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New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie
This guy? Surely not!
It's one of those things that makes perfect sense when you hear it: Of course Gov. Chris Christie's cronies are helping Walmart get approval to build a store in New Jersey that had already been turned down by the state's Department of Environmental Protection—twice—for taking habitat from a protected species of snake, among other things. Isn't it just the perfect synergy of the essence of Christie and Walmart?

It's like this: Walmart wanted to build a second store in Toms River, New Jersey. But its proposal was rejected once in 2006 and again in 2010. And then, David Freedlander reports:

Days after the Department of Environmental Protection rejected the second application for a Walmart in 2010, saying that it would destroy too much woodland, would take away habitat for the threatened northern pine snake, and would take away too much coastal area, Christie told the editorial board of the Asbury Park Press regarding the rejection, “There may be a way around it.”

"It will get more review, and the DEP commissioner will be meeting with the folks at Walmart to talk about alternatives to their current plan that will make it workable,” he added.

Please read below the fold for more on this story.

Walmart also hired various state power brokers to lobby for it, including Wolff & Samson—the "Samson" in Wolff & Samson is David Samson, the longtime Christie crony who was chair of the Port Authority during the infamous George Washington Bridge lane closures. And lo and behold, in April 2012, the state Department of Environmental Protection approved essentially the same plan it had already rejected twice. While it's not uncommon for developers to be told to revamp their proposals, environmental groups say that both the repeated returns to a plan that had been rejected, rather than sent back for revision, and the lack of changes to the initial proposal stand out:

“This thing was dead. Next thing you know, Wolff & Samson get involved and it gets approved,” said Jeff Tittel of the Sierra Club. “It was the first time that the state had allowed the direct taking of endangered species for development, moving their dens rather than building around them.” [...]

“Doing a 180 degree turn on exactly the same development plan? That is very unusual,” Carlton Montgomery, executive director of the Pinelands Alliance, said. “You rarely see an agency deny a permit on day one and on day two turn around and grant it. This is an extreme case in that regard.”

Allies of Christie and Walmart will claim that this was nothing different or questionable. But given everything we know about how Christie operates, those denials seem awfully weak.

Originally posted to Laura Clawson on Tue Feb 18, 2014 at 07:35 AM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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