Advocates Announce Sweeping Green in ’21 Environmental Initiative, 100% Clean Energy Goal by 2035

Trenton, NJ – New Jersey League of Conservation Voters Education Fund (New Jersey LCV Ed Fund) today announced a bold Green in ’21 program designed to once again put New Jersey at the forefront of environmental protection.

The Green in ’21 initiative follows New Jersey LCV Ed Fund’s groundbreaking Green in ’17 effort, which positioned New Jersey as a leader in taking actions to protect clean drinking water, foster the clean energy economy of the future, catalyze actions on environmental justice, and advance a more sustainable future for our children and grandchildren — setting a high bar for other states to surpass.

New Jersey LCV Ed Fund seeks again to make New Jersey a national leader in the fight against climate change, calling for the state to adopt a 100% clean energy standard by 2035 — significantly more aggressive than the state’s current 2050 target date and in line with President Biden’s green energy agenda.

“New Jersey has the opportunity to lead the nation in changing the catastrophic policies that have degraded our environment and harmed our communities, particularly communities of color and low-income neighborhoods,” said Ed Potosnak, Executive Director, New Jersey LCVEF. “Yet at the same time, we need to continually raise the bar if we are to protect our families and our environment. Our updated 2021 Policy Guide outlines strategies to create a safe and healthy New Jersey for generations to come.”

New Jersey LCV Ed Fund’s 2021 Environmental Policy Guide was developed by working with more than 25 different partner organizations representing constituencies from across the state and was meant to center the concerns of groups often left out of the traditional environmental policy such as health organizations, Environmental Justice groups, student organizations and racial justice voices. Each topic discussed in our over 160-page education document centers equity and justice, public health and jobs.

“I am proud that New Jersey continues to be a state where community organizations and government come together to share ideas and put forward solutions to problems that require bold, innovative thinking,” said Assemblyman Dan Benson. “The New Jersey LCV Education Fund, in collaboration with a host of great environmental organizations, has once again demonstrated that it is on the frontlines of the fight against environmental degradation and injustice. I commend them for their work on this document and wish to express my sincerest gratitude for their continued leadership and support of lawmakers in the Garden State.”

As New Jersey’s elected officials work to resolve long-standing racial inequities, environmental justice must be at the top of Trenton’s policy agenda. For too long, communities of color have borne a disproportionate share of the burden of bad environmental policies, experiencing higher rates of pollution-caused illness and toxic exposure. This has real-world consequences, as we’ve learned from the shuttering impacts of COVID-19, communities of color experience more air pollution and have higher mortality rates.

“This guide lays out a comprehensive set of policies needed to protect our environment and communities, and to address the increasingly urgent threat of climate change,” said Tom Gilbert, campaign director for NJ Conservation Foundation. “Elected officials and those seeking public office should understand and support these policies that are essential to the health of New Jersey residents and future generations.”

Green in ’21 will build upon recent environmental achievements to ensure New Jersey protects and preserves our environment for generations to come. One such example is when communities and advocates came together last year to champion the Cumulative Impacts Bill, which curbs generations of exploitative policies that have left overburdened communities, particularly low-income neighborhoods and communities of color, bearing a disproportionate burden of polluting industries.

As the recent United Nations report explains, time is running out to make the transformative changes we need to avoid the path of no-return climate change.

“We are coming off the heels of a presidential election where the environment,
particularly climate change, was a top issue for a majority of voters. The last presidential
administration was no friend of the environment. And that is what makes all of the
progress in New Jersey so remarkable: it was able to occur under an anti-environment
presidential administration,” said Cindy Ehrenclou, Chair of the New Jersey League of Conservation Voters Education Fund. “This only serves to drive home the importance and power of educated and driven local and state leaders. When you have good leadership in your state and towns, you can mitigate, push back, but more importantly, move the needle forward for environmental action in the face of the irresponsible deregulatory actions that can take place at the federal level. That is really the purpose of this guide. To make sure that New Jersey
elected officials, decision makers, and those who call the state home have the tools they
need to be environmental champions.”

New Jersey continues to face severe environmental challenges, including threats to safe drinking water from lead pipes and contaminants like PFAS, as well as challenges to modernize and electrify New Jersey Transit into a clean transportation option that reduces congestion and improves air quality and the expanding fossil fuel pressures in our state.

“As we move to secure swimmable, fishable and drinkable water for all New Jerseyans, clean up indoor air pollution, stop development in flood zones, codify our 100% clean energy future, and undergo the boldest environmental agenda in history, we need candidates and office holders to understand the most pressing environmental issues and solutions to address them.” Potosnak added. “That’s why Green in ’21 is so important. Ensuring candidates and officeholders have accurate information is central to the health and well-being of New Jersey families.”

“Jobs are life-altering, community-sustaining, essential elements of a thriving community,” said Marcus Sibley, Environmental and Climate Justice Chairman for the New Jersey State Conference of the NAACP. “For far too long Black and communities of color have been overly polluted, and systemically excluded from quality jobs. We’re honored to partner with the Green in ’21 campaign seeking to clean up the planet, while cleaning up the dirty process of excluding the historically harmed from equitable employment opportunities.”

“NJ Audubon is thrilled to have worked on this important policy document with New Jersey LCV Ed Fund and our other environmental partners,” said Eric Stiles, President and CEO of NJ Audubon. “This policy guide provides an excellent overview of the myriad environmental and conservation issues facing our state, and we believe it can serve as a useful reference for all NJ decision makers.”

“We’re pleased to join forces with organizations and advocates across the Garden State to ensure that environmental policies are at the forefront of the legislature’s agenda. With the rise of climate change, the Delaware River Watershed faces impending threats, therefore, making it crucial that we promote proper stormwater infrastructure, advance standards for clean drinking water, and increase resiliency of catastrophic floods throughout the region and in New Jersey,” said Kelly Knutson, State Policy Manager of the Coalition for the Delaware River Watershed. “The Coalition is dedicated to working with NJ partners, lawmakers, and agencies to advance these critical conservation priorities outlined in the Green in 21 policy guide. By furthering these policies, we’re also protecting a prized natural resource that serves as the drinking water source for 1.9 million New Jerseyans, provides habitat for fish and wildlife species, and creates economic prosperity.”

“New Jersey is on the right track fighting the climate crisis and advancing environmental justice. We have a lot more work to be done though to protect the air we breathe, the water we drink, and ensure our state is an equitable place for everyone,” said Jennifer Coffey, Executive Director of the Association of New Jersey Environmental Commissions. “The Green in ’21 guide clearly lays out science-based policies that we need our elected officials to take to ensure New Jersey’s bright future.”

“I commend New Jersey LCV Ed Fund for taking the initiative to create the Green in ‘21 guide that will serve as a reference document in the work of mobilizing New Jersey towards a clean and renewable economy,” said Maria Santiago Valentin, Founder and Trustee of The Atlantic Climate Justice Alliance. “The Atlantic Climate Justice Alliance is proud to be a part of this achievement.”

“The Trust for Public Land is proud to join with other environmental leaders in New Jersey by participating in the creation of the Green in 21 Policy Guide,” said Scott Dvorak, New Jersey Program Director for the Trust for Public Land. “We hope this important thinking will guide our state’s elected leaders as we all strive to make New Jersey a healthier place to live, work and play.”

“A special aspect of this report is that it brings together recommendations from advocates who think about both the natural environment and built environment,” said Elyse Pivnick, ISLES Senior Director of Environmental Health. “This is how environmental policy guides should be composed everywhere.”

“Tri-State Transportation Campaign applauds New Jersey LCV Ed Fund’s leadership in convening this impressive group of diverse advocates and experts to collaborate on a comprehensive road map to position New Jersey to successfully combat the debilitating effects of climate change,” said Janna Chernetz, Deputy Director for Tri-State Transportation Campaign. “We look forward to working with our partners on Green in ’21 to implement the meaningful changes detailed in this initiative that will move New Jersey into a more equitable and environmentally sound landscape improving the quality of life for all residents.”

“Not only was it an honor and privilege to work with the New Jersey LCV Ed Fund on helping to develop this critically important Guide, but I felt that it was my responsibility to do so,” said Chuck Feinberg, Executive Director of the New Jersey Clean Cities Coalition. “The climate threats that we face are no longer some abstract concepts for a future generation to deal with, they are here and now and we must act decisively. This Guide goes a long way to laying out the issues and setting a path to addressing them. I urge all policy makers as well as the general public to use the Guide as a resource in moving forward.”

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