Home > Uncategorized > A Quick Fact Check of Gov. Christie’s Debate Claims on Climate Change, Energy, and NJ Transit

A Quick Fact Check of Gov. Christie’s Debate Claims on Climate Change, Energy, and NJ Transit

Buono holds up her hand to emphasize a big ZERO for the amount of dollars distributed by the Christie Administration almost a year later to rebuild homes from the $600 million RREM program.

The day after the Christie – Buono second debate, I wrote an email to NJ state house reporters and environmental journalists and a couple of editors I know personally suggesting that they should fact check what I thought was by far the most important exchange in the debate.

The exchange resulted from a question from veteran reporter, Michael Aron to Senator Buono:

Question: (paraphrase)

If we are hit with another Sandy like storm, why would we be better off under your administration instead off Governor Christie’s?

Buono delivered a devastating answer: (verbatim – sorry, I missed the start of Buono’s response where she said something to the affect that “I wouldn’t park NJ Transit cars down in the Meadowlands”

We need to have a governor that believes that climate change isn’t an esoteric issue. The fact is that climate change helped to contribute to hurricane Sandy. We know that the ocean levels are rising. This is a governor who pulled out of RGGI – the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. These are policies we need to have a governor promoting to prevent another hurricane like Sandy.”   ~~~ Sen. Buono   – time 38:40

Christie offered a lame and deeply misleading reply (verbatim – numbers are mine, to make it easier to fact check):

(1) We’re the second highest solar state in the country because of investments this administration has continued and enhanced.

(2) We’re continuing to look for ways to lower our carbon footprint.

(3) Three new power stations that are natural gas fired is another thing we’re doing.

(4) We’ve met our goals for 2020 in carbon emissions already.

(5) I’m proud of our record.

That was an unbelievable moment!

But it was completely ignored in the next day’s news coverage of the debate. Since then, there has been no followup coverage, not even in the feeding frenzy of the one year Sandy anniversary saturation coverage.

Only one reporter even responded to my email request for a fact check – to suggest that it was too far in the weeds!! Imagine that – by far the most important policy issue misrepresented by the likely 2016 Republican Presidential nominee!

So, today, weeks later, of course I was pissed off to read the Politker “fact check” of the debate, and see that it too completely ignored this critical exchange.

Just 3 days before the election, I can’t let that go unchallenged.

So, here is my quick fact check:

Buono’s claims – 100% accurate.

In fact, Buono understated the Gov.’s actual record with respect to his systematic dismantling of NJ’s climate change, greenhouse gas emissions reduction, adaptation, and coastal land use planning and hazard mitigation programs.

Christie’s claims – 100% false – pants on fire.

(1) –  The Gov. is factually false. NJ has fallen to 4th in the nation. More importantly, NJ’s solar progress was made by the laws, policies, plans, programs, and investments of prior administrations that Christie now hypocritically takes credit for.

Just the opposite is the case with respect to the Gov. record on solar and renewables: In fact, Christie’s Energy Master Plan promotes fossil fuels, opposes renewable subsidies, reduced renewable energy goals, and erected new cost test barriers. Christie almost killed the solar industry and has done nothing but drag his feet on developing off shore wind.

(2) The Christie administration has abandoned the various plans, programs, and policies that previously were in place to lower NJ’s carbon footprint.

  • Christie gutted the State Development and Redevelopment Plan, which built linkages between land use, transportation, housing,  and greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Christie rolled back the Energy Master Plan which focused on reducing GHG emissions from NJ’s energy sector.
  • Christie ignored the 2007 Global Warming Response Act, which set aggressive GHG emission reduction goals.
  • Christie dismantled DEP’s Office of Climate change and abandoned DEP’s 2009 Report on recommendations to implement the GWRA.
  • Christie unilaterally withdrew NJ from the 11 northeastern state’s Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiaitve” cap and trade program for the electric sector. That decision resulting in NJ losing about $200 million in funds for energy efficiency, renewable energy, consumer, and mitigation money.
  • Christie diverted over $800 million from the Clean Energy Fund to pay for corporate tax breaks. That fund created thousands of jobs and reduced GHG emissions and lowered energy bills for low income residents.
  • Christie promoted multi-billion dollar new gas pipelines and electric power lines. The gas pipelines will import fracked gas from Pennsylvania to supply NY metro region markets. The electric power line will import dirty coal power from downwind states. Result will be more GHG emissions and higher gas and electric bills for consumers.
  • Christie dismantled NJ’s various climate vulnerability assessment and adaptation initiatives, infrastructure, as well as coastal planning programs.
  • Christie undermine the development of electric car infrastructure by refusing to join a multi-state pact promoting it.
  • Christie is promoting a $400 million gas re-powering of the BL England coal/oil plant to be served by a new $100 gas pipeline though the Pinelands.
  • Christie appears to have backed off his original opposition and veto of siting an off shore LNG terminal, a move likely driven by his national political ambitions, in light of Republicans’ in Washington aggressive support of gas exports.

(3) The 3 new gas fired power plants Christie alludes to would cost ratepayers over $3 billion dollars in subsides and create new GHG emissions. In fact, the Christie gas plant plan was just struck down be a federal District Court judge – a major national embarrassment to Gov. Christie.

(4) The Gov. is technically correct – NJ has met its 2020 emission reduction goal. However, that success is transient and illusory and has nothing to do with Gov. Christie.

The GHG emission reductions are due to 3 factors:

a) the 2008 economic collapse lowered economic growth and energy demand, so reductions are temporary and will disappear as the economy grows;

b) NJ’s energy conservation and efficiency programs were successful and programs lowered energy demand. These reductions are real and permanent.

c) the market was flooded with a glut of natural gas which led to sharp price declines. The low cost of gas provided incentives for the electric energy industry yo switch fuels from coal to gas. Studies suggest that gas has about half the GHG emissions compared to coal. But, these studies do not include recent findings that lifecycle emissions from gas drilling, processing, storage and distribution may actually be greater than coal. So short term reductions may not be real.

Governor Christie had nothing to do with any of these reductions and is a liar to take credit for them.

Most hypocritically, he opposes programs that would provide GHG reductions, while he falsely claims credit for those same reductions.

(5) Anyone that would be “proud” of this atrocious record is a fossil fool.

I’m in too much of a hurry to get outside right now, but I’d be glad to substantiate these claims with evidence and documents and links – or google around this site or NJ Spotlight, where they all have been written about and documented – or give me a call or drop me an email.


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