Christie’s Climate Change Straight Talk

May 27th, 2011 at 5:41 am | 31 Comments |

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Chris Christie has pulled New Jersey out of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, or “Reggie,” the power plant cap-and-trade program that covers NJ and nine other Northeastern states.

Left-leaning environmental groups are framing Christie’s pullout as a bag of pander candy to delight ideologues for whom climate denialism is a litmus test for any potential GOP presidential candidate.

That’s not what Christie is doing. Christie is not a climate denier. He did not put on a tinfoil hat and rant about scientists plotting world domination. He is not polishing apples for the Koch Brothers and Big Coal. He did not buy a ticket to fly Air Inhofe.

Much of what Christie said about climate change at today’s news conference was only mentioned in passing by the press. His remarks deserve a wider airing.

Such as: “Climate change is real and it’s impacting our state. There’s undeniable data that CO2 levels and other greenhouse gases in our atmosphere are increasing.”

And this: “When you have over 90 percent of the world’s scientists who study this stating that climate change is occurring and humans play a contributing role, it’s time to defer to the experts.”

And this: “We have an obligation to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions.”

Christie concluded that Reggie is not effective for getting the job done. He didn’t conclude that the job is not worth doing.

In fact, given that Pennsylvania is not part of Reggie, Christie fears that clean power plants in New Jersey could be aced out in the regional power market by “dirty Pennsylvania coal plants,” three of which Christie’s administration has sued in federal court for wafting pollution into the Garden State.

The pugnacious governor put emphasis on the word “dirty,” as if pushing back at PA for all the Jersey jokes they tell on the west side of the Delaware River.

There’s more than one way to kill the climate change snake.

An alternative that Christie prefers is to scale up cleaner energy. Last year, he signed bipartisan legislation to support development of 1,000 megawatts of offshore wind energy, including financial assistance for component manufacturers.

The state has sent the Interior Department a list of areas in federal waters off New Jersey that ought to be considered for deepwater wind energy leases. In the Northeast, offshore is where the richest wind energy resources are found.

Christie also has pushed back against the “drill, baby, drill” dogma that is touted as a magical answer for energy security and high fuel prices. He doesn’t want to see any drilling rigs off New Jersey or off the coasts of nearby states, such as Virginia, where a blowout could smear the Jersey Shore with tourist-repelling brown goo.

Reasonable people can debate the right mix of incentives and standards for spurring replacement of dirty energy with cleaner alternatives.

That’s the sort of debate that Republicans and Democrats should have. Christie deserves credit for taking part.


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31 Comments so far ↓

  • balconesfault

    Well – it’s not completely “straight talk”, given Christie’s declaration that the pact has cost Jersey jobs … over a time when the most notable thing about the pact has been its lack of doing much but setting up a framework given the collapse of CO2 prices following the decline in energy consumption over the last few years.

    What Christie is signaling is that he will resist any “polluter pays” solution to climate change … relying instead on taxpayers subsidizing renewable energy.

    I’m going to hold off on attacking Christie over this because he’s promising to release a real energy plan in the near future, and I have no idea what it will include.

    But now his climate change stance seems akin to a politician declaring “I acknowledge that radical Muslim groups create a terrorist threat to America – but I believe the only solution we should engage in is providing support for Muslim organizations which do not promote terrorism”. That politician might deserve points for noting the threat from radicals … but would be quickly dismissed as a serious person nonetheless.

  • armstp

    Look there is nothing wrong with being against climate change regulation or legistlation. There is nothing wrong with the argument that you believe the solutions would be too costly versus the damage to the environment. That is a valid argument.

    However, it is completely disengeous to be against manmade climate change. The science is overwhelmingly settled. To be a denier is just pathetic and stupid. However, I believe most deniers are just saying they are deniers based purely on political ideological reasons. If the Tea Party and GOP came out tomorrow and said they were true believers in climate change, then half the conservative voters would go along with them, but because this is somehow a “liberal” issue, most resist the science, without even really knowing why they are doubters.

    • quiterite

      When in fact the science is never “settled”. Thousands of scientists work daily to discover new and refine the old which were misunderstood and under-settled.
      At the risk of getting labeled (pathetic and stupid), I continue to be amazed at the enormity of mans arrogance in believing that they can influence (cap and tax) the remarkable force of nature. (tsunamis in Japan, tornadoes in the mid-west, erupting volcanoes)
      As an example, take the most recent volcanic explosion in Iceland.
      In one POOF, gone are all so called enviro-savings alleged to have occurred by using Gore-bulbs and unused plastic bags.
      Time money and effort gone. Wasted.
      Gone. Poof.
      Keep plugging though.
      There are endless legions lined up for their sip of the cool-aid.
      Get in line.

      • balconesfault

        At the risk of getting labeled (pathetic and stupid), I continue to be amazed at the enormity of mans arrogance in believing that they can influence (cap and tax) the remarkable force of nature.

        I’ll call you ignorant, for sure. Since you’re ignoring the whole CFC/Ozone layer issue, where it was demonstrated that via global cooperation in stopping the emissions of specific chemicals, the growth in the hole in the ozone layer was stopped and then reversed.

        Nature herself isn’t taking carbon that was sequestered over hundreds of millions of years, and via combustion releasing it to the atmosphere over a century or two. Man is doing that.

        Of course, one has to believe the earth is a few billion years old to wrap their heads around this.

      • Reflection Ephemeral

        I can’t believe, when we hear about plane crashes all the time, that people think that speed limits for cars can keep them safer.

        Kool-Aide drinkers.

  • ottovbvs

    Christie of course is talking out of both sides of his mouth. Recognizing there is a problem but refusing to be part of a solution. Fortunately the low energy light bulb seems to be coming on amongst NJ electors about the true nature of Christie.

  • Stewardship

    I think Christie simply recognizes any solution to lowering carbon emissions must be led by the US, in a global context. It’s one thing to sacrifice your own career or own financial welfare for a cause, but he’s not willing to put the citizens of New Jersey at a disadvantage to the rest of the nation.

    As more and more common sense leaders begin talking this way (Huntsman is another who has been in the news lately), it will provide a stark contrast to other Republicans in 2012. In most states, any Republican who disagrees with the “90%” storyline will come off looking like flat-earthers, and will be vulnerable to a primary or strong general election challenge.

    • balconesfault

      Stewardship, in my mind this is where a real leader who understands the magnitude of the threat from climate change would in fact be using his position in the party to act as a bully pulpit to try to build greater support for the types of regional contracts that have formed in the absence of a willingness for our Federal Government to act.

      But as I said before, it’s time for everyone to hold off on judging Christie here – at least he’s on record as stating that he sees man-made climate change is a problem, and in today’s GOP that’s taking a significant political risk. Let’s see what his next step is.

  • Graychin

    A Republican who makes remarks indicating a belief in the reality of climate change and who THINKS ABOUT actually sticking his toe into the water of doing something about it – gets credited with being a “straight talk” kind of guy?

    Yeah – Christie really deserves a lot of credit for that.

    Meanwhile, New Jersey voters give Christie low marks for his service in the governor’s office.

    Republicans certainly set a low standard for “looking presidential.” Is Christie still a Great White Hope for the GOP?

  • LFC

    quiterite said… When in fact the science is never “settled”.

    Uuuuuh, so you advocate that we never listen to any scientific conclusion because it might be refined in the future?

    At the risk of getting labeled (pathetic and stupid), I continue to be amazed at the enormity of mans arrogance in believing that they can influence (cap and tax) the remarkable force of nature.

    If we’re talking about climate change, the non-denialist position is that we’re trying to mitigate man’s influence on the “remarkable force of nature.” It’s already accepted by climate scientists that we HAVE influenced it, something you just said we couldn’t do. We’re looking at decreasing our influence, not increasing it. That’s a pretty basic point that you missed.

    As an example, take the most recent volcanic explosion in Iceland. In one POOF, gone are all so called enviro-savings alleged to have occurred by using Gore-bulbs and unused plastic bags. Time money and effort gone. Wasted. Gone. Poof.

    OK, you do deserve to be labeled for that one because it’s really, really dumb. Let’s put it in monetary terms. Let’s say you saved $20,000. A big unforeseen cost hits you square between the eyes and requires you to spend the $20,000 to cover it. So by your “logic”, that means all your effort was for naught. Except for the fact that you are now without savings rather than being crushed under $20,000 in debt.

    One volcano does not wipe out reduced polluting by man because it’s an ADDITIVE effect. Again, another really basic point that you seem to have missed.

  • sweatyb

    There’s more than one way to kill the climate change snake.

    Please explain the wisdom of fighting climate change with both hands tied behind your back.

    Last year, he signed bipartisan legislation to support development of 1,000 megawatts of offshore wind energy, including financial assistance for component manufacturers.

    Where are those wind farms now? Oh. Right. They do not exist. So he unilaterally backed out of a fledgling cap-and-trade agreement and that’s fine because in ten years there might be a handful of windmills off the coast.

    Either man-made climate change is a problem or it isn’t. Either emissions from power-plants are a problem or they’re not. Admitting the science but precluding activity to address it, makes Christie an equivocating coward.

  • John Frodo

    Even though Krugman loves cap and trade, IMHO a straight carbon tax is the way to go.

  • lilmanny

    Yet another nail in the coffin to the Republican “Christie to the rescue” fantasy for 2012. He is actually a heretic on more Republican issues (abortion, global warming, not hating gays, social security/medicare) than he is Democratic issues (unions). What does that tell you about his chances at the presidency? Outside of the fact he won’t be president, that it matters more to republican voters how you say something than what you say. Hint: be angry. A lot. he’s be a great candidate…in 1988.

  • cdorsen

    I find it interesting that libs applaud states taking action because the federal government fails to when it applies to climate change; however, vehemently attack states that do the same when the issue is illegal immigration. So, which is it? Should states or should states not take appropriate action if the federal government fails to protect the state?

    • wileedog

      I don’t think anyone has a problem with states passing their own immigration laws.

      It’s when those laws include racial profiling and need for anyone with brown skin to constantly carry around their “papers” that things start to go off the rails…

  • cdorsen

    So, in other words, its fine as long as you agree with the law? Got it.

    • wileedog

      Yes I am against states passing unconstitutional laws. I have no problem with them passing constitutional ones.

      Was that so hard?

  • Frumplestiltskin

    I say BS to Christie, he turned down billions of dollars in Federal funds, with NY also contributing its share, to build a commuter train tunnel to NYC because NJ had to pay something. And why would he care, he takes helicopters when the goes to NYC?

    He is a fraud, when it comes to actions he chooses to sit and do nothing besides running off his mouth.

    • Chris Balsz

      As I understood it at the time, he turned down a specific project for an INTERSTATE commuter connection, because any overruns would be entirely borne by New Jersey. Now the Feds, NY and NJ are working on a different financing setup.

  • Chris Balsz

    What’s the source for the “90% of global climate scientists agree” statement? I see it kicked around but never attributed.

    We seem to have forgotten that “Global Warming” became a POLITICAL issue, because supposedly there was irregular and unprecedented warming; it coincided with industrial pollution; it was going to continue to occur exponentially and steadily; the rise of temperatures would have global effects on human populations; it was necessary for industrial pollution to be regulated immediately and universally; this required coordination by national governments.

    We know now that there is not any regular growth of temperatures. The “hockey stick” was a false predictor. If we’re not faced with certain environmental catastrophe, there is no political crisis.

  • Frumplestiltskin

    Balsz, and of course it is total BS because as Governor in a time of a deep recession he could prevent any overruns, in fact he should be able to get things done under budget by tough negotiation.

    And of course it is an interstate commuter connection, what the hell? You put INTERSTATE as though it somehow lessens the obligation of NJ to its own citizens who work in NYC. In fact, NJ benefits moreso from this than NYC as there are few commuters who work in NJ but live in NYC.

  • djenkins

    quitewrong, surely you cannot honestly believe that man is incapable of adversly impacting nature.

    We blow the tops off of mountains to get at coal and bury streams with the rubble. We have replaced wetlands with parking lots resulting in faster water runoff and flooding. We have created smog that limits visibility and degrades the quality of the air we breathe. Nuclear weapons can leave vast areas uninhabitable for decades, and we have driven entire species to extinction.

    As I pointed out in a 2009 post entitled God’s Climate Plan:

    Climate skeptics — particularly those on talk radio — like to peddle the notion that the earth was created on such a grand and complex scale, it is impossible for mankind to mess it up. In other words, we can do anything we want without serious consequence.

    Does that sound like something God would say?

    Actually, it sounds a lot more like something the snake in the Garden of Eden would say.

    Is there any aspect of our spiritual or physical life where our actions are without consequence? Everything we do has consequences — and the earth’s life-sustaining ecology was not designed to be immune from our actions and choices.

    I closed that piece with the following T.S. Eliot quote:

    ”A wrong attitude towards nature implies, somewhere, a wrong attitude towards God.”

    You can read the full piece at:

    http://www.frumforum.com/gods-climate-plan

  • nickthap

    Christie will never be President because some Democrats might actually vote for him–a sure turn-off to the Republican base.

  • LFC

    Chris Balsz said… Which lies are those, that the IPCC retracted exaggerations of drought and the absence of glaciers in fifty years from the Himalayas?

    {Sigh.} I guess that whole suggestion that you learn to do a bit of research was lost on you. From an explanation by actual climate scientists on realclimate.org:

    Himalayan glaciers: In a regional chapter on Asia in Volume 2, written by authors from the region, it was erroneously stated that 80% of Himalayan glacier area would very likely be gone by 2035. This is of course not the proper IPCC projection of future glacier decline, which is found in Volume 1 of the report. There we find a 45-page, perfectly valid chapter on glaciers, snow and ice (Chapter 4), with the authors including leading glacier experts (such as our colleague Georg Kaser from Austria, who first discovered the Himalaya error in the WG2 report). There are also several pages on future glacier decline in Chapter 10 (“Global Climate Projections”), where the proper projections are used e.g. to estimate future sea level rise. So the problem here is not that the IPCC’s glacier experts made an incorrect prediction. The problem is that a WG2 chapter, instead of relying on the proper IPCC projections from their WG1 colleagues, cited an unreliable outside source in one place. Fixing this error involves deleting two sentences on page 493 of the WG2 report.

    So the actual 45 page section on Himalayan glaciers is valid, but two sentences in a completely different section of the report where glacier melt was not the actual topic being covered in detail, was incorrect. And what does Chris latch onto? Well, he’s a wingnut so it’s obvious. The few sentences that actually had no bearing on any conclusion made in the report!

    And this is why I pointed out the wingnut view of the IPCC report. It’s 3,000 pages long. The wingnuts found two incorrect sentences on glaciers that were not in the section that was specifically about glaciers and it’s somehow a scandal to them! It’s like calling your car a piece of s*** because the owner’s manual had a typo. It’s either incredibly stupid or monumentally dishonest. Or both.

    That’s why wingnuts are to be ignored on this topic. They have no balance. They latch onto any tiny thing that appears to bolster their pathetic preconceived notions and ignore vast amounts

    And Chris, you’ll have to give more details on what you say the IPCC actually retracted on drought predictions. I found one part on African drought that was never retracted, and indeed was badly (and I’m sure intentionally) misinterpreted by the wingnuts. As to Russian stations, I’d need a citation for that too.

    Actually, never mind. I have been showing people people like you how wrong they are and how their “sources” are full of s*** on this topic for years. After I’ve blown a dozen or so pieces of bulls*** apart over the years, I really just give up with your kind. You know what you know, and no facts will ever change that. And they will never, ever, ever understand science.

  • Chris Balsz

    “So the actual 45 page section on Himalayan glaciers is valid, but two sentences in a completely different section of the report where glacier melt was not the actual topic being covered in detail, was incorrect. And what does Chris latch onto? Well, he’s a wingnut so it’s obvious. The few sentences that actually had no bearing on any conclusion made in the report!”

    It’s my fault the IPCC report was wrong. It’s also my fault I can’t tell which chapters of the IPCC’s 3000 page report are actually meaningful, and which chapters are really just filler that can be left on the floor. Anybody educated to LFC’s level would have instinctively known that offering a throwaway like, “Global warming is sooooooo serious, we’re gonna lose 80% of the glaciers in the Himalayas by 2035″ with the authority of the IPCC behind it, didn’t MEAN anything.
    Which means, I guess, that people of LFC’s intelligence didn’t read the entire thing before it was published.
    It’s not really meant to be read all the way through, is it? It’s just THERE, and you quote it, and anybody pointing out that it contradicts itself to be more politically potent, is a jerk.

    The retraction on African drought was a similarly doomsdayish prediction about the loss of farmland due to GLOBAL WARMING. Which again must be one of the throwaway chapters your top-tier experts didn’t read before publication.

    • LFC

      Oh dear god. You just doubled down on stupidity and ignorance in a massive way. Guess I’m not surprised. Bunker is correct. You are just too dense to waste facts on.