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WalMart Gives Over $1 Million To Christie Administration’s “Sustainability” Initiative

Local Officials, Citizens, & Press Duped By Corporate Marketing Strategy

Christie Administration funds and promotes private non-profit backed by Wal-Mart

In one of the nation’s more egregious examples of greenwashing, the Wal-Mart corporation has pumped more than $1 million into the Christie Administration’s “sustainability” initiative:

Walmart’s funding for the 2013 Small Grants Program, brings Walmart’s total contribution to this initiative over $1,000,000, having provided grant funding each year since 2009.

That initiative is outlined on the Christie Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) webpage which explicitly promotes the “Sustainable NJ” program.

But the DEP  is not the only state agency promoting the “Sustainable NJ” initiative funded by Wal-Mart.

The Christie Administration’s Board of Public Utilities (BPU) provided more than $1.4 million in ratepayer money from the NJ Clean Energy Fund to the “Sustainable NJ” initiative.

Ironically, Governor Christie has diverted almost $1 billion from the  Clean Energy Fund to pay for corporate tax breaks and subsidy programs.

The Governor has been criticized strongly by NJ media editorials  – “Gov. Christie’s towering hypocrisy  on climate” (last year, see this ) – and State environmental groups for this raid – “Repeated raids on clean energy fund sets back state’s energy efficiency efforts – but, of course, not by the participants in the Administration’s Wal-Mart backed “Sustainable NJ” programs, who receive Wal-Mart money.

[Update: in case you missed it, see today’s Tom Moran column where this diversion is one reason Christie is called “a catastrophe on the environment”: Chris Christie, America’s most overrated Governor]

In addition to the quid-pro-quo silence by “sustainability” participants with respect to criticizing the Governor’s raids on the Clean Energy Fund, participants also have avoided criticism of the systematic dismantling of State climate change programs and State land use and water resources planning and regulation.

This political pass is given to the Gov., while at the same time local officials perversely use participation in the “Sustainable NJ” program as evidence of a pro-environmental commitment, a promotional stance devoid of facts that demonstrate progresss in advancing “sustainability” (whatever that means).

The recent Christie Administration involvement with Wal-Mart and the pooling of Wal-Mart funds with State funds comes despite national press accounts that expose the essential  greenwashing nature of the program:

For Walmart, sustainability is a growth strategy — and a highly effective (and darkly ironic) one at that. Six years ago, Walmart was facing widespread opposition, including legislation that would have required better labor practices and limited the company’s growth. Thanks at least in part to its sustainability campaign, and the warm reception from many environmentalists, those roadblocks have eroded and Walmart’s expansion is once again rolling at full speed.

Perhaps this criticism is why Wal-Mart funding of the Christie Administration’s “sustainability” initiative is masked via reliance on a surrogate private entity, known as “Sustainable NJ”. (SNJ) SNJ launders Wal-Mart funds in the form of grants to local governments that participate in their program.

The SNJ organization is housed at the College of New Jersey, which provides the program with another misleading perception – of academic credibility.

Many local governments and well meaning citizens that participate in the “Sustainable NJ” program and receive Wal-Mart funds that are laundered through Sustainable NJ grants are not aware of the Wal-Mart connection and the Wal-Mart corporate strategy behind their donations.

The NJ press corps have written numerous favorable stories about the “Sustainable NJ”and the local programs and local officials that participate – yet, to my knowledge, none of these positive news stories mention the Wal-Mart funding or corporate strategy behind the funding.

Thus, local officials and well meaning citizens are duped.

The “Sustainability NJ” initiative receives private corporate funding, State government funding, and State agency (BPU & DEP) promotion.

But whose interests do they serve?

The public interest? Or the corporate interest of their funders? Or the political interests of the Governor and local officials?

We have reached out to local groups and state environmental, labor, consumer, and community groups – as well as the College of New Jersey – asking for their react to comment on the Wal-Mart funding and Christie Administration promoted program.

We will get back to you soon regarding their reaction to this situation.


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