental protection and maintaining a diverse mix of energy sources.
(6) While recognizing the importance of nuclear energy generation, the State must also commit to the deployment of renewable and zero-emission energy to address climate change, drive economic development, and create new employment opportunities.
(7) In order to meet the goals under the 'Global Warming Response Act,' P.L.2007, c.112 (C.26:2C-37 et seq.), to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent by 2050, it will be necessary to significantly reduce emissions from the electric power generation sector. This will require reducing the State's heavy reliance on natural gas for electric power generation, the primary source of emissions from the electric power generation sector.
(8) The zero emission certificate program set forth in this act is structured such that its costs are guaranteed to be significantly less than the social cost of carbon emissions avoided by the continued operation of selected nuclear power plants, ensuring that the program does not place an undue financial burden on retail distribution customers. The social cost of carbon, as calculated by the U.S. Interagency Working Group on the Social Cost of Carbon in its August 2016 Technical Update, is an accepted measure of the cost of carbon emissions. Carbon emissions avoided by selected nuclear power plants are but one component of their emissions avoidance benefits.
Full text may be found here: https://legiscan.com/NJ/text/S2313/2018