The state Department of Environmental Protection must follow proper rule-making procedures if it wishes to end emissions regulations implemented as part of a carbon emissions trading program in 2008, a New Jersey appeals court ruled Tuesday.

The ruling comes after Environment New Jersey and the Natural Resources Defense Council challenged a 2011 announcement by Gov. Chris Christie that New Jersey power plants no longer needed to comply with program requirements.

“New Jerseyans support action to reduce the impacts of global warming,” said Doug O’Malley, director of Environment New Jersey. “We hope that today’s ruling will help their voices be heard.”

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The state implemented a series of regulations between 2007 and 2008 to participate in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a nine-state group of Northeastern and mid-Atlantic states seeking to reduce greenhouse gas emissions via cap-and-trade.

In May 2011, however, Gov. Christie announced the state was ending its participation in RGGI effective Dec. 31 of that year. The DEP then posted an announcement on its website that New Jersey power plants previously subject to Trading Program requirements would no longer be obligated to follow them.

The governor argued in his announcement that New Jersey is not required to follow program requirements as they were enacted to facilitate participation of RGGI. However, the court decided since the regulations were implemented independently of RGGI, the state must follow Administrative Procedure Act rules if it wishes to end them.

The DEP has 60 days to initiate a public Administrative Procedure Act process to repeal or amend the regulations.

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