Chris Christie: A Conservative Myth - Part 5
Lately, it has become fashionable among conservatives and Republicans nationwide to lavish effusive praise and encomiums upon Governor Chris Christie as the “Conservative Savior” of New Jersey - and this trend has begun to mushroom into a fervent cult of pseudo-personality that is already calling for him to throw his hat into the 2012 Presidential campaign ring.
Myth #5: Gov. Christie believes that “green technology” is economically unviable and rejects Cap & Trade because it is economically destructive.
Here are the facts: during last year’s gubernatorial campaign, Mr. Christie posted a video on YouTube in which he outlined a plan for “energy as industry” in New Jersey. Coal burning plants? Nope. Offshore oil drilling and refining, perhaps? Not a chance. How about more nuclear power plants? Fuhgeddaboudit.
According to Mr. Christie, the future of New Jersey prosperity lies in “green technology,” specifically, wind turbines and solar panel farms.
The Christie Plan: Energy as Industry
The transcript of Mr. Christie’s message can be found in the explanation section under the video on YouTube. Here are some excerpts from this very revealing presentation:
Most of the panels for solar energy and the turbines for wind energy are being manufactured in countries like Germany and Japan, Denmark and Spain. Not only are they way ahead of the U.S. in creating renewable energy — they are way ahead us in creating the jobs that will go along with renewable energy.
Apparently Mr. Christie is unaware that the economy in countries like Germany, Japan and Spain has been in the crapper for nearly a decade - although Germany is beginning to emerge from the abyss, thanks largely to tax and spending cuts. Spain is finally waking up from its dogmatic climate change slumber to the sobering reality that any government-driven effort to do what the free market refuses to do only ends up costing more jobs than it actually creates.
Subsidizing renewable energy in the U.S. may destroy two jobs for every one created if Spain’s experience with windmills and solar farms is any guide.
For every new position that depends on energy price supports, at least 2.2 jobs in other industries will disappear, according to a study from King Juan Carlos University in Madrid.
U.S. President Barack Obama’s 2010 budget proposal contains about $20 billion in tax incentives for clean-energy programs. In Spain, where wind turbines provided 11 percent of power demand last year, generators earn rates as much as 11 times more for renewable energy compared with burning fossil fuels.
The premiums paid for solar, biomass, wave and wind power - - which are charged to consumers in their bills - translated into a $774,000 cost for each Spanish “green job” created since 2000, said Gabriel Calzada, an economics professor at the university and author of the report.
“The loss of jobs could be greater if you account for the amount of lost industry that moves out of the country due to higher energy prices,” he said in an interview.
It’s worth noting that but for $2.2 billion in Stimulus aid, the wind and solar industry in the U.S. would have completely tanked.
Here in New Jersey, unfortunately, we’ve had leadership that likes to talk a lot about renewable energy but hasn’t done much of anything. That’s why we are 43rd in the nation in the production of renewable energy. That is simply not good enough. It’s not meeting the President’s goals and it’s not meeting the needs of New Jersey citizens. That’s why I’m going to make renewable energy a key part of the Christie administration.
Perhaps Mr. Christie was also unaware of either Barack Obama’s core political philosophy or his agenda for the energy industry. Here’s a clue: the President’s goals involve the nationalization of the energy industry after the implementation of his Cap & Trade agenda leaves it hopelessly crippled. Hopefully now that he is Governor, Mr. Christie’s eyes have since opened - if he still stands firmly with President Obama, New Jerseyans are in big trouble.
We will provide either a 100% tax credit or a 100% credit for insurance premiums to any manufacturer of wind turbines or solar panels who wants to locate here in New Jersey. This will take away the current disincentives that the Corzine administration has put into place with higher corporate business taxes which drive jobs from our state and prevent these manufacturers from coming to New Jersey and making it their home.
Why extend a tax credit to just renewable energy manufacturers? Why not extend generous tax credits to all businesses - better yet, why not slash corporate and business tax rates and eliminate miles of regulatory red tape that, by his own admission, have driven commerce out of our state? This is what conservatives do - and doesn’t Mr. Christie constantly remind us that he is a conservative?
We’re going to encourage solar farms by making it a permitted land use all across New Jersey. Yet one of the things that really discourages the development of renewable energy businesses across New Jersey is the uncertainty of town to town decisions on the use of solar farms. So, a Christie administration will make sure that solar farms are a permitted use in each and every town.
In other words, to hell with home rule. The municipalities will be forced to accept solar farms in much the same manner they were forced to construct low-income housing as a result of the Mt. Laurel Decisions - which became the epitome of judicial activism in New Jersey and the source of endless grief. This kind of thinking is the essence of liberal statism - not republican conservatism.
Lastly, we should make sure that the farmland that we have preserved across New Jersey — farmland that we have paid for with your tax dollars — is utilized not just for agriculture but also for growing and developing renewable energy.
Mr. Christie is being disingenuous when he says that farmland throughout the state has been paid for with tax dollars. What he is referring to are actually property tax rate reductions offered by the state of New Jersey to farmers who use their land for productive purposes. You see, at some point property taxes became so confiscatory that folks who owned large tracts of land (usually farmers) began selling them off to developers because they could not afford the taxes. In order to prevent New Jersey from becoming a macrocosm of Newark, the state legislature incentivized farmers and land owners to hold onto their real estate by giving them a property tax break. Only a liberal would say that a reduction in taxes is a payment with tax dollars.
As for windmills, Garden State environmentalists started salivating on August 19 of this year when Gov. Christie signed into law the Offshore Wind Economic Development Act:
The measure offers financial aid and tax credits to attract private companies to participate in developing wind farms in the ocean. But this effort may also involve significant expense to be passed on to power consumers.
The act mandates a percentage of electrical power sold in New Jersey eventually be generated by offshore windmills, and offers a mix of financial assistance and $100 million in tax credits to lure companies to build the turbines in Paulsboro and get the project underway.
In Massachusetts - which has a similar windmill project - energy consumers will be paying 18.7 cents per kilowatt hour and energy prices will be going up 3.5% a year. What can we look forward to in the Garden State?
The New Jersey Business and Industry Association estimates $7 billion to $14 billion in integration costs will be passed onto ratepayers, predicting an exodus of businesses already stressed by high utility bills, high taxes and a recession.
“You not only need transmission lines from the ocean to the shore, but also additional transmission capacity to integrate the wind power. Remember, wind is variable.,” said Jonathan Lesser, an economic consultant for the group.
“You get the least amount of wind in the summer, when you need the most power, so you are going to need a natural gas-fire generation system to back it up,” he said.
So much for a conservative approach to either energy or prosperity.
RGGI: Cap & Trade’s Mini-Me
The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative - or RGGI (pronounced “Reggie”) - is an agreement between ten Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic states (Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont) to impose a regional cap-and-trade program on their electricity-producers to reduce emissions 10% by 2018 and help states fund so-called “green energy” programs - although the states are free to use the funds generated from the program at their discretion (thus did Gov. Christie “raid” the RGGI fund for close to $65 million to help balance the state budget - see Part 1). Gov. Corzine enrolled New Jersey into the program in 2008.
A cap on carbon emissions has been set and the participating states auction off carbon emission allowances to energy producers at regulated prices. Over time, the number of allowances are reduced, forcing the producers to either implement expensive technologies or pay excessive fines for violating the CO2 cap. As the number of allowances declines, the cost for each permit rises. This in turn causes compliance costs for energy producers to rise and these costs are passed on to consumers in the form of skyrocketing energy bills.
Between 2008 and today, seven auctions of carbon allowances have taken place, with RGGI raking in over $662 million from energy producers, who will pass the cost along to consumers through higher rates.
So who, exactly, is profiting and who, exactly, is footing the bill? Read and weep:
Since RGGI began in 2008, New Jersey’s consumers have paid more than $66 million in higher electric bills to cover the cost of the program. Much of it was likely pocketed by those big Wall Street banks - but the details are being kept secret. [emphasis added]
The details are being kept secret? Oh yes…read and weep some more:
In his stunning expose, Lagerkvist revealed that the $662 million in cap-and-trade permits sold since the RGGI scheme started two years ago have been sold largely to “Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Merrill Lynch, JPMorgan Chase and other Wall Street heavyweights.”
RGGI is refusing to comply with Lagerkvist’s requests under state open records laws. They referred him instead to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) - the perch from which Lisa Jackson, now Obama’s national EPA administrator, originally designed the RGGI program.
NJDEP, however, refused to comply with his requests, opting instead to protect to secrecy of the Wall Street giants profiting from the cap-and-trade program.
These traders - with the specifics kept secret - are pocketing trading profits while consumers pick up the costs of the new scheme in the form of higher energy prices.
This is the very sort of back-room, closed-door, crony capitalism the Obama administration practices and Tea Party movement protests. No truly conservative New Jersey Governor would put up with this nonsense - all the more so in light of the fact that the carbon credit market is in the process of collapsing.
Most infuriating of all is the fact that RGGI is founded on the assumption that climate change (global warming, to be precise) can be triggered by human activity - specifically, carbon emissions that increase the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere. There simply isn’t enough time or space to go into the details, but suffice it to say there is a sufficient amount of credible scientific research - and logic - to refute an agenda that is more religion than science.
What does Gov. Christie think about RGGI?
Now contrast this with his answer to a question at a November 9 town hall meeting in Toms River:
Asked by a man attending the event whether he thought mankind was responsible for global warming, Christie says he’s seen evidence on both sides of the argument but thinks it hasn’t been proven one way or another.
Christie says “more science” is needed to convince him.
Suddenly the Governor has become…well…kinda, sorta, in a wishy-washy way…somewhat skeptical. Which is to say, he’s decided to straddle the fence and stick a moistened finger into the air. What a difference a mid-term election makes.
As usual, Paul Mulshine cuts to the quick:
If Chris Christie doesn’t believe in global warming…then why is New Jersey still imposing a tax on your utility rates to fund the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative? And how would he build all those windmills offshore without the revenue from the tax?
Why the switcheroo? Sounds like someone’s trying to ditch positions that won’t appeal to the Republican Party base in the 2012 presidential primaries.
Maybe soon he’ll drop his advocacy of immigration amnesty as well.
We’ll address the Governor’s illegal immigration problem in Part 7.
In Part 6 we will examine the myth that Gov. Christie opposes the Healthcare Reform Act - popularly known as “Obamacare” - because it is unconstitutional and will destroy the best health care system in the world.
Here are links to all the articles in this series:
How New Jersey Lost Its Mojo
Introduction to the Christie Conservative Myth
Part 1 - Budget Myths
Part 2 - Unions and State Employees
Part 3 - Conservative Appointees
Part 4 - Political Endorsements
Part 5 - Cap & Trade and “Green Technology”
Part 6 - Gov. Christie and Obamacare
Part 7 - Illegal Aliens, Gun Control and the GZ Mosque
Part 8 - A Conservative Myth Exposed