Thursday, January 21, 2016

NJ Gov. Christie chops a big crop of environmental bills

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has raised the ire of environmental groups and some legislators, too, by vetoing almost every green bill sent to him in the waning days of the recently concluded legislative session.

The headline used by Politico New Jersey to describe it was:

Politico’s David Giambusso writes:

Environmental advocates are using words like "bloodbath" and "massacre" to describe Gov. Chris Christie's pocket veto of a string of environmental bills on Tuesday. 
Among the victims of Christie's desk drawer are a bill (A3823) that would have appropriated money for lead hazard abatement, one (A4128) that would have allowed an offshore wind company to apply for a project off the coast of Atlantic City and one (S2973) that would have expanded electronic waste recycling — a bill his own Department of Environmental Protection supported. 
"This is a full frontal assault on the environment," said Doug O'Malley, head of Environment New Jersey. "The governor didn't even have the courtesy to tell us why he vetoed them."
Jeff Tittel, head the New Jersey Sierra Club, said, "Anything to do with clean energy he's opposing. Anything that improves government programs for the environment he vetoed."
Christie pocket-vetoed a total of 12 bills relating to energy or the environment. New Jerseyans hopeful for a state oceanographer will have to look to the new Legislature after Christie nixed the bill (S2491) creating one. A program (S564) that would have used state money to provide solar warranties was stuffed as well. 
Also pocket-vetoed were a bill (S2973) to create an energy infrastructure commission, a bill (S2967) to let small businesses state financing for energy audits, another (A2405) creating a "clean vehicle task force" and one (S3416) that would have prohibited animal trophies of endangered species from being held or transported in New Jersey.
“It appears that the governor is one of the few people who don’t recognize that the trophy hunting of exotic animals is a cruel and inhumane practice that threatens the extinction of endangered species," state Sen. Ray Lesniak said in a statement. "Killing these animals so that they can be stuffed and mounted is not a practice that should be condoned or allowed.”
Assemblyman John McKeon decried the veto of the e-waste bill which, after several hearings and rewrites, had the support of industry and the DEP.
“His pocket veto today of this commonsense legislation ensures New Jersey will no longer be a leader when it comes to recycling," McKeon said. "This new law was critical because of the proliferation of electronic technology and the rate at which we purchase new devices these days."
While greens and Democratic legislators were not surprised by many of the governor's vetoes, they still expressed alarm that he was nixing some bipartisan legislation.
The lead abatement bill would have appropriated $10 million for the Lead Hazard Control Assistance Fund and had received support from Republicans and Democrats in both houses.
"The lead abatement pocket veto is really appalling," O'Malley said. "I don't think there's a partisan stance that's pro-lead poisoning."
David Pringle of Clean Water Action accused Christie of sacrificing New Jersey's environment for the sake of his presidential ambitions.
"He just added another chapter on how anti-environment he's turned in his run for president, even vetoing bills his administration supported last week and he himself supported in the past," Pringle said.
One reason the Christie administration has given for the sheer volume of pocket vetoes is the nature of the legislative session. Typically, the governor cannot simply pocket-veto something unless it's passed at the close of the session, and since the Assembly was running for re-election for much of 2015, scores of bills were hurried through at the last minute.
“Having the legislature pass more than 100 bills in such a hasty and scrambled way, praying for them to be rubber stamped, is never a good formula for effectively doing public business," Christie spokesman Kevin Roberts said by email.

That sounds like the response of one or two English teachers we had in school. You turn in a beautifully descriptive and well-documented essay but you turn it in late. The teacher sends it back marked with a "F" and a note: 'Too bad, nice work but late.'
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