Fairer … and greener?
That’s an economic goal for the state, Gov. Phil Murphy said Tuesday, when he announced an investment of more than $100 million in clean, equitable transportation projects that he feels will improve air quality and reduce the effects of climate change while moving New Jersey toward 100% clean energy by 2050.
Murphy said the state will leveraging proceeds from New Jersey’s participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative and the Volkswagen Mitigation Trust Funds to help fund electrification programs, equitable mobility projects and electric charging infrastructure as part of his commitment to environmental justice across the state.
Murphy also announced a new office — and new leader — to oversee it all.
Jane Cohen, a senior policy adviser to Murphy on the environment and energy, will be the executive director of the Office of Climate Action and the Green Economy, which Murphy established through executive order. The office will focus on the interlocking priorities of addressing climate change, ensuring New Jersey’s clean energy future and transitioning to a green economy while prioritizing equity and environmental justice.
The office also will oversee the creation of the New Jersey Council on the Green Economy, an initiative announced in Murphy’s 2021 State of the State address to expand the green economy. Led by Tammy Murphy, who will serve as honorary chair, the council will be co-chaired by the commissioner of labor, commissioner of environmental protection and the president of the board of public utilities.
Members of the council will include representatives from other state departments, as well as representatives from chambers of commerce, organized labor, industry, utilities, green business, environmental justice communities, academia, small business, workforce development and environmental advocacy.
Murphy said the state must take action.
“Climate change is the single greatest long-term threat currently facing humanity, and our state and economy are uniquely vulnerable to its devastating effects,” he said. “The investments we are announcing today signify our commitment to environmental justice and equity, while building a cleaner economy that works for all.
“The newly created Office of Climate Action and the Green Economy, coupled with the New Jersey Council on the Green Economy, will use our trademark innovation and talented workforce to make New Jersey a national leader of the green economy. Together, these initiatives will make New Jersey stronger, fairer — and greener — for generations to come.”
Cohen said addressing climate change requires bold and intentional government action.
“The Office of Climate Action and the Green Economy will lead this challenging work and bring a diverse mix of experts to the table so that New Jersey can seize on the opportunity to be a leader in environmental justice and the transition to an equitable clean energy economy,” she said.
Cohen said the $100 million investment of proceeds from New Jersey’s participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative and its prosecution of Volkswagen for emissions cheating will fund the following projects:
- $9 million in grants for local government electrification projects that will help to improve air quality in environmental justice communities through the deployment of electric garbage and delivery trucks;
- $13 million in grants for low- and moderate-income communities to reduce emissions that affect our children’s air quality through the deployment of electric school buses and shuttle buses;
- $5 million in grants for equitable mobility projects that will bring electric vehicle ride hailing and charging stations to four New Jersey towns and cities;
- $5 million in grants for deployment of fast charging infrastructure at 27 locations statewide;
- $36 million to reduce diesel and black carbon emissions in environmental justice communities by electrifying port, cargo handling and other medium- and heavy-duty equipment in port and industrial areas, including $15 million toward New Jersey Transit bus electrification and $15 million towards flex funding to further deploy additional funding to the listed initiatives.
Under Murphy’s executive order, the council needs to deliver — within one year — the initial report of its recommendations for a comprehensive and coordinated green economy strategy that:
- Drives sustainable economic growth and development;
- Accelerates the growth of green jobs and facilitates green workforce development;
- Prioritizes equity, diversity, inclusion and environmental and economic justice; and,
- Avoids, adjusts for and provides appropriate support for workers potentially displaced in course of the state’s transition to a green economy.
Department of Environmental Protection acting Commissioner Shawn LaTourette said the state is at an inflection point.
“The future strength of our state depends on how aggressively we act to reduce the emission of climate pollutants today, and how well we use the great opportunities now before us to promote overdue environmental and economic justice,” he said. “The investments and commitments made today will indeed make New Jersey’s environment stronger and more just, and I am proud to be part of an administration that puts its money where its heart is.”
Here are other statements on the issue:
- Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver, who serves as commissioner of the Department of Community Affairs: “Environmental justice is social justice. Investing in a green economy means we are creating a healthier, cleaner and more environmentally stable place for all New Jerseyans to live. Gov. Murphy’s plan to address the immediate impacts of climate change on our communities prioritizes equity and sustainable growth to help ensure that everyone can participate in and benefit from a green economy.”
- Tammy Murphy, honorary chair of the New Jersey Council on the Green Economy:
- “New Jersey’s leadership in the green economy will to benefit both the health and financial security of New Jerseyans for generations to come. The New Jersey Council on the Green Economy will help us chart a path forward toward that reality, while ensuring that the wealth and opportunity generated from these initiatives both benefits and reflects the diverse communities of our state. This effort is more than a jobs program or set of environmental regulations — it is a partnership between generations designed to prepare a skilled and innovative workforce of the future, ready to lead New Jersey and the nation.”
- Board of Public Utilities President Joseph L. Fiordaliso: “The new Office of Climate Action and Green Economy will help leverage the important work being done by the NJBPU and our sister agencies in advancing equity, creating an innovation economy and building a green workforce. I am proud to be part of an administration working to make the planet more safe for our children and grandchildren.”
- Department of Labor & Workforce Development Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo: “Gov. Murphy’s bold action is not only an investment in our climate, it will create innovative job opportunities that will impact New Jersey workers for decades to come. This executive order only strengthens our department’s mission to train and prepare our workforce for the future.”
- Economic Development Authority CEO Tim Sullivan: “Moving toward clean energy and environmental justice is not just vital for protecting our environment and increasing equity, it is also good economic policy. Building New Jersey’s green economy will create jobs, stimulate economic growth and increase access to opportunities in marginalized communities. The investments and new initiatives announced today represent a critical step toward a greener, fairer New Jersey and show Gov. Murphy’s understanding that environmental stewardship and economic development are interdependent and mutually reinforcing goals.”