We want New Jersey to break free from fossil fuels so we can shift to renewable energy like solar and offshore wind — technology that’s ready to expand to meet the Garden State’s needs. That’s why the New Jersey League of Conservation Voters is championing Gov. Phil Murphy’s draft Energy Master Plan, also known as the EMP.
The EMP charts a course for New Jersey to achieve 100% clean energy by 2050, an objective 75% of New Jerseyans support. With EMP, New Jersey will create thousands of high-quality jobs that can’t be outsourced, air quality and public health will improve, and we’ll be more resilient in the face of disasters fueled by climate change. The pressing need for resilience is on my mind since we just marked the anniversary of Hurricane Sandy, which killed 12 New Jersey residents and hit our state with billions of dollars of economic losses. Some of our communities are still recovering.
Recently, respected experts at The Rocky Mountain Institute released research showing that if we do it right, New Jersey can transition to 100% clean energy — meaning a revolution in how we power our homes, businesses, and communities — with significant health benefits, cost savings on our bills, and no effect on reliability. That’s welcomed news.
If you guessed the fossil fuel industry freaked out in response, you’d be correct.
The institute’s findings showed New Jersey is ready to make the switch to a clean energy economy. Since fossil fuel executives want to keep our state hooked on their products forever, they chose to attack the messenger -- the institute -- rather than address the actual facts at hand.
Instead of doing it directly, they had one of their shadowy industry front groups, innocuously named “Consumer Energy Alliance,” purchase space to host an opinion piece on their behalf (NJ.com has run op eds from the Consumer Energy Alliance, as well). Any input from the Alliance should be taken with less than a grain of salt. They are bankrolled by petroleum titans like ExxonMobil, Chevron and Shell, yet masquerade as an independent voice. They are a classic example of an astroturf group — a fake grassroots organization.
Incredibly, the focus of the Alliance’s column was criticizing the Rocky Mountain Institute for building an innovative headquarters, one that’s been praised as one of the most energy-efficient buildings in the country and costs far less to operate than most. Really?
The front group’s attempt to distract from the fact that their own staff are indistinguishable from HBW Resources, a lobbying and PR firm representing the gas industry and other fossil fuel interests, cannot go unnoticed. Far from the “voice of the energy consumer,” as their misleading tagline suggests, they are just for-profit spin doctors.
In their paid propaganda column, the Alliance claims those who support the Energy Master Plan want New Jersey consumers to use less energy. Guilty as charged: we do want you to save money on your power bills. It’s easy to see how the Alliance doesn’t want that, given they represent industry executives who profit when your power bill spikes. The cheapest energy, after all, is the energy you never need to use. That’s why investing in energy efficiency upgrades like insulation, LED lights, and weatherization pays for itself quickly, a perk many New Jersey families are taking advantage of right now as winter weather approaches and one I believe all New Jerseyans should benefit from.
Moving forward, we believe the draft Energy Master Plan is the blueprint we need for New Jersey’s future, all with an eye toward protecting the most underserved consumers as we transition to renewable energy. The EMP includes provisions that uplift New Jersey communities that are most harmed by pollution from today’s dirty energy, including the expansion of zero-emission electric transportation in low-income New Jersey communities and a focus on community solar energy projects boosted by workforce training in neighborhoods overburdened with pollution.
New Jerseyans are smart and welcome frank and honest analysis like the report from the renowned Rocky Mountain Institute about what our clean economy transition looks like. Halloween is over, and I think it’s time for the Alliance to take off its mask.