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Democrats in Bidding War with Gov. Christie on Race to the Bottom

Sea Change: transition from bipartisan support of strong environmental protections, to bipartisan attempt to weaken them

Yesterday’s Bergen Record story on Senate President Sweeney’s new business task force (and its composition and “open for business” mission) demands a response (see: Democrat-created legislative task force to focus on improving New Jersey’s biz environment.

We recently accused Governor Christie of engaging in a “race to the bottom“ with the League of Municipalities, in seeeking to eliminate so called “unfunded mandates“, many of which are protections for the environment (others include basic elements of civilization, like dedicated funding for libraries, police protections of courts, certified EMT’s in ambulances, lower blood lead levels for children, et cetera – the League assembled a very long and draconian list I’d like to get my hands on.)

If teachers, school busing, librarians, art, music, care for the elderly and poor are toast, do I tilt at windmills to expect to retain protections for clean water, clean air and wildlife?

But let’s get back on task – the Christie “unfunded mandate” move created a new public sector political front in Christie’s “war on the environment” that we have been writing about here frequently. 

I’ve long been aware of some pro-industry Democrats, like Assemblyman Burzichelli’s efforts to rollback environmental requirements, and Senator Sarlo’s attacks on DEP water quality rules (to name just a few Democratic attacks on the environment!), but assumed that they did not represent the policy views of leadership.

I assumed that the so called liberal, pro environment wing of the democratic party would resist or at least not go along with the Governor’s environmental rollback initiatives.

So I was struck by Democratic Chairman, John McKeon’s positions at a recent legislative hearing. I speculated:

Democratic [Environment Committee Chairman and former Mayor of West Orange] John McKeon … seemed to be competing with his local colleagues to see who could be more foolish in rolling back state requirements.

I discussed McKeon’s apparent support right after the hearing privately with a top Senate Democrat, who was appalled and clearly voiced objections.

Well, no further speculation required – it’s official.

McKeon wasn’t just posturing and allowing the League of Muncipalities to vent. The Democrats are now “all in” on the Governor’s initiative. The Bergen Record reported:

Democrat-created legislative task force to focus on improving New Jersey’s biz environment.

That article speaks for itself –

So I guess we’ll now be writing on the transition from bipartisan support for strong environmental protections, to a bipartisan attempt to weaken them.

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