While taxes, revenue, and spending are keys to improving New Jersey’s moribund economy, they are not the only factors that enter into the equation of the state’s prosperity. While we need to spend money on preventable health issues and environmental cleanup, if we could avoid or mitigate such problems in the first place, the state’s economy would be much stronger. Yet Governor Christie’s actions indicate that he has blinders on to these fundamental truths.
Recently, the Governor vetoed a bill that would have prohibited the storage and treatment of highly toxic waste water from hydraulic fracturing. That veto was the subject of a conference call today organized by Food and Water Watch, with participation from several dozen other environmental groups.
During the call, these groups announced that they are working with the legislature to override the veto. We were told that Assembly Speaker Oliver will soon post the override in the lower chamber, and if the override is successful, it would then be brought to the Senate.
While the original bill was passed with a bipartisan majority in both houses, according to the Sierra Club’s Jeff Tittel, the vote was 3 short in the Senate and 7 in the Assembly of the supermajorities needed to override.
In his veto message, the Governor contended that the bill was unconstitutional and that the harmful effects of fracking waste water were unknown. But as discussed in today’s call, the non-partisan Office of Legislative Services has analyzed the bill, and its legal experts have concluded that the bill passes Constitutional muster. And even if the effects of fracking waste leaking into our drinking water supply are not proven, why take the risk until a full analysis is completed? (Oh yeah – I forgot that Republicans generally eschew scientific fact.)
It is a sad fact of life that the Governor is in the back pocket of the Koch Brothers, and that a large number of decent Republican legislators are in the back pocket of the Governor. It’s also sad that not every Democrat voted to ban these harmful chemicals from entering our drinking water. Below the fold, you can find how your legislator voted on the original bill.
We can spend our scarce resources on cleanup and health issues which do nothing to promote a better economy, or we can spend the money on education, infrastructure, and development to bring New Jersey back to the top of the economic pile. The choice is ours. Will the legislature do the right thing and override?