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NJEF and The Christie Administration – Over Two Years of Cover

NJEF Must Publicly Apologize for This Huge Mistake – No Rewrite Of History

Back in an April 25, 2011 post, I posed this question:

When will NJEF revoke their Christie endorsement?

Well, it looks like a variant of that moment is coming – a press advisory by NJEF indicates that NJEF will issue some form of public statement, likely distancing themselves from the Christie Administration.

But how do you take this stuff back?

~~~ “Environmentalists look forward to working with Christie ”  –  Daily Record Nov. 8, 2009 

“We are optimistic going forward that Christie will keep his promises to put an emphasis on science over politics and to ensure we are developing in the right places,” Pringle said. “He had the strongest environmental agenda and the most detailed plans.”

~~~ “Eco-Lobby frets over rules freeze” – Asbury Park Press November 23, 2009

David Pringle, campaign director for the New Jersey Environmental Federation, said “the state has a lot of inefficiencies and overlapping and conflicting rules, and there’s plenty of things that have absolutely no impact on environmental and public health protection.”

~~~ “DEP rules under review, agency’s fate uncertain” (DEP Transition Report) – Asbury Park Press Feb. 6, 2010

But Karrow wrote and takes full responsibility for the report, according to David Pringle, a member of the panel that issued the report. He is campaign director for the New Jersey Environmental Federation, a coalition of 100 groups and 100,000 individual members.

However, Steve Wilson, a spokesman for the New Jersey Business and Industry Association, said a colleague David Brogan, vice president for environmental policy helped write the report.

~~~ “Kudos and caution greet Christie’s business boost – Backers cheer changes that let firms weigh in early on new rules. Some environmentalists worry” (DEP Transition Report) – Philadelphia Inquirer Feb. 14, 2010

The business community is thrilled, while environmental advocates worry the economy will be used as a cover to dismantle longtime protections.

Christie is “saying that the state has to reform and redo its regulatory process so that it’s no longer a disincentive for new investment,” said Hal Bozarth, executive director of the Chemistry Council of New Jersey. “That’s frankly the first time in my long tenure that I’ve heard those things.” […]

Dave Pringle, campaign director of the New Jersey Environmental Foundation, which endorsed Christie, was the sole representative of environmental advocacy groups on the DEP transition team. While he disagreed with the tone of the report, Pringle said it contained many ideas his group supported, including prioritizing science over political considerations.

~~~  “Christie enacts moratorium on regulations” NJN TV news story – March 12, 2010

“This process [i.e. the moratorium, Red Tape Review Group, cost/benefit analysis, and new federal standards policy of Gov. Christie’s Executive Orders 1-3] could just enable them to have a better understanding of what they’re getting themselves in to.” Dave Pringle

~~~ “DEP to begin massive overhaul” –  Bergen Record Oct. 8, 2010

Bill Wolfe with Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility is also concerned. “DEP’s mission, established by law, is to protect the environment and public health, not grow the economy,” he said. “Martin’s views are at odds with law, almost 40 years of practice, and the reality of environmental policy, where compliance burdens often cost industry real money. ‘Greater flexibility’ is merely a code for providing ‘regulatory relief.‘ ”

David Pringle of the New Jersey Environmental Federation was more reserved in his assessment of the plan. “It’s a healthy process for an agency to look at how they’re doing things and modernize to be more effective,” he said.

~~~ “DEP looking to private contractors to oversee some permit applications” – Bergen Record Oct. 1, 2010

“It’s good the DEP would still have final say on permits, but a lot of this conflicts with what Governor Christie said during the campaign about not privatizing the land-use program,” said David Pringle. […]

“This is not a privatization of the land-use permit process,” the DEP’s Hajna said. “The contractor won’t sign off on permit applications. They will provide technical assistance on an as-needed basis. Final approval would still go through DEP staff.”

~~~ “Environmental groups worry about Christie agency” –  Philadelphia Inquirer Oct. 13, 2010 

Bill Wolfe, director of the New Jersey Chapter of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, said dispute resolution was particularly prone to abuse because it was designed to overrule the judgment of DEP staff.

The danger comes not only in using politics and intervention from above to overrule the technical judgment of staff, but when those meetings go down, there’s not really accountability or transparency,” Wolfe said. “If it were on the record with full disclosure, there would be an entirely different dynamic.”

Not all environmental advocates are on the same page. Dave Pringle, campaign director for the New Jersey Environmental Foundation, which endorsed Christie, a Republican, over incumbent Democrat Jon S. Corzine in the last election, said that while the Office of Dispute Resolution under Whitman was used to undermine environmental law, the Christie administration has assured the foundation that that will not be the case this time around.

Pringle said his organization was willing to withhold judgment until the evidence was in.

Business advocates welcome the new office. 

~~~ “Christie names Judge Lee Solomon to head BPU” – NJ Newsroom January 21, 2010

“Lee Solomon has the legal, environmental, personal, and political background to ensure a cleaner, greener 21st century”, said Sharon Finlayson, the [NJ Environmental] Federation’s chairwoman.

In addition to Christie’s energy industry agenda, the BPU is expected to play an important role implementing some of the key pieces of the governor’s environmental agenda including:

Implementing the Global Warming Response Act and Energy Master Plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions with greater emphasis on clean renewables and energy efficiency;

~~~ “The Myth of a divided environmental community” NJ Spotlight, Mike Catania Op-Ed June 29, 2011

To be sure, the governor has gotten an awful lot of mileage out of the fact that the NJ Environmental Federation somehow deluded itself into endorsing him. And it has been downright embarrassing to watch Dave Pringle twist himself into a pretzel during the past 18 months trying desperately to find a way to say something positive and upbeat about the governor’s latest assault on New Jersey’s environmental regulatory infrastructure.

~~~ “To keep NJ parks in funds, Christie will allow some privatization” (Phil Gregory, Nov. 2, 2011

The plan looks good, according to Dave Pringle of the New Jersey Environmental Federation.

“For us, the two litmus tests were entrance fees–and those are staying the same–and no naming rights, and that’s not in there.” Pringle said. “It’s appropriate to provide better amenities and concessions for our parks consistent with the mission of those parks.”

~~~ “THE 43rd PRESIDENT: THE ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY; Whitman Seen as Strong Choice for E.P.A.” –  NY Times Dec. 21, 2000

“[…] … David S. Pringle, campaign director of the New Jersey Environmental Federation, commended the governor’s open-space program and other initiatives in her second term.

”She’s gone from bad to better, and hopefully it’ll go to good’‘ at the E.P.A., Mr. Pringle said.

These are just a few examples of overt media support – there were countless other behind the scenes slimy moves by Pringle and NJEF.

For example, NJEF and Pringle provided cover for the Christie betrayal on mandating installation of cooling towers at Oyster Creek nuke plant, a move that would have shut the plant down, not extended its operating life 10 more years.

NJEF also defending the Governor’s fatally flawed Barnegat Bay plan and provided cover for veto’s of storm water and TMDL legislation.

NJEF has done virtually nothing on holding Christie accountable for his betrayal on  his promise to develop and implement environmental justice and cumulative impact standards for heavily burdened urban communities.

But perhaps the most damaging was to undercut those – myself included – advocating early opposition to gutting of the Water Quality Management Planning rules and rejecting participation in the DEP “Fakeholder process”.  Instead of mounting an environmental defense campaign to defend the WQMP rules, the Pringle led faction spent many months, resources, and countless hours in the room with the DEP Fakeholders – a HUGE missed opportunity to generate public pressure to block the gutting of those rules.

The cover NJEF provided emboldened the Governor and DEP Commissioner Martin to take even more radical steps in gutting environmental and public heath protections (e.g. the waiver rule, Highlands appointments, et al).

NJEF false praise and support undermined and delayed efforts by the entire environmental community to mount an environmental defense campaign, generate public and legislative opposition, and hold the Governor accountable.

The NJEF spin bamboozled some reporters and distorted news coverage, leading to countless equivocal “he said/she said” stories that continue to pollute public discourse.

NJEF also provided cover for anti-environmental legislators and loyal Christie backers.

Pringle’s support of Christie’ park funding plan is especially bad. The Christie Plan ignores collection of easement revenue form power lines and pipelines. It unfairly shifts burden to the public.  It increases commercialization of public parks. It will facilitate crony profiteering at the expense of public parks mission. It does nothing to address then huge maintenance backlog. Pringle is an idiot and a tool.

And, with all this and more, NJEF  simply disgusted and pissed me off.

Regardless of my disgust, any moves NJEF could make at this point would not undo the damage and come far too late to warrant forgiveness, after over 2 years of environmental abuse which was masked by NJEF political and media shilling.

[Update: I just got a call from a reporter – apparently, NJEF issued a Report Card on Christie – I think D overall grade, with an F on global warming. While I didn’t take issue with the grades (having not reviewed it), I did question why NJEF released this Report card now (too little, too late, and not nearly enough to redeem themselves) and why was there was no mention of over 2 years of support and enabling the policies they now grade so poorly.]

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  1. Scott Olson
    May 3rd, 2012 at 13:22 | #1

    Who’re these people fooling with this lame attempt to distance themselves now? You aren’t holding your breath on the ENGO community getting an apology, are you Bill? My grade to NJEF? And F…followed by U!

  2. George Hayduke III
    May 3rd, 2012 at 14:43 | #2

    Dave is Judas, and I’m pretty sure CC stiffed him on his 30 pieces of silver. Played like a fiddle and dumped like a whore, thanks, Dave he’s you money and a little extra for cab fare………..

    We all need to keep on reminding folks what went down and ostracize NJEF till they cut ties with Dave. Some screw ups get you fired. This was a class V meltdown.

  3. inthered
    May 3rd, 2012 at 19:06 | #3

    NJEF statement can be found in information e-stributed by Clean Water Action . org


  4. Jerry
    May 4th, 2012 at 09:13 | #4

    Do you think it is true that Christie’s Administration (Bob Martin) made a pre-election agreement with NJEF, Clean Ocean Action, and others that they would support him if he would kill coal plants (including the carbon sequestration one), transmission electric/gas lines, LNG projects and if Christie provided funding to these groups and sponsor some minor environmental benefit programs? Rumor has it that not only did they make these agreements but they were dumb enough to write it down.

  5. May 4th, 2012 at 10:10 | #5


    Jerry – Those are some of the things I have heard from Dave Pringle to justify what I (and others) have called a “transactional endorsement” of Christie (i.e. lacking in principles and based only on quid pro quo benefits to specific organizations, not the public interest).

    But aside from the inherently corrupt nature of that “transaction”, NJEF got totally duped on the merits and struck a really, really bad deal.

    The PROPOSED coal plant (i.e. PurGen) in Linden was always a remote possibility, but now is essentially dead, because it will not get huge multi-BILLION dollar subsides that would have been provided in the Democratic Cap & Trade bill that failed in Congress – and natural gas prices have dropped. Both destroy the economic feasibility of that plant. So, any alleged “kill” certainly was no heavy lift for Gov. Christie and he in fact he did not block it – market conditions did.

    The same thing with the PROPOSED offshore LNG plants – it is easy for the Gov. to “kill” projects that are already dead due to marketplace economics.

    Christie SUPPORTS gas and electric transmission lines, so if that was promised to NJEF, then they really got duped!!

    In addition to these dynamics, COA is a republican leaning outfit anyway – e.g. Cindy Zipf recently appeared with Christie and Tom Kean, and she wrote a letter of support for Christie Whitman as EPA Administrator.

    I don’t know about money to projects and other “minor programs”, but I wouldn’t be surprised.

    I;ve seen emails from Dave that basically confirm all this – don’t know of any written agreement though.

  6. May 4th, 2012 at 10:12 | #6


    Thanks in the red – once I digest that and the news coverage, I will write another wrap up post – too busy today to write.

  7. May 4th, 2012 at 10:13 | #7

    @Scott Olson

    You are correct, again, SCott.

    And Pringle is quoted as saying he “does not regret” the endorsement!


  8. May 4th, 2012 at 10:14 | #8

    @George Hayduke III

    Hayduke is the Man! (or woman!)

  9. George Hayduke III
    May 4th, 2012 at 12:01 | #9

    Heyduke is a dude..sometimes “the dude”


    Amy Goldsmith, nice try, but your editorial does little to demonstrate ownership of the candidate YOU and NJEF so energetically endorsed in 2009. Faced with the choice of a bad John Corizine, an ok Chris Daggett, a great none of the above; or a you have to be kidding me……… You guys went with the only solid “Not in your right mind” option.
    NJEF does not speak for the movement, and has not since they took this bold step. As I’m sure you know you are radically at odds with what the rest of the green community, (who I will remind you did not sellout their values), is saying. As far as I am concerned, NJEF owns this Governor, and all the damage that he will do to the environmental protections many of us have worked so hard for here in New Jersey. If this is your attempt to return to the fold it’s sadly lacking. If nothing else you should return any donations you have received in the past 3 years, or donate them to a more effective organization. If nothing else, you have proven through your actions that you have mismanaged funds intended to support a group working to protect the environment. Better yet -How about this as a letter to the editor?
    Dear Citizens of NEW JERSEY,
    We at NJEF sincerely apologies for our short sighted, ill advised, and harmful endorsement of Chris Christy and his policies. Simply stated, we got it wrong, entirely wrong in fact and have distanced ourselves from those who have led us to this decision. We disavow our support and promise to work tirelessly to undo the harm done by this administration………..
    To the people who care, donate, and work tirelessly to protect the environment that allows us to cram 1100+ people into every square mile of NJ. It’s time to boycott NJEF. They don’t speak for you, and are clearly more concerned with saving face then they are at addressing the challenges of the ALEC, Koch Brothers, and Christies’ corporate profit over environment supporters.
    There is a price to pay, and this is month’s too late and not even close to what covering the damage done.
    Do you really think a guy who shouts down teachers at public meetings cares about a report card?
    I give NJEF a grade…………….. F.

  10. Scott Olson
    May 6th, 2012 at 12:30 | #10

    @George Hayduke III
    Hayduke…you THE dude! Amen, brother!

  1. October 18th, 2012 at 17:55 | #1
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