Why NJ environmentalists are thrilled about Governor Murphy
During his run for governor, Phil Murphy pledged to move the Garden State toward a 100 percent clean energy future by 2050.
During his inaugural address on Tuesday, Murphy promised New Jersey will invest aggressively in renewable energy in the weeks and months ahead.
As you might imagine, New Jersey environmentalists are rejoicing.
“I expect to see a process that will start sooner rather than later,” said Doug O’Malley, the director of Environment New Jersey.
He said in the next few days, Murphy will hopefully be discussing “the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, which is an incredibly important compact between 9 Northeast states to fight climate change, by tackling pollution from our power plants.”
Gov. Chris Christie pulled New Jersey out of RGGI in 2011, declaring it was an ineffective way to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Critics claimed Christie took the action as part of an effort to position himself to run for president.
O’Malley said he also expects Murphy to join with other states “to stop the Trump administration from drilling for offshore oil off the Jersey shore and up and down the Atlantic seaboard.”
He added he’s confident Murphy will move forward to develop wind farms off the Jersey coast.
“New Jersey has some of the best potential of offshore wind in the country, and it’s time that we start to live up to that potential,” he said.
“We have offshore wind companies that are ready to go, and we have to make sure that state government and the state Board of Public Utilities is going to move forward with offshore wind," he said.
Jeff Tittel, the director of the New Jersey Sierra Club, said under Murphy, “New Jersey has a unique opportunity to really move forward when it comes to dealing with climate change and green energy jobs.”
He said developing the clean energy industry will create “tens of thousands of jobs in New Jersey while reducing our greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants as well.”
“We have someone who wants to make New Jersey a national leader on the environment again, and that’s a good thing," Tittel said.
O’Malley said he also expects a bigger effort to expand and stabilize the state’s solar energy market.
“Solar is a key part of a clean energy future, and obviously we need to make sure that we’re growing our solar economy, not shrinking it," O'Malley said.
One day before leaving office, Christie pocket-vetoed a measure to enhance the state’s solar energy industry.
O’Malley also said Murphy will be able to help encourage the growth of the electric car industry in the Garden State.
“Car companies can sell electric vehicles in New Jersey, but we need to make sure New Jersey is building electric vehicle charging stations," he said.
He added “we’ve already seen electric vehicles start to take off in California. There’s no reason they can’t be expanded here in New Jersey.”
He pointed out the new governor will also be looking to strengthen state Department of Environmental Protection regulations that were rolled back under Christie.
“We need to protect our drinking water and we also need to make sure we’re taking action on lead in drinking water supplies,” he said. “There’s a lot of work to do and we’re looking forward to moving in the right direction.”
Tittel agrees the Garden State will aggressively move forward with solar and wind energy.
“People in New Jersey want clean air, clean water, they want toxic sites cleaned up and they want to preserve open space. Now we can move forward and make sure New Jersey’s environment is great again,” he said.
You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com