While the media’s attention is focused on the Democrats this week, Governor Christie’s kowtowing to the Koch Brothers continues to fly under the press’ radar screen.
When you can’t jump over the bar, you have two choices – work at it to improve, or lower the bar. When it comes to meeting Federal Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Air standards for New Jersey, Christie chooses the latter.
The Christie Administration’s Department of Environmental Protection is petitioning the EPA to declare the Garden State’s highly developed counties around New York and Philadelphia as having attained the requirements for what is referred to as “fine particulate matter”, even though they are neither in compliance, nor improving in those areas. Rather, Christie’s DEP is proposing gimmicks like moving monitoring sensors to less-polluted areas and claiming that due to the recession, more people are using mass transit and leaving their cars at home.
This year, the American Lung Association graded 13 of our 21 counties on air quality, with the best grade being a D in two of those counties, while 11 received an F.
Yet, at a hearing today in Trenton, the only group that came to testify was the Sierra Club. Have other clean air advocates lost their mojo? Have the Koch Brothers been successful in keeping these issues out of the press?
Lowering the bar for fine particulate matter is, of course, not the only area where Christie sides with the polluters over the health of New Jerseyans. His pullout from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, his stonewalling on developing regulations for wind power, his silence on fracking, and his failure to collect fines from polluters are other examples of his disregard for the environment. All of these will ultimately result in increased health issues, costing businesses money in health care and employee productivity – not a very business-friendly platform.
When Christie was elected, there was hope that at least on the environment, he would live up to his reputation as a “moderate” Republican. But after his secret meeting with the Koch Brothers, he swiftly moved in the direction of the GOP extremists. I was hoping that after his national ambitions were thwarted, he would move more toward Christine Todd Whitman’s position and away from those of Michele Bachmann. But I’m not holding my breath.