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Murphy Will Bring a New Day for NJ’s Environment an Agenda to Make Us a National Leader | By: Jeff tittel, Director of the new Jersey Sierra Club

Today Phil Murphy was sworn in as the new Governor of New Jersey. The New Jersey Sierra Club had endorsed Phil Murphy, and the new Lt. Governor Sheila Oliver, from the beginning. We believe that under their leadership, New Jersey’s environment will be protected from Trump rollbacks and we can build a greener economy. New Jersey Sierra Club Director Jeff Tittel released the following statement:

“Today, as we celebrate Murphy’s inauguration, we believe New Jersey is going to have a new beginning. It will be a day where our state can start the process to once again be a national leader on the environment. We can move forward on climate change and green energy while protecting clean air and water and cleaning up toxic sites. This is a day where we can put behind us Chris Christie’s rollbacks and move New Jersey forward again. There’s a big change of leadership and we have a lot of work to do. We must pass important legislation and fight special interests from trying to prevent our efforts. They’re had their way for eight years and won’t go quietly. We will need the people of New Jersey to come out and support environmental efforts and to work alongside the new Administration to make them a reality.

“Phil Murphy will work to transition New Jersey to a green economy by promoting renewable energy over fossil fuels. Murphy supports making New Jersey a leader in wind and solar power once again. We can fight climate change by reopening the Office of Climate Change, creating a Coastal Commission on Sea Level Rise and rejoining RGGI. We can promote green energy by setting a goal of 100% renewable energy by 2050 and preventing things like nuclear subsidies that undermine that goal. We can commit to 3500 megawatts of offshore wind. Phil Murphy’s goals for renewable energy and green jobs with help New Jersey’s environment and economy as well. Phil Murphy will work to clean our air, protect our water and fight climate change.

“We will look to reverse course on Christie’s rollbacks and move our state forward on clean air, water, and climate. We look forward to helping the Murphy Administration find good appointments and staff members for the DEP, Pinelands Commission, Highlands Council and more. We need to restore morale in the DEP and put force back into their enforcement, which he has started by hiring Catherine McCabe to replace Bob Martin. We want to find professionals with integrity and competence who will work to protect our environment and don’t funded by or work for regulated entities. We must have the strictest ethical standards as we move New Jersey forward to a cleaner, greener, future. We will also work to constitutionally dedicate environmental settlement funds and promote jobs in clean energy fields such as wind and solar.

“As the Trump Administration continues their attack on the environment and climate change protections, we are confident that Murphy and Oliver will build a green wall around New Jersey. Murphy cares about the environment and the people of New Jersey. He will oppose offshore drilling, unnecessary pipelines, and fossil fuel expansion. Not only will Murphy stop Christie’s rollbacks on air and water protections, but he will move forward with stronger environmental protections. He has also come out against some of the pipelines proposals threatening New Jersey such as PennEast. Sheila Oliver also co-leads The Resistance Coalition, which the Sierra Club is part of, and aims to protect New Jersey from Trump Administration rollbacks.

“We greatly look forward to working with the Murphy Administration to make New Jersey cleaner and greener. These efforts range from repealing dangerous water protection rollbacks from the Christie Administration such as the Flood Hazard and Wetlands Rules, to committing to 100% renewable energy by 2050, to ending the privatization of our parks and open space, and creating a real bear management program. He will work to move New Jersey forward on fighting climate change and sea level rise. We are confident that Murphy and his Administration will fight to protect our environment and protect us from the rollbacks of the Trump Administration.”

Environmental Goals for the Murphy Administration

This is an ambitious agenda but after eight years of rollbacks and delays, the people of New Jersey are ready for it.

Regulatory Goals:

A. Governor’s Office

Executive Orders:

1. Repeal Christie’s Executive Orders 1 & 2 that limit the strictness of state regulations.

2. Sign an Executive Order for agencies to implement programs and policies on climate change, sea level rise, and adaption and mitigation. This should include a task force to develop rules and programs.

3. Issue an executive order freezing all state permits or approvals on new oil and gas pipelines, compressor stations, and related infrastructure until they can be vetted by a new Energy Master Plan and updated rules.

Appointments:

Make appointments to fill Pinelands Commission, Highlands Council, and other environmental boards who will uphold and further support Acts for environmental protections.

Litigation:

1. Change the state’s position on pending litigation concerning the Exxon NRD settlement, South Jersey Gas pipeline and the Southern Reliability Link pipelines

2. Withdraw state support for the federal litigation contesting the Clean Power Plan

3. Ending the Oakland Bi-County lawsuit

4. Attorney General that will sue the Trump Administration on issues such as offshore drilling and rollbacks on climate, clean water, and clean air programs

B. Department of Environmental Protection

Good Governance:

1. Ethics Standard: Create a new Ethics Standard that applies to new employees, especially in upper management and political positions. There should be strict conflict-of-interest standards in place. New Jersey should hire those with the highest ethical standards and not those who own, work for, or are funded by regulated entities, or have contracts with DEP for work.

2. Anti-Privatization Efforts: The DEP should immediately cease contracts for outsourcing and privatization of DEP function and work. They should cancel those contracts and return the work currently outsourced to DEP staff.

3. Settlement Funds: Monies from environmental settlements (including VW) coming to DEP should first be used in communities where the environmental impacts occurred and immediate surrounding areas directly in the community. Funds can be also used to hire additional DEP staff to work on environmental justice issues, environmental clean-ups, and site remediation that benefit those communities.

4. NJDEP Reform. It will be important to build up morale in the department that’s been disheartened over the last eight years. We should reach out to our colleges to educate the next generation of environmental regulators with internships, etc. It’s also critical to upgrade IT. The new commissioner should have a listening session with DEP employees, as well as stakeholders, to get a sense of what’s happening inside DEP and what changes need to be made. DEP needs to be allowed to do their jobs when it comes to enforcement. This will not only protect the environment, but bring in potential revenue.

Clean Water and Rules:

5. There are also some proposed weakened rules that have yet to be adopted but must be blocked to maintain environmental standards:

a) DEP’s Freshwater Wetlands Rules: These rules roll back protections outlined in the comprehensive Freshwater Wetlands Protection Act. They’re aligning the Wetlands Rules with the Flood Hazard and Stream Encroachment Rules and by doing so, they are substantially weakening them. These rules clearly violate the Freshwater Wetlands Act in many areas and will lead to the destruction of critical wetlands. These rules will remove important protections and allow construction of pipelines and other projects through environmentally sensitive wetlands.

b) Additional Proposed Changes to the CAFRA Rules: The current proposed changes to the Coastal Zone Management Rules threaten people, property, and the environment. The proposed amendments are related to shellfish aquaculture, filled water's edge, dune walkovers and other beach and dune development, CAFRA findings, V zones, scenic resources and high-rise structures, permits to apply herbicide, trails, building access in flood hazard areas, application requirements, and rule rationales. These rules will open-up high hazard areas for commercial development in flood-prone areas of the Hudson River and Atlantic City, while threatening environmentally sensitive dunes, wetlands, and coastal areas.

6. The Christie Administration pushed through many new versions of environmental rules that weakened them and allowed for more development, pollution, and flooding. It’s important that these rollbacks be repealed immediately so that they may be replaced with stronger regulations, including increasing the minimum stream buffers from 50’ to 100’. They can be replaced with their previous versions, at least temporarily, until new ones are created.

a) DEP’s Highlands Septic Density Rule: The Highlands Forest Preservation Area is a major source of drinking water for up to 6 million people that includes pristine trout streams, and reservoirs. These rules will not only threaten our water supply, but are based on arbitrary science that target open space and will increase flooding. They will increase development by allowing more septic systems in these sensitive areas.

b) DEP’s Flood Hazard Rules: These will add more development in environmentally sensitive areas, getting rid of stream buffers, and eliminating protections for headwaters. The problem with eliminating the buffers means that streams are no longer able to absorb water for recharge. Not only will DEP's rollbacks increase runoff and pollution, but there will be less recharge of our aquifers. The DEP has even giving out water allocation permits without environmental analysis.

c) Recently Adopted CAFRA Rules: allow for development without consideration of sea level rise or climate change and put more people to in harm’s way. The rules do not strengthen protections, encourage more regional planning, address climate change or sea level rise, and they do not include programs for adaptation or mitigation of sea level rise, resiliency, or natural systems restoration.

d) DEP’s Water Quality Management Planning Rules: these rules determine where sewers go, which determines land use policy. This version threatens clean water, violates EPA’s grants requirements, and undermines protections of our waterways. They will cause more pollution by extending sewers in environmentally sensitive areas and adding more point and non-point pollution.

e) The Waiver Rule, which allows the DEP Commissioner to waive compliance with over 120 agency programs.

f) Water Supply Master Plan: Reopening and recalculating the WSMP with more current and expansive data and a longer time span.

g) Barnegat Bay: expedite development and implementation of TMDL.

h) Take a leadership role in securing a full ban on all aspects of fracking in the Delaware river basin, including withdrawals and wastewater discharge.

7. Adopt standards and Health-Based Maximum Contaminant Levels (MCL) for water quality recommended by the Drinking Water Quality Institute.

a) Perfluorooctane Sulfonate (PFOS) at 13ppt

b) Perfluorooctoanic acid (PFOA) at 14 ppt

c) Perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA) at 13 ppt

d) 1,2,3-trichloropropane (1,2,3-TCP) of 0.030 µg/l

8. Upgrade more streams and waterways to the Category 1 status to give them more protection

Green Energy and Climate Change:

9. Rejoin the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). RGGI is a ten-state regional compact to reduce climate change, air pollution and fund clean energy projects. Governor Christie had removed New Jersey from the program without input of the public of the Legislature. Exiting the program has caused New Jersey to lose jobs, increase pollution, and fail to combat climate change.

10. Create and Reinstate Important Offices Office of Climate Change

a) Adaptation and Mitigation Program

b) Coastal Resiliency Program

11. Administrative Orders on Task Forces:

a) Task force within the DEP to update rules and regulations on climate change and sea level rise. This should include stakeholder process Resiliency and climate adaptation including reducing GG

b) Task force on Environmental Justice that includes targeting vulnerable populations and cumulative impacts. This would be a precursor to develop a series of orders and rules.

c) Task force on fossil fuel energy infrastructure that includes reviewing environmental impacts (including secondary and cumulative) of projects and strengthening protections.

12. Renewable Energy: create a system of developing permit coordination and an environmental review process that makes it a “one-stop-shop” for renewable energy.

C. Board of Public Utilities

BPU Reform:

1. The agency should put together a taskforce on how to meet our goals on electric vehicles (EV) as part of NJ’s Clean Car requirements through the Zero Emissions Vehicle mandate that requires 330,000 EV on the road by 2025.

2. Join the Transportation and Climate Initiative MOU on EV, and outline investments in EV charging infrastructure that will allow more than 600 chargers in both high traffic driving corridors, and in dense downtown business districts.

3. End raids of the Clean Energy Fund immediately so all revenues are dedicated to energy efficiency & clean energy programs through the Office of Clean Energy.

4. Hire an independent auditor for the BPU's Office of Clean Energy's energy efficiency program to evaluate the effectiveness of the program.

5. Adopt an Energy Efficiency Resource Standard (EERS) that establishes annual enforceable benchmarks of annual 2% reduction in energy use with clear performance incentives and penalties for failing to meet the benchmarks.

6. Expand the Renewable Portfolio Standard to move towards a 100% clean, renewable energy future in 2050 by establishing a 30% renewable energy by 2025 and 50% renewable energy by 2035.

7. Update and adopt the off-shore wind regulations for an Off-Shore Wind Renewable Energy Credit program to allow off-shore wind to move forward and codify the strongest goal in the country of 3,500 MW of off-shore wind by 2030.

8. Adopt a requirement to include the social cost of carbon in all evaluations of Board of Public Utility projects, including proposed fossil free infrastructure projects.

9. Create an interagency action taskforce that works with other agencies on reducing greenhouse gasses and promoting clean energy that includes DCA, transportation, etc.

10. Establish New Jersey as a clean energy leader by making investments in energy storage, with a goal of 600 MW by 2021 and 2,000 MW of storage deployed by 2030.

11. Working to close nuclear facility Oyster Creek by 2019 and that it’s replaced by renewable energy.

12. Transportation: restore “fix-it-first” language so that 96% of funding goes towards fixing existing substandard roads and bridges or for mass transit.

Legislative Goals

We hope to work on bills with the following goals:

Clean Energy:

· 100% renewable energy by 2050

· 3,500 megawatts of offshore wind by 2030

· Increasing energy storage capacity

· Advanced net metering

· Community solar

Transportation:

· Increase charging station network across New Jersey

· Package of bills including incentives for EVs

· Electrifying our ports

· Implementing electric bus system

· Stable force of funding for DOT and NJ Transit

Climate Change:

· Commit to Paris Accords standards

· Rejoin RGGI and making changes to make it stronger

· Closing CAFRA loopholes

· Creating a Coastal Commission to deal with sea level rise and implement regional planning

· Implement Global Warming Response Act

Environment:

· Prohibit smoking on beaches and in parks

· Bottle bill

· Plastic bag ban

· Strengthening Environmental Justice

· Fixing the LSRP program with more oversight

· Funding for parks capital

· Stable source of funding to fix water infrastructure

Created By
Taylor McFarland | Administrative Assistant | New Jersey Sierra Club
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