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by
Christopher Horner

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May 26, 2011 - 6:49 am

At least one source who claims to know tells me that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, a rising star with conservatives if with some unsettling blemishes on his ‘global warming’ record, is going to make some news on that front this week. It could come at his 11 a.m. Eastern press conference for which, at this moment, still no topic has been announced.

Christie took office having voiced his skepticism on climate alarmism as candidate, also inheriting participation in a cap-and-trade scheme among all Northeastern states called ‘Reggie’ (RGGI, for Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative). It’s akin to the scheme that Jon Huntsman roped Utah into, now roped around his own ankles as he prepares a run for the Republican nomination (compounded by the disingenuous attempt to deflect, of ‘that was five years ago’ under different economic circumstances, which elides the fact that he came to Washington to pitch it to President-elect Barack Obama as a great national idea, in the throes of the economic downturn — an enthusiasm that obviously impressed the incoming chief).

So, New Jersey’s scheme wasn’t Christie’s doing, but he gave no succor to those demanding various states withdraw from it. First, his administration continues a legal challenge to requests for documents reflecting how much the utilities that lobbied RGGI into place are making off the electricity rate payer’s back. And the plan was, after all, expressly one of lying in wait to cash in on a national cap-and-trade scheme, having accumulated ‘early action’ credits to sell the poor saps in the coal-fired heartland suddenly in need. And a national plan is dead for the foreseeable future.

Christie could have treaded water by claiming he didn’t start the fire but, now that he was getting the state’s books in order, the new tax would have to stay around for a while longer.

Instead, he got tongues wagging by recently telling a reporter that his initial skepticism reflected a ‘not fully formed opinion’, and that he was about to meet with some activists with advanced science degrees, including among their leadership a Castro toady.

Unless you see Christie taking this opportunity to privately deliver more straight talk to pleaders for a monied special interest feeding off the taxpayer — and it is that — then this seemed a bad sign.

All of which makes more confusing what a senior Christie aide has told others: the governor would now announce his role in New Jersey’s departure from RGGI, and seek to undo implementing legislation.

The only way I square this circle is if Christie becomes the first to walk the following tightrope, one that is half-right and far better than most of the rest of the squirming among actual former panderers on the topic like Huntsman, Tim Pawlenty and Newt Gingrich: “I accept the theory, but your tax and rationing schemes would not, according to anyone, detectably impact the climate even if we accept everything you say. Now’s not the time for all-pain, no gain, futile if ostentatious gestures”.

While showing leadership, breaking the seal on what could prove a trend, and instigating presidential chatter that would still beg whether it is followed by the next, effort-cheapening shoe to drop, a pander to ‘green jobs’.

That’s cap-n-trade’s ugly twin that e.g., Pawlenty pushed without yet recanting or seeing the light about.

That outcome would leave no one among the oft-discussed list of Republican candidates having yet come out to show they understand the most basic facts about economics or the proper (conservative) view of the role of the state in said economy.

But still, in these times, at least it would be a start. Let’s hope Christie indeed announces the first RGGI defector, and keeps to a minimum rhetorical balm to salve the ever-aggrieved’s wounds.

Christopher Horner is a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, and author of the recently-published The Liberal War on Transparency: Confessions of a Freedom of Information "Criminal".
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