Monday, November 7, 2011

Christie's interstate air pollution decision is a puzzlement

A week ago today, NJ Gov. Chris Christie applauded a decision by the federal EPA that will force a power plant in Pennsylvania to scale back the SO2 it's been releasing from its smoke stacks for years. Most of  that pollution is carried by prevailing winds across the Delaware River and into New Jersey.

An Oct 31 news release from the governor's office said:
"Today, Governor Chris Christie called the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s approval of New Jersey’s Clean Air Act petition a major step towards significantly reducing huge volumes of harmful air pollutants from a coal-fired Pennsylvania power plant. The Christie Administration’s Section 126 Petition, filed in March 2010, will reduce air emissions from the GenOn Energy power plant in Portland, Pennsylvania, which currently spews more than 30,000 tons of sulfur dioxide (SO2), plus mercury and many other contaminants into the air across the Delaware River and directly onto residents living in communities in Warren County, and negatively impacting air quality in Morris, Sussex and Hunterdon counties."
 Bob Martin, the governor's Department of Environmental Protection commissioner, added:
“Strong action by the EPA will help greatly to reduce these harmful emissions, and the DEP will closely monitor this effort to ensure this process moves along as swiftly as possible. Now we are glad to have EPA’s commitment to follow up on its promise to compel GenOn to reduce these harmful emissions. We thank the EPA for this precedent setting decision."
That thanks was short lived.

On Thursday, Gov. Christie said New Jersey would NOT be among other downwind states that have joined to defend the EPA against a lawsuit filed by a number of out-of-state power companies that do not want to be compelled, like GenOn, to stop polluting the air of neighboring states.

Whoa! Wassup with that?  

How do you go from back-slapping the EPA for standing up to out-of-state polluters when it benefits your state to slinking away from the impending alley fight when your EPA buddy is encircled by bullies who want to keep all of their pollution turf?

For a guy who is as smart and, we believe, as committed to what's best for New Jersey, the governor's explanation for the decision was, shall we say, lame?

“My inclination is not to deal with these things on a blanket basis by giving more power over to the federal government,” Christie said. “I think they have more than enough power as it is.”

Come on, Governor. Let the bobbleheads at Fox News deliver lines like that. You can do better.

Are we missing something? Was the governor's decision the right decision?  Educate us in the comment box below. If one is not visible, click on the tiny 'comments' link.

Christie unlikely to support EPA air pollution effort 
Christie siding against EPA over power plant pollution

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