After Sandy, We Need a Climate Champ Like Cory Booker in New Jersey
This year, New Jersey and the United States lost an environmental hero with the passing of Senator Frank Lautenberg. Throughout his long career in Congress, Senator Lautenberg worked tirelessly to protect our air and our water here in New Jersey and across the country. This October a special election will be held to fill his shoes – a tall order and a true challenge.
But the Sierra Club knows that Mayor Cory Booker is up to that challenge. As Mayor of Newark, Cory Booker has shown strong leadership and a real commitment to protecting our environment and we are proud to support him for the US Senate. In Washington, Booker will follow in the tradition of New Jersey’s other Senators with a strong record on the environment like Lautenberg, Bob Menendez, Clifford Case, and Bill Bradley.
In New Jersey, there has never been an election with such a clear contrast between the two candidates: a hero for clean air, clean water, and climate action or someone who is probably the most anti-environmental candidate we have ever seen in the state. The fact is that as evidence mounts that climate disruption is hurting our families and our state, Mayor Booker is acting while his opponent – Steve Lonegan – is actively trying to make life easier for the big polluters.
You don’t need to tell New Jerseyans about the cost of climate change – we’ve seen it. After Hurricane Sandy, we saw devastated beachfronts, communities, and businesses. We know the threat is real and we want action. Mayor Booker is focused on that challenge and wants to address this crisis now while preparing our communities for future extreme weather.Booker has advocated for climate action to cut carbon pollution, promoted clean energy, and called for an end to tax giveaways for big oil companies while seeking relief for affected communities.
On the other hand, Lonegan was formerly the director of the New Jersey branch of Americans for Prosperity (AFP), a far-right big polluter front group funded by the Koch Brothers -- climate deniers, oil and coal billionaires, and some of the country’s biggest polluters. While working for the Kochs, Lonegan pushed their climate denial agenda, attacked clean energy, tried to scrap clean air and water safeguards and worked to end the innovative job-creating pollution reduction programs like the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.
When they weren’t busy trying to pollute our air and water, Lonegan and AFP were busy trying to polluter our democracy, spending nearly $600,000 in 2011 on ads pushing their agenda on the airwaves and attacking lawmakers like State Senator Kip Bateman who voted to reduce climate-disrupting pollution. Then they dropped nearly $600,000 more pushing their policies with deep-pocketed lobbyists. There is only one word that describes AFP and Steve Lonegan: extremist.
In contrast, Booker’s tenure as mayor has been marked by climate action. Under his leadership in Newark, energy use in municipal buildings was cut by 20% and recycling rates were increased while the city incorporated energy efficient upgrades and increased green affordable housing in the city by 400 units. Booker has championed the creation of urban parks, the installation of pollution controls on nearby incinerators, and cleaning up the Passaic River and Superfund sites.
Booker also created Newark’s Sustainability Office and has championed access to healthy food and urban agriculture. In addition, Booker has spoken out against attacks on voter’s rights and - at the recent March on Washington anniversary - was one of the few speakers to demand environmental justice for all Americans.
A climate leader or a leading denier? The choice is clear in New Jersey. And the Sierra Club knows that when Cory Booker goes to the Senate, he’ll bring with him a passion to act on the climate crisis and protect New Jersey communities. New Jersey deserves a Senator who will stand up to big polluters – not one who was on their payroll.
--Jeff Tittel, Director, Sierra Club of New Jersey