When it comes to climate change, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie annoys people on both extremes of the political spectrum. One more reason to see a bright future for this guy.
On the far left, the Daily Kos types fulminate that Christie is a stooge of fossil fuel interests. Over on the far right, the vein throbbing set obsesses that Christie has joined the church of Al Gore.
This is a positive development. In defying ideologues and their litmus tests, Christie is blazing a trail that could lead the U.S. out of its polarized rut on energy and climate policy.
What did Christie do that resulted in such diverse outbursts of ideological bloviation?
On August 19, he vetoed a bill that would have returned New Jersey to the Northeast’s regional cap-and-trade program for power plants. It’s called the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, or RGGI for short. He explained his veto as follows:
While I acknowledge that the levels of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in our atmosphere are increasing, that climate change is real, that human activity plays a role in these changes and that these changes are impacting our state, I simply disagree that RGGI is an effective mechanism for addressing global warming.
In vetoing the bill, Christie angered enviros on the left who insist that acceptance of climate change science is not enough. One must accept the left’s preferred climate policy options, or you’re another marionette of the Koch brothers.
In explaining his veto decision, Christie upset the chattering classes on the right who have handed down a diktat that acknowledging the heat-trapping properties of carbon dioxide ipso facto makes one a crypto socialist. One must embrace climate Lysenkoism or be branded an enemy of liberty.
Set aside for a moment the merits of Christie’s policy judgment about RGGI. What’s important here is that he framed the debate about climate change as it should be framed – a debate about which policies should flow from a commonly understood and accepted set of facts. The left should be willing to have that policy debate and the right should stop conflating scientific questions with identity politics.