Murphy Needs to Make A Bold Statement on Environment, Climate Change and Take Action
Today, Governor Phil Murphy will give his first State of the State address to New Jersey. It has been almost a year since the Murphy Administration has come into power. The New Jersey Sierra Club is concerned that in the last 12 months, Governor Murphy has not fulfilled his commitments to the environment.
“The fact that things are not moving smoothly in getting things done on the environment is creating a lot of anxiety. The Governor has made some progress, but it is not enough. Most of Christie’s policies are still in place on the environment. Climate change is getting worse and we are not moving forward on being resilient to those impacts. In the last year, there has not been one original proposed rule, regulation or standard for the NJDEP yet from the Murphy Administration,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “Usually the first year of an administration is most productive where they either put in place their most important environmental initiatives or at least the framework to get them done. This has not happened in 12 months under the Murphy Administration. Hopefully this will be a restart for the Administration to move forwards.”
Governor Murphy has remained silent on many of the fossil fuel project proposals in New Jersey. There are currently 4 proposed natural gas powerplants and 8 proposed pipeline projects that would undermine our efforts to reduce carbon emissions and transition to a clean energy future. This is because combined, these powerplants and pipeline projects could emit more than up to 100 million metric tons of greenhouses gases into our air.
“Today we would like the Governor come out with an ambitious plan on climate change and move forward on the environment. Putting a moratorium on fossil fuel projects, regulating C02 emissions, and ending raids to the Clean Energy Fund are things we hope Murphy will make decisive action on. 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 or the Southern Reliability Link which has started to build through the Pinelands despite it still being challenged in court,”said Tittel. “If the Governor is committed to reducing GHG’s, then he must put a moratorium on all new fossil fuel projects, otherwise his words are just hot air.”
Governor Murphy has yet to make appointments for the Highlands Council, Pinelands Commission, and State Planning Commission. The DEP has not reversed Christie’s rules in the last 12 months. 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.
“We need the Murphy Administration to reverse Christie’s policies and weakened rules. The Highlands and Pinelands commission are still going forward with Christie’s rules. It is critical that Murphy appoints new members on environmental boards so they can protect these environmentally-sensitive areas from fossil fuel infrastructure,” said Tittel. “The Murphy Administration is still using weakened rules like the Flood Hazard Rules, Waiver Rules, Stormwater Rules, and CAFRA rules that cause more flooding and pollution and put people more at risk. DEP must fix them because they put more people in harm’s way while removing key protections for important waterways.”
In the last 12 months, there has been some positive actions under Governor Murphy. He signed a law to Ban offshore drilling in state waters as well as landing oil drilled in federal waters on our coasts. Attorney General Grewal also started to take action on natural resource damage lawsuits. However, there have many commitments that Murphy made during his campaign like ending the NJ bear hunt and stop stealing funds from important environmental funds like Clean Energy Fund, however those promises were broken.
“Governor Murphy has made some progress during the last 12 months. He stood up to Trump’s war on our coast by banning offshore drilling in state waters. Murphy is also moving forward on making offshore wind a reality for New Jersey. However, that is still not enough. 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. They have released press releases and signed Executive Orders promising environmental change, but no real action has been taken,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “Will Murphy come out with ending raids on the Clean Energy Fun, moving forward on electric vehicles, or regulating C02 emissions. Or will the Governor just pat himself on the back for not moving New Jersey forward.”