Thursday, August 2, 2012

Is NJ's Christie breaking with GOP's anti-solar ranks?

The Sierra Club charged today that the fossil fuel industry "is not only waging an attack on renewable energy in the political sphere through immense financial contributions to elected officials, but they are also funding a concerted, covert misinformation campaign."
Through faux “think tanks,” phony intellectuals, and astroturf groups masquerading as “concerned citizens,” the industry is seeking to shift public opinion and discredit renewable energy," the organization said in a new report, Clean Energy Under Siege.
If that's true, then what message was being sent by New Jersey's Republican Governor Chris Christie, an active campaigner for GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney, when he signed legislation boosting the state's solar industry?

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Was Christie breaking ranks with those bent on sustaining Big Oil/Coal's reign?

Likely not, according to those quoted today in an interesting story in Inside Climate News.
"He [understands] the practical benefits of having good policies in the state," said Carrie Hitt, vice president for state affairs at the Solar Energy Industries Association. "But he's not going to campaign to promote renewables across the country."

Andrew Krulewitz, a solar analyst at GTM Research, said it would have reflected poorly on Christie to "let the bottom fall out" of the solar market. "He didn't want to see all these new jobs leave the state."

Following the bill signing, Christie said that building the solar economy is not a Republican issue or a Democratic issue. "It's an issue that the people of our state demand we work on together," he said.
"I think it's important for conservatives to hear the message from a credible source like Gov. Christie that solar energy is not liberal—in fact, it's not conservative either. It just makes sense from an economic development standpoint," said Jim DiPeso, policy director for ConservAmerica, a conservative policy group. Last year, approximately 100,300 Americans worked in the U.S. solar industry, says The Solar Foundation, a nonprofit group.

What do YOU think? Is the Republican Party hopelessly committed to a fossil fuel future? Has industry purchased that allegiance through campaign contributions, as the Sierra Club contends? Does Christie see a more nuanced position as beneficial to his national political plans? Should he? Share your thoughts in the opinion box below. If one is not visible, activate it by clicking on the tiny 'comments' link. 

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