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Christie Cuts Bad for Environment and Economy

Date : Wed, 17 Feb 2010 11:53:29 -0500

For Immediate Release
February 17, 2010 Contact: Jeff Tittel, NJ Chapter Director, 609-558-9100

Christie Cuts Bad for Environment and Economy Clean energy and transportation cuts will cost us jobs

Governor Chris 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. His proposal to cut $158 million from the Clean Energy Fund undermines the environment and the economy.

The Clean Energy Fund is a dedicated source of money that is matched by the residents and businesses of New Jersey, who use the funds to implement renewable energy like wind and solar. By slashing the fund by $158 million, it 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. These cuts will directly affect 4,000 private sector jobs and indirectly affect up to 20,000 jobs statewide.

"Robbing the Clean Energy Fund will only make the economic situation in New Jersey worse," New Jersey Sierra Club Director Jeff Tittel said. "Taking money from the Clean Energy Fund in order to balance the budget is a one-shot gimmick that will rob the utility payers of resources that are supposed to be used to fund energy conservation, efficiency, and renewable energy projects."

The Clean Energy Fund provides jobs and helps residents save money on utility bills. 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 businesses staying here in New Jersey.

New Jersey received $167 in federal funding for the Clean Energy Fund. The cuts proposed by Governor 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.

On the same day the Governor proposed cutting the Clean Energy Fund, his Board of Public Utilities pushed through the $800 million Susquehanna-Roseland transmission line to import dirty power from Pennsylvania. This power line will undercut clean energy and will bring more pollution to New Jersey from Pennsylvania's coal plants. The only purpose for this line is so PSE&G can import cheap, dirty power from Pennsylvania to replace the clean energy the state is exporting to New York through the Ridgefield Generating Station.

Governor Christie is also proposing to eliminate $18 million from the Clean Energy Fund State Capital. This is money used to install renewable energy or improve efficiency at governmental buildings. This short term savings will mean a long term loss because of the additional energy costs required for those buildings.

The proposed $128 million in cuts to the Retail Margin Fund will also set back the environment and the economy. The Retail Margin Fund helps businesses and commercial users to install renewable energy equipment on their facilities and build cogeneration and combined heat and power sources. This fund provides financial assistance to companies that build power plants, heat buildings, and produce electricity from clean natural gas or renewable energy sources.

The Governor's proposal to cut NJ Transit funding by $32.7 million will mean rate increases and a loss of services at a time when more people are riding public transportation than ever. More people will be forced to drive, adding to traffic and air pollution.

Slashing NJ Transit will affect the many people who rely on mass transit to get to work and the businesses that need transit to transport their employees each day. Cuts in transit funding will undermine the work being done to promote smart growth and build transportation around hubs.

These cuts to the Clean Energy Fund and public transportation are unnecessary. Instead of pulling money from the Clean Energy Fund, there are other ways to balance the budget, including cash out parking, value added fee for transportation improvements, and transportation development districts. Paying for the utility's stranded assets should be abolished. Subsidizing these bad investments costs the state hundreds of millions of dollars each year.

We can eliminate paying people who sit on state boards or cut back on public subsidies for Xanadu. We could make AIG give us the $150 million they owe us or go after EnCap for the money it has cost the state's taxpayers.

We're planning to spend a $1.5 billion dollars to widen highways in the Pinelands, where there is no growth or traffic and $2.2 billion to widen the turnpike. If we redesigned the turnpike project to include flex or reversible lanes, it would still do the same job but would cost hundreds of millions of dollars less. The ARC tunnel, which will cost the state $9 billion, should be redesigned it so that it actually does what it is intended to do at a lower cost.

"We need to come up with ways to save money and balance budget but cutting mass transit and green jobs is penny wise and pound foolish," Tittel said. "This is lose-lose-lose for the people of New Jersey. It will cost us jobs, hurt the economy, and add to pollution."

Governor Christie has proposed the following cuts:

* $158 million from the Clean Energy Fund, which will affect up to 20,000 private sector jobs. When matching funds and federal funding is taken into account, this means a $775 million cutback in public and private spending on renewable energy. * $128 million to the Retail Margin Fund. The Retail Margin Fund helps businesses to build cogeneration and combined heat and power sources. It helps to build power plants, heat buildings, and produce electricity from natural gas. * $38 million for NJ Transit subsidies. This will lead to higher fares and cuts in services at a time when people are using public transportation more than ever before. We'll still the subsidization of highways in the middle of nowhere as funding for mass transit goes down, leading to more traffic and air pollution. * $31 million from the Highlands; $18 million in grant funding, $13 million in tax stabilization * $18 million cut in clean energy funding to make government buildings cleaner. This would have saved taxpayer money by reducing energy costs. * $15 million from affordable housing, which would have been used to prevent sprawl. * $9 million from the Department of Environmental Protection. * $1.7 million for New Jersey's parks. * $100,000 from the Pinelands Commission. * Elimination of the Office of Public Advocate, a watchdog agency for citizens that helps prevent governmental abuse.

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 2010-02-17 08:53:29

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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