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.