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Christie: Making the Shore (Look) Safe for Private Beach Clubs

privatizing the Jersey Shore

privatizing the Jersey Shore

[Update: While Chrisite & Co. were doing photo op stunts, the US Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, & Transportation hel an important hearing that focused on the science of ocean acidification] and NASA’s Jim Hanson was on the Mall in DC]

Day 4 in our series: Earth Day arrives! So get your waders on, the bullshit is deep today.

The Asbury Park Press reports: “Christie opposes oil, gas projects off N.J.

SEA BRIGHT — Gov. Chris Christie’s reply to proposed oil and natural gas development in ocean waters off New Jersey: “Keep out of our backyard.

Christie spelled out that message loud and clear at a half-hour news conference at the Surfrider Beach Club in Sea Bright Thursday afternoon before an estimated crowd of 150 that included local politicians, environmental groups and recreational fishermen who oppose offshore oil and gas development.

“We stand by our opposition to any kind of offshore drilling,” Christie said. “For as long as I am governor, this administration will oppose any application for liquefied natural gas.”

New Jersey is not going to be a pipeline for New York City for natural gas at the risk of runing (sic) our shores, our beaches and our environment,” Christie added. …[…]

Christie also signed legislation Thursday that he said will enhance and expand the state’s ability to produce renewable energy sources.

While the Governor deserves some praise, it is absurdly exaggerated because opposing off shore drilling is a motherhood and apple pie issue in NJ that politicians of all stripes just love to exploit to create a false appearance that they are eco-warriors.

Opposing  a hypothetical offshore liquified natural gas (LNG) project is a light political lift that gores no NJ special interest Ox (and the LNG project may have already been killed by market forces, like the huge glut in US domestic natural gas supplies, expanded by the massive new “Marcellus Shale” gas reserves).

And these NIMBY crumbs are offered up at a time that the Governor is under harsh criticism for his environmental rollbacks and real and increasingly severe shore threats are ignored. (and what about this PSEG eyeing new nuclear plant in Salem County) and this: Coalition pushes for cooling towers sooner at Oyster Creek)

And just whose backyard is Christie protecting? From what threats? Is the ocean/shore really being protected? From what?

The Christie demagoguery, propaganda, and hypocrisy are stunning – as is the opportunistic, narrow, and compromised stance of some “environmental” groups who can’t seem to understand how they are being cynically manipulated and used to provide political cover for the Governor. This political cover is a dangerous old divide and conquer game. It gives the public a deeply misleading assessment of the Governor’s true record on the environment, while providing the Governor an accountability free pass on scores of other far more pressing policy issues.

Let’s explore those critical claims.

First up is the fact that the event was held at a private beach club – apparently continuing a pattern of invitation of friends only – just days after the Governor’s Red Tape Review Report found that DEP rules to expand the public’s right to access to the shore “offend common sense” (@ page 37). That Report also found that longstanding DEP’s coastal rules to prevent developers from making current severe parking problems worse “overreach” DEP’s legal authority and should be dismantled (@ page 40). Gotta keep out the riffraff and subsidize more developers.

Ironically, the private beach club shares a name with the Surfrider Foundation, a real ocean advocacy organization that supports expanded public access under the public trust doctrine.

And on top of all that – you can’t make this stuff up – it took a lawsuit by Corzine Attorney General Anne Milgram against the private beach club to provide public access ANNE MILGRAM, ATTORNEY GENERAL OF NEW JERSEY, et al. Plaintiffs, v

As Surfrider Foundation reports:

In January 2010 a legal dispute between six Sea Bright private beaches and the state was settled with an agreement which “significantly expands the amount of beach open to the general public.” The settlement obliges five of the businesses — Chapel Beach Club, Surfrider Beach Club, Sands Beach Club, Water’s Edge Beach Club and Ship Ahoy Beach Club — to contribute $30,000 each to fund public-access improvements, while the Driftwood Beach Club will contribute $20,000 and give the state a tract of oceanfront property in nearby Monmouth Beach. Additionally, Sea Bright will spend $556,000 to provide public-access amenities within the borough that are related to providing public access to the beach. The new agreement expands one signed in 1993 that established a 15-foot “limited-use public corridor” in front of the clubs’ beaches. Instead, a “full public use” area encompassing at least 50 percent of the beach, up to a maximum of 150 feet, will be established.

Second, showing what a cheap shot demagogue he is, Christie played the NY City card – every good republican and NIMBY shore-dweller hates NY City right? (other than Wall Street, that is).

The fact of the matter is that NJ already is an energy pipeline to NY City. Those inconvenient facts are in the BPU Energy Master Plan (EMP)that Christie has rejected. Thee EMP warns about “increasing exports to NY City and Long Island“:

Like New Jersey, New York City and Long Island suffer from a shortage of local generation capacity and limits on their ability to import electricity. A substantial part of their strategy to address that problem is to enter into contracts that support the development of new transmission lines over which they can import more power. As New York City and Long Island import more electricity from and through New Jersey, our own shortfall of capacity to meet rising demand is exacerbated.

Before the “Neptune” transmission line from New Jersey to Long Island commenced operation, the United States Department of Energy said that the line “will move electricity from New Jersey to Long Island; the line will ease Long Island’s supply needs, but it may exacerbate New Jersey’s local reliability and supply problems.”15 When the Neptune line commenced operation in 2007, it immediately began withdrawing about 660 MW of capacity from New Jersey. This withdrawal was equivalent to an immediate retirement of about four percent of our current in-state generation, or about the capacity of the Oyster Creek nuclear plant. To look at it another way, activating the Neptune line had an instantaneous effect equivalent to two years’ worth of increases in peak demand in New Jersey.

The Neptune line is not the end of the story. PJM states that with the Neptune line and other planned projects, the impact of growing peak demand is “compounded by the stresses on the transmission system of potentially having to accommodate more than 2,800 MW of planned exports of power from eastern PJM to New York City and Long Island. . .”16 (@ page 35-36)

While we are exporting these huge and growing exports of NJ power to NY, Christie claims we need to produce more power, more nukes, and is supporting a major $750 million ratepayer funded Susquehanna-Roseland 500-kilovolt Pennsylvania power line into northwestern New Jersey transmission line to import dirty coal power from Pennsylvania and the midwest.

While Christie touts a minor piece of legislation that provides regulatory relief for solar (seems like the Governor’s entire economic development policy is limited to regulatory relief), the fact of the matter is that Christie made deep cuts in funds for energy efficiency, wind, and solar by raiding $300 million from the Clean Energy Funds so the wealthy can have tax cuts (while ignoring growing global warming ocean threats).

Christie says he wants to change the culture at DEP yet data show DEP approves more than 99% of permits.

The culture that needs to change is in the private sector, whose consultants and well paid lobbyists exert undue political pressure on DEP to cut corners and issue inappropriate and sometimes illegal permits.  Surprisingly, former US Attorney Christie said nothing about the criminal “Operation Bid Rig” indictment of shore Republican Assemblyman Van Pelt for his corrupt behind the scenes dealings with DEP – does everyone forget the outrageous Van Pelt quote in the NY Times: “DEP works for me”?

Mr. Van Pelt, who sits on an assembly committee that oversees the Department of Environmental Protection, was accused of accepting money to help the informant obtain environmental permits. In a meeting in Atlantic City in February, prosecutors charged, Mr. Van Pelt assured Mr. Dwek that the environmental agency “worked for” him, then took $10,000 in cash and told the informant to call him “any time.”

Christie say DEP regulations are crippling the economy yet virtually every professional economist says Wall Street greed and LACK of regulations caused the collapse.

Christie is sacrificing the environment to benefit his business cronies, making the NJ shore look safe for elite NIMBY’s while real risks rise, and limiting public access rights for the benefit of wealthy shore homeowners.

End of story!

Takanassee shore 197

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