Gov. Murphy’s 2 Year Environmental Report & Scorecard
It has been 2 years since Governor Murphy was sworn in. The New Jersey Sierra Club has put together a report on the Murphy over the past 24 months in office. The report raises a lot of concerns because the Sierra Club endorsed Governor Murphy who has made commitments to the environment, but the Administration has not made progress. Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club released the following statement:
“Governor Murphy has been in office for two years and cannot hide behind Governor Christie anymore. When he comes out with a proposal, there is little or no follow through. Murphy plays more for press releases and splash versus getting things done. We have seen serious climate impacts in New Jersey whether it is sea level rise, flooding, algae blooms, and the lead crisis in Newark and other places. Murphy’s failure to lead on these issues will have a serious toll on New Jersey. Not understanding that we have a climate crisis is a problem, Murphy needs to have an urgency to get things done. We need to understand the seriousness of our water problems and get to 100% renewable and zero carbon as other states are doing.
“Governor Murphy talks a lot about climate change, but other states are running circles around him. Gov. Cuomo and Gov. Inslee are going 100% carbon free by 2040 and by 2030. There are 12 states that have passed legislation going 100% renewable by 2050, even states with Republican governors like Maryland, Vermont, and Mass. are moving quicker on electric vehicles and regulating CO2.
“Not one of Christie’s rules has been rolled back. We are still using Christie-era rules like the Flood Hazard Rules, Waiver Rules, Stormwater Rules, and CAFRA rules that encourage development and cause more flooding and pollution. We are also still the only state in the region without a Climate Adaptation and Mitigation Plan. Instead of limiting development and pulling back from building on flood-prone areas, we are putting more homes in flood risk zones. Some areas in New Jersey also have the greatest percentage of homes at risk of chronic flooding by 2060 and 2100 in the nation.
“This administration moves one step forward and then two steps back when it comes towards environmental progress. Murphy has made appointments to the Pinelands, however, has failed to move forward on their hearings. BPU has come out with their Energy Master Plan, however instead of moving us forward to 100% renewable, it is more like a roadblock than a road map for cleaner energy. Governor Murphy raised our target for offshore wind to 7500MW by 2035. This is a good step for cleaner energy, however, If the administration does not step up on putting a moratorium on fossil fuel projects, our goals for offshore wind will be completely undermined. Some of DEP’s proposed rules like the C1 and PFOA were good, but their pesticide, site remediation, and stormwater rules raise serious concerns.
“There have been many commitments that Murphy made during his campaign like ending the NJ bear hunt and stop stealing funds from important environmental funds like Clean Energy Fund, however those promises were broken. Murphy talks a lot about climate change but hasn’t taken any real action. They have had more press conferences and releases on things like climate change, but there hasn’t been much progress.
The biggest positive for Governor Murphy is expanding New Jersey’s offshore wind goal to 7500MW by 2035. Murphy has made important appointments to the Pinelands commission and Highlands Council who are environmentalists, however he still needs to push to get them hearings. The lead crisis happening across the state, especially in areas like Newark is alarming. We believe Murphy has not taken leadership on this critical issue. Another problem this administration has is the failure to get rid of Christie’s rollbacks and move forward with any meaningful programs or legislation that deal with climate change and sea level rise. Overall, Governor Murphy has failed to reform and change the DEP and most importantly, he has yet to put a moratorium on new fossil fuel projects.
- Has not put a moratorium on fossil fuel infrastructure in New Jersey
- Changed the definition of clean energy to include dirty energy and incinerators in the Energy Master Plan
- Has not required fossil fuel infrastructure projects to demonstrate whether there are market-based, cost-effective and clean alternatives (to delay or avoid the project)
- Failed to put a stay on construction of the Southern Reliability Link (SRL) pipeline
- Failed to appoint people to Natural Lands Trust consistent with their conservation mission and respect their independence to protect these critical resource
- State’s building codes need to be updated, DCA has not required green infrastructure for new development
- Even though Murphy replaced Christie’s EO 1 and 2, he replaced it with EO 67, which is almost as bad
- Has not only cut the DEP budget but has less staff now than under Christie
- Signed off the nuclear subsidy that will cost ratepayers $300 million a year
- Looking at how public assets could be monetized. Privatizing DEP operations and parks is a slippery slope when it comes to protecting the environment
- Will continue to hold $3 million for Irvington Township Camp Irvington Repair and Redevelopment
o The program provides year-round programs of wholesome recreational activities for all of the Township of Irvington’s residents.
- Failure for state to move forward with a Council of Affordable Housing or moving forward with housing rules
- No movement to protect New Jersey form Bakken crude oil trains or trains carrying LNG
- Garden State Trust finally released $188 million allotted for fixing New Jersey’s parks, preserving state farmland, and more in the last decade however a lot of that money is going to rural areas instead of urban areas
- Has not stepped up to NY Waterways when it comes to protecting and preserving Hoboken’s waterfront
- Supports the Xanadu/ American Dream Mall that will add more traffic to an already congested area
- Allowed for bear hunt
- Governor Murphy signedA5293 (Pinkin)/S3682 (Smith) into law. This law gets rids of transparency and does not hold LSRPs accountable. If there is a mistake or deliberate spill or accident caused by a private contractor, they will not be held responsible.
- Gov. Murphy signed S3207(Smith)/A4821(Huttle) that fails to set new targets for cutting greenhouse gases under the Global Warming Response Act. The new law calls for more testing but lacks meaningful benchmarks for reductions. It does not provide DEP with any more authority to regulate CO2 and greenhouse gases than it already has. The law also does not regulate black carbon.
- Gov. Murphy signed A4477(McKeon)/S2920 (Smith) allocating constitutionally dedicated Corporate Business Tax (CBT) revenues for Fiscal Year 2020 and thereafter. The new law for open space money takes funding away from urban areas and state parks, and sends it to wealthy exurban areas. This reinforces the funding inequities that continue to damage lower-income and minority communities.
- Several bills that had consensus in the Legislature were weakened by last-minute amendments that came from the DEP and the Governor’s Office, including the Beach Access Bill S1074 (Smith), the Carbon Bill S3207 (Smith), and the Environmental Justice bill S1700 (Singleton/Weinberg).
- Governor Murphy absolute vetoedS2167 (Pennacchio, Pou/Webber, McKeon, Pinkin, Giblin). The bill dedicates $500,000 annually in revenues from vessel registration and renewal fees to NJ Greenwood Lake Fund
- Raised Offshore Wind Goal to 7500MW by 2035
- Made new appointments to the Pinelands Commission (Jennifer Coffey, Jessica Sanchez, and Commissioner Ed Lloyd) & Highlands Council (Wynnie-Fred Victor Hinds, Bill Kibler, and Dan Van Abs)
- Supported a full fracking ban in the DRBC, but that has not happened yet
- Has come out against the Meadowlands power plant, however he has yet to put action into those words
- Governor Murphy signed S2905 (Singleton), which prohibits certain possession, sale, trade, distribution, or offering for sale of shark fins.
- Governor Murphy signed A5854 (Pintor Marin) into law. The bill was written to allow municipalities to adopt an ordinance to enter properties to perform lead service line replacements
- Governor Murphy signed S606 (Smith, Greenstein/Kennedy, Johnson, Zwicker, Benson. This law will encourage municipalities to plan for the development of electric vehicle charging infrastructure at appropriate locations
- Governor Murphy signed S601 (Smith, Greenstein/Pinkin, McKeon)into law. The law establishes a New Jersey Solar Panel Recycling Commission and requires end-of-life recycling of solar and photovoltaic energy generation facilities and structures.
Bill’s on Governor’s Desk that we hope he will sign into law:
- A4267 (McKeon) / S1683 (Smith/Greenstein): Concerns the regulations of solid waste, hazardous waste, and soil and debris recycling industries.
- S611 (Sweeney) / A1212 (McKeon): Clarifies the intent of P.S.2007, c.340 regarding New Jersey’s required participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI).
- A4606 (Zwicker) / S3215 (Greenstein/Singleton) Requires State to use 20-year time horizon and most recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Assessment Report when calculating global warming potential to measure global warming impact of greenhouse gases.
- S4110 (Ruiz/Pou) / A5854 (Pintor Marin): Allows municipalities to adopt an ordinance to enter properties to perform lead service line replacements.
The Governor talked about the environment and climate change just like he did last year. The difference is there has been too much talk and not enough action. The current administration does not see the urgency of climate change and the extreme impacts it is already having on New Jersey. We need progress, not just words. We have moved forward on offshore wind, but that progress is undermined by Murphy’s Energy Master Plan and failure to put a moratorium on fossil fuel projects. Governor Murphy needs to put action in the commitments he made when we endorsed him. It has been almost two years, and we are concerned of how much time it will take to see some serious progress when it comes to the environment.
Governor Murphy Grade:
C-: Better than last year’s grade, however there is much work to be done. DEP is still a mess and NJ is rated one of the worst transit systems in the nation.
The biggest hinderance for moving the environment forward under the Murphy Administration is the DEP. They have failed to move forward on climate change, getting rid of Christie’s rollbacks, and funding important environment programs.
- New Jersey is 10th in the nation for environmental staff reductions, with fewer DEP staff now than under Christie
- Have not reversed Christie’s rules in the two years. Under Christie, the DEP rolled backed the Coastal Area Facility Review Act (CAFRA) and Coastal Zone Management rules by adding more loopholes and waivers, weakening coastal protections
- Defaulted to federal rules proposed new rules, N.J.A.C. 7:27-3. on offshore air pollution and standards for lead in our drinking water at 15ppb
- Failed to regulate C02, GHG emissions, and black carbon
- Opened Office of Resiliency, but it doesn’t have any teeth or implementation
- Have not upgraded the state’s aging water infrastructure, including drinking, waste, and storm water
- Failed to meet with the Drinking Water Quality Institute (DWQI) in 1 year
- Failed to inspect or use enforcement at contaminated sites such as Vernon or the Kearny Landfill
- Have not updated rules for sea level rise or climate change
- NJDEP’s clear cut of Bass River has started. An estimated 6-7 acres of the 16.4 acres around the Bass River State Forest tower has already been cut. The purpose of the cut is to clear the view from the 86- foot fire tower
- Failed to have a climate adaptation and mitigation plan
- The DEP updated a guidance document, Capping of Volatile Contaminants for the Impact to Ground Water Pathway, that will allow polluters to keep toxic pollution in groundwater.
- The DEP published a rulethat would exempt from disclosure under the Open Public Records Act information regarding certain species of animals, including black bears, that would allow the public to locate and track the animals. This rule change will undermine science and limit data for research on many species
- Granted a water pollution permit allowing the Bellemead Development Corporation to discharge treated wastewater into the Rockaway Creek in Tewksbury
- Granted a Waterfront Development Individual Permit and 401 Water Quality Certificate to Delaware River Partners, LLC for their LNG dock proposal without a public hearing, they suspended those permits due to an error in the publication of the receipt of the March 20, 2019 application in the DEP Bulletin.
- Adopted a Stormwater Rules that will not mitigate our state’s flooding and pollution problems. FEMA even had concerns that the rule does not account for sea level rise, nutrient pollution, proper green infrastructure, and will just increase flooding
- The DEP’s logging plan that targets the Sparta Mountain Wildlife Area continues
- Failed to control overdevelopment and stormwater runoff. Warmer temperatures and more rain will mean more runoff bringing septics and fertilizer into lakes like Lake Hopatcong
- Their proposed amendments, repeal, and new rules on Pesticide Control Code, N.J.A.C 7:30does not go far enough to protect workers or our environment from pesticides.
- Failed to enforce laws to clean up the Keegan Landfill
- Failed to conduct full cleanup at Ringwood Superfund Site
- Failed to move forward with real cleanup plan in Pompton Lakes. The department said that the current system of natural attenuation is working in Pompton Lakes is working but it’s not.
- Proposed new rules governing underground storage caverns to store gasses, liquids, petroleum products, and other related materials
- Granted Phoenix Energy Center LLC approval for a redevelopment exemption from the Highlands Rules for their proposed 663 MW power plant
- Granted Waterfront Development, Flood Hazard, Wetlands, and Water Quality Certificate for the Meadowlands Power Plant
- Failed to fund and find funding source to deal with lead and sewer overflow.
- Moving forward with a permit allowing the Bellemead Development Corporation to discharge treated wastewater into the Rockaway Creek in Tewksbury.
- The DEP will designate 749 miles of waterways as C1 streams for ecological value and fishery resources. However, they failed to move forward on designating C1 streams for recreational value
- William Transco’s withdrew their Coastal Wetland, Flood Hazard Area and Waterfront Development permits for the dangerous Northeast Supply Enhancement Project (NESE), however they plan to reapply.
- Denied PennEast’s application for a Flood Hazard Area Individual Permit, Flood, Flood Hazard Area Verification and Water Quality Certificate.
- Published interim standardsfor perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) at 10 ppt for both PFOA and PFOS
- Started to spend the VW settlement fund money
- Adopted rules to rejoin RGGI however cap at 18 million metric tons is too high and they will not look at the natural gas power plants online now. DEP need to change the funding formula so that money does not go towards combined heat and power plant, or planting trees. Instead, that money should be going towards energy efficiency, community solar and EV’s for EJ and to low and moderate communities
- Releasing funding to help tackle New Jersey’s algae problem. It is a start, but $13.5 million is only a drop in the bucket for what is needed.
- DEP will grant Local governments $14.3 million in grants to further enhance recycling efforts
- The DEP purchased Holley Farm, a vital ecologically important area in the Pine Barrens and Delaware Bayshore forest region, after a 20 year battle to protect it
“Murphy’s DEP has failed to reverse Christie’s rollbacks that weaken protections for clean air, clean water, and climate change. More importantly, the administration neglected to use their own authority to protect our public health and environment in areas in Kearny, Vernon, and more. While it is a good that there are several lawsuits filed against major polluters, we need to continue to see more polluters be held accountable. New Jersey is already seeing the impacts of climate change, however we are concerned that the DEP does not have the rules, programs, and enough staff and funding in place to effectively do their job,” said Tittel.
D-: Doing too little too late.
The BPU has been working to move forward on renewable energy for New Jersey like wind and solar and creating the infrastructure our state needs for electric vehicles. The department has a lot on their plate. We have major concerns however that their Energy Master Plan will undermine and become a roadblock for the progress they have made. It does not address the urgency of climate change at a time when the state is being overrun by fossil fuels.
- BPU’s EMP plan itself is flawed.
o The carbon sequestration aspect from the EMP shows that 8% of carbon will be absorbed by forest, so really there is a 72% reduction in carbon, not 80%
o We are concerned that this methodology does not included externalities to our forest such as climate change, sprawl, beetles, and fires
o Carbon sequestration is used in the west and out of state and will not be effective enough if soley used to reduce carbon
- Failure to fix New Jersey’s solar program. The current solar program will eat up almost all the cap, preventing us from meeting those RPS goals. This means the BPU will set aside the Renewable Portfolio Standard for that year. This leaves no room for New Jersey to move forward to meet targets of the Renewable Portfolio Standard (50% by 2030).
- Have not moved forward on energy efficiency
- Board of Public Utilities (BPU) approved a proposal fromOrsted for 1100MW of offshore wind.
- Trying to work around the solar cap and improve energy efficiency
“While it’s good that BPU is working on a lot of issues for the first time in a long time, we are concerned that the EMP, nuclear subsidy, collapsing solar market, will undo their achievements so far. The agency has a lot on their plate, however the major task on hand that they need to deal with is supporting a moratorium on fossil fuel projects. These projects will undermine any change of getting to 100% renewable energy.”
B: The agency is getting things done but we have disagreements. Offshore wind is a positive, but there are major issues the agency needs to fix. Approving nuclear subsidy without the staff, changing the definition of clean energy to dirty energy and failing to supporting a moratorium on fossil fuels are some of the major issues that BPU need to work on.
NJ Transit is the worst in the nation when it comes to breakdowns. Despite all of the pronouncements by Governor Murphy and NJ Transit, the commuter nightmare continues. This is a direct result of funding being slashed by 90 percent in the last 11 years. It has been reported that NJ Transit has 12 times more equipment failures than any other commuter train in the nation. This has hurt our economy and businesses, caused people will be delayed and get to work late, while worsening our air quality problems. The agency also proposed a NJ TRANSITGRID grid powered by a fossil fuel power plant in Kearny, New Jersey.
- NJ Transit is the lead the nation in breakdowns in 2018
o According to data released by the Federal Transit Administration, New Jersey has had the most breakdowns on any transit system in the nation during 2018
- Proposed fossil fuel power plant in Kearny, New Jersey. The NJ Transit grid would cost close to $526 million and is estimated to release 383,000-571,000 tons of carbon dioxide annually on a normal operating schedule
- Have not moved forward with buying electric buses, instead they are buying another 500 fossil fuel buses
- They are not planning for bus rapid transit systems
- Hasn’t been any major improvements on time or proposed new programs
- Not expanding any new rail systems
- Sworn in all new engineers
“NJ Transit need to electrify their fleet and move forward on electric buses, but they cannot get there if they are going to build a fossil fuel power plant in Kearny. NJ Transit should be looking out to protect its riders and citizens of New Jersey by rescinding their authorization for their natural gas plant. Instead, we need to move forward on cleaner and greener technologies for NJ Transit resiliency projects, like solar, hydro, and energy storage. We need to make capital improvements in order to make our transit system better. If we don’t make improvements to our rail system, we could have a disaster,” said Tittel.
NJ Transit Grade:
D-: The commuter nightmare has continued. They are not moving forward on electric buses. Instead, they are moving forward with replacing old buses with fossil fuel buses and moving forward on their fossil fuel power plant in Kearny.
Attorney General Grewal
Attorney General Grewal has been a main driver for putting force into enforcement and moving forward with pursing natural resources damages. The Christie Administration failed to pursue Natural Resource Damage settlements as a way to clean-up the environment and bring in revenue. The Murphy Administration have made progress with it comes to pursuing more sites and helping more communities by making the polluters pay. We also need to fix the system as a whole. Enforcement and NRD claims are a one-two punch to hold polluters accountable. More importantly, we can get more resources to protect and clean-up our environment and the public health of our citizens, especially those who’ve been victimized.”
- Filed Natural Resource (NRD) lawsuit against the Sherwin Williams Company, Handy & Harman Electronics Materials Corporation.
- Filed lawsuits enforcement targeting 4 DuPont Sites in Pompton Lakes, Gloucester County, Pennsville, and Sayreville
- Filed eight separate lawsuits on addressing pollution in minority and lower income communities in New Jersey. Communities involved in these lawsuits are Camden, Flemington, Newark, Palmyra, Pennsauken, Phillipsburg, and Trenton.
- Won case against PennEast on eminent domain: The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit ruled that the PennEast Pipeline cannot use state lands. This will delay the project for at least two years and could possibly stop it or cause it to be rerouted
- Suing the federal government to challenge new rules that would significantly weaken the Endangered Species Act (ESA).
- Suing to Block Trump Administration from Reducing Penalties for Car Companies that Violate Vehicle Emissions Standards
- Filed two lawsuits to force EPA to impose tougher limits on air pollution from hundreds of out-of-state industrial sources that contribute to high ozone levels in New Jersey and across the northeast
- New Jersey needs to change the system as a whole when it comes to Natural Resource Damages (NRD). Polluters should not be able to challenge New Jersey in court for damages.
Attorney General Grewal Grade: A-: Showed major progress when it comes to putting force into enforcement
We are seeing climate impacts every day with chronic flooding, storm surges, and sea level rise. Water pollution and rising temperatures have led to algal blooms closing our biggest lakes, like Lake Hopatcong, and invasive clinging jellyfish overtaking our waterways like Barnegat Bay. The Governor says he supports action on climate change however he has not put action into those words. Projects like the Southern Reliability Link has started to build through the Pinelands despite it still being challenged in court, the Pinelands have yet to rescind their approval on the SJ Gas pipeline, and Transco Williams keeps coming back with their application for the NESE pipeline. If the Governor is committed to reducing GHG’s, then he must say no to these projects, otherwise his words are just hot air.
- Governor Murphy has remained silent on the 6-natural gas powerplants and 8 natural pipeline projects in New Jersey
- We want Governor Murphy to impose a moratorium on all new fossil fuel power plants and to ban fracking
- The Administration have failed to update rule for adaptation and mitigation
- Murphy has not brought out the latest science for both mapping and rulemaking
Pipeline and compressor projects:
- PennEast Pipeline:110-mile pipeline that will bring natural gas from the Marcellus Region of Pennsylvania through Hunterdon and Mercer Counties in New Jersey. (Grewal suing on PennEast for taking land)
- Northeast Supply Enhancement: The project would put 3.5 new miles of pipe in Old Bridge and Sayreville and 22 miles under the Raritan Bay. (DEP denied permits without prejudice, NESE has been able to reapply)
- South Jersey Gas pipeline: 22 inch gas pipeline through 22 miles of the Pinelands and Southern New Jersey. (Pinelands Commission has not rescinded their approval on the pipeline yet)
- Southern Reliability Link :28-mile gas pipeline through Burlington, Ocean, and Monmouth Counties. (Murphy Administration did not grant the NJ Sierra Club a stay on construction despite being in court)
- Garden State Expansion project: Their proposed Garden State Expansion compressor station would connect into a New Jersey Natural Gas Pipeline in Chesterfield. (approved by state)
- Roseland Compressor Station (Built)
- Rivervale South to Market: Upgrade 10.35 miles of existing Transco pipeline and a 0.61 mile loop in wetlands environment of Bergen County. (Has DEP permits)
New gas-fired power plant projects:
- Meadowlands Power Plant (North Bergen)- 1200MW (Has DEP land use permits)
- Phoenix Energy Center (Holland Twp)- 660MW (Received DEP exemption for Highlands Rules)
- BL England (Upper Twp)- 450 MW (Shut down)
- Keasbey Energy Center (Woodbridge)- 725 MW (All permits but DEP Air Permits) State permits,
- Sewaren 7 (Woodbridge)- 540MW- operating
- NJ Transit Grid Power Plant – 140M (built by state)
- Gateway Expansion Project (aka Roseland Compressor Station)
- LNG Port in Gibbstown (has some state permits)
o We believe that the NJDEP should immediately move to set standards for greenhouse gasses, CO2 as well as methane, which they’ve had the authority to do since 2005. This includes regulating the Air Pollution Control Act and Title V permits to stop new plants and reduce existing pollution to protect the health of New Jersey’s communities.
o Governor Murphy must enact the strictest possible interpretation of the “Anti-degradation standard” under the Water Quality Certification Program pursuant to Section 410 of the Federal Clean Water Act by NJDEP for pipelines. NJDEP must also conduct a cost-benefit analysis of moving New Jersey away from the PJM electricity grid, which relies too heavily on dirty fuels.
“In order to fight climate change be reducing greenhouse gasses, we must take bold action against fossil fuels. That is why Governor Murphy must put in place a moratorium on all new fossil fuel projects. There are over a dozen fossil fuel projects proposed in New Jersey that would increase GHGs by over 32%. We need to be focusing on renewable energy, such as solar and wind power, that does not release harmful pollution that exacerbate the effects of climate change.
“New Jersey was once a leader in Clean Energy. We are far from that now. That is why Governor Murphy needs to step up and take leadership in making New Jersey cleaner and greener. Instead of promoting more fossil fuel projects, NJ needs to focus on renewable energy such as solar and wind. Murphy must reverse Christie’s weakened rules that protect our environment, public health, and safety. Murphy needs to work with the DEP, the BPU, and other agencies to protect our environment for us, our grandkids, and our great grandkids, NJ can’t afford to wait,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “Given New Jersey’s environmental problems, not being Christie, is just not enough anymore.”