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Governor Christie's Global Warming Honey Pot
Eco-Fund Raided for Anti-Eco Projects; Recycling $ Recycled to General Fund
TRENTON, NJ - May 4 - New Jersey Governor Chris Christie's proposed budget siphons off global warming funds dedicated to clean energy conversion into highway-widening and development projects promoting fossil fuel consumption, according to documents posted today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). Christie also wants to seize recycling funds to pay for general state operations.
"Ripping off clean energy money to pay for projects that make our carbon footprint even bigger is warped,” stated New Jersey PEER Director Bill Wolfe. “Long term investments in global warming and environmental programs should be safeguarded, not stolen.” The Assembly Budget Committee will consider Gov. Christie’s proposed environmental budget at a hearing tomorrow, Thursday, May 5.
Gov. Christie also has threatened to unilaterally take New Jersey out of the 10-state Northeast Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). In 2008, the state passed the Global Warming Solutions Fund Act which requires that “up to 100%” of revenues from the sale of carbon credits under RGGI be used to fund energy efficiency, renewable energy, innovative greenhouse gas reduction technologies and other measures to reduce energy demands and costs for low- and moderate-income New Jersey citizens.
Notwithstanding these requirements, Christie raided green funds last year to address budget gaps. For the upcoming 2011-12 fiscal year, however, he ramps up the diversions, but to support construction projects and development programs:
- Approximately $1.3 million from the Global Warming Solutions Fund will finance a newly created Office of Economic Growth and Green Energy.
- Nearly $7 million from the Global Warming Solutions Fund would be taken to support New Jersey Turnpike Authority’s roadway widening project from Interchange 6 to Interchange 9 “to pay for the costs of replanting trees and impacts of the deforestation” from road expansion. Similar diversion of these revenues last year to pay for Turnpike widening re-forestry sparked outrage; and
- $20 million will be taken out of the State Recycling Fund this year ($7 million was diverted last year) and placed in the state General Fund. The Recycling Fund is funded by a garbage disposal surcharge to support municipal and county recycling programs.
In addition, funding for the staff of the Delaware & Raritan Canal Commission would be eliminated. A special joint hearing of the Assembly and Senate Environment Committees conducted an oversight hearing last week to express opposition to that move.
“Governor Christie promised honest budgets and an end to one-shot gimmicks but seems addicted to them,” Wolfe added. “For example, turnpike tolls should fund tree replanting required by our ‘No Net Loss’ law. Similarly, the new Office of Economic Growth is not legislatively authorized and its charter of promoting economic growth conflicts with the core mission of the Department of Environmental Protection which, as its name suggests, is to protect the environment.”