Tag Archive: RGGI

Christie Acknowledges Man-Made Climate Change While Simultaneously Ignoring It

Yesterday, Governor Christie issued some rules pertaining to rebuilding homes on the Jersey Shore – homes that were destroyed or demolished by Hurricane Sandy. These rules are tough and will be expensive to home owners to comply with. But they are necessary. In effect, the Governor acknowledged that future storms and sea surges will become more frequent and severe, thus acknowledging the fact that predictions made decades ago by global climate scientists are now coming to fruition.

Yet, the Governor still refuses to acknowledge that there are things we can do to alleviate the frequency and severity of these events. His cozying up to the Koch Brothers and withdrawal of the state from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative just work toward making the situation worse. His less-than-enthusiastic support for renewable energy like wind and solar power guarantees that New Jersey’s dependence on dirty global-climate-changing energy will be with us long after he’s gone from the political scene.

Some Random Thoughts on Today’s Sandy Hearing

The Senate Budget Committee convened today in Toms River, to hear about the impact of and the recovery efforts due to Hurricane Sandy. State, county, and local officials briefed Senator Paul Sarlo and his committee on the events, the impact, and the massive remediation and recovery costs that this “storm of the century” has thrust upon the fiscally fragile state economy.

Chairman Sarlo opened the hearings by announcing that the panel would talk about recovery and remediation efforts, but would not be discussing budget issues. (If you didn’t follow the @bluejersey twitter feed, you can find more on the meeting by clicking here.) Sarlo rightfully prioritized the effort to find temporary housing and quickly move to more permanent housing for those who lost everything. He said they would discuss infrastructure improvements and smart rebuilding efforts.

All of this is necessary. But it is not sufficient. While we can’t prevent 100-year storms (which scientists say will now occur with greater frequency), we can do a lot as a state and a nation to mitigate the severity of these storms.

First, we need to have a serious discussion about how we rebuild the shore towns and the areas within flood plains – a discussion that was given only lip service today. It’s very difficult for people to lose their homes, especially those who have lived in them for decades. But does it make sense to rebuild the same way only to go through the same trauma a few years from now? Is it more cost-effective if we bite the bullet now and put our power distribution lines underground?  That would be more expensive in the short term, but cheaper in the long run. Should we allow wealthy shore homeowners to dictate how the barrier islands are protected?

Questions the National Media Should Ask Governor Christie, but Won’t

Next week, Governor Christie will bask in the biggest national spotlight he’s had since he excoriated teacher Marie Corfield in one of his earliest YouTube events. It’s an opportunity he relishes, and it’s also an opportunity for the national media to provide a balanced view of the true Chris Christie to the American voters.

Here are some questions I’d like to hear asked by the national media:

  • Do you support the so-called “pro-life” GOP platform that prohibits abortion in all instances including rape, incest, and when the mother’s life is in peril?

  • New Jersey lags the nation in job creation. Do you regret cancelling job-creating programs to improve infrastructure (like the ARC tunnel) and reduction in public safety personnel in high-crime urban areas?

  • You vetoed a Marriage Equality bill based on your personal beliefs. Should personal beliefs trump equal rights for all New Jersey citizens?

  • Some of your GOP colleagues have introduced voter ID legislation just weeks before a major election. Even if you support these voter suppression efforts, shouldn’t any such changes to election eligibility be done with as much advance notice as possible to allow voters time to obtain the proper credentials?

  • Your record on the energy and environment is mixed, at best. While you supported some renewable energy initiatives, you also took New Jersey out of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative – an initiative that promotes clean air and creates jobs. Your action was taken right after a secret meeting that you had with the Koch Brothers. What influence did they have on your decision?

  • Do you support or reject laws that would restrict the possession of assault weapons? Concealed carry?

  • Many of your GOP colleagues oppose teaching evolution in schools. Do you agree with them?
  • Blue Jerseyans – what other questions should the national media ask him? Leave your suggestions in the Comments section

Assemblyman McKeon on the Governor’s Environmental Record

Earlier this year, shortly after what was to be a secret meeting with the infamous Koch Brothers, Governor Christie announced that he would withdraw New Jersey from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). As Assemblyman John McKeon explains in this interview, RGGI is a consortium of eastern states with a goal to reduce greenhouse gasses (carbon emissions). After Christie bowed down to the pollution lobby, the legislature voted to compel the Governor to reverse his egregious decision. Of course, the Governor vetoed that legislation.

Assembly McKeon explains why this veto is foolhardy – not only because it works against the goal of breathable air and mitigating the effect of man-made climate change, but because the Governor’s veto is detrimental to the economy and the creation of much-needed jobs. McKeon also talks about Christie’s evisceration of the Department of Environmental Protection.

What if the Entire United States and Canada were Without Electric Power this Summer?

An intriguing question – and I’ll discuss that below. But first, let’s talk about energy in general. Within state government, there’s no one better or more passionate about fixing our nation’s energy problems than Assemblyman Upendra Chivukula.

An engineer by training, Chivukula is the “go to” person in the Assembly on all things related to our crumbling power infrastructure, and how to bring it into the 21st century. Chivukula not only gets the technology, but understands the business and jobs implications of energy legislation.

Earlier today, I spoke with him on the floor of the Assembly chamber about a solar energy bill that he sponsored, and (to his credit) Governor Christie has recently signed.

We also talked about other non-solar renewable energy initiatives, and the power outage in India that affected more people than live in the U.S. and Canada combined. Could it happen here?

And lest you think I’ve gone soft by complimenting Governor Christie, I spoke with Chivukula and Assemblyman John McKeon about the governor’s veto of our state’s participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. My interview with McKeon will be posted soon.

Also, stay tuned to Blue Jersey for another interview with Upendra Chivukula – this one on his challenge to Leonard Lance for the Seventh District congressional seat. Coming soon!

Blue Jersey Focus – Assemblyman John F. McKeon

Assemblyman John F. McKeon of the 27th District has been in the legislature for the past decade. He spoke to Blue Jersey this afternoon following a meeting of the Judiciary Committee. We talked about the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, jobs, the budget battles, taxes, and marriage equality. The conversation ended with a question about animus and an answer about comity.

Is Chris Christie the Third Koch Brother? (video)

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.  

Resurrecting RGGI

Last summer, without consulting the legislature, following what he hoped would be a secret meeting with the notorious Koch Brothers climate change deniers, Governor Christie abruptly announced that he was withdrawing New Jersey from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). 

RGGI is a cap-and-trade initiative started by New York Republican Governor George Pataki in 2003, with participation from several states in the Northeast. Its goal is to reduce the amount of pollutants in the atmosphere by imposing a small tax on carbon emissions. Polluters can purchase offsets at quarterly auctions, which would bring money into state coffers. That money is supposed to go to conservation and energy efficiency programs. 

In response to the Governor’s foolish and unilateral action, Senators Sweeney and Smith have introduced a bill (S1322) which requires New Jersey to participate in RGGI. 

Today, Senator Smith chaired the Environment and Energy Committee hearing, receiving testimony from advocates on both sides of the issue. 

There is a difference between New Jersey and some of the more backward states that cater to the Rick Santorums of the world. At least in today’s testimony, there were no witnesses who opposed the bill on the basis of climate change denial. Those opposing RGGI put forth what seem to be fallacious economic arguments on how RGGI will raise electric rates. The arguments were quickly shot down by RGGI advocates. 

Of particular interest was the testimony of a small businessman from Princeton who pointed out how RGGI actually creates jobs in the state – jobs that are desperately needed as our unemployment rate exceeds the national average. 

The bill passed the Senate committee unanimously, including the vote of the lone Republican present, Senator Kip Bateman. Once it passes the full legislature, we’ll wait to see if the Governor continues to put his national political ambitions ahead of the health of New Jerseyans and vetoes the bill, or if he does what is right and signs it.

Testimony video below the fold…

Blue Jersey Focus – Jeff Tittel – Part 1

When the history books (or e-books) are written about the twentieth century, one of its legacies will be the impact that we inflicted on the air, water, and forests around the world. And when the history of the first decades of the twenty-first century is documented, it will either describe mankind’s universal effort to stem the damage, or the irreversible downward slope that we embarked on that will fundamentally change life as we know it.

Protection of the environment has always been challenged – by “progress”, by perceived job creation, and by luddites who refuse to believe established scientific facts.

New Jersey has within it a microcosm of these debates. Businesses that have investments in dirty technology downplay the environmental effects to maximize short term profits. Politicians who benefit from the contributions of these businesses contend that any regulation automatically means loss of jobs.

The New Jersey Chapter of the Sierra Club has been a voice in Trenton for protection of the environment. I spoke with their Director, Jeff Tittel, earlier today.

In the first part of the interview (below the fold), Tittel talks about some of the issues and challenges being debated in Trenton, including hydraulic fracturing, the Governor’s abandonment of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, renewable energy such as solar and wind, and the impact of the Oyster Creek nuclear plant and other factors in the Barnegat Bay.

Kean calls out Christie on RGGI

At an event in New Brunswick yesterday, former Governors Kean and Florio agreed on three things:

1. Climate change is real.

2. New Jersey should be doing something about it.

3. Gov. Christie is failing the state on the issue.

Kean, in fact, called Christie’s decision to pull out of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) a “shame” and said that people should “confront those who don’t believe in the science of [climate change] for the ignorant people that they are.”

Those are strong words from a former Governor that our current Governor sees as a mentor.

Christie, of course, has tried to have it both ways, calling climate change a problem but also ending New Jersey’s main strategy for addressing it.

It is a sad measure of the lack of influence of Gov. Kean, a hugely popular figure in New Jersey politics, on today’s Republican Party that not one of the over 40 Republicans in the Legislature – who are led, in part, by his son – will stand up to Christie the way that Kean did yesterday.

As the event pointed out, it is ultimately our farmers, shore communities, and tourism industry that will pay the price of state and national inaction on climate change.