Contact: Ed Potosnak
O: (609) 331-9922
C: (732) 991-7574
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
JANUARY 17, 2023
Murphy Makes Progress but Loses Title of ‘America’s Greenest Governor’ in New Jersey LCV’s Environmental 2022 Report Card
While he has made significant progress in the clean energy space, Governor Murphy has lost his title of “America’s Greenest Governor” in a progress report card released today by the New Jersey League of Conservation Voters who regularly convenes a group of environmental advocates to assist in such evaluations.
Reflecting on the Governor's progress in 2022, the first year of his second term, New Jersey LCV and their partners hailed the governor’s leadership on issues ranging from offshore wind to furthering the state’s green jobs sector. However, the governor has also been eclipsed by his counterparts across the country, who have taken the lead in implementing key conservation and energy policies that are getting national attention.
“We proudly bestowed on Governor Murphy the title of “America’s Greenest Governor” during his first term, when he positioned our state as a leader on the environment,” said Ed Potosnak, Executive Director, New Jersey League of Conservation Voters. “Since then, however, the competition has become fiercer, and New Jersey hasn’t kept up. As a former teacher, I know an ‘A’ student when I see one, and the Governor can get there. As he looks to cement his environmental legacy in his second term, we’re asking him to rise to the occasion and again put our state at the forefront of environmental protection.”
Governor Murphy received a score of “B +” down from the “A” grade he earned in 2021, when he led the nation with aggressive policies focused on clean energy, environmental justice and environmental enforcement.
In his first term, New Jersey LCV lauded the governor’s pledge to transition the state to 100% clean energy by 2050. Yet since then, Maryland’s new governor has pledged to achieve a 100% clean energy transition by 2035, and Illinois’ governor signed into law the Climate and Equitable Jobs Act, which sets a target of 2045.
"We're pleased that Governor Murphy has prioritized a transition to clean, renewable energy and are calling on him to step up efforts to achieve the more aggressive goals scientists say are necessary to avoid a climate catastrophe,” said Tom Gilbert, co-Executive Director of the New Jersey Conservation Foundation. “With other states adopting clean energy goals that outpace New Jersey, we urge Governor Murphy to ensure that our state fully transitions to 100% clean energy by 2035."
Similarly, while Governor Murphy signed a landmark environmental justice law his first term, Colorado has since passed nation-leading legislation to use technology and beefed-up monitoring to improve air quality for that state’s most vulnerable communities.
“At a time when many in power still deny the health and climate implications from power production, under Governor Murphy's leadership, New Jersey is at the forefront of the transition to clean energy nationally," said New Jersey Progressive Equitable Energy Coalition Chairman Marcus Sibley. "It's important that we acknowledge and celebrate his important achievements, but when billions of dollars in federal investments are available for an equitable clean energy transition through the Inflation Reduction Act, ensuring that every New Jersey community can benefit from lower energy costs and job and career opportunities from these new clean energy industries is how our top executive will truly be deserving of top marks.”
Advocates identified the following steps Murphy could take to regain his “A” rating:
· Update the Energy Master Plan to provide a path to 100% clean energy by 2035.
· Completely fill appointment vacancies on both the Pinelands Commission and Highlands Council. This will ensure the continued environmental protection of two of the state’s most ecologically important areas.
· Take action to strengthen the state’s clean energy policies by ending diversions from the Clean Energy Fund, which is still being raided at $83.5 million in his 2024 proposed budget. Our state budget shouldn’t be balanced on the backs of clean energy projects that reduce emissions and create jobs. We need to end regular raids on these dedicated funds.
· Continue to move forward with new NJ PACT rules, which will help protect communities from flooding and other climate change impacts.
· Enable towns to enact stronger stormwater protections to address flooding and improve water quality by amending the state’s Residential Site Improvement Standards.
· Ensure communities have access to sustainable and modern public transit by establishing a dedicated funding source for NJTransit.
· Dedicate an additional $700 million in federal Rescue Plan funds for clean water and healthy homes, building off investments already included in this year’s budget.
"The successes of the Pinelands Commission and Highlands Council are paramount if we are to preserve New Jersey’s most ecologically sensitive areas and safeguard the drinking water depended on by millions,” said Julia Somers, Chair of the Board of the New Jersey League of Conservation Voters and Executive Director of the Highlands Coalition. “Governor Murphy took the first steps toward revitalizing these agencies by working with the Senate to get a series of nominees confirmed to the Pinelands Commission after a long impasse. We look forward to him doing the same shortly for the Highlands Council. He then needs to finish the job and bring these agencies back up to full strength so they can protect our environment for years to come.”
While some of these actions will require working with lawmakers in both chambers – particularly on confirming appointments and allocating additional investments in the budget – others can be quickly accomplished through executive action.
They would also build off Governor Murphy’s significant environmental achievements in 2022, which included implementing the Plastic Pollution Reduction Act, launching a competitive solar incentive program and signing legislation to protect the internationally recognized New Jersey School of Conservation.
“In his first term, Governor Murphy made waves by rolling back Governor Christie’s anti-environment policies and charting a new path forward for New Jersey,” Potosnak said. “Now, though, he’s making ripples at a time when governors across the country are taking the lead. There’s never been a time when families were more ready to shift to clean energy and get serious on environmental protection. We will continue to work closely with Governor Murphy so that he can return to being the nation’s ‘Greenest Governor.’”
To see a full list of the Governor’s environmental achievements in 2022 and what he can do next to improve his grade visit the New Jersey LCV Website: https://www.njlcv.org/page/governor-murphy-progress-report-first-year-second-term