Lawmakers To Hold Hearings on Gov’s Energy Plans for New Jersey
Urge Public to Attend, Voice Opinions on State’s Energy Future
(TRENTON) Leading lawmakers today announced plans for a hearing to explore the impacts of Governor Christie’s proposed 10-year Energy Master Plan. Chairmen of the Senate and Assembly Environment Committees Bob Smith and John F. McKeon said the hearing, scheduled for this Thursday at 10am in Tom’s River, will give citizens and stakeholder groups the opportunity to voice their opinions on the plan.
“We encourage members of the public and stakeholders to testify at the Legislature’s hearing on Thursday on the 2011 draft energy master plan,” said Senate Environment and Energy Committee Chairman Bob Smith. “The New Jersey shore provides an appropriate setting for a vigorous discussion on clean energy, considering it is an ideal location for harnessing renewable sources like wind and solar. Gov. Christie’s draft Energy Master plan is flawed, incomplete and inadequate. For instance, it lacks a component for transportation which consumes 40 percent of the energy in our state. New Jersey has a unique opportunity to modernize our energy blueprint for the future. We look forward to working collectively with members of the public, environmental advocates and stakeholders to ensure a responsible clean energy future for our state.”
“Thursday’s hearing will provide an opportunity for a wider spectrum of the public and stakeholders to weigh in on an energy master plan which will determine our state’s clean energy future for the next 10 years,” said Assembly Environment Committee Chairman John F. McKeon.
McKeon continued: “New Jersey’s first energy road map implemented by a series of coordinated and groundbreaking initiatives like the Global Warming Response Act, the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) and innovative programs to incentivize energy efficiency and use and development of renewable energy and clean energy technologies catapulted our state to a national leader in clean energy. It has helped generate tens of thousands of green jobs and positioned us to surpass some of our goals in the production of offshore wind and solar installations. We are at the apex of progress. By reducing our renewable energy goals, increasing our dependence on fossil fuels, and withdrawing incentives for energy efficiency for residential ratepayers, the 2011 draft Energy Master Plan would be taking a giant step backwards. We look forward to receiving input on Thursday on how we can continue our march towards a clean energy economy and energy independence.”
Advocates critical of the plan echoed Smith and McKeon’s comments and said that the governor’s plan would undermine New Jersey’s role as a clean energy leader by reducing the state’s goals for clean energy and lacking a clear strategy to reduce energy demand through efficiency.
“This hearing is important because we need to take a critical look at the governor’s energy plan and assesses its impact on our clean energy economy over the next decade,” said Matt Elliott, Clean Energy Advocate for Environment New Jersey. “We’ve heard a lot of praise from industry and big polluters but we need to shed light on the ways in which this plan will hurt our environment and hurt our economy. It significantly scales back goals for renewable energy, promotes new polluting forms of energy, and lacks any clear plan to reduce state-wide energy demand.”
Stakeholders noted that, by slashing the state’s renewable energy goals and promoting additional fossil fuel generation, the plan would result in more pollution in New Jersey, resulting in an increase in public health problems and environmental degradation.
“We see evidence, based on the state’s own research, that nearly 2,000 New Jerseyans die prematurely each year from the effects of air pollution,” said Paul Kaufman, Director of Advocacy at GreenFaith, a multi-denominational faith-based environmental group. “These deaths, as well as the tens of thousands of illnesses accompanying pollution, are concentrated in the state’s poorest communities. In a state as wealthy as ours, this is morally wrong.”
Others noted that the plan jeopardizes the state’s growing clean energy-based economy. Even at the depths of the recession, the state’s clean energy programs were expanding and creating significant numbers of new jobs building and installing solar panels, retrofitting homes and businesses, and researching and developing new technologies.
“The Christie Energy Master Plan hurts both jobs and our environment . The EMP puts our 25,000 clean energy jobs at risk, it means more pollution and promotes the fossil foolishness of the past. We can either have good green jobs here in NJ or send our money to Big Coal , Oil and Gas companies out of state. This Energy Master Plan gets rid of 20 years of clean energy progress and we need the New Jersey Legislature to step up and protect our economy, our environment, and the public health of the people of New Jersey,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of New Jersey Sierra Club. “Our legislature has passed over 2 dozen laws that have made New Jersey a national leader clean energy and green jobs. We are glad they are having these hearings to let the public know what is happening and find ways to protect and promote our clean energy future.”
Hearings organized by the Board of Public Utilities have largely promoted industry representatives supportive of the plan, with members of the public and concerned stakeholder groups waiting hours to speak.
“Thursday’s legislative hearing at the Jersey Shore on the state’s energy policies couldn’t come at a better time,” said David Pringle, Campaign Director at the New Jersey Environmental Federation. “Given the threats posed by sea level rise, pollution of Barnegat Bay, and push by the on and off shore fossil fuel industry, our coast — a leading economic driver in the state — will be amongst the hardest hit. The 3 regulatory hearings on the Chistie Administration’s draft plan have been a farce to date so this hearing can be a pivot point to restore and strengthen the clean renewables and efficiency elements and fulfill rather than break a key campaign promise by the Governor.”
The Senate and Assembly Environment Committees will hold a joint hearing on Thursday, August 18 at 10 a.m. in Room LMH, Town Hall located at 33 Washington Street in Toms River.
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