Just over a year into his term, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has been judged — environmentally, that is. Just last week, Environment New Jersey
, a state environmental advocacy group, gave Gov. Christie's environmental record a C minus. Most of us know it's not a grade we'd strive to achieve.
According to Matt Friedman of NJ.com's The Statehouse Bureau
, "Environment New Jersey Executive Director Dena Mottola Jaborska called the governor's environmental record 'mixed'
but said he has time to improve it."
Anybody who has followed my posts knows that the governor would seem to have an excellent record in the area of renewable energy. Christie signed a bill
for offshore wind farm construction, he opposed a coal-fired power plant in Linden and has effectively presided over what has quickly become the hottest solar power market in the nation
However, Environment New Jersey certainly found problematic areas in Christie's environmental policies, as well. According to Friedman, "they criticized his decision to kill the new rail tunnel under the Hudson, cut NJ Transit subsidies and service, nominating several people who are 'anti-Highlands Water Planning and Protection Act' to the Highlands Council. They also took him to task for expressing skepticism that global warming is caused by humans."
Anybody familiar with New Jersey knows that the planned Hudson River Rail Tunnel, which was dubbed "ARC" (Access to the Region's Core), was a huge controversy within the state and Governor Christie decided to pull the plug because the State would be solely responsible for any cost overruns. This was a touchy issue, as both sides had very legitimate points. However, from an environmental perspective, it was a no-brainer.
There is currently only one rail tunnel that NJ Transit uses to go from New Jersey to New York. This has led to major rail traffic and often hours-long delays getting to and from New York City, where millions of New Jerseyans work.
The frequency of delays has prompted many people to choose to drive instead of taking the train, resulting in possibly millions of additional cars on the road and millions of extra tons of pollution. Environmentalists have long touted public transportation as one of the main solutions to transportation-related pollution, so you can bet that commuters weren't the only ones fretting upon hearing of the project's cancellation.
The good news, according to Mottola Jaborska, is that "with so many key environmental decisions pending, his score could quickly rise or fall." Some of the key remaining environmental decisions Christie must make involve whether he will restore the funds to clean energy programs, his proposed Energy Master Plan, and whether to encourage the construction of natural gas power plants with state subsidies.