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Clean Energy Cuts Bad for Environment and Economy

Date : Thu, 11 Feb 2010 12:17:42 -0500

For Immediate Release
February 11, 2010 Contact: Jeff Tittel, NJ Sierra Club Director, 609-558-9100

Clean Energy Cuts Bad for the Environment and Economy First Governor Christie guts environmental protections, now clean energy

Governor Chris Christie has announced $158 million in cuts to the Clean Energy Fund, which will affect 20,000 private sector jobs statewide. Governor Christie is seeking to balance the budget on the backs of the Clean Energy Fund and green jobs, at a time during a recession when those jobs are needed more than ever.

Monies from the Clean Energy Fund are matched by the residents and businesses of New Jersey, who use the funds to implement renewable energy like wind and solar. That $158 million slashed from the fund means as much as a $775 million cut back in public and private spending on renewable energy, when funding from the federal government is taken into account.

New Jersey received $167 in federal funding for the Clean Energy Fund. The cuts announced by Christie may result in a loss of those federal stimulus dollars provided under the Recovery Act because the federal money was to be in addition to state money, not in lieu of.

During the campaign, Governor Christie promised to make green jobs and clean energy a priority for his administration. Instead, he has already broken that promise and is cutting one of the programs he said he wanted to expand.

"During the campaign, Christie criticized Jon Corzine for not doing enough to promote clean energy and green jobs. Now, he's cutting the Clean Energy Fund while at the same time gutting environmental protections," NJ Sierra Club Director Jeff Tittel said.

By robbing the Clean Energy Fund, Christie will only make the economic situation in New Jersey worse. Not only does the Clean Energy Fund provide jobs, but it helps residents save money on utility bills, and the money saved goes back in to the economy. Renewable energy makes us more energy independent and helps the environment by lowering greenhouse gases. The Clean Energy Fund also helps business, because savings on energy costs means more jobs, and more businesses staying here in New Jersey.

Christie also announced $9 million in cuts to the DEP budget, which will mean the elimination of 90 jobs that are already paid for by permit fees. While his administration complains that the DEP is not expedient in granting permits, they will now make it even more difficult for the DEP to do their job. This will slow down the permitting process for businesses, affecting the economy. This is a pennywise and pound foolish way to address DEP funding. Instead of cutting funding for the DEP, that money should have been allocated for a badly-needed technology upgrade to make the department more efficient.

Governor Christie also announced a funding cut for NJ Transit. This will mean rate increases and a loss of services at a time when more people are riding public transportation than ever before. This funding cut will force more people to drive, adding to traffic and air pollution. It's concerning that Governor Christie is cutting funding for NJ Transit while going full steam ahead to spend taxpayer money on unnecessary highway widening projects and the useless ARC Tunnel.

At the same time, the dirty Susquehanna-Roseland Transmission line may be pushed through today, undermining efforts for clean energy in New Jersey and threatening environmentally-sensitive areas.

The funding cuts and disregard for renewable energy is the Christie Administration's latest attempt to undermine the environment and green jobs.

Last month, Governor Christie signed eight Executive Orders, four of which pose a serious threat to environmental protections and may jeopardize federal stimulus funding. These Executive Orders give government officials the authority to roll back rules and regulations that protect our air and water and prevent sprawl.

The terms of the Executive Orders impose a 90 day freeze on environmental regulations, hindering our ability to deal with climate change and possibly jeopardizing federal funding that the state desperately needs for energy efficiency upgrades. By freezing regulations while at the same time implementing the Permit Extension Act, which grandfathers all permits and approvals for the next two years, New Jersey will be unable to implement its green building program, a requirement to receive stimulus funding.

The Executive Orders also provide tremendous powers to commissioners, who can waive compliance of rules and regulations that are thought to be an undue burden. This could lead to a serious abuse of power that will disregard crucial environmental protections. This EO also creates a "Time of Decision," which grandfathers an application from the time it is made despite changes in rules or regulations.

Under the Executive Orders, a committee will be established to review and remove rules that are considered an undue burden to businesses. We are concerned that the environmental community will not be represented on that committee. Also, the Executive Orders prohibit government programs that are unfunded mandates. This means even mandates that have been established for the protection of public health and safety, like arsenic standards for drinking water, will be subject to this EO.

"Just a couple weeks after being elected, Governor Christie has already broken his promise to uphold environmental protections and improve clean energy in New Jersey. Now the environment and clean energy is under attack," Tittel said.

Kara Seymour, Program Assistant NJ Sierra Club

145 W. Hanover Street Trenton, NJ 08618

609.656.7612

(f) 609.656.7618

<http://www.newjersey.sierraclub.org> www.newjersey.sierraclub.org

Received on 2010-02-11 09:17:42

New Jersey Sierra Club, 145 West Hanover St., Trenton, NJ 08618, USA
tel: 609 656 7612, fax 609 656 7618
or email Nicole Dallara, Outreach Coordinator, at nicole.dallara@sierraclub.org

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