Gov.-elect Chris Christie’s choice of Bob Martin for commissioner of the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) went down relatively easy with environmental leaders today, who were mostly unfamiliar with Martin but expressed cautious optimism about working with him.
New Jersey Environment Federation Campaign Director David Pringle, whose group endorsed Christie for governor, attended the press conference where Christie made the announcement.
“We’re certainly supportive of the pick,” said Pringle “The most important thing is getting folks in place that can implement the great environmental agenda that the governor put together during the campaign.”
Pringle’s group endorsed Chrsitie based on a number of environmental campaign pledges, including establishing permanent funding for open space preservation, opposition to a coal power plant proposed in Linden, and restoring the DEP’s Division of Science and Research.
“We’re very comfortable with the commitments the governor made during the campaign, and we’re very comfortable with Bob Martin implementing them,” said Pringle.
New Jersey Sierra Club Director Jeff Tittel said that Martin, a former consultant with the firm Accenture, is not well-known in the environmental activist community, although clean energy advocates have had good things to say about his work in that field.
“What’s very interesting about Bob Martin is people don’t know where he’s going to be. But that may be a good thing, because he doesn’t necessarily have any of the baggage of the past,’ said Tittel. “I think what they get by appointing Bob Martin is someone who everyone likes, everyone believes will be very competent, will be a good manager.”
Tittel said that Martin’s experience with clean energy could lead him to streamline the DEP’s rules for development of wind energy sources along the coast and solar energy in landfills, although in a press release put out shortly after the announcement, Tittel cautioned that streamlining should not mean weakening environmental protections.
“Where does he sit on regulatory and other issues? I guess that will be a work in progress,” he said.
Environment New Jersey Director Dena Mottola said that Martin was like a “blank slate.”
“There’s a lot I don’t know about him, but nobody’s said a bad word about him and his resume looks great,” she said, adding that she felt Martin was “somebody professional who’s not a political hack kind of appointment.