There are a lot of issues facing us today, but arguably the most important one for this and future generations is the impact of global climate change. Even if we solve our problems with civil rights, the economy, and jobs, without a habitable planet, all of those solutions are for naught.
Searching for solutions, today Assemblyman Upendra Chivukula convened an informational session of his Telecommunications and Utilities Committee to hear testimony from all sides of this issue.
As David Pringle of the New Jersey Environmental Federation put it, this is not a zero sum game. In other words, we don’t have to choose between a clean environment and jobs. We can have both. In fact, according to Jeff Tittel of the New Jersey Sierra Club, the state has lost 1,800 jobs since Governor Christie unilaterally pulled the state out of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. We have fallen into fourth place in terms of solar energy, and our wind energy projects are stalled as they continue to wait for Christie administration approval. Jobs in these industries are going to neighboring states.
Probably the biggest waste of time, and yet the most entertaining part of the hearings was the testimony of climate-change deniers from Americans for Prosperity – a group that was led by Steve Lonegan before his Senate run. Every time they espoused their Fox “News” talking points, Chairman Chivukula struck them down with something the AFPers are unfamiliar with – facts. When confronted by Chivukula with scientific evidence, they determined that it was just “fairy tales.” One of them testified that RGGI was costing a 7 percent hike in electricity rates. Chivukula did not let them go unchallenged -he pointed out that the correct number is 0.7 percent. So in my estimation, the AFP crew is either stupidly misinformed or a bunch of liars.
After the hearing, I spoke with Chairman Chivukula to get a brief summary. Below the fold is a short audio interview with renowned climate scientist Dr. Anthony Broccoli of Rutgers.
Dr. Anthony Broccoli is Professor of Atmospheric Science in the Department of Environmental Science at Rutgers University. He is the co-director of the Rutgers Climate Institute. For more information on Dr. Broccoli, visit his web page.
Click here to listen to Broccoli interview (2½ minutes)
Usually, when a committee member is unable to attend a hearing such as this, his or her party’s leadership sends a substitute. But for today’s hearing, Republican committee member Donna Simon was absent and the GOP hierarchy apparently decided that the subject matter was not important enough to send someone in her place. So only one Republican heard and learned about the impact of our neglect of our precious environment under the last four years of Republican rule. Also notably absent were members of the Christie administration’s Board of Public Utilities, who were invited to testify but were no-shows.
Another no-show was much of the mainstream media. It’s a shame that they don’t cover important events like this. NJ Spotlight’s Tom Johnson was there, of course, and I look forward to reading his report on the hearing. National outlets like Bloomberg and Reuters had folks there, but don’t look for any in-depth coverage on the commercial television stations or NJTV.
I’ll be posting videos of the testimony from some of the speakers here on Blue Jersey over the next couple of days.