New Jersey environmentalists, teaming up with the state's major power companies and
the state Chamber of Commerce? For us pragmatic environmentalists out there, it seems too good to be true. However, it is in fact true, as the three groups have lobbied Gov. Chris Christie to support the EPA's efforts to "choke off pollution
from power plants in other states that ends up in New Jersey," according to Christopher Baxter at the Statehouse Bureau.
Of course, as with all matters of this nature, there is always a catch. In this case, the catch (according to Baxter) is: Christie seems unlikely to support the EPA effort, despite the combined lobbying efforts. "I don't like giving EPA any more power than it has already, in general, especially given this administration's use of power at the EPA, which has been over-reaching and stifling to job growth and business development in this country," Christie said.
However, as Baxter notes, Christie's opposition seems strange considering three days ago the EPA granted his request to force a Pennsylvania coal plant to stop releasing pollution that blows into New Jersey. One of the main points of the EPA effort in New Jersey is to aid the state in passing federal standards for healthy air set out in the Clean Air Act. The state has repeatedly failed these standards as a result of pollution blowing in from other states.
The EPA has decided to weigh in on the situation. "The governor is a former U.S. attorney, so he knows as well as anyone that the Clean Air Act gives EPA the authority to protect communities in states like New Jersey that suffer from air pollution emitted by facilities thousands of miles away," said EPA spokesman Brendan Gilfallan.
Also lending their two cents were New Jersey environmentalists. "It seems so anti-New Jersey to be anti-EPA and anti-environmental protection because we have way too much pollution here. It's all parroting of conservative rhetoric in the national party," said Dena Mottola Jaborska, executive director of Environment New Jersey.
Just today, Bob Menendez, the state's junior U.S. Senator (a Democrat), wrote Christie a public letter asking him to clarify where he stands on the EPA's measure. "I hope you will ultimately decide to support the EPA's rule so as not to put the interests of out-of-state polluters or the economic interests of neighboring states ahead of the public health or economic interests of New Jerseyans," Menendez added.
Anybody who has been following the race for the Republican presidential nomination knows that the environment has been a hot-button issue. The candidates' views on the environment range widely and there are even candidates who question the existence of climate change. Gov. Christie has made waves in recent months — first as a prospective candidate, now as a national Republican star fundraiser. It is possible that he is publically pandering to the interests of the national party. I, for one, just hope that New Jersey doesn't have to suffer for it.