New Jersey’s Gov. Chris Christie decided last week to move $65 million in Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) money to the state’s general fund to help cover budget deficits.

According to Reuters, New Jersey is just the most recent state participating in the regional cap-and-trade market on greenhouse gases to take money meant to support clean energy programs to help ease its budget deficit. Last year, New York also used $90 million from RGGI funds to cover a budget shortfall.

"Pain had to be distributed across the board," Elaine Makatura, director of New Jersey’s Department of Environmental Protection, said in an interview on March 17 with Reuters. She said Gov. Christie had decided to move $65 million from New Jersey’s Global Warming Solutions Fund to its General Fund. The move, which includes revenues expected to be raised through June next year, would help fill a huge deficit New Jersey is facing, she said.

The money comes from quarterly auctions of permits allowing power plants to emit the main greenhouse gas carbon dioxide. The states of Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont are signatories to the RGGI agreement. These 10 states have capped CO2 emissions from the power sector and will require a 10% reduction in these emissions by 2018. RGGI had wanted the vast majority of the revenues to go to programs promoting clean energy like solar and wind power and energy efficiency.

Rhode Island will not follow the lead of New York and New Jersey, said Amy Kempe, the governor’s spokesperson, on Thursday. Kempe told Providence Business News that state law prevents Gov. Donald L. Carcieri from shifting RGGI money to fill Rhode Island’s nearly $219 million budget shortfall. "Instead, the $9.3 million in RGGI proceeds the state has gotten thus far will be held in a restricted account until National Grid gets approval for a proposed program to spend the money on energy efficiency and renewable energy projects, she said."

Sources: Reuters, Providence Business News, RGGI