Contact: Ed Potosnak
O: (609) 331-9922
C: (732) 991-7574
Environmental Advocates Applaud Landmark Investments in New Jersey State Budget, Denounce Continued Clean Energy Raids, No Dedicated Funding to NJ Transit
TRENTON - Environmental advocates hailed landmark investments in flood control, water quality, and underserved communities that were included in the state budget signed last week by Governor Murphy, but decried continued raids of clean energy funds amid record budget surpluses.
“This year’s budget agreement was, overall, a win for the environment. While the legislation wasn’t a slam dunk for the environment, the Governor and Legislature leveraged a historic moment, investing record tax revenues and federal recovery dollars to support an array of important environmental initiatives,” said Ed Potosnak, Executive Director, New Jersey LCV. “At the same time, we are deeply disappointed that Trenton has undercut the state’s own clean energy goals by diverting clean energy funding for transit. This is a budget gimmick that needs to stop.”
New investments will help improve flood mitigation, clean up our rivers and streams and address the dangers posed by emerging industrial contaminants, like PFAS, that pose a public health risk in communities across New Jersey. The budget also includes significant increases in funding for improving the state’s aging and antiquated water infrastructure.
It also has significant spending for environmental justice initiatives, investing in underserved communities by continuing spending to remediate lead paint and lead water pipes that disproportionately impact older urban communities and low-income families. There’s an additional $10 million for urban parks — more than double the allocation in previous budgets.
At the same time, the budget contains a $45 million increase in funding for the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), which will help to hold big polluters accountable while protecting New Jersey families.
The state budget also provides $1 million to address a maintenance backlog at the internationally renowned New Jersey School of Conservation, even as the Legislature has passed important legislation turning over management to the Friends of the School of Conservation, a non-profit that is seeking to restore programming and expand access to students in underserved communities through an innovative partnership.
"We applaud Governor Murphy and the New Jersey Legislature for providing $1 million in funding for the New Jersey School of Conservation as the Friends of the School of Conservation begin a new chapter for this gem of the Garden State,” said Jennifer M. Coffey, Executive Director of ANJEC. “The School of Conservation will now be open to the public for new generations to explore open spaces and wild places."
The Legislature and Governor Murphy also approved continued full funding for the Delaware River Basin Commission.
“By funding the Delaware River Basin Commission for the second consecutive year, New Jersey has displayed their commitment to clean, well-managed waters throughout the watershed. Since its inception, the Commission has provided much-needed research to protect clean water for recreation, farming, and drinking throughout the basin,” said Kelly Knutson, Director, Coalition for the Delaware River Watershed. “In our advocacy, the Coalition is proud to highlight New Jersey’s support of the Commission and their leadership in continually honoring their funding commitment.”
But, despite these environmental achievements, the budget continued the longstanding practice of raiding the state’s Clean Energy Fund, which severely hampers New Jersey’s efforts to cut carbon pollution and address the climate crisis, and fails to identify a permanent funding source for NJ Transit.
“While we are pleased to see $10 million devoted to an electrification pilot project for state buildings, Governor Murphy and New Jersey legislators need to end the long-standing diversion of clean energy funds and do more to make it easier for consumers to adopt electric heating systems that improve health and reduce energy bills," said Tom Gilbert, co-executive director of NJ Conservation Foundation. "Other states, such as New York, are demonstrating strong leadership to replace fossil fuels in buildings with strong support from labor."