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NJ budget resolution could stop governor's Clean Power Plan lawsuit

A NewJersey state senator is seeking to stop Gov. Chris Christie from proceeding anyfurther with a lawsuit to halt the U.S. EPA's Clean Power Plan, which aims to cutemissions at U.S. power plants.

StateSen. Raymond Lesniak, a Democrat, has announced that he will introduce a budgetresolution aimed at preventing the Republican governor from using state money andresources to fund a lawsuit with other states to stop the plan, which mandates cutsin carbon dioxide emissions in the electric industry nationwide by 32% from 2005baseline levels by 2030. The Clean Power Plan is slated to go into effect startingin 2022, but the U.S. Supreme Court 's Feb. 9 decision to stay the rule essentiallymakes it unenforceable until litigationends.

Christie at the time of the filing of the lawsuit in October2015 argued that President Barack Obama's "unlawful overreach of authority"under the "fundamentally flawed" Clean Power Plan would "burden"New Jersey residents with higher electricity costs while infringing upon state authority.The Christie administration in its filing also said the mandate unfairly assignsmore stringent limits on New Jersey's existing power plants than the EPA has setfor new power plants. The lawsuit also stressed the Clean Power Plan ignores theprogress already made by New Jersey in reducing carbon dioxide emissions in itspower sector by 33% between 2001 and 2012.

Lesniaksaid in an interview that his budget resolution would send a strong message whereNew Jersey stands — not where the governor stands — on the issues of protectingthe environment and stopping climate change.

"Gov.Christie is at odds with the people of the state of New Jersey, who believe andsupport President Obama's effort for clean power," Lesniak said. "We area state that has been a vanguard of environmental protection, and Gov. Christieis moving in the opposite direction."

New Jersey'sbudget resolutions are due in early May, with the state budget expected to passby the end of June. Lesniak anticipates enough support for his resolution to attachit to the budget and to override an anticipated veto by the governor.

"Obviously,Gov. Christie will veto my budget resolution, but I'm expected to get Republicansupport," said Lesniak. "The governor isn't doing too well in New Jerseythese days, and I expect the Republicans to stand up and be independent and supportthe people and oppose the governor's initiative."

Christiehas also thwarted state lawmakers' repeated attempts to require regulators to an application for a stalledoffshore wind project that, if built, would be in line with the goals of the OffshoreWind Economic Development Act that the governor signed in 2010.