This one was headed for a break up, according to other environmentalists, and it came today apparently when the state Board of Public Utilities’ decided to permit Atlantic Electric to sell open space in Millville to a developer over an offer by Green Acres.
The announcement prompted N.J. Environmental Federation Campaign Director David Pringle to chastise Gov. Chris Christie, whom Pringle’s group endorsed last year in what to Jon Corzine’s allies represented a heart-breaking diss.
This afternoon, it was Christie’s turn to receive a green thumb poke in the eye.
“We’re extremely disappointed in the Christie Administration today,” said Pringle. “Today’s BPU decision breaks the Governor’s campaign promises to just say no to development in the wrong places, follow the best available science, utilize a full cost benefit analysis, and not play politics as usual.
“Had they done any of that, BPU would have adhered to, rather than rejected, the advice of its own ratepayer advocate, its presiding officer, engaged economists, and DEP staff, all of whom agreed the Green Acres’ offer was a better deal for ratepayers than developing the tract.”
The statement had news value in no small part as a consequence of the Federation’s endorsement of Christie in last year’s gubernatorial race.
Pringle’s Statehouse ally in the environment, Jeff Tittel, director of the N.J. chapter of the Sierra Club, backed independent candidate Chris Daggett over Christie and incumbent Democrat Corzine.
Upset with Corzine over development issues, Pringle surprised some insiders when he backed Christie, a Republican.
Today, he bristled publicly at Christie’s BPU.
“BPU had the authority, cover and advice to do the right thing today and blew it,” said the environmental leader. “While there remains a chance to save this land, the largest remaining private tract of critical habitat in South Jersey, today’s action greatly increases the chances of this land being destroyed and the area’s water supplies contaminated.”
Also intent on pulling the BPU up short today was state Sen. Tom Goodwin (R-Hamitlon), who wants the board to deny a proposed rate increase by New Jersey American Water Company that would cause water bills for the company’s 2.5 million customers in New Jersey to rise by an average of 13.6 percent.
Goodwin fired off a letter to Lee Solomon, BPU president.
“As I am sure you are aware, many of the residents in my district live on fixed incomes and struggle every month to pay their bills,” Goodwin wrote. “This rate increase would put a tremendous strain on their finances, making it more difficult to meet basic need.”
Holly Farm, 1,400 undeveloped acres in Millville Township, is one of the most environmentally sensitive unprotected places in New Jersey, according to the Sierra Club, which aso condemned the salel.
“Today the Board of Public Utilities chose a speculative real estate deal over the environment and the ratepayers,” Tittel said. “This is a dirty deal to build senior housing and a golf course in the middle of one of the most ecologically important areas. This is the largest most environmentally sensitive unprotected track of land in New Jersey, and now it will get paved over.”