Earth Day 2012
Tuesday, April 17, 2012 • 4:34pm
As we celebrate Earth Day, more and more people are “Going Green.” The biggest increase in consumer spending is for green products such as local organic produce at farmers markets, green cleaning products, and eco-friendly makeup. Last month set a record for the number of hybrid and electric vehicles sold and people are recycling at higher rates.. Even though people are going green, the government is taking the side of special interests and moving in the opposite direction.
This is in some ways the most important and challenging Earth Day since the first 42 years ago. While people are celebrating Earth Day, we are seeing protections being rolled back at the state and federal level.
Governor Christie is playing to the National Republican Party by weakening environmental protections in New Jersey such as the waiver rule and pulling out of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). He is putting polluter interests before our state’s interests.
The Koch brothers funded American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) has not only come up with a blue print for Governor Christie’s rollbacks but is behind many of our bills such as no rules stricter than federal standards. This is not just happening in New Jersey, but all across the country.
Governor Christie diverted $210 million from the Clean Energy Fund for this year’s budget. This money is supposed to be dedicated to energy efficiency, weatherization, and renewable energy programs. An additional $42 million is being taken to pay for the lights in government buildings, diverting almost all the funding.
The Governor is trying to weaken protections in the Highlands region with appointments to the Highlands Council that have actively opposed the law they are charged to implement and removed the Council’s Executive Director. The Governor’s State Strategic Plan weakens protections in the Highlands and Pinelands by requiring those plans to conform to the Strategic Plan’s growth goals.
The DEP has been holding “stakeholder” meetings with special interests to rewrite and weaken important water quality rules, including ground water protections, the Stormwater Management and Flood Hazard Area rules, and sewer service areas under the Water Quality Management Planning rules. This will allow more development in environmentally sensitive areas.
The Governor also vetoed three bills that would have cleaned up pollution in the Barnegat Bay.
In Washington, Congressional representatives have introduced and voted on bills to gut major EPA regulations on cleaning up and regulating climate change pollution and reducing pollution from coal-fired power plants. Some of these measures have been passed in the House.
The Obama Administration released a draft plan to allow oil and gas exploration off our coast. This testing could eventually lead to oil and gas drilling in the Mid-Atlantic.
Unconventional natural gas drilling through fracking is one of the biggest threats to our water in generations. Over 700 chemicals, many known carcinogens, are mixed with millions of gallons of fresh water and injected below ground. Fracking is exempted from important federal environmental laws including Safe Drinking Water Act, and Superfund under the “Halliburton loophole.” Legislation to end these loopholes has been blocked. Governor Christie blocked legislation banning fracking in New Jersey.
The environment is now a big part of our economy. We have over 50,000 green jobs, 25,000 in clean energy. New Jersey is number two in solar in the nation. We installed over 80 megawatts of solar in one month and have surpassed 10,000 solar installations. The government’s actions undermine clean air, clean water, and our economy.
Part of the reason we are losing ground is that there are people who take off their business suits, put on jeans and pretend to be environmentalists on Earth Day, even corporate polluters. They give out checks to try to co-opt environmental opposition or give green cover for incinerators, power lines, and environmental weakenings. The public needs to see through the green scam.
After the first Earth Day, environmentalists targeted the Dirty Dozen most polluting Congressmen in elections and defeated seven of the twelve. In 1971, 16 million people nationwide took part in environmental workshops and trainings. When President Nixon vetoed the Clean Water Act in 1972, half a million people showed up to protest, leading to its final signing into law.
It is up to us if we want to make environmental changes. Public outcry ended ocean dumping and passed the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts. Whenever you drive around New Jersey and see a Green Acres sign it is because local activists and environmental groups worked to protect that property. The protection of the Great Swamp, Sterling Forest, Highlands, and Pinelands all came about because of citizen action.
The only way to counter this anti-environmental agenda and special interest money from the Citizens United decision is to learn from the lessons of the past. We must become a mass movement again, educating the public and becoming more politically active. As we celebrate this Earth Day, we have to realize we are the only ones who can make the changes needed to protect our families and our environment. Its not just what we do and what we buy, we need to change the political system.
The opinions expressed herein are the writer's alone, and do not reflect the opinions of TheAlternativePress.com or anyone who works for TheAlternativePress.com. TheAlternativePress.com is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the writer.