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Christie Earth Week Day 2: Back Door Man

Governor Christie takes the oath of office at his innagural. I wonder if he's given any thought to what kind of world will his children and grandchildren inherit?

Governor Christie takes the oath of office at his inaugural. I wonder if he's given any thought to what kind of world his children and grandchildren will inherit? Was that in the oath?

Christie’s did not discuss his cuts of $158 million from the Clean Energy Fund, which is funded by utility customers for programs that reduce greenhouse gases, and from other funds designated to save energy. He declined to take questions from reporters, leaving immediately after his speech via a back door. (Star Ledger 4/21/10)

I was going to write today about DEP Commissioner Martin’s games in Trenton yesterday, but just read that the Star Ledger reports that Governor Christie announced his new “business friendly” “energy and environment” policy at a highly unusual Rutgers “forum” yesterday.

The backdrop for the “forum” was Christie’s  wrecking ball to NJ’s renewable energy and global warming programs (see: CHRISTIE SHREDS NEW JERSEY CLIMATE CHANGE PROGRAMS — Kills Emission Reporting, Diverts Green Energy Fund & Defunds Climate Office and his assault on regulatory protections under the guise of eliminating “Red Tape” (see: CHRISTIE TO AXE JERSEY POLLUTION AND PUBLIC HEALTH RULES — “Red Tape Review Group” Issues Hit List of Regulations to Toss or Water Down

Let’s just say the Governor didn’t fool anyone, including Star Ledger reporter Abby Gruen, who rightly nailed the Governor multiple times in her story, in unusually good reporting.

Preferring to write my own material, I don’t usually do this kind of media analysis, but because this particular story raises so many important issues, lets break it down:

Right up front, the story sets the context for the speech, by providing an allusion to the elephants in the room I linked to above as the backdrop:

In one of his first policy addresses since presenting his budget, Gov. Chris Christie yesterday unveiled a business-friendly energy and environment plan at a forum sponsored by Rutgers University.

The unusual nature of the “forum” is made clear, properly informing readers and urging them to ask obvious questions:

Speaking to a small crowd at the State Theater in New Brunswick, Christie said that energy is an “engine of industry.”

Questions like: Why a small crowd small for such critical public policy issues during Earth Week? Rutgers knows how to turn out people for credible policy forums.

The NJ Environmental Federation, a panel member, knows how to organize and publicize an event and generate turnout. Why wasn’t this Governor’s policy level global warming related “forum” widely publicized by NJEF?

My sense is that this was a last minute, by invitation only, purely political event developed by the Governor’s Office and rammed down Rutgers’ throat in order to create a false appearance of academic legitimacy and substance to the Governor’s non existent “energy and environmental policy”. The Environmental Federation kept a low profile to avoid a protest by angry environmentalists, who can see through the spin and green cover that NJEF is providing the Governor.

The fact of the matter is that Christie – by his own admission – has no energy and environmental policy. His transition team recommended that he abandon the comprehensive Energy Master Plan developed over a 4 year period by the Corzine Administration, ironically with significant technical support from Rutgers University, the sponsor of this sham “forum”. Shame on Rutgers for legitimizing this political stunt!

He [Christie] said he and his administration will also be reviewing the 2008 Energy Master Plan over the next three months, but did not specify what changes would be made.

In addition to having no energy policy and abandoning good policy of the EMP, the Governor is slashing over $300 million in energy conservation, renewable energy, and global warming mitigation funds (not just the $158 million report by the Ledger). His budget zeroed the DEP Office of Climate Change, responsible for developing programs and regulations to implement the Global Warming Response Act and his regulatory moratorium killed a DEP proposed green house gas emissions monitoring regulation.

The Ledger story then captures the essence of this purely political stunt:

“The Lieutenant Governor and I are setting up a regulatory environment that is friendly to business,” Christie said.

In a nod to Earth Week, Christie said that his environmental policies will not be “incompatible to having a growing economy.”

Struggling to fill a $13 billion budget gap, and acknowledging that his cuts have made him unpopular in the polls, Christie said that when the state’s finances were in order he would move forward on other priorities, like the environment.

The emphasis on business in his energy address was welcomed by industry.

“We haven’t had that kind of attention paid to business in a while,” said Sara Bluhm, a spokeswoman for the New Jersey Business and Industry Association.

We heard the pretext about how the economy is driving his budget cuts and deregulatory moves on the environment. But the facts of the matter are:

1) because 80% of DEP’s budget comes from federal funds, and polluters fees and fines, there are virtually no taxpayer savings to be had by cutting DEP’s budget;

2) the Clean Energy Fund creates thousands of new jobs and supports hundreds of small businesses in NJ. These will be destroyed by the Christie cuts, thus harming the economy Christie claims to be promoting;

3) weakening DEP regulations costs NJ taxpayers and does nothing to stimulate economic development. NJ’s strict environmental regulations not only spur productivity growth and attract private investment in innovative technology, they match federal funds. Most importantly, strict regulations protect NJ’s “natural capital”, generating $20 billion/year in revenues and provide significant public health benefits – the best documented are the health care costs of hospital admissions triggered by air pollution, mostly in urban NJ. Those costs will rise substantially as New Jersey experiences far more 90-100 degree “bad air” days due to global warming (see this for complete NJ global warming impact assessment). Furthermore, there have been no credible studies that  show that NJ’s regulations harm the economy – instead, virtually all professional economists blame the Wall Street financial meltdown for causing the economic recession. Ironically, that Wall Street collapse was caused, in part, by the same deregulation and lax  government oversight policies Christie is promoting.

4) global warming is a crisis we are already experiencing in NJ, via increased coastal storm damage and major inland flooding. The economic costs of global warming will be in the billions, and the longer we delay responding, the larger those costs and impacts will get. So Christie’s policies are extremely shortsighted and highly irresponsible.

So, given how reckless and unjustified the Governor’s policies are on energy and the environment, we can understand why the Governor took the back door:

Christie’s did not discuss his cuts of $158 million from the Clean Energy Fund, which is funded by utility customers for programs that reduce greenhouse gases, and from other funds designated to save energy. He declined to take questions from reporters, leaving immediately after his speech via a back door.

But what we can’t understand is why Dave Pringle and the NJEF continue to provide cover for this Governor, given what we know thus far:

“It is significant and a positive sign that the governor sees energy policy as important and a means to grow us out of the economic problems we are in,” said David Pringle, campaign director for the New Jersey Environmental Federation, who was a panelist.

“That’s why we are so concerned about the cuts to the Clean Energy Fund because it is our seed money to grow the economy.”

That continuing cover is disgusting, because we know that Dave and the NJEF Board are aware of this (*Note: to avoid any confusion per anonymous comment, the below quote is from WolfeNotes.com not the above Star Ledger story, although this should be obvious to readers by how my original used the link and specification of the term and link to “of this” as a preface, which very clearly sourced and linked the quote below it to my own blog, not the Ledger piece. This is standard blogging convention and sound journalistic practice. Additionally, I prefaced virtually all of the Ledger story content with intro material clearly sourcing it. And if the “anonymous” commenter thinks I have no credibility, he/she should put their name on that kind of BS comment!)

“[DEP Commissioner] Martin’s “fresh look” at DEP science already: 1) killed a proposed greenhouse gas monitoring rule, 2) abandoned a drinking water standard for the chemical perchlorate, 3) twisted the findings of an EPA funded air toxics study in Paterson, 4) moved to gut DEP Vapor Intrusion requirements, 5) issued Administrative Order 2010-3 which delayed and weakened water quality management rules, and 6) signaled to a Court a plan to nix the Highlands septic density standards, the core of water resource and land protection in that region.

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  1. Anonymous
    April 21st, 2010 at 10:31 | #1

    You’re hurting your own credibility by claiming the Star-Ledger as the source of the quote above. It was, in fact, a comment on a Star-Ledger article by a reader. It was *not* written by the paper itself. Claiming things that aren’t true, or implying things are a certain way when they aren’t, makes readers question what else in your posts may be untrue. You can do better than this.

  2. April 21st, 2010 at 10:46 | #2

    Anonymous – You are WRONG! Check this link – it is a DIRECT QUOTE from the Star Ledger article:


    “Christie’s did not discuss his cuts of $158 million from the Clean Energy Fund, which is funded by utility customers for programs that reduce greenhouse gases, and from other funds designated to save energy. He declined to take questions from reporters, leaving immediately after his speech via a back door.”

    If you are not talking about that quote, which one are you referring to? The only other quotes are explicitly linked to my blog. The link to sources of all materials is provided – it is transparent and completely clear.

  3. April 21st, 2010 at 10:58 | #3

    Anonymous – I suspect you don’t understand how to hit links to trace the source of quotes or material.

    My posts proivide COPIOUS links to original materials.

    And I really resent that attack on my credibility.

  4. Bill Wolfe
    April 21st, 2010 at 11:02 | #4

    BTW anonymous, I never claimed that the quote in question was from the Ledger story.

    In fact, I did JUST THE OPPOSITE by sourcing adn LINKING it to my own blog.

    The quote you refer to what NOT written by a reader, if you checked the LINK I provided you would see that it was written by ME!

    Instead of attacking me, you should spend you time looking into Christie’s record or NJEF cover, which are far more valuable pursuits.

  5. April 21st, 2010 at 11:08 | #5

    Hey anonymous – I sense you’re a journalist. True? Affiliated with the Star Ledger? Sweating bullets that the front office might take exception to your critical story?

    Or jealous of the quality of the product I put out here? Have you even read the UCS impact report I linked to?

    And even the photo is FAR superior to the Ledger’s inaugural photos.

    And should I have clarified that the caption and photo were mine too, and not from the Ledger?

  6. Bill Wolfe
    April 21st, 2010 at 11:15 | #6

    In closing, dear readers and Mr/Mrs anonymous, ask yourself WHY the Star Ledger, with the exception of #5, has faild to report on the other highly controversial and substantive policy rollbacks I cite in item 1-6 above in the disputed quote in question?

    Environmental news blackout at the Ledger?

  1. April 24th, 2010 at 08:57 | #1
  2. May 6th, 2015 at 19:14 | #2
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