Trenton — The Corzine Administration has failed to meet its first major statutory milestone in implementing the emission reduction goals of the highly touted Global Warming Response Act, according to Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). A June 30th legal deadline for producing a plan identifying the legislative and regulatory “measures necessary to reduce greenhouse gas emissions” will not be met until September at the earliest.
The Global Warming Response Act was signed by Gov. Jon Corzine last July, on the eve of a concert at the Meadowlands attended by former Vice President Al Gore. The Act mandates a 20% reduction in current greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2020 and an 80% reduction by 2050. Environmentalists have praised the goals of the New Jersey law as among the strongest in the nation.
Since then, Gov. Corzine has participated in a series of high profile global warming events, including a trip to Portugal to sign an international declaration and, this past April, an appearance at Yale University to sign the Governors’ Declaration on Climate Change partnership.
At a meeting this week with New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Lisa P. Jackson, we were informed that the June 30th deadline was not close to being met and that the new estimated goal for circulating a draft greenhouse gas control plan for public review is mid-to-late August. A minimum 30 day comment period would push delivery of a plan to the Legislature back until September or early October.
“The concern is that when it comes to global warming the Corzine administration may be all hat and no cattle,” stated New Jersey PEER Director Bill Wolfe. “At a time when scientists are calling for quicker and deeper emissions reductions, the sense of urgency among our state officials has vanished.”
There may be further delays, however, due to other actions by the Corzine administration. DEP may not be in a position to implement any ambitious greenhouse gas control plans since the Governor’s budget slashes agency funding, imposes a hiring freeze, and relies on an early retirement program that could cost DEP more than 300 positions (out of a 3,200 total workforce). These cuts, which are far deeper than those imposed during the Whitman administration, will hamstring detailed planning for, let alone implementing, any bold new initiatives at DEP.
At the same time, Gov. Corzine is poised to sign “The Permit Extension Act” which would exempt thousands of projects from any new energy conservation, energy efficiency, building codes, or other requirements to install solar heating or other renewable energy that may ultimately be required by the Global Warming Response Act. PEER has asked the Governor to veto the bill.
“Since there will not likely be coherent federal action for at least two years, people who are counting on the states to take effective steps on global warming now should be disappointed in New Jersey,” Wolfe added. “Stumbling this badly coming out of the blocks does not bode well for how we will run the race.”
New Jersey PEER is a state chapter of a national alliance of state and federal agency resource professionals working to ensure environmental ethics and government accountability