“[Jeff Tittel] is completely lacking both seriousness and credibility,” said New Jersey Governor Chris Christie upon receiving an abysmal environmental report from the Sierra Club.
The remark came after Sierra Club New Jersey’s chapter director Jeff Tittel gave Christie an “F” on his environmental report card due to his neglect of the Highlands Region. This is the third consecutive year the Sierra Club has failed Christie, but Tittel says this year’s “F” has hit a new low.
Christie has been long-criticized for his environmental point of view. Most recently, he outright opposed his constituents by vetoing legislation to join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative – twice. This regional anti-pollution agreement would have protected New Jersey, one of the many states seeing record temperature highs this summer, from harmful emissions.
While New Jersey’s air quality is suffering, at least it’s not alone. Water quality is suffering right with it. The Highlands, which provide water to over half of the state’s residents, are under the constant threat of commercial development. But now, Tittle argues, ”The region is under attack as never before as Governor Christie and his appointments and staff members roll back protections.”
While the Highland Act remains intact, Christie has been lenient with Highland protections, making the region a target for invasive pipeline and power line projects. Under Christie, the Highland preservation funds are the lowest they’ve been in 15 years, and the future of the Highland Act is uncertain.
Tittel argues that the political influence within the Highland Council has negatively swayed environmental policy in New Jersey. Members of the council are allegedly appointed on the basis of political ties. Earlier this year, the council’s executive director Eileen Swan was controversially fired. Former deputy executive director Tom Borden then resigned in protest — signaling that the firing marked a step backward for Highland protections. Tittel remarking that the council was “turned into a rubber stamp for Governor Christie’s anti-environmental and anti-Highlands agenda.”
Tittel has vocally opposed Christie’s stance on New Jersey’s environment. Three years ago, Tittel gave Christie a grade of 50 percent on his environmental report card. This year, Christie received a grade of just 18 percent, indicating that beneath all of the political mudslinging lies a polluted and degraded version of New Jersey’s central water supply.
Photo credit: MarcRoberts