By Kevin Mooney — Thanks to Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, the Regional Green House Gas Initiative (RGGI) that imposes Kyoto-Treaty type restrictions on energy use in the Northeast may now be in the early stages of unraveling. This is a huge victory for taxpayers and the free market. Even though, federal level “cap and trade” schemes have been held at bay over the past two years, environmental pressure groups have successfully arranged state level regulatory agreements in cooperation with compliant government officials.
This process began with the Global Warming Solutions Act Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-Calif.) signed into law almost four years ago on Sept. 26, 2006. A state ballot proposition that would have block implementation of the law failed last year. However, Susana Martinez, the new Republican governor of New Mexico, has made it clear that she will resist anti-energy measures like “cap and trade.” The actions of Martinez in combination with that of Gov. Christie strongly suggest that anti-regulatory efforts are beginning and are gaining momentum.
However, Marc Morano, who runs the Climate Depot site, a former staff member to Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK), has argued that opposition to “cap and trade” on the basis of economics alone is insufficient. Environmental schemes will not be uprooted until after the “junk science” underpinning alarmist claims has been exposed and discredited, he has said. That is why Gov. Christie’s mixed messages have been a point of consternation to many on the right.
During a town hall meeting in Toms River, N.J. last November, Gov. Christie told listeners he was skeptical that humans were the primary driving force behind climate change. This gave cause for encouragement to conservatives who have been eyeing the N.J. Republican as a potential presidential contender.
“The only science he’s looking at is political science,” Jeff Tittel, the executive director of the New Jersey Sierra Club, was quoted as saying in The Daily Record at the time. “He’s making a political calculation that to be a darling of the conservative movement, he has to move to the right on climate change to appease the tea party and others.”
Apparently, Gov. Christie now feels a need to back away from his earlier remarks after consulting with scientists from Rutgers University. Unfortunately, he made no acknowledgement of the climategate scandal that involves leaked emails from the Climate Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia in Great Britain. The emails show that researchers were willing to fudge and manipulate scientific data in an effort to bolster man-made global warming theories. Moreover, as Morano reports, there are over 1,000 scientists world-wide who dissent from the idea that human activity induces warming and cooling trends.
It is difficult to overstate how entrenched and how potent the environmental movement is in the Garden State. Christie was endorsed by the NJ Environmental Federation during his 2009 race. It is also worth remembering that three Republican members of N.J. congressional delegation voted in favor of the Waxman-Markey “cap and trade” bill.
Given this rugged political terrain, it is not surprising to find that skeptics are not operating in positions of influence with the governor.
“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 during public comments announcing the end of N.J.’s involvement in RGGI. 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.”
Gov. Christie’s full comments can be found here.
He also made a pitch for renewable energy and said no new coal would be used in N.J. Climate skeptics were not pleased.
“Gov. Christie has proven clueless when it comes to man-made global warming,” Morano said in a statement. “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.”
Other commentators on the right, such as Kim Strassel, the very astute Wall Street Journal columnist, speculate that Christie may have felt like he needed political cover after making what was after all the right policy decision.
“Mr. Christie’s statement will also raise obvious questions about what ‘policies’ he does support,” she wrote. “Wasteful government subsidies for renewables? Federal mandates that require the use of those renewables? None of these positions sits well with free-market conservatives, either. New Jersey is a heavily green state, and Mr. Christie might have felt he needed cover for such a controversial decision. Then again, his supporters have come to admire him precisely because he doesn’t usually run for cover.”
Christie has been forceful and combative in his efforts to curtail the power and influence of the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA), the state’s teachers union. He also working to reform and reshape the N.J. Supreme Court, which has a long history of activism.
So far, Christie has been a friend to the taxpayer in a very tough state. On the science behind global warming, he remains a work in progress. Christie has good instincts and deserves a second bite at the apple on global warming.
Kevin Mooney is a contributing editor to Americans for Limited Government. You can follow Kevin on Twitter at @KevinMooneyDC.