By Kevin Mooney – After expressing skepticism toward the concept of man-made global warming at a town hall meeting in Toms River, N.J. last year, Gov. Chris Christie appears to have shifted over into the alarmist camp. This has become a sore-point for free-market conservatives who have held out hope Gov. Christie may yet emerge as a GOP savior in the 2012 presidential race. On the scientific side of the equation, he is sending out mixed messages. On the economic side, he has delivered.
At a press conference in Trenton earlier this month, Gov. Christie announced that he would withdraw N.J. from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), which requires participating states to cut their emissions by 10 percent come 2018. The program did not have any appreciable impact on the environment and only serves to burden N.J. residents with higher costs, Christie pointed out in his public comments.
“RGGI does nothing more than tax electricity, tax our citizens, tax our businesses, with no discernible or measurable impact upon our environment,” Christie said. “…So, we will withdraw from RGGI in an orderly fashion by year’s end. This also corresponds with the end of the first compliance period when compliance entities must true up, match their allowances to their emissions. By giving them this notice we are confident that the market and the participants will be able to adjust to our withdrawal from RGGI.”
N.J. could be the linchpin that unravels RGGI. It is the oldest and the most restrictive of the state level programs that environmental groups pressured government officials into accepting as a substitute for federal “cap and trade” legislation. Given how entrenched environmentalism has been in N.J., Christie’s actions have enormous political significance. It is worth recalling that three of the Republican votes in favor of the Waxman-Markey cap and trade bill that did pass the House came out of N.J.
There appears to be a real division within the governor’s office on the science. Department of Environmental Commissioner Robert Martin favors the idea that human activity drives climate change while Lee Solomon, the president of the Board of Public Utilities has expressed skepticism, according to other media reports.
The pro-warmist side appears to have the upper-hand, at least for now. The following comments from the governor’s talk have left conservatives unsettled.
“The last few months I’ve sat down with experts both inside the government and outside the administration in academia and other places, to discuss the issue in depth,” Christie said. “I’ve also done some reading on my own on the topic as well. I’m certainly not a scientist which is the first problem. So, I can’t claim to fully understand all of this. Certainly not after just a few months of study. But when you have over 90% of the world’s scientists who have studied this stating that climate change is occurring and that humans play a contributing role it’s time to defer to the experts. Climate science is complex though and we’re just beginning to have a fuller understanding of humans’ role in all of this. But we know enough to know that we are at least a part of the problem. So looking forward, we need to work to put policies in place that act at reducing those contributing factors.”
Marc Morano of Climate Depot and a former staffer to Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), a leading skeptic, has written Gov. Christie off as a potential GOP savior.
“Gov. Christie has proven clueless when it comes to man-made global warming. His straight-shooting image has been shattered by his recent calculated and really bad climate claims. He did not respond to multiple meeting offerings from top scientists in New Jersey, but meets with a collection of alarmists scientists. He is following in the misguided footsteps of George W. Bush on climate. Christie is attempting to pursue the discredited strategy of accepting the alleged science of anthropogenic AGW while rejecting so called solutions.”
Morano continued, “Christie’s absurd claim that more than 90% of scientists agree is the verbal equivalent of sitting on a love seat with Nancy Pelosi. The image of Christie as a potential GOP Savior has officially gone up in smoke with his revelations that he and Al Gore share the same level of scientific comprehension.”
Later in his talk, Gov. Christie has also said he is fully committed to pursuing renewable portfolio targets and would not allow any type of coal-based generation of electricity. Some commentators on the right have suggested that Christie needed political cover to end the anti-energy restrictions in N.J., which has not been friendly toward the free market.
Christie’s full comments are available here
As NetRight Daily has previously reported, the nexus that exists between environmentalism and the policies of the former Soviet Union are difficult to overstate.
Kevin Mooney is a contributing editor to Americans for Limited Government. You can follow Kevin on Twitter at @KevinMooneyDC.