State Director, Environment New Jersey
State Director, Environment New Jersey
Environment New Jersey
Trenton – As New Jersey starts its PACT (Protecting Against Climate Threats) process to develop regulations to protect us from the threats of climate change, 97 diverse organizations across the state delivered a letter calling upon Governor Phil Murphy, DEP Commissioner Catherine McCabe and BPU President Joseph L. Fiordaliso to ensure this process sets an unconditional goal to reduce greenhouse gases (GHGs) by 45% (over 2010 levels) by 2030. This is the same GHG target the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change IPCC) set in its 2018 report to limit the global warming increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius in order to protect the world from the worst impacts of climate change.
“The NJ PACT regulatory process proposed by Governor Murphy represents a huge and historic opportunity for the state to regulate climate pollution like the existential threat it embodies,” said Marcia Marley, President of BlueWave NJ. “We need to incorporate the most recent climate science and ensure these regulations reduce climate pollutants in line with scientific recommendations. This should not be a partisan issue and we need to prioritize our children’s health, their future and the future of our economy.”
While the administration has taken significant steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and achieve 100% clean energy through the Global Warming Response Act (GWRA), Energy Master Plan and Executive Order 100, none of these initiatives set the necessary goal of reducing emissions 45% by 2030. Notably, the Integrated Energy Plan modeling, conducted by the Rocky Mountain Institute as part of the Energy Master Plan, shows the need to reduce natural gas usage throughout the 2020s. However, the U.N. IPCC science outlining the GHG reduction target by 2030 is not cited.
“Climate change and its repercussions are presenting a crisis that harms New Jersey’s working people and communities of color,” said Kevin Brown, 32BJ SEIU Vice President and NJ District Director. “Our leaders must take action now to avoid irreversible consequences to our ecology and economy later. New Jersey’s plan to address climate change needs to include a strong interim target for 2030 to ensure that we move with all deliberate speed required to make meaningful progress over the next ten years.”
Recent Rutgers University research conducted for the NJDEP shows sea-level rise projections in New Jersey are more than two times the global average and that sea level rise in New Jersey could rise by up to 1.1 feet at the end of this decade, 2.1 feet by 2050 and 6.3 feet by 2100. The increased threat of climate change has placed more than $60 billion worth of real estate at increased risk of flooding from extreme weather, according to the Rhodium Group research from last fall.
“Climate change will hurt our poorest and most vulnerable residents, and pollution from fossil fuels already creates an environmental injustice in our cities. Gov. Murphy’s proposal to regulate climate pollution needs to reflect this urgency and use the most recent climate science to push for drastic reductions in our dependence on fossil fuels,” said Sue Altman, executive director of the NJ Working Families Alliance.
Today’s stakeholder meeting at NJDEP, which will focus on the monitoring and reporting of the state’s greenhouse gas emissions, is the first of many. Next Tuesday, NJDEP will conduct a stakeholder meeting on reducing carbon emissions in New Jersey, followed by a meeting on March 2 to adapt land use regulation to climate change impacts, including extreme weather, seal-level rise and chronic flooding.
“Transitioning to a clean energy economy by 2050 requires overcoming the inertia of an economic system fueled by artificially cheap fossil fuels and perpetuated by companies focused on short-term profits,” said Richard Lawton, Executive Director of the NJ Sustainable Business Council. “Like turning a huge ship, this can’t happen quickly but must begin without delay. Companies will adapt and innovate at the rate needed only if science-based targets are established within their normal strategic planning horizon.”
The letter also calls on the Administration to complete the GWRA report as soon as possible, rather than a full year, move forward on scientific-based climate regulations with interim benchmarks as soon as possible, and seek to complete it within one year. When the 2018 IPCC report was published, the world had 12 years to meet the 2030 goal. We now have less than 10 years and we need to accelerate action in responding to this global crisis.
“Frontline healthcare workers witness firsthand the harmful effects of global warming . Higher rates of lung conditions due to poor air quality, increases in mosquito and tick-borne illnesses, and mental health conditions related to catastrophic weather conditions have created a greater demand for treatment and care. New Jersey must take preventative measures to protect the health and safety of future generations,” said Debbie White, RN and HPAE President.
The following organizations signed the letter:
32 BJ SEIU
Already Devalued and Devastated Homeowners of Parsippany
Anti-Poverty Network of New Jersey
Aquatherm Industries, Inc.
Banking on New Jersey
Bus for Progress
Central Jersey Coalition Against Endless War
Central Jersey Environmental Defenders
Central Jersey Safe Energy Coalition, Inc.
Central NJ Climate Reality Chapter
Citizens United for Renewable Energy (CURE)
Clean Water Action
Clean Water Action NJ
Climate Reality- Northern NJ Chapter
Coalition Against Pilgrim Pipeline NJ
Coalition to Ban Unsafe Oil Trains
Cooper River Indivisible
Delaware Riverkeeper Network
Don’t Gas the Meadowlands Coalition
Don’t Gas the Pinelands
Eco-Poetry.org (Climate Crisis Literature and News)
Environment New Jersey
First Congregational Church
Franciscan Response to Fossil Fuels
Green Muslims of NJ
Green Party of Monmouth County NJ
GreenFaith Bergen Circle
Health Professionals and Allied Employees (HPAE)
Holland Township NJ Citizens Against the PennEast Pipeline
Homeowners Against Land Taking (HALT-PennEast)
Hopewell Township Citizens Against the PennEast Pipeline
Hudson County Sierra Club
Indivisible NJ 5th District
Investor Advocates for Social Justice
Kingwood Citizens Against the Pipeline
League of Women Voters of New Jersey
Lutheran Episcopal Advocacy Ministry NJ
Make the Road New Jersey
New Jersey and New York Awareness Project for Climate Justice
New Jersey Association of Railroad Passengers (NJ-ARP)
New Jersey Black Issues Convention
New Jersey Citizen Action
New Jersey Conservation Foundation
New Jersey League of Conservation Voters
New Jersey March For Science
New Jersey Policy Perspective
New Jersey Public Interest Research Group
New Jersey Sustainable Business Council
New Jersey Work Environment Council
NJ Forest Watch /FOSM
NJ Skylands Sunrise Hub
NJ State Industrial Union Council
NJ Working Families Alliance
NJ-08 For Progress
North Jersey Sierra Club
Northern NJ NOW
North Jersey Pipeline Walkers
Occupy Bergen County
Our Revolution Essex County
Our Revolution Monmouth
Our Revolution New Jersey
Our Revolution Ocean County
Our Revolution Passaic County
Our Revolution Somerset County
Our Revolution Union County
People Over Pipelines
Pinelands Preservation Alliance
RACS (Roseland Against the Compressor Station)
Ramapough Lenape Nation
Reform Jewish Voice of New Jersey
ReThink Energy NJ
Sierra Club New Jersey Chapter
Skylands Group, NJ Sierra Club Chapter
Surfrider Foundation South Jersey
The Climate Mobilization – Hoboken Chapter
The Nature Conservancy, NJ Chapter
The New Jersey Chapter, American Academy of Pediatrics
The Watershed Institute
The Wei LLC
Tri-State Transportation Campaign
UFCW Local 152
Unitarian Universalist FaithAction NJ
Voters of Watchung Hills
We The People NJ-07
SUPPORTIVE QUOTES FROM SIGNED ORGANIZATIONS:
“Superstorm Sandy disrupted classes at our universities for weeks, and many schools, businesses and families for much longer. Our state cannot afford to withstand the climate impacts anticipated by another century of business as usual. Our students and children and grandchildren are on the verge of inheriting what could be the greatest intergenerational negative externality ever created by humankind. That is why it is imperative that the NJDEP adopt GHG emissions reduction targets that are in line with the most current science and that state legislators work with frontline communities and workers to develop a strong just transition program for affected workers and communities, setting an example for other states pursuing climate protection policies. When it comes to reducing GHG emissions, the science is clear and there is no time better than right now,” said Dr. Todd E. Vachon, Rutgers School of Management and Labor Relations and AAUP-AFT representative.
“Climate change isn’t going to hit our state equally – it’s going to disproportionally impact our poorest communities and harm residents who have the least means to escape its impacts or recover after extreme weather events,” said Renee Koubiadis, Executive Director of the Anti-Poverty Network. “We need to ensure that best available climate science dictates our state policy moving forward to reduce climate pollutants as quickly as possible. The cost of inaction will be immense and will fall upon those that are least able to cope.”
“The science dictates we can’t afford to wait decades to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. We must cut them now, 45% by 2030. While the governor has ordered some good steps, they are still off the pace needed to compete and defeat the climate crisis we face. Until these steps are strengthened and implemented sooner than currently planned, the governor needs to declare an emergency and impose a moratorium on any new fossil fuel projects. Only then will New Jersey be at the front of the pack,” said Amy Goldsmith, State Director, Clean Water Action NJ.
“We are out of time – science, mother nature and our children are demanding we act. You have the power and authority to put New Jersey back in the lead on climate action. We must move with urgency, unlike the last time we took steps to lead on climate when the Global Warming Response Act became law more than a decade ago. As we learned, a law with no enforcement, no real timetable and limited to no action may as well not be written. Set strong 2030 targets and let’s show the country and the world we are serious about our children’s future and now. The time for talk is past, we must act now,” said Harriet Shugarman, Executive Director of ClimateMama.
“NOAA’s Earth Systems Research Laboratory at Mauna Loa shared this week we’re at 413.56 parts per million of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, up from 411 ppm a year ago. 11,258 scientists recently asked governments to take climate action with urgency. As cheered as I am about New Jersey’s recent offshore wind commitment of 7,500 MW by 2035 and legislation passed supporting climate action in 2019, we need to do more to regulate emissions and meet targets within scientists’ recommended timeline. Let’s set the bar higher for climate leadership here in New Jersey in 2020,” said Christine Clarke, environmental advocate and recent LD26 State Assembly candidate.
“This is a life and death issue. There is no time to wait in the effort to drastically reduce Green House Gasses. GHG’s put our lives at risk, so regulations to limit and reduce them must go into place immediately. Imposing reduction of GHG’s now, would make it possible for the DEP to easily put a halt to proposed infrastructure projects around NJ. It would put NJ on track for harnessing the sun, wind, and water for creating renewable energy in transportation, infrastructure, industry, and housing,” said Paula Rogovin, co-chairperson of the Coalition to Ban Unsafe Oil Trains.
“Governor Murphy has committed to battle climate impacts by strengthening the Global Warming Response Act. We call on his Administration to inject urgency into the regulatory process so that it’s possible to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 45% by 2030, aligned with what UN scientists are telling us is essential if we are to avoid the worst. We know what we need to do – drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions – we have the statutory means to do it, we just need New Jersey to adopt the critical benchmarks, speed up the process, and meet public expectations that we can successfully do our part in fighting the climate crisis”, said Tracy Carluccio, Deputy Director, Delaware Riverkeeper Network.
“In order to be good global citizens with credible strategies and actions to fight climate change, New Jersey must try to achieve the goal of reducing global warming emissions by 45% by 2030. If New Jersey, with its scientific, financial, corporate, technical and educational resources can’t achieve this goal, who will?” said Ken Dolsky, co-founder of Don’t Gas the Meadowlands.
“New Jersey is uniquely vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and extreme weather. NJDEP’s projections with Rutgers on sea level rise expose an acceleration of projections – and a future that would alter our communities forever. The commitment by the Murphy Administration to NJ PACT provides a path forward for climate action – but it must be guided by the IPCC climate science on strong carbon regulations that will rapidly start to transition our state off fossil fuels this decade. Climate science should guide decisions to stop current fossil fuel infrastructure projects and it must be the bedrock of the NJPACT process,” said Doug O’Malley, director of Environment New Jersey.
“God gave us hearts and minds to deal with reality, and the scientific reality could not be clearer about the level of change we need to address climate change. I’m frightened that the Administration’s commitments, for the sake of political expediency, will fall short of what’s needed, and I’m praying that they have the strength to do what’s truly right,” said Rev. Fletcher Harper, Executive Director of GreenFaith.
“With the Federal Government having abandoned the Paris Climate Accord, it becomes even more imperative that states act now so we’re prepared for when the U.S. re-joins the Accord. States acting in a collective fashion can have the same impact had the Feds not abandoned the Accord. In the transportation sector, that includes electrification of rail and the purchase and use of electric bus fleets. Such electrification is standard practice in Europe, we need to be as aggressive as Europe has been in the U.S.” said Len Resto, President of the New Jersey Association of Railroad Passengers.
“The impacts of climate change are going to hit New Jersey hard, but our cities are the most vulnerable to the triple threats of extreme heat, chronic flooding and the increase in ozone alert days,” said Rev. Ronald Tuff with the New Jersey Blacks Issues Convention. “We need the Murphy Administration to listen to the climate science and ensure all regulations factor in the need to aggressively ramp down climate pollutants based on scientific benchmarks.”
“NJDEP’s Division of Fish and Wildlife plan for this year alone is to deforest over 14 NJ wildlife public lands and when you start to look at what’s happening on private lands, the number of acres of deforested lands quickly adds up to hundreds of acres per year. With our greenhouse gas emissions reduction target just 10 years away, these deforestation activities deeply compromise any reduction targets. New research has confirmed that allowing trees to mature allows for further carbon sequestration,” said Silvia Solaun, Director of New Jersey Forest Watch.
“We must continue to fight to reduce the harmful pollution created by burning fossil fuels,” said Ed Potosnak, Executive Director, New Jersey League of Conservation Voters. “Governor Murphy has been a bold leader in advancing policies to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, but we only have 10 years to curtail the worst impacts of climate change. We urge the BPU and DEP to act swiftly to implement the goals of the Global Warming Response Act (GWRA) and to set a strong 45% emissions reductions benchmark by 2030, which is aligned with the IPCC. We can’t wait until 2050. The time to act is now!”
“Cutting our carbon emissions by 2030 is critical to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. Governor Murphy has an opportunity now to put New Jersey on the right path, to make us a leader in the fight against climate change and in the green economy that this fight will require,” said Matthew Buckley, Rutgers Assistant Professor of Physics and Astronomy and co-organizer of the New Jersey March For Science.
“As the DEP is starting a stakeholder meeting on GHG’s, we are calling on them to set a 45% reduction by 2030. This is the goal that New Jersey needs to meet. If we don’t, then we are not going to meet the reductions we need for GHG’s. More importantly if the Murphy Administration is serious about reducing climate impacts, then Governor Murphy must put a moratorium on new fossil fuel projects. If proposed projects like the NJ Transit Power Plant, Warren Grove Power Plant, and the NESE pipeline are built, we will never get to the reduction goals that are needed during this climate emergency,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “The IPCC has given us 12 years before the worst climate impacts will become irreversible. If the state doesn’t make crucial reductions to GHG’s by 2030, then all of the Governor’s rhetoric on climate change is just more hot air.”
“New Jersey just took a big step on January 20 to reduce GHGs when Governor Murphy signed the electric vehicle bill. As the state moves forward with setting benchmarks and act aggressively to further reduce GHGs, it must strike a balance that does not harm workers in the energy sector and creates new opportunities for good paying jobs weather through energy efficiency or in the clean energy economy,” said Debra Coyle McFadden, Executive Director of the NJ Work Environment Council.
“The Pinelands National Reserve is currently feeling the impacts of rapid, anthropogenic climate change. Sea level rise is causing nuisance flooding and impacting water supply wells, increased storm surges are damaging coastal communities and affecting inland Atlantic White Cedar Swamps, and the Southern Pine Beetle is a clear example of species range expansion into this region. In order to limit the worst effects of climate change, New Jersey needs to begin acting immediately. The Global Warming Response Act provides an important mechanism to reach greenhouse gas reductions, but its time frame should reflect what our best available data recommends. The NJDEP should begin implementing the Global Warming Response act so that our state’s efforts can attempt to address the 2018 IPCC report recommendations,” said Carleton Montgomery, Executive Director of the Pinelands Preservation Alliance.
“Flooding of inland communities has become more frequent and more severe over the last several decades. The violent storms and torrential rains during Tropical Storms Irene and Lee in 2011 devasted our entire region. These storms continue to grow more violent and more destructive because of climate change. The future of all our communities—from headwaters to shore—depends on us taking immediate action to reduce carbon pollution,” said Bill Kibler, Director of Policy for Raritan Headwaters.
“The Murphy Administration is taking comprehensive steps to protect against climate threats, and the science is clear that we must substantially reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 to avoid the worst impacts,” said Tom Gilbert, Campaign Director for Rethink Energy NJ and New Jersey Conservation Foundation. “New Jersey and other states must lead the way. Sensible regulations will prevent enormous harm to our communities and economy.”
“In January, 10,000 scientists signed an unprecedented declaration that ‘Planet Earth is facing a climate catastrophe.’ We cannot afford not to be audacious, to see climate action as equivalent to a war mobilization – but one that will create huge environmental and economic gains, not losses. We must recognize that solving the climate crisis can be a win-win-win,” said Jennifer Nielsen, Chair, SOMA Action Climate Committee.
“The latest IPCC report says that, based on 2010 levels, we must reduce greenhouse gas emissions 45% by 2030 in order to stave off the worst effects of climate change. The Nature Conservancy, as an organization whose priorities are led by science, is encouraged by the bold, science-based actions the Murphy Administration has taken to produce appropriate climate policy. Since New Jersey is already experiencing climate change with average temperature rising twice as fast as the lower 48 states, it must continue to be bold in its climate policy,” said Trina Mallik, Climate Change and Clean Energy Policy Manager, The Nature Conservancy, NJ Chapter.
“As Unitarian Universalists, we join nearly every other faith tradition in calling on the Governor, the BPU, NJDEP and every NJ legislator to make substantial reductions in emissions of both GHG and micro-particulates by 2030 one of their top legislative and regulatory priorities. We want to point out that the rapid electrification of diesel-powered buses, heavy vehicles and trains will not only reduce both types of air pollutants but will provide health benefits to everyone who must breathe New Jersey’s air. By giving priority to electrifying buses and trains, residents of our urban, historically disadvantaged communities will finally receive some of their proper share of the ‘societal benefits’ for which we have been paying through the Societal Benefits Charges on our electric bills,” said Rev. Rob Gregson, Executive Director of the Unitarian Universalist FaithAction NJ.
“New Jersey has made tremendous progress in clean energy advancement but we should not lose sight of why we are advancing clean energy. According to IPCC, we have exactly a decade to reduce climate pollutants to prevent the most severe impacts of climate change. Without this climate timeline in place, our efforts will be futile. Being a coastal state, New Jersey faces grave risks. Reduction of climate pollutants and advancement of clean energy need to go hand-in-hand. Vote Solar urges the New Jersey Administration to address the climate side of the equation as well,” said Pari Kasotia, Mid-Atlantic Director of Vote Solar.
“The climate crisis is a major problem for New Jersey, both now and in the future. We’ve been hammered by Hurricane Sandy, hit with heatwaves, and suffer from poor air quality. We need Governor Murphy and his administration to act immediately to reduce emissions so that we can minimize catastrophic impacts from climate change,” said Lauren Morse, Environmental Committee Chair, Westfield 20/20.