Monday, July 23, 2012

NJ Sierra Club thanks (gasp) Christie for solar signing

**Updated on July 26, 2012 to add more related news stories**

The New Jersey Sierra Club, which pulled out all the stops to oppose Republican Chris Christie's gubernatorial campaign more than two years ago--and has issued almost daily news releases criticizing him since his election--was almost gracious today after Christie signed a bill to save the state's endangered solar energy industry.

No, we are not missing the real news story here--the signing of the bill. That was expected.

The man-bites-dog event was the Sierra Club saying something positive about the Christie administration.

Today they had no choice. So they did.

Sort of.

Christie signed into law S-1925, a bill that won bipartisan support after many months of haggling among solar industry interests, electric utilities, big business organizations, the NJ Board of Public Utilities, and the state's Ratepayer Advocate.  (For details on the legislation, see related stories below).

The environmental community, including the Sierra Club, was solidly behind the legislation.

One green organization, Environment New Jersey, today said, graciously, of the signing:
“Today we applaud the Legislature and the governor for supporting a bill to help New Jersey continue to be the nation’s solar leader.  We are pleased that the measure passed both houses of the Legislature with overwhelming bi-partisan support, reflecting the people of New Jersey’s strong support for clean, renewable energy, regardless of party affiliation. And we applaud Governor Christie for signing the bill into law today. 

The Sierra Club, which issues statements on every major environmental bill and frequently on issues that have only tenuous connections to the environment (affordable housing, women's health etc.) could hardly dodge this one. Even if Enemy #1 --Chris Christie, who they claim is on a mission to undo all essential environmental protections, actually did something that they advocated.

So, in paragraph two of his release today, Sierra Club Director Jeff Tittel said:

“This bill was a compromise since everyone had to give up something. The bill is far from perfect, but without it there would be no solar in New Jersey. We thank Governor Christie for signing the bill because it is important in keeping the solar program moving forward in New Jersey.”

Circle this date on your calendar. On July 23, 2012, Jeff Tittel "thanked the governor."

OK, now, don't get too excited

Of course, Jeff reverted to form in paragraphs 3, 4 and 5.

Dispensing with the nice-guy crap, he then launched the expected barrage of  drone attacks:
  • The dramatic decrease in solar was due in part to the failed policies of the Christie administration to help keep the solar industry in our state afloat.
  • The Administration has eliminated the rebates for families and residents to put solar on their homes and have made it difficult for small projects to get Solar Renewable Energy Credits
  • The Governor has been diverting money that could have gone towards solar and offshore wind projects for his budget. 
  • The Governor has given $2 billion to subsidies for natural gas power plants, while eliminating programs for solar and renewable energy. 
Etc, etc etc. 
It's good to see that solar energy will live on in New Jersey. And, as sure as the sun will rise tomorrow, the Sierra Club will rise to the attack, criticizing whatever Chris Christie does. 

Even when it's something they want.

Governor Christie signs New Jersey solar legislation 
Christie signs solar rescue bill

Christie Signs Solar Bill Increasing N.J. Energy Requirement
Solar 'resurrection bill' will keep spotlight on vital industry 
N.J. aims to reinvigorate solar energy development  
Solar industry to get a boost  New Jersey solar bill risks ‘triggering new SREC crash’

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