TRENTON, NJ – A diverse group of environmental, business, recreation, community and planning organizations respond to Governor Murphy’s FY21 budget presentation today. They are requesting that funding for environmental protection, clean energy, and a Sustainable Green Jobs Recovery from COVID-19 be prioritized in the final budget for the upcoming FY21.

The organizations understand that the state is facing unprecedented fiscal challenges resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, and that shared sacrifices must be made across all sectors. However, they urge Governor Murphy and legislative leaders to prioritize investing in areas that have clear economic and job creation benefits while also reducing public health disparities in underserved, communities of color, and building a more equitable and sustainable green economy of the future.

The group of over 20 organizations sent a letter to Governor Murphy urging him to ensure that specific investments are core components of any COVID-19 recovery strategy. These investments include advancing clean energy, improving water infrastructure, building resilience to climate disasters, advancing NJ Transit, and funding parks and trails improvements.

“Governor Murphy stated that he is committed to a green jobs recovery in New Jersey, and we agree. At a time when the state is looking at significant budget challenges, a green jobs recovery can kick start our economy and put workers back to work in family-sustaining, good local jobs that enhance our quality of life,” said Ed Potosnak, Executive Director, New Jersey LCV. “We look forward to working with the legislature to ensure a Sustainable Green Jobs Recovery remains a priority in the FY21 budget that ensures staffing at New Jersey DEP is adequate to continue the rigorous application of environmental protections, invests in drinking water infrastructure to reduce lead exposure, and ends raids to the Clean Energy Fund.”

“This time of crisis represents an opportunity to reconsider our priorities, to break from the inertia of the status quo, and to reallocate limited resources accordingly,” said Richard Lawton, Executive Director of the NJ Sustainable Business Council. “As climate risk accelerates, creating a more resilient, sustainable and equitable economy depends upon investing in the rapid transition to a clean energy system and modernizing our water infrastructure in ways that incentivize responsible innovation and value creation for all stakeholders.”

“Now is the time to double down on our commitment to clean energy to create jobs and strengthen our economy while improving the health of our communities,” said Tom Gilbert, Campaign Director, NJ Conservation Foundation and Rethink Energy NJ. “Continued investments in dirty fossil fuels will serve only to lock the state into further emissions that brought us polluted air, rising sea levels and more severe public health impacts from COVID-19.”

“The Fiscal Year 2021 budget must include investments and jobs to update New Jersey’s antiquated water infrastructure. The Delaware River watershed supplies clean drinking water for 1.4 million New Jerseyans, which must be sustained as a basic human need for all communities, particularly during a public health emergency,” said Kelly Knutson, State Policy Manager for the Coalition of the Delaware River Watershed. “Additionally, outdoor recreation industries are economic drivers throughout New Jersey, providing $20 million in local and state tax revenues and creating 34,000 jobs annually. Now, more than ever, investing in open space that communities and wildlife depend on is crucial, as long as infrastructure is maintained to meet the high demand of visitation during the pandemic.”

“The importance of our support for clean energy, green infrastructure and ensuring access to our public parks and trails have all become even more abundantly clear during this pandemic. It is critical that our government puts its ‘money where its mouth is’, and ensures we receive our greatest and most equitable return as we look to the future,” said Julia Somers, Executive Director of the New Jersey Highlands Coalition and Chair of the Board of the NJLCV.  

New Jersey already has over 52,000 people working in the clean energy economy, and that number can increase with the right investments. In addition to expanding clean energy jobs in energy efficiency, solar, and emerging offshore wind, we should use this moment to catalyze investment in lead service line replacement, improving mass transit, park and trail management, building resilient green infrastructure installations that will protect us from the increase in flooding and polluted stormwater runoff exacerbated by climate change, and bolstering our infrastructures to be more resilient to the impacts of climate change.

“As New Jersey makes steps to rebuild its economy, it is important that it embraces equity, environmental and economic goals.  By prioritizing energy efficiency, it can do just that.” said Erin Cosgrove, Director of Regulatory Affairs for the Energy Efficiency Alliance of New Jersey. “Energy efficiency creates local, lasting jobs; lowers businesses’ bills; empowers homeowners; and improves public health through reducing pollutants in both indoor and outdoor environments.  As New Jersey looks to rebuild, it should look to energy efficiency now, as it has done in the past, to ensure an equitable, sustainable green jobs recovery.”

“It is imperative not to react to one global health and economic crisis by adding fuel to the fire of another,” said Alli Gold Roberts, Director of State Policy at Ceres, a nonprofit organization engaging investors and companies on climate and clean energy policy. “Efforts to restart the economy and recover from the COVID-19 pandemic must be aligned with New Jersey’s clean energy and climate resiliency leadership ambitions.  Climate smart policies will generate savings for residents, businesses, and the state while creating thousands of jobs to get the economy moving again.”

“Investing now in building resilience to future disasters is a job-creating priority of the Rise to Resilience campaign. We can put New Jersey back to work on restoring our future for a greener, safer Garden State through wind energy and green and grey infrastructure that prevents disasters before they strike,” said Cortney Worrall, President and CEO, Waterfront Alliance.

“Although the state faces tough budget decisions, the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted just how important our public open spaces are for our communities, and we must ensure we protect and enhance them moving forward. The state also must simultaneously invest in responsibly developed clean energy like offshore wind, which can power our state and be a driving force for economic recovery,” said Eric Stiles, President and CEO of NJ Audubon. 


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