NJ Health, Labor Groups Urge Legislature To End Clean Energy Fund Raids in FY24 Budget

Media Contacts

New Jersey health, labor, and advocacy groups gathered at the State House to urge the Legislature to finally put an end to raids on the state’s Clean Energy Fund, intended to help the state transition to clean, renewable energy sources.

Utility customers support New Jersey’s Clean Energy Fund through surcharges on their monthly bills. The funds are intended to support ratepayers by reducing air pollution and the state’s fossil

fuel reliance as it shifts to renewable energy. In the proposed budget for the fiscal year 2024, Gov. Murphy announced allocating $70 million from the Clean Energy Fund to finance other priorities.

More than 50 organizations also sent the Murphy administration a letter in October and again in March, urging an end to the raids and use the Clean Energy Fund for its intended purpose to help New Jersey reach its climate goals while supporting good paying jobs and improved air quality.

“The Clean Energy Fund was created to help our State shift to renewable energy and fight off the effects of climate change. By diverting these dollars from their original purpose, we exacerbate public health and social inequities tied to the impacts of pollution,” said Senator Linda Greenstein (D-Mercer/Middlesex). “We need to do everything we can to make sure our families have clean air to breathe, clean water to drink, and a clean environment to enjoy. I look forward to working with my colleagues to achieve those goals in this year’s budget cycle.”

“The transition to a clean energy economy can and must include low- and moderate-income New Jerseyans. We cannot ask vulnerable and marginalized communities to shoulder the most harmful impacts of climate change without the support they need to fully participate in the transition to a clean energy economy. But if the Governor and Legislature continue to raid the Clean Energy Fund, those residents will be left behind. Our lawmakers must end this practice of sapping money from the Fund, and provide the leadership we need to move to a clean energy economy that supports the needs and health of all residents,” said Dena Mottola Jaborska, New Jersey Citizen Action Executive Director.

Earlier this year, New Jersey labor, environmental, health and advocacy groups called on Gov. Phil Murphy to deliver on his promise to stop raiding the fund. New Jersey Policy Perspective also released a report in January detailing the state’s history of fund diversions, finding that lawmakers have raided the fund in every budget since the fiscal year 2010, with raids totaling nearly $2 billion.

“Diverting the Clean Energy Fund, paid for exclusively by ratepayers, year over year since 2010 has led to nearly $2 billion being lost that should have supported New Jersey’s transition to clean, renewable energy, along with the jobs, public health benefits and more affordable electricity bills that come with that transition,” said Debra Coyle, Executive Director, NJ Work Environment Council. “Additionally, the Clean Energy Fund is a key part of the funding equation to turn the recommendations within the Murphy Administration’s Green Economy Roadmap into reality. So once again, we’re calling on the legislature and the Governor to stop the proposed diversion and make sure the Clean Energy Fund is fully funded in fiscal year 2024.”

The fund supports New Jersey’s Clean Energy Program, vital to the state’s plans to transition to clean, renewable energy. The program today provides only minimal funding for clean energy workforce development, a critical part of building the green economy. The program supports initiatives to expand and diversify the energy efficiency workforce including: workforce development grant programs for non-governmental organizations, community groups, vo-tech schools, labor union apprenticeship programs, and colleges and universities; incentive-based mentoring and apprenticeship programs with contractors; enhanced incentives for hiring local contractors; and support for minority, veteran, women and low- and moderate-income owned businesses and contractors.

“It is well known that Black and brown households spend more of their income on energy bills. NJ families deserve and demand access to money-saving programs that the Clean Energy Fund is intended to support,” said Antoinette Miles, Political Director, NJ Working Families Party. “We urge Governor Murphy to uphold promises and stop raiding the Fund for unrelated purposes. Members of the Legislature must right this wrong, exercise good governance practices, and put an end to the raids.”

“Climate change and public health are inextricably linked. As a public health nurse educator, mother of two sons and a citizen of NJ,  I see the impacts of air pollution firsthand: patients with emphysema, bronchitis, and even lung cancer who have no history of smoking. It’s time for New Jersey to step up and end the Clean Energy Fund raids to transition toward clean energy as soon as possible, we cannot lose more valuable New Jerseyans to poor management and rampant pollution in our state, ” said Stacen Keating, PhD, RN, member of Clinicians for Climate Action NJ. 

“In order to reduce the health risks associated with avoidable environmental hazards and improve health outcomes, it is necessary that we use clean energy funds for their intended purpose. It is time to stop diverting these funds for other purposes and invest in the health and well-being of the communities of New Jersey. Future generations will  benefit from clean energy if we start now,” said Debbie White, President of Health Professionals and Allied Employees.