Environment New Jersey 2023 Legislative & Policy Agenda
Every day, we see more heartbreaking evidence of the damage being done to our planet: climate change, plastic pollution, wildlife disappearing forever. But we also see the solutions all around us, practically begging us to adopt them: solar and wind power, electric cars, trucks and buses, more walkable and bikeable cities, permanently protected lands from the Pinelands to the Highlands, reusing and repairing stuff instead of throwing it away, and more. Environment New Jersey’s mission is to transform the power of our imaginations and our ideas into change that makes our world – and Garden State – a greener and healthier place for all.
Clean Energy for New Jersey
New Jersey has long been a clean energy leader, and now we need to step up our commitment to get to 100% clean, renewable energy as quickly as possible. In 2023, there is a renewed focus on moving New Jersey to an energy future powered by 100% clean energy by 2035. The Murphy Administration has made aggressive moves to make New Jersey a leader on offshore wind, energy storage and community solar. To move New Jersey ultimately to a future of 100% clean, renewable energy, Environment New Jersey supports:
- Codifying Gov. Murphy’s Executive Order 317 to achieve 100% clean energy by 2035.
- Protecting the Clean Energy Fund for clean, renewable energy and energy efficiency projects and fully restoring the $82 million in diverted funds in the FY24 budget.
- Implementing Gov. Murphy’s Executive Order 274 to reduce climate pollutants by 50% by 2030.
- Codifying the Murphy Administration’s goal of 7,500 megawatts of offshore wind off the Jersey Shore by 2035 and 11,000 megawatts by 2040 through legislation.
- Phasing out gas heating subsidies in favor of building electrification incentives to achieve Gov. Murphy’s Executive Order to electrify more than 400,000 residential homes and more than 20,000 businesses by 2030. We oppose any proposals that would preempt cities from adopting their own regulations.
- The adoption of a boiler rule to electrify boilers in large commercial, educational and hospital buildings.
- Rolling out the fourth phase of community solar projects through the BPU to allow communities, especially cities with low-to-moderate income residents, to add 225 megawatts of community solar annually to the grid.
- Adopting C-PACE (Property Assessments for Clean Energy) regulations through NJEDA to turbocharge green financing for commercial projects to finance clean energy improvements.
Tackling Our Plastic Pollution Crisis
Plastic pollution is plaguing our communities, from Shore towns to our cities and towns across the state. More than 80% of trash that is cleaned up at the Jersey Shore is plastic pollution and there are more than 165 million plastic particles in the NY/ NJ Harbor Estuary. To reduce our use of plastic, Environment New Jersey supports:
- Championing the ban on single use plastic products, including plastic bags, polystyrene containers and plastic straws on demand ahead of its one-year anniversary in May 2023 by continuing resident education and outreach to ensure we always choose the wildlife over plastic waste, and don’t weaken the law.
- Requiring the producers of packaging products sold in New Jersey to adopt and implement packaging product and stewardship plans under extended producer responsibility (EPR).
- Adopting plastics recycled content regulations that would mandate increasing amounts of recycled content to be used in existing plastics products over the next decade plus.
- Passing a truth-in-advertising recycling bill to force manufacturers not to place recycling arrows on products that can’t be recycled.
- Introducing a comprehensive bottle bill to place deposits on drink containers to reduce litter at the Shore, produce a clean recycling stream and provide funding for environmental initiatives.
- Environment New Jersey opposes efforts to subsidize so-called “chemical recycling,” which amounts to burning plastic and has harmful environmental and public health consequences.
Protect Our Waterways
For far too long, our state’s waterways from the Jersey Shore to the lower Delaware River to the New York/New Jersey Bay have been plagued by pollution. The devastation of Hurricane Sandy and Ida highlighted the region’s need to protect our natural areas that reduce flooding and filter pollution and protect our communities. To protect all of our waterways from toxic pollutants, run-off and climate-induced flooding, Environment New Jersey supports:
- Adopting and strengthening NJ Protections Against Climate Threats (NJPACT) NJDEP inland flooding rules by Earth Day 2023 by incorporating future flooding projections into building requirements and removing road exemptions; proposing new NJPACT coastal flooding rules by Summer 2023.
- Requiring upgrades to the state’s antiquated sewer and stormwater infrastructure to halt direct discharges of untreated, polluted runoff into our inland and coastal waters.
- Designating new NJDEP protections for high quality waters to receive Category One protections, creating buffer zones of 300 feet surrounding pristine rivers and streams to filter out pollution and absorb flood waters. Adopting new criteria to protect Highlands waters, drinking water sources that serve less than 100,000 residents and waters with exceptional recreational significance.
- Using the full power of Natural Resource Damages laws, NJDEP should withdraw the current proposed settlement and reevaluate the lack of a true polluter pays penalty for the historical contamination of the drinking water wells, groundwater and waterways of Toms River by the Toms River Chemical Company, later known as Ciba Geigy, and now owned by BASF.
- Protecting the endangered pre-historic Atlantic sturgeon – the “Dinosaur in the Delaware” – via the EPA review process, which granted a petition from Environment New Jersey with a one- year deadline. The DRBC must enact a stronger protective standard to reduce nitrogen in the lower Delaware by the end of this year.
- Restoring Clean Water Act protections for all waterways in New Jersey, including seasonal streams that flow to the Jersey Shore, that flow just outside of the Pinelands and in the New Jersey Highlands.
- Implementing a comprehensive clean-up plan for Barnegat Bay to reduce the run-off pollutants to the Bay that are choking the jewel of the Shore.
Garden State, Not the Fossil Fuel State
New Jersey’s waterways and lands have suffered from a legacy of industrial pollution. Now that we’ve made progress to clean them up, we must protect our waterways and our natural lands from the web of natural gas pipelines and proposed power plants that threaten every corner of our state. These pipelines and power plants endanger our waterways, preserved open space and wetlands, and double down on fossil fuel carbon pollution. Environment New Jersey supports:
- Proposing and adopting climate regulations through NJDEP’s NJPACT regulations focused on the 2nd round of Climate Pollutant Reductions (CPR) to restrict carbon emissions from fossil gas plants and plan for their retirement in the coming decade.
- Legislation to restrict hazardous chemicals, including oil trains, on our state’s freight lines, provide Right-To-Know to the public and first responders on the quantity and frequency of bomb trains through our communities and including first responder training to respond to a rail derailment like in Paulsboro in 2012 and East Palestine, OH in February 2023.
- Advocating for the NJDEP denial of environmental permits for LNG train transport and delivery at the proposed Gibbstown Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) export plant along the Delaware River.
- Restarting the Request For Proposal process by NJ Transit on their resiliency project, Transitgrid, to allow for bidders to achieve a clean, renewable energy option as opposed to a gas plant.
- Urging the Delaware River Basin Commission to strengthen regulations to create a complete ban on fracking waste or water withdrawals in the Delaware River watershed.
- Moving forward on Gov. Murphy’s nominations for a new Pinelands Commissioner who will commit to upholding the Pinelands Comprehensive Management Plan, which restricts proposed pipelines like the South Jersey Gas pipeline through the Pinelands National Reserve.
- Environment New Jersey opposes legislation to codify a renewable natural gas standard that NJ ratepayers would subsidize.
Preserving New Jersey’s Natural Heritage
New Jersey’s forests, wetlands, beaches, family farms, state parks and forests and other special places are what put the “Garden” in the “Garden State.” Environment New Jersey supports policies to protect and preserve these special outdoor places from overdevelopment including:
- Ensuring constitutionally dedicated funds for open space increase current capital funding for state parks, urban areas receive open space funding commensurate with the demographics of the state, and open space acquisition and capital repairs for state parks are prioritized over stewardship to address the $600 million capital backlog for our state park system.
- Increasing funding for the NJ Department of Environmental Protection by restoring previous cuts.
- Robust state funding to take advantage of the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund and the National Park Service to protect our natural lands and state and national parks.
- The federal designation of the Delaware Water Gap National Recreational Area as the state’s first National Park, serving close to 5 million people per year.
- Protecting New Jersey’s forested public lands, which provides critical habitat and help fight climate change by absorbing carbon, from logging and other damaging activities.
- Permanently protecting Caven Point and other natural areas at Liberty State Park from development through passage of the Liberty State Park Protection Act.
- Dedicated funding for the School of Conservation in Stokes State Forest which has a 70-year plus history of being an environmental education center for New Jersey school children.
- Initial funding for the first spur of the Essex-Hudson Greenway project stretching from Jersey City out into the western stretches of Essex County via the old Boonton railway line.
Get the Lead Out
Lead is a potent neurotoxin that affects how our children develop, learn, and behave. Yet across New Jersey, testing is showing lead in the drinking water in our homes, schools and hospitals. Our children’s drinking water is at risk wherever we have faucets, fountains, or plumbing made with lead. Environment New Jersey supports policies that get the lead out of our water, especially in school and early childcare environments, to protect our children by:
- Providing necessary funding from state and federal sources to remove lead service lines, the largest single source of lead in water, per legislation passed in 2021 to fully replace these toxic pipes within 10 years across New Jersey.
- Replacing lead-bearing fountains with filtered water bottle stations and installing filters on all other taps used for drinking or cooking in schools.
- Providing public access to all lead testing data from and remediation steps at our schools.
- Requiring immediate shut-off of outlets used for drinking or cooking where water contains more lead than one part per billion, the limit recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Electric vehicles will transform our electric grid, reduce air pollution and carbon emissions, and break our transportation system from its oil addiction. Environment New Jersey supports initiatives to rapidly expand our electric vehicle charging infrastructure so we can electrify New Jersey’s busiest roadways, from the Turnpike to the Parkway and Expressway, with fast charging all-model public electric charging stations. Environment New Jersey supports:
- The adoption of Advanced Clean Cars II regulations to speed the adoption of electric vehicles and transition to a mandate of 100% new cars sales to be electric or plug-in electric by 2035, and urge state leaders to set a goal of a 2030 electrification sales target.
- Dedicating the $100 million in auction revenues from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative for reducing diesel emissions by electrifying transportation, primarily trucks in our cities, and reducing carbon pollution.
- Funding the consumer EV rebates of up to $4,000 for the purchase of electric vehicles at the point of sale to meet total consumer demand.
- Implementing NJ Transit electric bus pilots in Camden, Newark and beyond to meet the EV bill mandate of 10% electric bus purchases by the end of 2024.
- Fully funding NJ Transit through a dedicated stable source of state funding and end the capital to operating budget raids.
- Funding school districts to electrify school buses and provide charging infrastructure via a $15 million supplemental allocation in the FY23 budget, and a $15 million allocation in FY24.
- Implementing the adopted NJDEP Advanced Clean Truck regulation and the adoption of heavy-duty omnibus regulations and increased vehicle inspections to reduce air pollution and move towards electric trucking fleets.
- Fully funding the electric truck voucher programs administered by NJEDA through the quarterly RGGI auction revenue.
- Promoting public/private partnerships to install electric vehicle charging stations in downtown cities and towns and expand use of the state model EV charging ordinance.
- Expanding New Jersey’s network of charging infrastructure for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles, including NJ Transit buses and school buses through the utility filing process at NJBPU.
- Rutgers University should fully commit to its transit bus electrification goal by releasing an implementation plan and funding RU electric buses for the state’s 2nd largest bus network.
- Requiring all school bus purchases to be electric by 2030 and implement the NJ Transit electric bus purchase mandate of 100% electric purchases by 2032, 50% by 2026 and 10% by 2024.
Save the Bees
Millions of bees are dying off, with alarming consequences for our environment and our food supply. Ninety percent of wild plants need animal pollinators, and bees are nature’s best. They also pollinate 71 of the 100 plants that provide 90% of our food, including apples, avocados, strawberries, and watermelons. It’s urgent we protect our bees. Environment New Jersey supports:
- Implementing the ban on bee-killing pesticides like neonics and chlorpyrifos for residential and nonagricultural uses.
State Director, Environment New Jersey
As director of Environment New Jersey, Doug has led campaigns to fast-track New Jersey’s clean energy economy via offshore wind, solar and energy efficiency programs, to rejoin New Jersey in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) program, oppose the expansion of fossil fuel projects, and expand electric vehicles across the state. He has also led campaigns focused on New Jersey’s drinking water quality and protection of the state’s watershed lands. Doug serves on the boards of the NJ Work Environment Council, and the Environmental Endowment of New Jersey and is the president of ChargEVC, an electric vehicle coalition. He was recognized by EPA Region II with an Environmental Quality Award in 2012.