STATE—The New Jersey Environmental Federation endorsed GOP gubernatorial candidate Chris Christie Tuesday. It is the first time the organization supported a Republican candidate in a statewide campaign in almost 30 years.
“Gov. Corzine has made commitments to environmental issues,” Chairwoman Sharon Finlayson said. “He has failed to fulfill those commitments.”
“We expect our political leaders to take on our environmental issues and problems, and provide good solutions that are in the best interest of the environment and our public who depend upon clean air, water and soil,” Finlayson said. “When that fails, it is time for change.”
NJEF leaders expressed disappointment in Corzine’s first-term environmental record. They specifically mentioned his lack of action in working to create more cooling towers for nuclear plants, a drop off in waterway protection, lack of a commitment to environmental justice and failing to takes sides on a proposed coal plant in Linden.
Christie won over the environmental group with his opposition to deepening the Delaware River; his promise to restore the DEP’s Division of Science and Research, which was eliminated under Corzine; his support for retrofitting diesel engines used under state contracts; his pledge to stop the “fish slaughter” from cooling systems at Salem and Oyster Creek and his stated opposition to the Linden coal plant.
At a state house press conference Tuesday, Christie criticized the governor’s environmental record, calling the governor a “fake” and a “complete phony” on environmental issues.
“You know, you can sit at the top of your Hoboken high-rise and pontificate about environmental issues and then do nothing,” Christie said about Corzine.
“He’s the worst environmental governor we’ve had in my lifetime,” Christie added.
Corzine tried to defend his environmental record at a separate event in Trenton. He pointed to the support of Nobel laureate and former Vice President Al Gore as well as the fact that President Barack Obama tapped Corzine’s commissioner of the state Department of Environmental Protection, Lisa Jackson, to head the federal Environmental Protection Agency.
New Jersey Environmental Federation and the state branch of the Sierra Club endorsed Corzine in 2005, citing his record in the U.S. Senate. Neither has backed him the second time around, with the Sierra Club supporting independent candidate Chris Daggett.
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