Murphy sets earlier goal to cut state-produced greenhouse gas emissions

By: - November 11, 2021 6:51 am

Now is the time for bold action on clean energy, Murphy said. (Courtesy of governors’s office)

Gov. Phil Murphy on Wednesday accelerated the state’s goal to cut its greenhouse gas emissions 50% by 2030, signing an executive order that requires the state to meet its carbon reduction target two decades faster than initially planned.

Speaking at solar farm in Budd Lake, the governor also announced millions in funding to electrify government vehicles.

The state’s prior goal was to create a 100% clean energy environment by 2050. But recent and repeated deadly flooding up and down the state show “the science is clear: More severe impacts are happening now,” Murphy said.

“The time for wake-up calls is frankly long-past. And while we can’t turn back the clock, we also can’t keep hitting snooze,” he said. “Now is the time for bold action.”

Besides the fast-tracked timeline, the Department of Environmental Protection and the Board of Public Utilities will spend $13 million to help communities plagued by poor air quality to electrify their school bus and municipal truck fleets, Murphy said.

The New Jersey Economic Development Authority will invest another $20 million in its New Jersey Zero Emission Incentive Program, which helps communities purchase electric vehicles.

“Certainly, more clean energy generation is a major step to this goal,” Murphy said. “But we have to remember that the larger source of climate change impacting emissions isn’t energy production, it’s transportation.”

The money for electric vehicles comes from proceeds the state has claimed since rejoining the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative in 2018, Murphy said. New Jersey dropped out of that multi-state partnership in 2011, costing the state nearly $280 million in carbon credit auction proceeds, Murphy said.

“We quite literally left hundreds of millions of dollars on the table that we could have had at our disposal to take some of these steps much earlier,” he said.

Pushback to Murphy’s announcement began even before the ink dried on his executive order.

Matt Smith of Food & Water Watch New Jersey State said Murphy can only meet his accelerated target if he stops all new fossil fuel infrastructure projects.

“There is no way to hit these targets while continuing to allow polluters to build new facilities that will spew emissions for decades to come,” Smith said. “The governor talks a good game on climate action and environmental justice, but he will be judged by his actions.”

New Jersey Industry and Business Association leader warned citizens might bear the cost of Murphy’s environmental measures, a position of Murphy’s Republican critics.

“When you consider that New Jersey’s greenhouse gas reduction target is currently 20% of 2006 levels — requiring 15 years to get there, primarily through the state’s energy transition from coal to natural gas — it’s simply not feasible to get to 50% by the year 2030 without jeopardizing energy reliability or greatly impacting costs for all New Jerseyans,” said Ray Cantor, the association’s vice president of government affairs.

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Dana DiFilippo
Dana DiFilippo

Dana DiFilippo comes to the New Jersey Monitor from WHYY, Philadelphia’s NPR station, and the Philadelphia Daily News, a paper known for exposing corruption and holding public officials accountable. Prior to that, she worked at newspapers in Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, and suburban Philadelphia and has freelanced for various local and national magazines, newspapers and websites. She lives in Central Jersey with her husband, a photojournalist, and their two children.