New Jersey Governor Christie Wants to Put Environment Funds Toward Road Development
If New Jersey Governor Chris Christie gets his way at a budget hearing today, state funds that had been dedicated to clean energy will be redirected to highway-widening and other fossil fuel-promoting development projects; recycling funds would go instead to general state operations; and the state will be removed entirely from the 10-state Northeast Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, according to Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).
New Jersey PEER Director Bill Wolfe said, "Long term investments in global warming and environmental programs should be safeguarded, not stolen."
The proposed budget would, for example, use about $7 million from the Global Warming Solutions Fund for the New Jersey Turnpike Authority's roadway widening project. About $20 million from the state's Recycling Fund, which receives money from a surcharge on garbage disposal specifically meant to support recycling, would be put into the General Fund, and that's on top of $7 million that was diverted from the program last year. And $1.3 million from the Global Warming Solutions Fund would create a new department: the Office of Economic Growth and Green Energy.
PEER explains the significance of the 10-state initiative, RGGI:
In 2008, the state passed the Global Warming Solutions Fund Act which requires that "up to 100%" of revenues from the sale of carbon credits under RGGI be used to fund energy efficiency, renewable energy, innovative greenhouse gas reduction technologies and other measures to reduce energy demands and costs for low- and moderate-income New Jersey citizens.
Budget issues aside, the governor has also slowed down the process for stricter drinking water standards. And he's called the Highlands Water Protection and Planning Act, which protects 800,000-plus acres of open land that supplies drinking water to residents, an infringement on property rights, and has tried to shift power from government agencies to politically-appointed administrative judges.
PEER's Wolfe said, "Governor Christie promised honest budgets and an end to one-shot gimmicks but seems addicted to them."