Contact: Ed Potosnak
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Sen. Bateman isn’t running again. We’ll need a conservationist to replace him | Opinion

It doesn’t matter if you have an “R” or a “D” after your name — we can all agree that New Jersey State Senator Kip Bateman (R-16) has put his constituents ahead of polluters and developers, focusing his career in public office on how the government can help solve problems. That’s why the announcement that he will not seek re-election represents a true loss for New Jersey. He’s a moderate voice, takes a common-sense middle approach, and actually believes in coming together for the greater good. He’s a rare breed in today’s political atmosphere, and his leadership will be missed.

Senator Bateman is the ranking Republican in the Senate Environment Committee, and his role in environmental legislation can’t be overstated. At a time when even the climate crisis and conservation have become partisan issues, he has never wavered in his support for the environment. The senator knows that no matter your zip code, everyone in New Jersey has the right to clean air, safe drinking water, and open space.

One of his top environmental legislative achievements includes bipartisan legislation to create permanent funding for open space and farmland preservation, which was signed into law last year. The legislation constitutionally establishes a permanent dedication of the Corporate Business Tax to fund the state’s open space, farmland, and historic preservation programs. This is how Senator Bateman described this monumental achievement: “Open space preservation needs a constant source of funding — a one-time payment isn’t enough. This is a fiscally responsible way to maintain the green and blue acres we have already preserved, and prevent other areas we have yet to protect from being destroyed. I am glad that once again, we could come together on a bipartisan basis to get this done.”

Unlike other politicians who are trying to inject politics into our science, Senator Bateman not only rightly believes that climate change is real, he also understands the science behind climate change and the impact it will have on the state if we don’t reduce carbon emissions.

Senator Bateman supported legislation signed by Governor Murphy to reduce carbon emissions and mandate utilities source 50% of their electricity from clean renewable energy, solar and wind, by 2030, and he supported the governor’s executive order calling for the state to develop a plan for 100% clean energy by 2050.

Most recently the senator supported the “30x30 campaign” to protect 30% of the world’s land and oceans by 2030. The campaign was born out of the need to avoid predictions made by the world’s leading scientists that 1 million animal and plant species will go extinct due to the degradation of natural habitats and climate change. It is a local response to this global crisis, by setting a goal to preserve 30% of New Jersey’s land and coastal areas under the same timeframe. If enacted, New Jersey would become the first state in the northeast to pass such a measure, cementing our status as a conservation leader in the 21st century.

This is what Senator Bateman said when describing why he thought “30x30” is needed: “We understand that conservation is extremely important if we are going to prevent overdevelopment and destruction, from our beloved Jersey Shore to the Highlands. Conserved lands and waters provide an escape, they offer innumerable mental and physical health benefits, they protect water supplies and prevent disastrous flooding during severe storms, like we saw with Superstorm Sandy.”

I could go on and on about Kip Bateman and his contributions to New Jersey and, specifically, in support of conservation and protecting the environment. There is a shared desire, whatever party you identify with, to protect our environment for our kids and grandkids. Senator Bateman exemplified this belief every day he served in office.

Senator Bateman’s decision to not run again makes two things abundantly clear. We need a dedicated conservation champion to fill his seat and to protect our great state for generations to come, and we need Republicans to step up. New Jersey LCV is especially committed to making sure whoever takes Kip Bateman’s seat lives up to his legacy of conservation and environmental leadership.

I wish Senator Bateman the best on his new adventures, and even though he won’t be in the Senate, we look forward to continuing to work alongside him to protect our environment.