Two influential environmental groups gave Gov. Phil Murphy mixed reviews for his first year in Trenton, but both agreed the progress he initially made on key environmental issues has declined since his first 100 days in office.
The New Jersey Sierra Club issued a scathing scorecard on Monday, giving the Democratic governor a “D” for what it said was a “a lack of leadership on many key issues.” Murphy fared better last week with the New Jersey League of Conservation Voters, which gave him a “B+” for enacting “a whirlwind of pro-environmental actions and commitments to conservation.”
Despite the disparate evaluations, both groups acknowledged Murphy’s commitment to environmental aims has declined since he first took office. After his first 100 days as governor, the Sierra Club had given Murphy a “C” while the NJLCV had awarded him an “A-.”
Environmental advocates had hoped Murphy, who ran on an aggressive environmental platform, would chart a new course for New Jersey’s environment by reversing policies put forth by former Republican Gov. Chris Christie. But many environmentalists who had supported Murphy’s campaign became dismayed in May, after he pulled funding set aside for clean energy and environmental remediation and instead used it to balance the state budget.
Both groups‘ scorecards specifically criticized Murphy’s failure to appoint new members to the Pinelands Commission and Highlands Council — the bodies tasked with protecting the ecologically sensitive Pinelands and Highlands areas.
“The score is slightly down from the A- he earned in the First 100 Days because of a lack of appointments to critical regional planning commissions such as the Highlands Council and the Pinelands Commission,” Ed Potosnak, the executive director of the NJLCV, said in a statement that accompanied the group’s scorecard on Jan. 9. “While some of the priorities fell behind in timing, they have not fallen behind on commitment and progress.”
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