NJEF makes surprise endorsement: Christie

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Image via ChristieforNJ.com.

The state’s environmental groups remain divided over this year’s governor’s race, and the gap between them widened today with the New Jersey Environmental Federation’s announcement that it would endorse Chris Christie.

The group said at a press conference in Trenton that the Republican candidate had “laid out by far the most impressive green agenda” and demonstrated a “strong commitment to the environment” and willingness to work with the group — which had never before endorsed a GOP candidate in a statewide race.

Poor Gov. Corzine must be nursing a drink somewhere.

Some of the slights the governor has already endured from the state’s greens: The Sierra Club chose independent Chris Daggett, who needs a miracle, and named Corzine the worst on the environment in state history. (“Worse than Whitman,” Jeff Tittel reminded us today.) Environment New Jersey, instead of leaping to Corzine’s defense, decided not to endorse anyone.

Then came today’s announcement in Trenton. “I voted to endorse our governor in 2005, but he has been hugely disappointing, breaking too many environmental promises and failing to effectively lead,” NJEF board member Ben Forest said at the press conference. “I believe Mr. Christie shares our core environmental values… I like his environmental agenda and believe him when he says we will not always agree, but we will be partners in his administration when he is elected.”

The group highlighted: a stated commitment by Christie to fix flaws at the Salem and Oyster Creek nuclear power plants, strengthen stream protection rules and require better pollution control systems for state road projects, as well as his opposition to a coal plant proposed for Linden. Christie has also pledged to establish a long-term funding source for open space preservation.

But Christie, who also has pledged to cut an already slimmed-down Department of Environmental Protection, has not said much about environmental issues until recently, though he did release an energy plan promoting renewables over the summer. He sent Rick Dovey from the Atlantic County Utilities Authority to an environmental panel discussion in his stead last month after briefing him for a matter of minutes.

On Christie’s website now, you’ll find an environmental plan and video statement that emphasizes his desire to return the DEP to its “core mission” of environmental protection and restore Shore protection funds. (Bill Wolfe picked apart the plan in a blog entry today.)

Tittel said that if Daggett were out of the picture, the Sierra Club would probably have sat out the endorsement process. He also said he thought Christie would be “good on open space, clean energy and enforcement” but wasn’t sure about air and water quality regulations.

Rachel Kohl, a global warming associate with Environment New Jersey, kept the group neutral: “We applaud Chris Christie’s commitments today, and urge him, Gov. Corzine and Chris Daggett to detail complete environmental and clean energy agendas in the coming weeks.” 

The Corzine camp released a statement from lieutenant governor candidate Loretta Weinberg saying that under Corzine’s leadership, “New Jersey has become a national leader in environmental policy” — presumably referring to his energy master plan, Global Warming Response Act and participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative — while “Christie continues to be wrong when it matters most and would turn back the clock on the common sense environmental initiatives that we have fought for over the last four years.”

Politicker NJ talked to Corzine, who was praised last week by Al Gore, at an event tonight. “President Barack Obama selected my DEP commissioner to head the EPA and Al Gore, one of the foremost environmentalists in America, came here to endorse me and knows how we have promoted clean energy alternatives,” Corzine told the site’s reporter. “On an objective basis, environmentalists know we have no intention of despoiling the environment.”

A Fairleigh Dickinson University poll Tuesday showed Corzine with a narrow lead over Christie.

Posted by Green Jersey on October 6th, 2009 | Filed in Uncategorized | 10 Comments »


10 Responses to “NJEF makes surprise endorsement: Christie”

  1. Bill Wolfe Says:

    NJ environmental groups have lost all credibility.

    Their statements -like those of government officials, lobbyists, politicians, developers, polluters, – need to be scrutinized in light of and held accountable to facts.

    Their judgements have become laughable and absurd – but, given the consequences, are not funny but tragic.

  2. Ben Forest Says:

    Thank you for the article about our endorsement. Believe me I know how upsetting it is to many, including dear friends. We worked very hard on this. The decision was not in any way made lightly. I believe our engagement with Mr. Christie has turned out well.

  3. Kevin Says:

    This is the price the administration pays for not scouring out the McGreevey-era hacks and bureaucratic gargoyles (expensive decorations whose only purpose is to shed dirty water on every passerby in a storm). Until recently, the DEP agenda has been whatever makes the Commissioner look good or benefits the insiders’ club.

    Hopefully a change is on the way, whomever wins in November.

  4. Water Watcher Says:

    Ben, are these your “core environmental values”?

    http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2009/04/gop_candidate_chris_christie_c.html

    The Republican front-runner in the campaign for New Jersey governor said he wants to trim government spending, and that his first target would be the state Department of Environmental Protection.

    Christopher Christie, the former U.S. Attorney for New Jersey, said the DEP is too big and is “killing business” with permit delays and indiscriminate fines.

    He said he would lay off DEP workers and strip the agency of its fish and wildlife oversight.

  5. Ben Forest Says:

    Response to “Water Watcher”

    The topics mentioned and in the link were items of debate and discussion with Chris Christie.

    If you read the press accounts as well as pubic statements, I think we will find a lot of specific environmental commitments from Mr. Christie.

    All three major candidates were interviewed and questioned in detail. They had their pros and cons, with the Governor being by far the worst. Jon Corzine’s record includes; cutting the DEP, not keeping commitments, inaccessibility on environmental matters, and not opposing some dreadful legislative proposals past and pending.

    Any endorsement has some risk. There is no 100 percent gauge of knowing what’s in a persons heart. Also clearly, no Governor will agree with us on all matters. I am sure we will have our disagreements with Mr. Christie should he win.

    As far as the fiscal issues, no one says there will be no budget cutting with the massive budget shortfall looming.

    The outcome of our process is not what I expected but Mr. Christie has earned our endorsement.

  6. Bard34 Says:

    Ben,

    Steve Lonegan is going to campaign against the open space Bond ? Will you endorse him as well?

    Cristie is against borrowing money for the purchase of open space at this time because the state is broke. He feels there are appropriate uses of taxpayer money to buy open space. Cristie states, “We have to figure out a way for those people to get compensation [in the Highlands]”.

    I’m a member of a few of your “member” organizations I’ll be encouraging them to end that relationship. You guys are just way off base on this…. I can see not wanting to be taken for granted

    I work in state gov so I know the set backs and what this administration has done..the proper endorsement is no endorsement.

    When you you end up on the same side as the Chamber, Farm Bureau, NJBIA, NRA, maybe you got sold something

    I guess I’m suggesting your process was flawed………..

  7. Bill Wolfe Says:

    Ben – were you misquoted in today’s Bergen Record? Partners?

    If not, it sure is obvious that you favor access over principle and policy:

    “I like his environmental agenda and believe him when he says, ‘We will not always agree,’ but we will be partners in his administration when he is elected,” said Ben Forest, a board member of NJ Environmental Federation, which had never before endorsed a Republican for statewide office.”

    You like his agenda? I don’t know what Christie may have promised you privately, but his public environmental agenda is a disaster, which I take apart point by point here:

    http://wolfenotes.com/2009/10/christies-environmental-agenda-would-be-a-disaster-for-new-jersey/

    And if he’s trustworthy, why can’t he make public statements in support of teh environment? Secret promises are worth didly squat if not backed by public pledges.

  8. Bill Wolfe Says:

    One more point: I want to challenge your premise that there were no options other than endorse one of the 3 major candidates.

    Environment NJ has chosen to sit this one out and instead focus on issues and organizing.

    I APPLAUD that approach.

    Sierra and NJEF should have done the same thing.

  9. Bard34 Says:

    Ben
    Quid pro Quo?

    “As a Monmouth County resident, I am at the center of an economic shutdown with the closing of Fort Monmouth. We need green business innovations that put people and their talent back to work. Chris Christie has committed to giving us a “twofer” – bringing green jobs and environmental protections to the Garden State. That is one more reason why NJEF’s Vote Environment Committee is supporting Chris Christie for governor. ”

    Some green jobs, some beach sand, and some press for NJEF – (this endorsement is everywhere) = Christie gets what looks like a huge crossover endorsement from you…

    Exactly how is he going to create green jobs? That plan is MIA.

    Largest environmental group based on what? $ raised by clueless college kids badgering people door to door? Petitions signed at the mall? And as the political wing – Vote Environment Committee- separate tax ID?- your actually not the states largest environmental group.

    Ben your yet to tell us why Christie is a better choice? Basically everything your stating is that, face to face, you felt that a Former Federal Prosecutor made some compelling statements and swayed your jury of – 5 (not my peers.)

    As you said..

    This is not an easy position for us – it is upsetting to many of our traditional constituencies.

    Might get a little tougher – as in you guys just become apologist #1 if the fat man gets elected and makes Corzine look like Jon Muir.

    He’s your boy now. When half of DEP is out of work, and the DEP commissioners are all former industry lobbyist, you Ben Forest, Sharon Finlayson, own it, . But hey you may be working at DEP then.

    I give Jeff T some credit – sound bite king that he is – I can understand a Chris Daggett endorsement – sends a nice message to Corzine that the green vote is not guaranteed. At least Daggett understands the issues and is not going to gut what we have.

    Like he said Christie is a leap of faith

    Christie’s environmental stance is – I prosecuted polluter X – that’s great Chris – I showed up and did the job the people pay me to do yesterday as well. But how are you going to make it better? When the issue is not easy – is anyone actually against green jobs? alternative energy? beaches without medical debris? Then what?

    Do you really believe when the chips are down and someone has to pick between a lot of $$$ in a bad economy and a critical environmental issue that Chris Christie is going to side with swamp pink, piping plovers, savannah sparrows, or a northern pine snake?

    Like I said your five member committee now owns this. You reap what you sow. Good luck with that…….

  10. WolfeNotes.com » Environmental Federation Joins Chemical Industry, Builders, & Business Groups in Support of Christie Rule Moratorium Says:

    [...] It is no secret that the NJ Environmental Federation (NJEF) endorsement of Chris Christie prompted harsh criticism by environmentalists. [...]

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