Green group sees red, flunks Legislature on environment scorecard
TRENTON — An environmental group’s biennial Senate and Assembly scorecard gives failing marks to the Legislature on a whole.
Clean Water Action skips the traditional grades assigned to each lawmaker, saying so many priorities were held up that it’s hard to assign individual grades.
“There were 13 incomplete environmental actions, and that included bills, appointments and funding mechanisms,” said campaign director Eric Benson. “When things don’t come up for a floor vote, it’s hard to distinguish individuals. They didn’t take an up or down vote on good and bad bills.”
The scorecard gave demerits for the incomplete actions and six bills that passed the group considers anti-environment. It did give passing grades for three laws enacted – banning offshore drilling, banning smoking at beaches and public parks and allowing local stormwater utilities.
“Unfortunately, right now we’re looking at a New Jersey state Legislature where common sense bills to protect public health are not moving in the state Legislature. They’re getting bogged down in committee,” Benson said.
“And at the same time, we see bills that are supported by special interests get passed and quickly,” he said. “So it’s a shame because New Jersey could and should be a national leader on environmental policy. We have been in the past.”
While it wouldn’t change the grades, the report urges the Legislature to take positive actions during the post-election session that starts in three weeks.
“Some of our top priorities coming into the lame-duck session will be the plastic bag ban. There’s a green amendment, a constitutional amendment to the New Jersey constitution guaranteeing everyone a right to healthy air and healthy water,” Benson said. “Our state is currently in a lead crisis, so there’s a variety of lead package bills that can help protect public safety.”
Nineteen of the 120 lawmakers were described as “emerging environmental leaders” for the bills and causes they championed.