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Budget Takes Aim at Environment, Including Dedicated Funds

Date : Tue, 16 Mar 2010 16:41:14 -0400

For Immediate Release
March 16, 2010 Contact: Jeff Tittel, Director, Sierra Club New Jersey Chapter, 609-558-9100

Budget Takes Aim at Environment, Including Dedicated Funds

Governor Chris Christie's 2011 budget, which was revealed today, takes aim at the environment and cuts many important programs designed to reduce greenhouse gases, protect the environment, and create green jobs.

"Governor Christie's budget, just like his Executive Orders, will dismantle many key environmental programs in New Jersey. Not only will his budget hurt the environment, it will cost us green jobs," NJ Sierra Club Director Jeff Tittel said.

Governor Christie has announced he will cut money for the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), eliminating $68 million in programs funded by RGGI, a compact with multiple states in the Northeast established to reduce the greenhouse gas footprint. RGGI programs help pay for clean energy programs that reduce carbon and create green jobs. By slashing this fund, the Governor isn't just hurting the environment, he's robbing money for the creation of jobs.

The budget slashes the Clean Energy Fund by a total of $52 million - $42 million in direct cuts and $10 million in diversions. These cuts will significantly reduce the amount of money available to reimburse residents for solar installations and high efficiency appliances, like furnaces and air conditioners. These cuts to the Clean Energy Fund are on top of the $158 million robbed from the fund in FY 2010. The Clean Energy Fund is dedicated by the Legislature, so the Governor's cuts to the fund are a one-shot gimmick.

"When it comes to clean energy and reducing greenhouse gases, this budget shows the Governor is full of hot air," Tittel said. "He keeps taking money away from green jobs and clean energy programs, undermining the environment and costing us jobs as well."

The Governor's budget eliminates the Retail Margin Fund. Just $13.9 million was left in the Retail Margin Fund after a $128 million cut in the FY 2010 budget. 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.

The Governor also announced he will slash DEP funding to historic lows. The DEP's operating budget will be cut by $15 million, from $215 million down to $200 million. In just two years, DEP funding has been slashed by about a third - from $277 million down to $200 million. At least $40 million from the DEP budget that comes from fees, fines, and grants will be diverted to the General Fund.

"DEP is at its lowest level of funding in more than 25 years," Tittel said. "There won't be enough people at DEP to issue the permits required to protect public health and the environment and ensure that our economy gets going."

The Governor plans to take $15 million from the constitutionally-dedicated CBT (Corporate Business Tax), which traditionally goes to environmental programs that create jobs, like fixing parks or helping towns to do watershed planning to meet stormwater rules. CBT monies also go to retrofit diesel school buses, helping to reduce asthma in children.

This budget reduces funding for the Highlands from $12 million to $4.4 million and cuts direct aid for municipalities in the Highlands and Pinelands by $7.6 million. Payment in Lieu of Taxes, which helps municipalities make up for loss tax revenue when buying open space, will be slashed from $10 million to $6.5 million.

The 2011 budget also calls for the elimination of the Office of Climate Change, taking direct aim at clean energy program and efforts to fight climate change.

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 2010-03-16 13:41:14

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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