Environmental Activist Voice Concerns In RGGI Hearing

By Michael Hill

Speaker after speaker criticized the Christie administration for pulling out of the ten-state, Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative — known as RGGI or “Reggie” — to cut carbon dioxide emissions in New Jersey.
“We expect the Department of Environmental Protection to protect us,” said Westfield resident Roslyn Harrison.  
“This administration and this department is in breach of the public trust,” said West Windsor Environmental Commission chairman Mike Hornsby.
“There’s been a rhetorical device used by the Republicans lately by calling President Obama a lawless president. Gov. Christie took a lawless act by pulling us out of RGGI,” said Chemist Anthony Weil.
Three years ago, Gov. Chris Christie withdrew the state from RGGI saying New Jersey was already reducing its carbon dioxide emissions without RGGI by relying more on natural gas.
Environmentalists appealed. In March, an appellate court ruled Christie violated the law by not allowing public comment.
So, this DEP hearing satisfies that requirement. 

Dr. Nicky Sheats agrees with the administration but says more needs to be done to protect minority and poor neighborhoods.
“We need to aggressively fight climate change but we have to do it in a way that doesn’t leaves equity to chance,” said Sheats.
Mike Proto — of the Koch brothers founded and funded Americans For Prosperity —  said environmentalists are relying on faulty research and hyperbole.
“AFP believes our energy policy should be based on sound principles and evidence, not doubt,” said Proto.
When Proto way exceeded his five minutes — others who opposed his message, such as Environment NJ which sued the administration, reminded the moderator.
“My good friends at Americans For Prosperity who clearly have the same grasp on science as they do at watching the clock,” said Environment NJ director Doug O’Malley.
One grandmother says what’s at stake is no laughing matter.
“And the idea of standing on your laurels and saying oh we’ve done fine so far we don’t need any more. I can not believe that you are members of the Department of Environmental Protection. To me this is a very bad joke,” said Styra Avins.   
Several speakers here took aim at the governor, saying he seems more interested in positioning himself for higher office than he does about what’s best for New Jersey.
“We’re pulling out of RGGI not because RGGI didn’t work and not that RGGI didn’t create jobs and help save over a billion dollars electric bill. We’re pulling out because of the governor’s political ambitions. we’re pulling out because after he pulled out got to have lunch with the Koch brothers,” said Sierra Club President Jeff Tittel.
The DEP says under Gov. Christie new jersey already exceeds EPA standards when it comes to emissions.
“I am disappointed in the leadership of some of the organizations. Their websites are devoid of some of the good things New Jersey has to tell,” said Bob Marshall.
Environmentalists say they know this hearing will do little to influence the governor but they wanted to create a public record of testimony to encourage lawmakers to take on the administration over climate change.