New Jersey is ready for cleaner cars, cleaner air and climate action
New Jersey’s Department of Environmental Protection is hearing testimony this morning from New Jerseyans supporting swift adoption of the Advanced Clean Cars II standards
Trenton — Against the backdrop of Climate Week, a nationwide awareness-raising and climate action effort, advocates from across the state are now testifying before the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) in support of proposed Advanced Clean Cars II standards. When adopted, the new rules would give consumers more opportunities to buy zero-emission vehicles and slash toxic tailpipe pollution that causes lung disease and exacerbates climate change.
To join the NJ DEP hosted Microsoft Teams meeting from your computer, tablet, or smartphone, click this link.
The proposed Advanced Clean Cars II (ACCII) program would require automakers to steadily and gradually increase their sales of new electric vehicles, helping households and businesses reduce their dependence on expensive and deadly fossil fuels.
The health benefits New Jerseyans will enjoy from higher adoption of zero emission vehicles can not be understated, according to Catherine Chen, MD, FACP, Assistant Professor and Academic Hospitalist at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, who said “the American Lung Association reported that implementing zero emission standards could prevent 3,960 premature deaths and 92,400 asthma attacks by 2050 for New Jersey alone. These are only two of many health outcomes that could be improved by the ACC II.”
Elizabeth Cercero, MD, FACP, FHM concurred, saying “We are only now beginning to understand the full scope of the impact of fossil fuel pollution on public health, and air pollution resulting from transportation in NJ is first and foremost a health concern. Removing tailpipe emissions would have a sizable impact on health outcomes in the state and health co-benefits from decreased air pollution would substantially outweigh implementation costs.” Dr. Cercero is the Director of Environmental Health and Associate Professor at Cooper Medical School of Rowan University.
The transportation sector accounts for nearly 46% of the state’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, making it the largest emissions source in the state. GHG emissions exacerbate the climate crisis and increase the risk of more extreme weather events, including hurricanes and heat waves, that further degrade air quality and put communities in every corner of New Jersey at risk. Tailpipe emissions also contain harmful pollutants that cause increased risk of asthma, lung disease and cancer. In New Jersey specifically, 13 out of 15 counties that reported air quality data received poor grades from the American Lung Association due to high ozone days.
According to a recent report commissioned by NRDC and Sierra Club, the cumulative net societal benefits by 2050 could reach up to $96.9 billion, though to capture these benefits, New Jersey must adopt ACC II before the end of 2023 so it applies to model year 2027 vehicles.
In addition to providing clean air and economic benefits, businesses agree that these programs can unlock long-term savings while spurring the widespread build out of charging infrastructure necessary to meet increased demand for zero-emission vehicles. Recently a coalition of 31 major companies and fleet operators, many of whom have existing operations in New Jersey, sent a letter to Governor Murphy supporting these clean vehicle standards and urging the state to adopt them this year.
Further, New Jersey is already experiencing economic and job benefits of the clean transportation sector in the state, with employment jumping more than 15 percent in 2022, according to a new analysis from E2.
On the occasion of the hearing, New Jersey clean air advocates released the following statements:
“As we reach the end of the hottest global summer on record, it is time to step on the electric vehicle accelerator. Today’s NJDEP Clean Cars hearing showed strong public support for moving us to a clean electric transportation future that will eliminate air and climate pollutants from our tailpipes. Electric vehicles have reached an inflection point and it’s imperative for New Jersey to join other leading Clean Car states and adopt these standards by the end of this year to ensure more electric vehicles are available,” said Doug O’Malley, Director, Environment New Jersey.
“By adopting these standards, New Jersey will tap into a huge economic opportunity to mitigate the economic and human costs of the climate crisis and unchecked air pollution while also creating career pathways and high-quality jobs for the local New Jersey residents that are building our clean transportation future,” said Uchenna Bright, E2 Northeastern States Advocate. “Employment in New Jersey’s clean vehicle sector is already growing rapidly – more than 15 percent in 2022 – and if these standards are adopted, that number will skyrocket. Now is the time to capitalize on this momentum, not hold the state back from progress.”
The South Ward faces a pollution onslaught. To be a climate and environmental justice leader, to be ahead of the pack, we must be attacking this pollution on all fronts,” said Kim Gaddy, Founder, Newark’s South Ward Environmental Alliance. “Accelerating our transition to cleaner cars and catching up to all these other states is critical to that effort. This hearing shows there is a clear need to adopt Advanced Clean Cars II in 2023, before it’s too late; our lungs depend on it.”
“We applaud the Murphy administration for moving New Jersey toward adoption of the Advanced Clean Cars II rule. Swift adoption is critical to get more clean vehicles on the roads and promises to deliver better air quality and propel cost savings for New Jersey businesses and consumers,” said Alli Gold Roberts, senior director, state policy, at Ceres. “The auto industry and companies across the supply chain have made it clear that zero-emission vehicles are the way of the future, and we encourage New Jersey’s swift adoption of this pragmatic solution to help increase the availability of electric vehicles for all.”
“As a densely populated state with proximity to urban hubs like New York City and Philadelphia, New Jerseyans deserve sustainable transit that is clean,” said NJ Sierra Club Director Anjuli Ramos-Busot. “We need cleaner cars in our communities and on our streets now. Advanced Clean Cars II is a life-saving program that will clean our air so that our children can breathe easier, mitigate emissions from our state’s dirtiest sector, and kickstart a new green economy for New Jersey. We urge the NJDEP to urgently adopt this program, as our public and environmental health depend on cleaner transportation standards.”
“The transition to clean cars will go a long way towards reducing air pollution, saving drivers money at the pump, and positioning the state as a leader in the green economy,” said Alex Ambrose, Policy Analyst at New Jersey Policy Perspective (NJPP). “This is an incredible opportunity for the state, and one that Governor Murphy should adopt before the end of the year. The sooner New Jersey moves away from polluting fossil fuels, the sooner we will all benefit from newer and greener cost-saving technologies.”
“In 2004, my asthmatic 7 year old daughter, 5 year old son and I holding my 2 yr old daughter stood side by side with Governor McGreevey, Senate President Bennett and Congressman Adler (RIP) as the Clean Cars Act was signed into law,” said Empower NJ’s David Pringle. “It requires us to keep up with California. With today’s hearing, Governor Murphy and NJDEP gives us the chance to comply with the law that the worsening climate emergency demands.”
“The Advanced Clean Cars II program will lessen the burden of air pollution on vulnerable communities, save lives, and slash climate-warming emissions from one of New Jersey’s dirtiest sectors. In fact, by 2050, New Jersey can avoid up to 358 premature deaths and 362 hospital visits by transitioning to zero-emission electric cars and light-duty trucks with the ACC II program,” said Kathy Harris, Senior Clean Vehicles and Fuels Advocate, NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council). “New Jersey must act swiftly to ensure the adoption of ACC II rules by the end of this year to see the most benefits for the state.”
“As demonstrated during today’s hearing, businesses are speaking out in support of ACCII as a critical step in creating a more sustainable clean energy economy,” said Richard Lawton, Executive Director of the NJ Sustainable Business Council. “They know that ACCII strikes the right balance between the urgent need to lower carbon emissions by transitioning to zero emission vehicles, while pragmatically doing so within a realistic timeframe. As fossil fuel interests fight to protect their monopoly power by mischaracterizing ACCII and its impacts, consumers and companies are increasingly experiencing first-hand how EV’s are cleaner, technologically superior, and less costly to operate and maintain than internal combustion engines.”
“Car emissions are one of our state’s biggest drivers of greenhouse gas emissions and today’s hearing clearly demonstrated there is strong, diverse support for taking bold action to address this problem,” said Deb Coyle, Executive Director of NJ Work Environment Council. “Furthermore, car emissions cause ground level pollution in our most populated areas and by adopting ACCII, we will create healthier, safer communities.”
“Moving forward with ACCII will help us fight climate change, improve air quality in some of our most polluted communities, and create jobs as we build out the necessary charging infrastructure,” said Drew Tompkins, Director of the Jersey Renews Coalition. “This policy will be a major win for our state, and today, along with a diverse coalition of supporters, we reiterate our support for the Department of Environmental Protection to adopt the rule before the end of the year.”