Another gong sounded on Chris Christie’s ghoulish Environmental legacy last week, making this a moment worthy of reflection and celebration.
Admittedly, the former governor’s record was never difficult to appraise: Early in his first term, Christie decided that rational stewardship of the planet would cost him votes if he ever ran for national office, so his environmental vandalism covered the spectrum.
He pulled the plug on the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, the cap-and-trade program designed to reduce emissions. He pinched more than $1.5 billion from the Clean Energy Fund. He called climate change “esoteric” and demonized regulations as “job-killers.” He reduced the Department of Environmental Protection enforcement staff by 60 percent. He settled an $8.9 billion lawsuit against Exxon for 3 cents on the dollar. He gave scant notice to our rising sea levels. He promised to make New Jersey the site of the first U.S. offshore wind project in 2010, then broke that promise when fossil fuel companies swooned at his presidential panache in 2011.
And then there was his manipulation of the venerable Pinelands Commission, which he politicized in order to jam a 22-mile pipeline through the most pristine piece of real estate in New Jersey and help with the conversion of a Cape May County power plant from coal to natural gas.
It didn’t matter that four governors – two from each party – condemned the project as a desecration of the country’s first reserve, the largest open space in the coastal region. It didn’t matter that such development violated the Pinelands Protection Act. It didn’t matter that the stakeholders have been buried in lawsuits for nearly three years.
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