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Governor Christie and the Green Groups

Kevin Mooney is an investigative reporter with Pelican Institute for Public Policy who also writes for several Washington D.C. based outlets including the Daily Caller and the American Spectator. He is also a frequent contributor to “Green Watch” where he has called attention to the action of state level green pressure groups. Kevin has also partnered with a number of scientists and researchers who have been instrumental in debunking theories that claim human activity is the primary driver of warming and cooling trends.

With speculation over his potential 2012 presidential ambitions renewed in the just past few days, Gov. Chris Christie’s stance on energy policy continues to elude serious scrutiny. This is unfortunate because green activists operating in collusion with liberal Republicans have conspired to block well-credentialed global warming skeptics from meeting with governor. Although Gov. Christie did earn points from free market groups for withdrawing his state from the “cap and trade” scheme his predecessor imposed, his rhetoric has slide back in the direction of unsubstantiated alarmist claims.

In a press conference earlier this year, Christie told listeners the “cap and trade” program did not have an appreciable impact on the environment and  that it only served to burden N.J. residents with higher costs. That’s the good news. The rest of speech was actually quite disconcerting from a free market perspective. Christie reversed himself from earlier skeptical comments to say he was now convinced that human activity was responsible for global warming. From there, he reaffirmed his commitment to renewable energy sources and denounced the use of coal with as much force and verve as President Obama:

The future for New Jersey is in green energy and already we’ve put in place policies to broaden our access to renewable sources of energy, cleaner natural gas generation and ending our reliance on coal generation.

“One of the things that I’m announcing today is that there will be no new coal permitted in New Jersey,” he said. “From this day forward any plans that anyone has regarding any type of coal-based generation of energy in New Jersey is over. We know that coal is a major source of CO2 emissions. We will no longer accept coal as a new source of power in the state and we will work to shut down older dirtier, peaker and intermediate plants that emit high greenhouse gases. We need to commit in New Jersey to making coal a part of our past. We’re going to work to make New Jersey number one in offshore wind production.”

It is worth remembering that Chris Christie was challenged from his right in the Republican primary for governor back in 2009 by Steve Lonegan, a former mayor who now heads up the state chapter of Americans for Prosperity (AFP). While Christie went on to earn the endorsement of the New Jersey Environmental Federation (NJEF), Lonegan has continued to highlight how economically burdensome renewable programs are for the state of N.J. A new report published by the Beacon Hill Institute shows that the windmill subsidies now in motion will translate into higher electricity prices and fewer jobs.

“The subsidies rip off taxpayers,” Lonegan said. “The higher costs hurt families and destroy jobs. The only winners are the power companies who will make millions off of this scheme. This project needs to be stopped now before our economy is hurt even more. Ratepayers have had enough.”

After Hurricane Irene struck the New Jersey coast, many of the environmental groups predictably fixed the blame on anthropogenic global warming; even as new studies debunk this hypothesis.

Unfortunately, Christie has embraced discredited claims, Marc Morano, the editor of Climate Depot laments. In his press conference, for instance, Christie said he was impressed by the fact that 90 percent of the world’s scientists who have studied climate change see a connection with human activity. But this figure is not accurate, Morano points out. In fact, there is growing number of scientists who have expressed skepticism toward man-made global warming theories including Will Happer and Freeman Dyson of Princeton University.

“The big question is why after repeated attempts to set up meetings has Christie refused to meet with his own states prominent skeptical scientists?” Morano asks.

He continued:

“Christie is clearly calculating his position on global warming to sit well with NJ’s environmental pressure groups and the media. As the GOP base learns about Christie’s capitulation and poor understanding of basic climate science, his rising star will likely fade as a potential presidential nominee.”

Morano also said that Gov. Christie’s hostility toward the coal industry should be a major source of concern to free market activists.

“To hear Christie speak of banning coal plants in favor of off shore windmills is stomach churning for anyone who cares about a sane energy policy,” he said. “Christie favors politically correct energy that does not produce energy and he opposes energy that works. Christie’s energy views are woeful and many GOP voters will devote themselves to ensuring he does not aspire to higher office. Before Gov. Christie can even think of higher office, he needs to be schooled in the fundamentals of climate science and energy production.”

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