Sierra Club: Gov. Murphy’s 18 Month Environmental Report & Scorecard

The New Jersey Statehouse and Capitol Building In Trenton


Gov. Murphy’s 18 Month Environmental Report & Scorecard

The New Jersey Sierra Club has put together a report on the Murphy over 18 months in office. The report raises a lot of concerns because the Sierra Club endorsed Governor Murphy who has made commitments to the environment, but the Administration has not made progress. The report card is a pass/fail, because it is an interim report.

“We are issuing this report on the 18-month anniversary of the Governor being sworn in. The assessment is an update from our previous report on Murphy’s 1st year in. Over one year, Murphy was the first governor to not make any appointments to an environmental board or propose one new DEP rule in that time frame. At least that has changed. Murphy has nominated excellent people to the Pinelands, DEP came out with new rules, the EMP came out late, needs work and has a lot of flaws, but at least it was released. New Jersey joined TCI and rejoined RGGI, however its rules has serious problems. One of Murphy’s greatest achievements has been offshore wind. There is progress. However, some of DEP’s rules like the C1 and PFOA were good, but their pesticide, site remediation, and stormwater rules raise serious concerns. Even though there are new appointments to the Pinelands Commission, there has been no new appointments to the Highlands.

“Even though there has been movement on environment, it has been slow and late. There is more bad than good, unfortunately. What is even worse is the failure to move forward on critical issues such as climate change, climate adaptation, updating our water supply, regulating C02, electric vehicles, clean energy, plastic ban, and putting a moratorium on fossil fuel projects. The administration has not done anything meaningful when it comes to blocking natural gas pipelines and power plants. While other states like New York, California, Washington, Nevada and New Mexico are moving forward on clean energy, New Jersey is moving backwards. There is improvement, but we have long way to go. There are still major problems that need to be dealt with and fixed. Governor Murphy has been in office for 18 months now, but most of Christie’s policies, rules, and standards are in place. Murphy talks a lot about climate change but hasn’t taken any real action. Instead of taking real action to protect our state against climate change and make us more resilient, there has been nothing but empty promises from the Murphy Administration and more fossil fuel projects being proposed in this state,” said Jeff Tittel Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club.

Governor Murphy

The biggest positives for Governor Murphy is getting an offshore wind approval for 1100MW by BPU closer to reality and getting Pennsylvania and Delaware to sign on to a full fracking ban even though it is not formalized yet. Murphy has made important appointments to the Pinelands commission who are environmentalists and will protect the Pinelands. Even though Murphy replaced Christie’s EO 1 and 2, he replaced it with EO 67, which is almost as bad. The biggest concerns and problems we have is the failure to get rid of Christie’s rollbacks and move forward with any meaningful programs or legislation that deal with climate change and sea level rise. We are also concerned about how the nuclear subsidy law, the cost cap on solar, the Exxon settlement deal, and how the EMP changed the definition of clean energy to allow for dirty energy. Governor Murphy has failed to reform and change the DEP and most importantly, has yet to put a moratorium on new fossil fuel projects.

Negative Actions

· Changing the definition of clean energy to include dirty energy and incinerators

· Signing the nuclear subsidy law

· Sellout on Exxon settlement

· Signed the weakened beach access rule, S1074(Smith). This law doesn’t require or mandate rules for towns to allow for beach access. It also does nothing to restore the 2007 that restore the public access

· DRBC approved an LNG port on the Delaware River

· Failure to appoint people to environmental entities such as Highlands Council, and Natural Lands Trust consistent with their conservation mission and respect their independence to protect these critical resource

· Murphy has not updated the state’s outdated building codes, DCA has not required green infrastructure for new development

· Murphy has not required fossil fuel infrastructure projects to demonstrate whether there are market-based, cost-effective and clean alternatives (to delay or avoid the project)

· Murphy has remained silent on the Meadowlands power plant

· Failure to put a stay on construction of the Southern Reliability Link (SRL) pipeline

· Murphy has not put a moratorium on fossil fuel infrastructure in New Jersey

· Allowed for private bear hunt

· The proposed legislative FY2020 Budget added back $4 million from the cuts to the DEP budget Governor Murphy proposed however there is still a $65 million cut from the FY2019 Adjusted Appropriated Budget.

· FY 2020 Budget, the Murphy Administration Diverted $87.1 million the Clean Energy Fund, this is less money taken out than in previous years

· Gov. Murphy Freezes $12M in Funding for Urban Parks & Programs

· Signed an executive Order that rescinds and replaces Governor Christie’s Executive Order No 1 and 2 (2010), which outlined the regulatory principles of the prior administration. Murphy replaced it with E0 67 that requires cumulative analysis for businesses, not people. This EO is almost as bad as Christie’s.

· Failure for state to move forward with a Council of Affordable Housing or moving forward with housing rules

· No movement to protect New Jersey form Bakken crude oil trains

· Legislation

o Signed S1074(Smith), Public Beach Access bill that will allow communities and towns to get off the hook from requiring the public access. This law doesn’t require or mandate rules for towns to allow for beach access. It also does nothing to restore the 2007 that restore the public access

o Signed A4578 (Land)/S3110 (Smith), The law includes $50 million from the $225 Exxon settlement for environmental restoration projects. Unfortunately that money does not go towards communities that have been impacted by pollution from Exxon. The money that is supposed to be going to communities in Paulsboro, Linden, and Newark, will instead be used to plant trees in the Pinelands.

o Singed S2920(Smith): This law will unfairly hurt urban areas and parks. It would shift money from suburban to rural areas and take money that is supposed to go towards fixing our parks and for stewardship.


· Made new appointments to the Pinelands Commission

· Governor Murphy has supported a full fracking ban in the DRBC but that has not happened yet.

· Joined the Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI)

· Signed S1073(Smith) into law. The law will authorize municipalities, counties, and certain authorities to establish stormwater utilities.

· Signed S2534 (Sweeney) Revises “New Jersey Smoke-Free Air Act” to prohibit smoking at public beaches and parks

· Signed A839 (Land), prohibiting offshore drilling in State waters and issuance of DEP permits and approvals for activities associated with offshore drilling. Joined lawsuit against President Trump’s decision to authorize seismic testing in the Atlantic.

“The Governor broke his commitment on clean energy but changing the definition to include dirty energy. He has not shown right leadership. Murphy has said many of the right things but there is no follow through, his administration’s actions do not keep up with those words or they do the opposite. The DEP is still implementing many of Christie’s policies because they’re led by the same people and same rules. The Administration has yet to reverse any of Christie’s weakened Wetlands or Flood Hazard rules. The DEP has also failed to put force in enforcement when it comes to making polluters clean up their mess. When it comes to protecting our air and our safety from fossil fuel projects like the NESE project, the DEP could have denied the project with merit, but instead they denied without prejudice. This allowed the dangerous NESE project to come back,” said Tittel.

Governor Murphy Grade:
P: Passing but a lot more work needs to be done.


The biggest hinderance for moving the environment forward under the Murphy Administration is the DEP. They have failed to move forward on climate change, getting rid of Christie’s rollbacks, and funding important environment programs.


· Not one of Christie’s rules has not been repealed by this administration. The legislature voted the Highlands Rule violated legislative intent but it took DEP 11 months to pull them down.

· The Murphy Administration has not reversed Christie’s rules in the last year. Under Christie, the DEP rolled backed the Coastal Area Facility Review Act (CAFRA) and Coastal Zone Management rules by adding more loopholes and waivers, weakening coastal protections

· Failure to regulate C02, GHG emissions, and black carbon

· Worked to weaken important legislation like the Public Beach Access bill, Global Warming Response bill, and the LSRP bill.

· DEP have not reinstated the Office of Climate Change

· DEP have not upgraded the state’s aging water infrastructure, including drinking, waste, and storm water.

· Failed to inspect or use enforcement at contaminated sites such as Vernon or the Kearny Landfill

· Have not updated rules for sea level rise or climate change

· Approved a coastal center in Forked River

· Failure to have a climate adaptation and mitigation plan

· Rollbacks to DEP rule proposals, including Freshwater Wetlands, Coastal Zone Management, and Coastal Area Facility Review Act (CAFRA) rules, until they can be thoroughly reviewed to ensure strong environmental protections are still in place.

· The DEP updated a guidance document, Capping of Volatile Contaminants for the Impact to Ground Water Pathway, that will allow polluters to keep toxic pollution in groundwater.

· The DEP granted a water pollution permit allowing the Bellemead Development Corporation to discharge treated wastewater into the Rockaway Creek in Tewksbury.

· Granted a Waterfront Development Individual Permit and 401 Water Quality Certificate to Delaware River Partners, LLC for their LNG dock proposal without a public hearing, they suspended those permits due to an error in the publication of the receipt of the March 20, 2019 application in the DEP Bulletin. Delaware will reapply

· Denied NESE permits without prejudice

· Stormwater Rules that will not mitigate our state’s flooding and pollution problems. FEMA even had concerns the rule does not account for sea level rise, nutrient pollution, proper green infrastructure, and will just increase flooding

· The DEP’s logging plan that targets the Sparta Mountain Wildlife Area continues

· The Pinelands Commission approved NJDEP’s application to clear cut 16-acres of Bass River

· Failure to control overdevelopment and stormwater runoff. Warmer temperatures and more rain means more runoff bringing septics and fertilizer into the lakes like Lake Hopatcong

· Their proposed amendments, repeal, and new rules on Pesticide Control Code, N.J.A.C 7:30 does not go far enough to protect workers or our environment from pesticides.

· Failure to conduct full cleanup at Ringwood Superfund Site

· Failure to move forward with real cleanup plan in Pompton Lakes. The department said that the current system of natural attenuation is working in Pompton Lakes is working but it’s not.

· New rules governing underground storage caverns to store gasses, liquids, petroleum products, and other related materials

· Granted Phoenix Energy Center LLC approval for a redevelopment exemption from the Highlands Rules for their proposed 663 MW power plant

· Granted Waterfront Development, Flood Hazard, Wetlands, and Water Quality Certificate for the Meadowlands Power Plant

· Failure to fund and find funding source to deal with lead and sewer overflow.

· The DEP is moving forward with a permit allowing the Bellemead Development Corporation to discharge treated wastewater into the Rockaway Creek in Tewksbury.

· Failure to move forward on designating C1 streams for recreational value


· The NJDEP published interim standards for perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) at 10 ppt for both PFOA and PFOS.

· Finally started to spend the VW settlement fund money

· The DEP will designate 749 miles of waterways as C1 streams for ecological value and fishery resources

· New Jersey adopted rules to rejoin RGGI however cap at 18 million metric tons is too high and they will not look at the natural gas power plants online now. DEP need to change the funding formula so that money does not go towards combined heat and power plant, or planting trees. Instead, that money should be going towards energy efficiency, community solar and EV’s for EJ and to low and moderate communities.

· Attorney General Grewal and DEP Commissioner McCabe have filed lawsuits enforcement targeting 4 DuPont Sites in Pompton Lakes, Gloucester County, Pennsville, and Sayreville. They also will go after Natural Resource Damages. They need to make sure there is full cleanup at these sites.

“We are in a climate crisis and DEP have not moved forward to protect our state from those impacts. DEP’s policies and programs in place are still Christie’s policies. They have failed to reverse Christie’s rollbacks that weaken protections for clean air, clean water, and climate change. New Jersey is already seeing the impacts of New Jersey overdevelopment and stormwater runoff with Lake Hopatcong, that DEP could have avoided if they had stronger rules in place,” said Tittel. “The DEP has failed when it comes to protecting our clean air, clean water and open space.”

DEP Grade:
F: Failing and falling behind. Doing too little too late.


The BPU recently approved one of the largest offshore wind projects in the nation with Orsted for 1100MW of offshore wind off the coast of Atlantic City. They recently published a draft of their Energy Master Plan that sets a goal for renewable energy at 50% for 2030, but does not address the urgency of climate change at a time when the state is being overrun by fossil fuels.


· BPU’s EMP redefines Clean Energy as Carbon Neutral, which means that carbon will still be released from sources such as natural gas and nuclear

· Denied our stay for the construction of the Southern Reliability Link (SRL) pipeline

· Failure to fix New Jersey’s solar program. The current solar program will eat up almost all the cap, preventing us from meeting those RPS goals. This means the BPU will set aside the Renewable Portfolio Standard for that year. This leaves no room for New Jersey to move forward to meet targets of the Renewable Portfolio Standard (50% by 2030).

· Passed the Nuclear Subsidy despite the fact that staff recommended not to

· Have not moved forward on energy efficiency


· Board of Public Utilities (BPU) approved a proposal from Orsted for 1100MW of offshore wind.

“The BPU is working hard on a lot of issues and for the first time in a long time are making progress. They made history in approving the largest offshore wind projects in the nation with Orsted. We are concerned however if BPU will be able to get these energy proposals completed. We are also concerned of the collapse of the solar market and cost cap. The nuclear proposals on gas plants may undercut us moving forward on these ambition programs too,” said Tittel. “The BPU finally released a draft of their EMP. While there were many good things in the EMP that we strongly support, it failed to mention the 8 proposed natural gas pipelines or 5 power plants. It also changed the definition to include natural gas fossil fuel plants with carbon sequestration, nuclear power plants, incinerators, biomass, carbon credits and offsets.”

BPU Grade:
S: Satisfactory. Slightly above average. The BPU is working slightly above average. The agency is getting things done but we have disagreements. Offshore wind is a positive, but there are major issues the agency needs to fix. Approving nuclear subsidy without the staff, changing the definition of clean energy to dirty energy, failing to move forward on energy efficiency, and failing to fix solar are some of the problems that BPU need to work on.

NJ Transit

New Jersey is the second biggest commuter railroad in the nation and was once a national model until Governor Christie cut its budget eight years in a row. It has been reported that NJ Transit has 12 times more equipment failures than any other commuter train in the nation. This is the direct result of funding being slashed by 90 percent in the past 11 years. Just last month the agency proposed a NJ TRANSITGRID grid powered by a fossil fuel power plant in Kearny, New Jersey. The Transit Grid would provide electric power to NJ Transit facilities in northeast New Jersey. Not moving forward on electric vehicles, proposed power plant in the meadowlands.


· Proposed a NJ TRANSITGRID grid powered by a fossil fuel power plant in Kearny, New Jersey. The NJ Transit grid would cost close to $526 million and is estimated to release 383,000-571,000 tons of carbon dioxide annually on a normal operating schedule

· Have not moved forward with buying electric buses, instead they are buying another 500 fossil fuel buses

· They are not planning for bus rapid transit systems

· Hasn’t been any major improvements on time or proposed new programs

· NJ Transit still has many delays and breakdowns

· Not expanding any new rail systems


· The legislature increased NJ Transit budget by 3% FY 2020

“NJ Transit need to electrify their fleet and move forward on electric buses, but they cannot get there if they are going to build a fossil fuel power plant in Kearny. NJ Transit should be looking out to protect its riders and citizens of New Jersey by rescinding their authorization for their natural gas plant. Instead, we need to move forward on cleaner and greener technologies for NJ Transit resiliency projects, like solar, hydro, and energy storage. We need to make capital improvements in order to make our transit system better. If we don’t make improvements to our rail system, we could have a disaster,” said Tittel.

NJ Transit Grade:
F: Failing. Even though they are trying and things are improving for commuters, the agency is still failing. They are not moving forward on electric buses and building a natural gas power plants for their resiliency projects are serious problems.

Climate Change

The Governor says he supports action on climate change however he is silent on major fossil fuel projects. Projects like the Meadowlands powerplant has already received some DEP permits and the Southern Reliability Link has started to build through the Pinelands despite it still being challenged in court. We have asked the Governor for a stay on the SRL project but there was no response from his office. If the Governor is committed to reducing GHG’s, then he must say no to these projects, otherwise his words are just hot air.

o Governor Murphy has remained silent on the 6-natural gas powerplants and 8 natural pipeline projects in New Jersey

o We want Governor Murphy to impose a moratorium on all new fossil fuel power plants and to ban fracking

o The Administration have failed to update rule for adaptation and mitigation

o Murphy has not brought out the latest science for both mapping and rulemaking.

New pipeline and compressor projects:

· PennEast Pipeline: 110-mile pipeline that will bring natural gas from the Marcellus Region of Pennsylvania through Hunterdon and Mercer Counties in New Jersey. (Grewal suing on PennEast for taking land)

· Northeast Supply Enhancement: The project would put 3.5 new miles of pipe in Old Bridge and Sayreville and 22 miles under the Raritan Bay. (DEP denied permits without prejudice, NESE has been able to reapply)

· South Jersey Gas pipeline: 22 inch gas pipeline through 22 miles of the Pinelands and Southern New Jersey. (Pinelands Commission has not rescinded their approval on the pipeline yet)

· Southern Reliability Link : 28-mile gas pipeline through Burlington, Ocean, and Monmouth Counties. (Murphy Administration did not grant the NJ Sierra Club a stay on construction despite being in court)

· Garden State Expansion project: Their proposed Garden State Expansion compressor station would connect into a New Jersey Natural Gas Pipeline in Chesterfield. (approved by state)

· Rivervale South to Market: Upgrade 10.35 miles of existing Transco pipeline and a 0.61 mile loop in wetlands environment of Bergen County. (Has DEP permits)

· Lambertville East Expansion (Lambertville): Will connect PennEast to Texas Eastern and the Transco compressor station so they can take PennEast gas through their system (Has DEP permits)

New gas-fired power plant projects:

· Meadowlands Power Plant (North Bergen)- 1200MW (Has DEP land use permits)

· Phoenix Energy Center (Holland Twp)- 660MW (Received DEP exemption for Highlands Rules)

· BL England (Upper Twp)- 450 MW (Shut down)

· Keasbey Energy Center (Woodbridge)- 725 MW (All permits but DEP Air Permits) State permits,

· Sewaren 7 (Woodbridge)- 540MW- operating

§ NJ Transit Grid Power Plant – 140M (built by state)

§ LNG Port in Gibbstown (approved by the state)

o We believe that the NJDEP should immediately move to set standards for greenhouse gasses, CO2 as well as methane, which they’ve had the authority to do since 2005. This includes regulating the Air Pollution Control Act and Title V permits to stop new plants and reduce existing pollution to protect the health of New Jersey’s communities.

o Governor Murphy must enact the strictest possible interpretation of the “Anti-degradation standard” under the Water Quality Certification Program pursuant to Section 410 of the Federal Clean Water Act by NJDEP for pipelines. NJDEP must also conduct a cost-benefit analysis of moving New Jersey away from the PJM electricity grid, which relies too heavily on dirty fuels.

“The Murphy administration needs to start acting much more aggressively to combat climate impacts and improve our resiliency. New Jersey is one of the most vulnerable states in the nation to impacts from sea level rise and climate change and that’s why Governor Murphy needs to put in place a moratorium on all fossil fuel infrastructure. We need a time out to put in place programs to reduce greenhouse gases and get to 100% renewable.

“New Jersey was once a leader in Clean Energy. We are far from that now. That is why Governor Murphy needs to step up and take leadership in making New Jersey cleaner and greener. Instead of promoting more fossil fuel projects, NJ needs to focus on renewable energy such as solar and wind. Murphy must reverse Christie’s weakened rules that protect our environment, public health, and safety. Murphy needs to work with the DEP, the BPU, and other agencies to protect our environment for us, our grandkids, and our great grandkids, NJ can’t afford to wait,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club.

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