Christie, citing Obama, unveils energy plan

Governor Jon Corzine is not the only politician in the state trying to associate himself with President Obama.

Republican gubernatorial nominee Chris Christie today took a page out of Obama’s 2008 campaign playbook today, promising that a Christie administration will push hard to create renewable energy-related jobs in New Jersey.

“It’s a change that President Obama stands firmly behind. I couldn’t agree more,” said Christie in a web video, which even included a still shot of Obama inspecting a solar panel.

In a multi-pronged unveiling of the campaign platform, which included the web video, a splash on Christie’s campaign Web site, a marketing push on Facebook and a tour around towns in central and southern New Jersey, Christie blamed Gov. Jon Corzine for high taxes that he said stunted renewable energy production.

“Here in New Jersey, unfortunately, we’ve had leadership that likes to talk a lot about renewable energy but hasn’t done much of anything,” he said.

The Christie ad cited federal government statistics that ranked New Jersey the 43rd state in renewable energy generation, although the statistics were based on data from 2007 and did not adjust for geographical and environmental limitations. States of comparable size to New Jersey all rank in the bottom half of the list.

“That’s simply not good enough. It’s not meeting the president’s goals, and it’s not meeting the needs of New Jersey citizens. That’s why I’m going to make renewable energy a key part of the Christie Administration,” said Christie.

Christie said he would personally reach out to CEOs of green energy companies to convince them to relocate wind turbine and solar panel manufacturing here. He said he would create two programs to help that along: one to promote the state to the companies, and one to encourage the use and manufacture of renewable energy.Manufacturers would get either a full tax credit or a full insurance premium credit, Christie said, while 20% of farmland preserved with state funds would be devoted to solar farms.

Corzine, for his part, hosted U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar two weeks ago to give four companies leases to explore wind power off-shore.

Obama remains a popular figure in New Jersey. A Fairleigh Dickinson University PublicMind poll released last week put President Obama’s approval rating here at 61%.

Corzine, who had Vice President Joe Biden add some star power to his reelection campaign kickoff last month, plans a rally with Obama at Rutgers on July 12.

Christie’s campaign responded to that news by emphasizing that the election would be about state issues, not Obama. But today was not the first time he invoked the President. After testifying in front of a congressional subcommittee about his use of deferred prosecution agreements when he was U.S. Attorney, Christie noted that a Deputy Attorney General who testified opposed legislation authored by U.S. Reps. Frank Pallone (D-Long Branch) and Bill Pascrell (D-Paterson) that regulated the agreements.

“I agree with the Obama Administration, who think that what we did was completely appropriate,” he said.

The Corzine campaign, however, prefered to link Christie with the immediate past president.

“It is good to see the Christie campaign finally releasing something that might be considered a ‘detail,’” said Corzine spokesman Sean Darcy. “Unfortunately, giving 100% tax credits does not constitute an energy policy. In fact, providing 100% tax breaks for corporations is reminiscent of the type of policies given to us by George W. Bush for the past eight years.’

Darcy said that New Jersey has “one of the strongest solar programs in the nation,” and said that the program Salazar helped kick off is the nation’s first offshore wind project development.

He also said that Corzine’s Energy Master Plan, which was unveiled last October, will ease energy costs, create 23,000 “green collar” jobs and “establish the energy industry as a cornerstone of the state’s economy.” The plan’s goal is to have 30% of the state’s energy consumption come from renewable energy by 2020.