TRENTON - Clean Water Action said today the Murphy Administration must finish delivering on previous environmental justice (EJ) and climate commitments even as it initiates important new proceedings to combat the climate emergency. The first deadline is noon tomorrow, February 24th, for the long-delayed EJ rule to go into effect before April. DEP must submit the adopted rule, which would be the nation’s strongest, to the NJ Register by then.
Governor Murphy signed the EJ law in September 2020 and advocates accepted a delay in implementing the law when the Murphy Administration committed to adopting the needed rule by November 2021. Governor Murphy in a speech last week said the rule could be further delayed until April 2023 or later.
“As we approach the end of Black History Month, let justice reign! Justice delayed is justice denied and our overburdened communities can’t afford any more delay in this rule, even a couple weeks,” stated Kim Gaddy, Clean Water Action’s national environmental justice director, noting the delay has allowed gas plants and garbage incinerators in Camden, Kearny, Newark and Woodbridge to not comply with the law.
The EJ law and rule are part of a package of climate and EJ laws [i] and executive orders [ii] Governor Murphy signed between 2018-2021 and added to last week (EO’s 315-317) that make a powerful framework to combat the climate emergency, promote environmental justice (EJ), create good jobs and grow NJ’s economy, and protect people, property and the environment.
“It’s a great framework but it will collapse if implementation isn’t accelerated. It’s a mammoth undertaking and, even after discounting it always takes longer than one would like and it never all gets done, we’re way behind schedule [iii] and running out of time when it comes to climate change and Governor Murphy’s term of office,” warned Amy Goldsmith, Clean Water Action’s NJ State Director.
The advocates highlighted: (1) immediate actions the Administration must take, finishing and enacting commitments ready for action today; and (2) important, new initiatives the governor laid out last week that will take years to realize:
(1) Immediate Actions Needed:
- Get the EJ rule done by Feb. 24th so it goes into effect in March, not April [iv];\
- End Clean Energy & NJT capital raids in Feb. 28th proposed budget speech [v];
- Settle Empower NJ lawsuit filed by March 1st Appellate division oral argument including commencing rulemaking to establish and reach annual benchmarks to reduce climate emissions 80% by 2050 (PACT CPR 2);
- Propose and adopt the strongest Advanced Clean Car II rule in 2023, not next year [vi] – stakeholder meetings have already been scheduled (March 7th & 13th);\
- Oppose the 7 proposed major NJ fossil fuel projects [vii] to comply with EO 274;
- Adopt the Inland Flood Protection rule by May 1st; and
- Propose additional flood (REAL) rules by May 1st not summer 2023 [viii].
(2) Longer Term Initiatives Just Announced:
- Adopt a truly Clean [ix] Energy Standard (CES, EO 315) that prioritizes in-state jobs and energy for offshore wind and solar to achieve 100% by 2035;
- Chart a path for getting New Jersey off natural gas (EO 317) and other fossil fuels; and
- Accelerate electrification of heating/cooling buildings (EO 316) and the transportation sector.
Since the organization’s founding during the campaign to pass the landmark Clean Water Act in 1972, Clean Water Action has worked to win strong health and environmental protections by bringing issue expertise, solution-oriented thinking, and people power to the table. Learn more at cleanwater.org.
[i] Most notably the July 2019 amendments to the Global Warming Response Act, the January 2020 short-lived climate pollutants law, and the September 2020 EJ Law.
[ii] Most notably the EJ EO 23, Energy Master Plan EO 28, Protection Against Climate Threats (PACT) EO 100, and EO 274, which follows the science, to make state policy cutting climate emissions 50% by 2030.
[iii] Governor Murphy ordered DEP in January 2020 via EO 100 to adopt roughly a dozen PACT rules by January 2022 — 4 have been adopted (on average 7 months late), 2 proposed and may be adopted 15 – 20 months late, 5 have yet to be proposed, and one was rejected after being proposed a year late.
[iv] The Administration promised to adopt this rule that allows the 2020 EJ law to go into effect by Nov. 2021.
[v] In each of his first 5 years in office, the Governor broke his 2017 promise to end these raids.
[vi] Unlike other states, NJ missed applying these stronger standards for the first model year.
[vii] Pending projects include the Hudson County Turnpike Expansion, Gibbstown LNG port, REAE gas pipelines, and the CPV, NJT or PVSC gas plants, while past projects the Governor has opposed include the North Bergen gas plant, PennEast and NESE gas pipelines.
[viii] The Governor ordered these rules in January 2020 to be adopted by January 2022.
[ix] Cannot include garbage incineration, renewable natural gas, hydrogen, carbon capture, etc.