The New Jersey Legislature is pressing Gov. Chris Christie to rejoin a regional cap-and-trade program to control carbon emissions, putting the possible 2016 presidential candidate in a difficult political predicament, The New York Times
Christie is strongly opposed to rejoining the Regional Green House Gas Initiative after withdrawing in 2011, even though most state legislators believe it's in the state's best economic and legal interests.
"This is one of those issues where Christie decided he's going to take a firm position that resonates with the GOP and stick with it," Patrick Murray, a professor of political science at Monmouth University, told the Times.
"It doesn't matter what the Legislature wants, it doesn't matter what New Jersey voters want, cap-and-trade is anathema to the base of the Republican Party."
Christie recently described the initiative as a "useless plan" that he would not consider rejoining, believing it to be inefficient and unfair to the state since other states in the region have not joined. He has twice vetoed plans by the Legislature to rejoin the initiative.
Some businesses and conservative groups, however, agree with his position.
"We were exceedingly pleased that the governor got New Jersey out of the R.G.G.I. boondoggle," Tim Phillips, president of Americans for Prosperity, told the Times. "It's something that AFP in New Jersey worked hard on, and the governor listened, and we applauded him pulling out and applaud him for refusing to go back in."
He added that he believed the decision to stay out of the agreement would boost Christie's presidential chances.
"This is one of those instances where sound policy is very good politics towards a potential national bid," he said.
But some within his own party have criticized him, adding to the pressure he has faced since June when the president proposed a new environmental regulation that would force all states to develop climate change policies. To comply, supporters believe it would be most efficient for New Jersey to rejoin the program.
"I disagreed with the decision when he did it," former Gov. Thomas Kean said, referring to the decision to withdraw. "I wish we'd stayed in the program."
State GOP Sen. Kip Bateman told the Times, he too supported participation.
"It wasn't perfect, but we're better off being in it than not being in it," he said. "The problem is, groups such as Americans for Prosperity are adamantly opposed to it. They have scared a lot of Republicans away from it."
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