Despite countless public pronouncements claiming he has ‘no intentions’ of running for president, NJ Governor Chris Christie made a move that some consider to be that of a man looking to burnish his hyper-partisan (but he’s the anti-politician) presidential bona fides. Chris Christie has a reputation of being a straight-shooter–albeit blusterous–and claims to be the “anti-politician” with his blunt talk. But Chris Christie might as well have been Mitt Romney when he decided to abandon the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative–a 10-state program to limit greenhouse gases from power plants.
Running for governor in 2009, Chris Christie pledged to become “New Jersey’s No. 1 clean-energy advocate,” which one can only conclude was a more hollow promise than his ‘non-politician’ pledge to lower property taxes.
Is this guy Mitt Romney in a fat suit?
As governor, Christie proceeded to cut all the money for the Office of Climate and Energy. Having even greater ambitions to compete with his one time buddy George W. Bush on destroying environmental safeguards, he then proceeded to take $158 million from the clean energy fund, meant for alternative energy investments, and spent it on general programs. He withdrew the state from an important lawsuit against electric utilities to reduce emissions, according to The New York Times.
Although those acts demonstrate a glaring disconnect between Campaign Christie and Governor Christie, New Jersey’s decider put the final nail in the Eco-friendly coffin when he abandoned the 10-state initiative in the Northeast. The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative is a far-reaching program that uses a cap-and-trade system to lower carbon-dioxide emissions from power plants. The program has been wildly successful and actually garnered bi-partisan support in Congress. But like with education and transportation, Christie knows best.
In abruptly pulling out of the initiative Christie has acquiesced to the Tea Party’s complete and utter hatred of policies that resemble cap-and-trade and, in doing so, has shown he isn’t the independent-minded politician he claims to be.
It seems the system works by requiring utilities to either lower their emissions or buy allowances to pollute. Money from the allowances goes to states for clean-energy programs. Since its inception in 2008, it has created more than $700 million for these programs; New Jersey has spent some of its share on helping cities become more energy-efficient. Greenhouse emissions from power plants in the region went down about 12 percent from 2008 to 2010 for many reasons, including lower natural gas prices. Programs like the regional initiative are estimated to have produced more than 10 percent of that decline, according to The New York Times.
Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D), a man who’s no stranger to quarreling with Chris Christie, slammed Christie on his decision.
“I am disappointed in Governor Christie’s decision to withdraw from RGGI, and I reject his assertion that the initiative is ineffective in reducing greenhouse gases,” O’Malley said in a statement. “RGGI represents an important multi-state effort to address climate change at a time when consensus eludes Congress. … Governor Christie is simply wrong when he claims that these efforts are a failure.”
Christie may have fallen in line with the far-right’s position on cap-and-trade nationally, but many states are preparing for a cap-and-trade program. So while the loss of New Jersey does deal a severe blow to the program, it most certainly isn’t on its deathbed.
The latest act in Christie’s “Do as I say, not as I do” governing style makes him a perfect match for today’s GOP and, better still, the missing piece to the GOP’s puzzle for the 2012 presidential race.