TRENTON, NJ- New Jersey League of Conservation Voters Education Fund (Fund), a statewide organization dedicated to preserving our environment, announced its scoring of the Murphy Administration on the Governor’s first year in office. The score reflects the environmental achievements of Governor Phil Murphy.
“We are proud to give Governor Murphy and his administration a B+ for his first year in office,” said Ed Potosnak, the Fund’s Executive Director. “The Governor’s first year has been a whirlwind of pro-environmental actions and commitments to conservation, including creating 100,000 jobs in energy efficiency, reversing rollbacks such as the Highlands Septic Density rule, standing up to polluters and developers, and making sweeping changes at the DEP that puts science-based decision-making a top priority.
“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,” explained Potosnak. “While some of the priorities fell behind in timing, they have not fallen behind on commitment and progress. Eight years of rollbacks and assaults on our natural resources by the previous administration take a lot longer to correct than folks might have imagined, but there is no doubt in this short time Governor Murphy has catapulted New Jersey back to the front of the pack of states advancing environmental protections,” continued Potosnak. “We are eager to see more work come to fruition in the coming year to safeguard clean water such as updating the Water Supply Master Plan and the improving surface water quality standards,” Potosnak added.
The Fund developed Environmental Agenda ’18 as a roadmap for the new administration to tackle looming environmental threats, dividing goals for the incoming administration to achieve in the first 100 days, first year, and first term. The Fund worked with nearly 30 environmental nonprofit groups to compile a comprehensive outline of priorities reflecting a diverse cross-section of New Jersey’s environmental community and has been holding the Murphy Administration accountable for protecting New Jersey’s environment with Fund’s Murphy Administration Environmental Tracker.
The Fund’s Agenda ’18 is an aggressive set of targets for the Murphy Administration. Governor Murphy accomplished many of the goals set up by the Fund as seen on the Tracker and some of the items not fully completed are in progress, indicated by time clock. Blank circles in the Tracker indicate items that are not currently in progress according to publicly available information.
“Governor Christie spent 8 years rolling back regulations, shrinking DEP staff, and siphoning environmental funds. Reversing that takes more than just one year,” explained Julia Somers, Treasurer of the Fund’s Board. “We set an ambitious agenda for this Administration, and we are pleased to see how much progress has been made so far.”
“One area to keep an eye on is the upcoming budget,” said Potosnak. “That will be the next test for the Administration. In particular, we are looking for Governor Murphy to increase funding for the New Jersey DEP, which was nearly flat last year, and to stop the diversions of the Clean Energy Fund. Finally, we would like to see the restoration of the Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) program to help communities that preserve open space. We are hoping the Governor continues his pro-conservation work by ensuring these three priorities are outlined in his proposal in March,” Potosnak concluded.
Murphy Administration accomplishments tracked by the Fund:
• Signed the Clean Renewable Energy Bill into law, updating the Renewable Portfolio Standard to include 50 percent renewable energy by 2030 and require a 2 percent reduction for electric and natural gas per year
• Signed an executive order to direct the BPU to update the Energy Master Plan to put New Jersey on a path to 100 percent clean energy by 2050
• Joined the US Climate Alliance, demonstrating New Jersey’s commitment to meeting Paris Climate Accord goals
• Signed an executive order moving New Jersey towards rejoining the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI)
• Reinvigorated Natural Resource Damage lawsuits by investigating and filing several new claims
• Issued an Executive Order affirming the administration’s commitment to Environmental Justice principles and protection of vulnerable communities
• Supported the STOP Act, opposing fossil fuel exploration off our coasts
• Filed a multistate lawsuit to oppose the Trump Administration’s efforts to allow offshore drilling in New Jersey
• Joined with several other states in supporting a ban on fracking in the Delaware River Basin
• Increased Renewable Portfolio Standard to include 3,500MW of offshore wind
• Solicited the largest single-state bid for offshore wind at 1,100MW
• Challenged the PennEast Pipeline’s seizure of state lands and challenged FERC’s flawed certificate
• Appointed Highlands Council Chairperson who supports the goals and objectives of the Highlands Act
• Reversed the rollback of the Highlands Septic Density rule
• Began updating the Surface Water Quality Standards
• Proposed improved amendments to Stormwater Management Rules
• Signed the Zero Emissions Vehicle Memorandum of Understanding as a first step to address the transportation sector
• Joined the multistate Transportation Climate Initiative to address carbon emissions and infrastructure improvements
• Required BPU to fully evaluate the state’s full potential for offshore wind, including capacity, preliminary siting scenarios and economic analyses for offshore wind that includes the social cost for carbon
• Ensured that the Energy Master Plan runs through 2030, prioritizes emission reductions in Environmental Justice (EJ) communities, sets a benchmark of 50 percent renewable energy by 2030 with the ultimate goal of being fossil fuel free by no later than 2050.
• Created a pilot program for community solar energy
About the Fund: The New Jersey League of Conservation Voters Education Fund educates, empowers and mobilizes residents to engage in the democratic process to advance strong environmental solutions. We provide policymakers and opinion leaders with sound, objective, non-partisan information that encourages actions that safeguard the environment now and for future generations.