Monday, October 19, 2015

Christie's Climate Change Confusion

For the first time in my life I just kicked in a few bucks to help support the activist group Environmental Action to put up a billboard in Trenton, New Jersey.


Here in New Jersey, resident roving Republican Governor Chris Christie is still deep in the throes of his 2016 presidential fantasy.

Based on his poll numbers I can only surmise that he's hanging in there to score a nice juicy cabinet post position in what he hopes will be a Republican White House in 2016.

So instead of governing on behalf of a traditionally northeastern centrist state comprised of voters who skew more moderate than reactionary or extreme, Christie (who's rarely here anymore) has begun to refashion himself politically to make himself more appealing to the far-right Republican primary voters in states like Iowa and New Hampshire - and the big money conservative donors with deep enough pockets to bankroll a presidential candidate.     

Remember, part of the reason that Christie is running for president in the first place is because of the extensive national media exposure he got during Superstorm Sandy in the fall of 2012.

His memorable press conferences in the lead-up to the storm marked by no-nonsense, tough-talking statements like "Get the Hell off the beach" almost instantly earned him a national reputation as a gutsy authoritative Republican governor who "tells it like it is" and gets things done, even in the face of a massive natural disaster.  

New Jersey boardwalk after Sandy hit the coast
Admittedly, Christie handled himself well during the storm from a political leadership standpoint, but Mother Nature always wins.

Superstorm Sandy killed 157 Americans and left over 5.3 million customers without power in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Connecticut; over 2 million in New Jersey alone.

It caused over $71 billion in damage to the eastern coast of the United States, including unprecedented storm surges that flooded or destroyed hundreds of homes and businesses in New Jersey and flooded subway tunnels, basements and streets in lower Manhattan.

It's clear that man-made damage to the environment played a factor in the size and intensity of the storm; including increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, a depleted ozone layer that contributes to higher global temperatures which in turn lead to increased glacier melt and higher sea levels.

Despite the scientific evidence, Christie has moved himself to the right on the issue of climate change to appease the extremists in the GOP who view climate change as some kind of liberal plot to destroy America.

Sandy hit New Jersey just three years ago, but in New Hampshire recently, Christie announced his opposition to President Obama's Clean Power Plan, a joint initiative that uses the authority of the White House and the Environmental Protection Administration to impose reasonable carbon reduction limits on power plants in states around the nation.

Even though the CPP would help to slow global warming, reduce the amount of carbon dioxide pumped into the atmosphere, and slow the rise of ocean temperatures (human-influenced factors that helped make Sandy the 2nd costliest hurricane in US history), Christie lambasted the initiative with language laced with garden variety right wing anti-government fear mongering.

In New Hampshire Christie called the CPP: "...a fundamentally flawed plan that threatens the progress we've already made in developing clean and renewable energy in New Jersey without the heavy-handed overreach of Washington."

Now it's interesting to hear "2015 Chris Christie" boast about the progress New Jersey has "made in developing clean and renewable energy in New Jersey."

Remember back in December, 2014?

Oil tank car explosion in Lac-Megantic, Quebec 2013
It was only about a year ago that the previous political incarnation of Chris Christie directed the NJ Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to quietly approve the easing of state restrictions to allow railroad tank cars that transport highly-combustible sludge-like crude oil from the massive Bakken oil shelf that straddles the border of North Dakota and Montana through New Jersey to port facilities and refineries on the coast where it's loaded on to tankers and shipped around the world.

Back on December 3, 2014, I blogged about local Teaneck, NJ residents gathering to protest the CSX rail cars that transport over 30 million gallons of Bakken crude oil a week along tracks that wind down from Albany, New York, through Rockland County, NY and down into heavily-populated areas of Bergen County in northern Jersey on their way to the port facility in Perth Amboy, NJ.

Those residents, and thousands of others across the state were justifiably concerned about the potential for a rail disaster like the one in Lac-Megantic, Quebec Canada on July 6, 2013 ((pictured above) which happened when human error caused an accident involving a 74-car train transporting Bakken crude oil that ignited an enormous explosion with a blast radius of one mile that killed 47 people and destroyed half the town.

PennEast gas pipeline will pass thru John Markowski's Kingwood NJ home
So it's interesting to hear Christie criticizing President Obama and the EPA for "the heavy-handed overreach of Washington" to impose reasonable restrictions on plant emissions when he's happily used his own heavy-handed state government reach to support increased rail car traffic carrying Bakken crude oil, and pipelines that carry natural gas from fracking through the New Jersey Pine Barrens and residential areas in Hunterdon County and other areas.

Christie cites progress, but according to research from the National Climate Assessment conducted by the U.S. Global Change Research Program, over the past 100 years there's already been a rise in sea level of eight inches off the New Jersey coastline and a "70% increase in extreme rainstorms since the middle of the 20th century."

That's all serious stuff folks and we know human activity is making it worse. 

 While you'd think Christie of all people would support any steps to curb climate change, he's opting to go with the GOP's usual play of bashing President Obama's policies even when they're rational and make sense.

This is America so Christie can say what he wants, but frankly he has absolutely no business bashing the president on climate change.

If you want to form your own opinion on the president's stance on, and understanding of, how climate change is impacting the planet, take a few minutes to read his recent interview with Jeff Godell published in the October 8th issue of Rolling Stone done during Obama's recent trip to Alaska and the Arctic.

As you may have heard, he became the first sitting president in American history to visit the Arctic - where among other things, he personally visited Exit Glacier and picked up a live two-foot male Salmon which promptly ejaculated on his shoes, prompting the president to quip to reporters:  
"...he's happy to see me."

As a New Jersey resident, I expect the governor to act in the best interests of the state where the environment is concerned.

Christie callously dismissing the Clean Power Plan as "the heavy-handed overreach of Washington" in front of an audience of primary voters in New Hampshire and opposing the CPP simply because President Obama supports it is simplistic political pandering at best - and an abandonment of his responsibility to the voters of New Jersey at worst.

So if it takes a billboard being put up within eyesight of the statehouse in Trenton to get his attentionthen I'm happy to pony up a few of my hard-earned dollars. You can support the Christie billboard too.

It's a pretty sad state of affairs that the sitting governor of a state that suffered such widespread destruction from a super storm made worse by man's pumping of chemicals into the air and water would oppose reasonable legislative efforts to curb pollution just to appeal to primary voters who don't even live in the state of New Jersey.

Bring on the billboard, if Christie is content to ignore science and the will of the majority of New Jersey voters, maybe a big-ass bill board near the state house will at least get his attention.

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