Contact Jeff Tittel, 609-558-9100
Christie’s Budget Targets Environment, Steals from Clean Energy Fund
Today’s the New Jersey Sierra Club is joining New Jersey Working Families Alliance, Better Choices Coalition and others at a press conference on the latest raids to the Clean Energy Fund. The agency continues to divert money from the Clean Energy Fund and support the proliferation of pipelines through New Jersey. Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club, released the following statement:
“Governor Christie continues to steal even more money from programs that target the environment and working families. With the latest budget updates, he is using close to $300 million from environmental programs and another $50 million from the Clean Energy Fund. This brings the total to $210 million stolen from the Fund in just this budget alone. They keep raiding the Fund for other reasons such as putting new lights in state buildings. This is money that should be used to weatherize houses and create green jobs. We could be making our homes more energy efficient and resilient to the next storm. This has become a hidden energy tax on consumers. Instead of using this money for the environment and clean energy as he should have, he’s taking it to pay for tax cuts to the wealthy and corporate subsidies.
“The Clean Energy Fund has become the state’s ATM. Instead of using the money for clean energy and green jobs, the Governor keeps using the money to balance the budget. Christie’s open space funding stole money from the Hazardous Discharge Fund, which cleans up brownfields. To make up for this loss, he’s taking money from climate change programs to pay for brownfields. He is also taking $20 million from the Fund to pay for park salaries. Not only is he rolling back environmental programs but he keeps stealing more and more money; $1.5 billion total. In the latest budget, there is $210 million directly being diverted from the Clean Energy Fund with $53 million of that going towards lighting on governmental buildings and $83 million for New Jersey Transit.
“With all the funding the Governor has diverted from the Clean Energy Fund, we could have created more than 5,000 jobs, resulting in 100 million tons of air pollution reductions over the next couple years, and would have created billions of dollars of economic activity. By raiding the Clean Energy Fund, we dropped from 7th to 24th in energy efficiency in the nation. Energy efficiency and weatherization are some of the most cost effective ways to reduce greenhouse gasses and air pollution. Energy efficiency reduces peak power needs and therefore saves people money because it could double and triple normal power. These are great programs and some of them could be better and be expanded to help more people and create more jobs. However, this can’t happen because they don’t have the funds that keep getting stolen.
“Christie and his Administration has been targeted other environmental programs. He’s also trying to take environmental settlement from Exxon and other settlements. He’s turning the environment into a slush fund. Last year, he even cut funding at the NJDEP by $57 million, while diverting funds to other purposes. The Christie Administration has actually approved over $7 billion in tax subsidies to corporations in addition to $3 billion worth of business tax cuts. He’s also taking money out of recycling programs. While New Jersey residents are feeling the effects of climate change and want to make their homes more resilient, the Governor and the legislature have blocked them from doing so.
“Like previous years, this year’s budget sides with polluters and special interests over clean energy and combating climate change. These raids have been one of the shameful misuses of budgetary process and arrogance of this Administration. All together this Governor has taken $1.5 billion that save money on our electric bills, reduce pollution, and create jobs. We could be helping more households reduce their energy usage and save consumers money with these funds. The Legislature needs to stand up to the Governor and stop these raids on clean energy funding. We support the resolution, SCR151 (Smith), to constitutionally dedicate Clean Energy Fund money because the legislature must stop stealing from consumers and the environment.”