New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has certainly been a wonderful rhetorical revelation for conservatives, tailor-made for YouTube. He backs a cap on property tax increases -- rah! He wants teachers to contribute to their own health insurance plans like most of the rest of us -- yeah! He confronts liberal hecklers and wants to unite the country -- all riiight!!
And he believes that humans cause global warming; that government should subsidize failed industries such as wind energy and solar energy; and that government should mandate that utilities generate a minimum percentage of the power from expensive "renewables" -- uhhh…
He looked so promising, too.
Why has the Garden State governor detoured so far from conservative principle when it comes to energy and environment policy? Why has this seemingly perceptive politician failed to understand that there is widespread disagreement, rather than consensus, within science over future catastrophic global warming?
It's not like Christie is a total loss on the issue. He did, after all, remove New Jersey from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, the cap-and-tax agreement among 10 (nine after New Jersey's gone) Northeastern states. That was praiseworthy. He even said the right thing in doing so: "It's a failure. RGGI has not changed behavior and it does not reduce emissions."
But disappointingly, his other rhetoric and actions indicate he is more aligned with, as the Washington Times calls them, "business-oriented Republicans who say power should be used to correct markets and support key industries," as opposed to "free-market conservatives who argue that government can't pick winners and losers."
For example, in April 2010 Christie sounded positively Obama-ish when he visited Petra, a New Jersey solar panel manufacturer. He called solar energy "the next frontier" and announced, "We want to be part of it." Then he -- ironically and hypocritically -- said, "What the government needs to do is stay the hell out of the way. We want to make it easier to do business in New Jersey." How does he not understand that the only way solar survives is if government stays the hell in the way?
Then last August Christie signed the Offshore Wind Economic Development Act, which he lauded as "a strong commitment to utilizing energy as industry in our efforts to make our State a home for growth, as well as a national leader in the wind power movement." The law requires that a minimum of 1,100 watts of electricity be generated from offshore turbines, and dedicates taxpayer dollars to "qualified" wind-related projects, manufacturers and assemblers. And this is any better than staying in RGGI how?
Finally, last week Christie released his "Energy Master Plan" (Hey Republicans: A government "master plan" for anything that should be handled in the private sector is never a good thing), which included leaving a Renewable Energy Mandate in place of 22.5 percent by the year 2021. He lowered the target from the Corzine era's 30 percent, but how did Christie get so smart as to calculate that exactly 22 and one-half percent is the precise amount of renewable energy needed to sufficiently fight global warming in New Jersey?
And then there is this cringe-worthy statement:
This plan represents my Administration's commitment to changing the way we produce, distribute and use energy as part of a broader emphasis on renewable sources of energy and economic growth.
The EMP supports the development of new energy-related technologies such as fuel cells, off shore wind, and alternatively fueled vehicles while encouraging the developers, providers and support businesses related to these technologies, to locate here in New Jersey.
But this should not have surprised. During his gubernatorial campaign he spoke favorably about renewable energy subsidies, and even committed to principles of "global warming justice" and "say[ing] no to coal."
Fearless talk radio leader Rush Limbaugh proclaimed last week that Mitt Romney can kiss the Republican presidential nomination "bye-bye" thanks to his views on anthropogenic global warming. Christie insists he won't run in 2012, but what about higher political aspirations in the future?
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