NJ Needs to Divest from Fossil Fuels
TRENTON, NJ: The New Jersey Sierra Club joined Divest NJ Coalition at a rally today to encourage the New Jersey State Investment Council (SIC) to divest from fossil fuels. The SIC, which had its annual meeting today, manages New Jersey’s pension fund and has the authority to divest. Divesting from fossil fuels would protect the state from losses as the world replaces fossil fuels with renewable energy sources. In December, Goldman Sachs became the first major bank to divest from the oil and gas sector. This month, BlackRock announced one of the largest divestments from coal.
“We are in a climate crisis, and it is only getting worse. New Jersey is betting against our future by investing in fossil fuel projects and the banks that fund them. The banks are underwriting dirty energy projects and undercutting the Paris Accords and New Jersey’s clean energy progress. This is like buying the gun for the guy who is going to rob you. New Jersey is investing against climate change and investing against our future as long as they continue to help fund fossil fuel projects. If Governor Murphy is serious about reducing greenhouse gases and moving to a green economy, the State Investment Council has to divest from fossil fuels,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “New Jersey needs to shut off its own money pipeline to polluters. Even BlackRock is divesting, now Governor Murphy has to step up and do the same.”
In New Jersey, there are over a dozen new fossil fuel infrastructure projects that would increase greenhouse gas emissions by over 32%. These projects include the South Jersey Gas pipeline, New Jersey Natural Gas’s Southern Reliability Link, the PennEast Pipeline, and the Meadowlands Power Plant. These projects will expose New Jersey residents to toxic air pollutants, damage critical ecosystems, and undermine Governor Murphy’s goal of 100% clean energy.
“Instead of moving away from dirty energy like Goldman Sachs and BlackRock, Governor Murphy has changed the definition of clean energy to dirty energy. His Energy Master Plan redefines clean energy to include natural gas, fossil fuel plants with carbon sequestration, nuclear power plants, incinerators, biomass, carbon credits, and offsets. This week Governor Murphy came out with a big splash with an EO on climate change, but it is more fluff than action. There is not enough substance to it and it fails to cite legal authority on reachable standards,” said Jeff Tittel. “ If Murphy really cared about reaching 100% clean energy, he would put a moratorium on all fossil fuel projects and make sure New Jersey divests from fossil fuels.”
Fossil fuel industries are hitting an increasing number of roadblocks. The natural gas industry is in turmoil because of a surplus of cheap gas. Many companies are filing for bankruptcy. Gas producers have also struggled because states like New York have made it more difficult to build pipelines. European prices and demand are also declining, reducing the amount that US exporters can earn.
“The fossil fuel industry is facing litigation and challenges for climate change impacts, negatively impacting the price of their stocks. As long as New Jersey continues to invest in fossil fuels, we are investing against our own future. We are buying the knife to slit our throats. We need to divest, and we should be suing fossil fuel companies to make sure they have further liability when it comes to climate change. We need to be joining lawsuits like New York’s legal fight against Exxon. Instead of investing in dirty energy that is losing money, we should be suing these companies and divesting. Governor Murphy needs to protect the future of our state environmentally and financially,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “Governor Murphy needs to do more than sign empty EOs. He needs to put a moratorium on new fossil fuel projects in New Jersey, including the most dangerous one of all – the money pipeline.”