One of the reasons that Chris Christie is considered by the mainstream media to be a “moderate” Republican is that he ostensibly has a decent record on the environment. But don’t let that conventional “wisdom” fool you. Christie is just as bad as the stereotypical climate change denier – worse if you consider that he is actually in a position to do something.
Yesterday, the Assembly Telecommunications and Utility Committee held a hearing on wind energy. New Jersey is well-positioned to be a leader in this technology, especially offshore wind energy generation because of our coastline and favorable climate for such generation. The winds are usually greater during the day, when peak power demands are present. Wind generation is non-polluting and does not leave a legacy of radioactive waste to be handled by future generations. Wind energy not only has the potential for more manufacturing and construction jobs in the state, but because special ocean-going vessels are needed to move the behemoth turbine blades, there’s an opportunity to build up the states ship construction sector, also.
Yet, Koch Brother Christie, while paying lip service to offshore wind, is putting roadblocks in the way.
The ultimate goal is to have these wind turbines about 20 miles off shore. But there are technical challenges in building these large structures in the ocean, and there are also challenges in bringing their electricity to shore. One way to mitigate these risks is to have a pilot project. Smaller in scale, and closer to shore, building this first facility would provide engineers and construction workers valuable information on the techniques needed to build the larger facilities in the future.
Fisherman’s Energy in Cape May is a consortium of New Jersey fishermen who are spearheading such a project. But the Christie Administration is standing in their way. Christie’s cronies produced an “independent” report denigrating the project because it would cost ratepayers an average of about seventeen cents per month to subsidize this critical pilot program. Without this pilot project, the risks involved in commercially viable wind energy are increased. Perhaps this is what Christie and his sponsors want.
This is not the first time Christie has put the interests of his cronies in front of common sense energy and environmental policy. Last year, he pulled the state out of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative shortly after he had a secret meeting with the notorious Koch Brothers. This was done unilaterally, without consulting the legislature. Now, our lawmakers are working on a bill to undo the damage caused by the Governor, requiring the state to participate in RGGI. The bill has passed the Senate Environment and Energy Committee and will be heard at the Assembly committee level next week.
Last night, I ran into Assemblyman Upendra Chivukula at an event at Rutgers, and got his comments on these important issues.