Editor's note: The following summary represents state and utility stances after the Supreme Court stayed the Clean Power Plan in February 2016.
At a New Jersey Clean Air Council meeting held in April to discuss the pros and cons of implementing the Clean Power Plan, Department of Environmental Protection Assistant Commissioner John Giordano stressed the state has no plans to comply with EPA's climate rule.
"New Jersey is already doing more to reduce CO2 emissions than the Clean Power Plan ever could, even if it survives legal challenge, which we don't expect," Giordano said to attendees, according to written notes provided by DEP. "Here in New Jersey, striving for clean power is already in our DNA; we don't need EPA's re-engineering."
In the final Clean Power Plan, New Jersey is asked to reduce its carbon emissions rate significantly less than EPA initially proposed -- 23 percent, compared with 43 percent in the draft rule.
Nonetheless, the DEP on Sept. 2, 2015, formally requested an administrative stay and reconsideration of EPA's final rule, calling it "cumbersome and poorly designed."
Additionally, New Jersey is among 27 states challenging the rule in federal court.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R), who was at the time running for president, called the plan "yet another example of the Obama Administration inappropriately reaching far beyond its legal authority to implement more onerous and more burdensome regulations on businesses and state governments alike."
"This is a fundamentally flawed plan that threatens the progress we've already made in developing clean and renewable energy in New Jersey without the heavy-handed overreach of Washington," he said in a statement.
In a letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, DEP Commissioner Bob Martin criticized the significant changes made in the final rule compared to the draft rule, stating that the plan unveiled in August "includes changes that could not be raised during the public comment period but are of central relevance to the outcome of the Final Rule."
The letter added that the development of a state plan to comply with the rule "represents a needless and wasteful expenditure over the next three years if, as is likely, the Final Rule is overturned in the courts."
DEP also maintains EPA is not giving the state enough credit for emissions reductions made before 2013 and raised concerns about significant differences between the draft rule and the final rule.
Ralph Izzo, president, chairman and CEO of the Public Service Enterprise Group, the state's largest investor-owned utility, also raised the point that New Jersey already has made strides in reducing its greenhouse gas emissions.
But Izzo was more positive than the state government in his initial reaction to the final rule, saying in a statement that PSEG is "pleased" with EPA's focus on energy efficiency.
"We understand states may be incentivized to promote energy efficiency for low income customers as an early tool to reduce GHG," Izzo said. "We believe utilities can play a critical role in making sure that all energy users -- especially low and moderate income customers who need it most -- have access to energy efficiency."
New Jersey Sierra Club Chapter Director Jeff Tittel said that despite the fact that the final rule gives greater leniency to New Jersey's emitters, "it's still a step in the right direction."
"The targets are doable -- however, New Jersey can be doing more," Tittel said.
Last updated on May 3, 2016 at 10:42 AM