TRENTON, NJ - A coalition of activists and organizations from across the state converged on Trenton for a rally in support a pair of visionary clean energy bills that would mandate a transition to 100 percent clean, renewable energy by the year 2035.
The bills introduced by Assemblyman Tim Eustace (A1823) and Senator Patrick Diegnan (S1405) call for a rapid transition to a statewide 100% clean energy system, which was one of the top campaign goals articulated by Governor Phil Murphy.
“This legislation reasserts New Jersey’s national standing in clean energy policy by declaring a bold and clear vision of a greener, healthier Garden State, one powered solely by clean, renewable energy,” said Senator Patrick Diegnan (D-Middlesex). “This effort speaks to the collective leadership displayed by New Jersey on the environmental front. The goal embodied in this bill is achievable because of the inauguration of our new Governor Phil Murphy, who is a champion of the environment.”
“Prior the last administration, New Jersey was a leader in the fight for a clean environment and against climate change,” said Assemblyman Tim Eustace (D-38). “As the most densely populated state, we must do better to protect our precious natural resource because without clean air and water, nothing else matters. I look forward to working with the legislature, Governor Murphy, and Food & Water Watch on this historic piece of legislation.”
State Senator Loretta Weinberg released the following statement: “I am sorry I could not be with you today. This bill will require our state to undergo a transformation in how it provides power to its citizens. The process may be difficult, but the stakes are too high not to take this action. If we continue burning fossil fuels at the rate we do today, this state will not be livable for our children and our grandchildren. Some may say that 2035 is too soon to expect such a change, but we all know that there is no time to waste. I have every confidence that the people of New Jersey can meet this goal if they set their minds to it.”
Both bills would use the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) to reach 100% clean, renewable energy from wind and solar by 2035. The NJ OFF Fossil Fuels campaign, which is building support around the bills, rejects policies like “cap and trade” or carbon capture. In addition to improving public health and climate resiliency, a deep commitment to investing in renewables and energy efficiency would create tens of thousands of new jobs in local communities all across the state.
Launched by Food & Water Watch, the NJ Off Fossil Fuels campaign is supported by a diverse coalition of 50 organizations, including the Pinelands Preservation Alliance, Women for Progress, UU Faith in Action and The Ramapough Lenape Nation. The organizations held a rally and press conference at the State House, and encouraged members and activists to lobby lawmakers to support the bills.
“New Jersey has an opportunity to lead the nation towards a real clean energy revolution, and these bills are the way to get there,” said Matt Smith, Senior Organizer with Food & Water Watch. “The climate crisis is right here, right now. That means there is no time to waste, and no time for incremental half-measures that don’t go far enough. The days of wishing and waiting are over; it’s time for serious action to get off fossil fuels.”
“New Jersey took visionary action in the 1970s and 1980s to protect the Pinelands,” said Katie Smith, Policy Advocate at Pinelands Preservation Alliance. “To keep the Pinelands and the rest of New Jersey protected from fossil fuel infrastructure and the worst impacts of climate change, we must quickly and completely transition to renewable energy.”
“Renewable energy offers the opportunity for not only more jobs, but better, safer, cleaner jobs,” said Carol Gay, President of the NJ State Industrial Union Council. “Numerous studies have found that renewable energy and conservation produce substantially more jobs than fossil fuels, and tend to be labor-intensive, local, and also permanent.”
"Whether it is offshore LNG facilities, drilling for oil in the Atlantic, or pipelines through our coastal zone, the Surfrider Foundation has fought these dangerous, dirty fossil fuels projects in New Jersey for years," said John Weber, Mid Atlantic Regional Manager for the Surfrider Foundation. "Only by getting off fossil fuels entirely can we truly protect our oceans, waves and beaches and indeed our whole climate."
With climate change posing a threat to life as we know it on this planet, and pollution taking a deadly toll on frontline communities, there is an urgent need to stop the extraction and use of fossil fuels. While the Paris Climate Accord identified the urgent need to rapidly reduce greenhouse gas emissions, political progress towards that goal has been slow, and the Trump administration is setting us back even further.
“Climate change is here, now and happening to all of us. New Jersey is on the frontlines of climate change. Our children are watching, their future and now in our hands,” said Harriet Shugarman, Executive Director of ClimateMama. “We in New Jersey have the opportunity to lead on climate solutions; putting people to work to create a livable future for us all. We now have an administration that is showing us they are poised to move forward with real action and that they are willing to meet the crisis facing us with the urgency that is required. We strongly support the NJ Off Fossil Fuels Act, which gives us a roadmap to follow and a clear way forward.”
“The most urgent challenge of our age, according to Pope Francis, is the issue of climate change and inequality,” said Jackie Schramm, founder of Franciscan Response to Fracking. “As time is running out, we applaud our New Jersey representatives who are taking serious leadership to move New Jersey to 100% clean energy by 2035.”
“This bill is a breath of fresh air for the Earth’s climate change struggles,” said Sr. Suzanne Golas, csjp, the Director of WATERSPIRIT. “For too long our public policies have been plagued with climate inaction. “We applaud the state Legislators who are supporting this bill and climate change action now for a swift transition to cleaner energy sources that will bring significantly less threats to water, the public’s health and safety, and the climate.”
"While Chris Christie held power in Trenton, New Jerseyans watched in confusion as he trashed climate protection,” said Jerome Wagner of 350NJ. “Yes, the prospects for climate action are brighter now, with the entry of the Murphy administration. But let’s not ignore our personal and collective responsibilities: Let’s all support urgent climate action!"
Jenny Feliciano of Women for Progress Environmental Committee said, "Women for Progress know the time is now to invest in clean energy and we offer full support of this important bill. Bravo to Assemblyman Eustace and Senator Diegnan."
Paula Rogovin, co-founder of the Coalition to Ban Unsafe Oil Trains, released this statement: "Today is a big day for New Jersey and for the earth! The NJ OFF Fossil Fuels launch signals the beginning of our work to transition NJ to 100% renewable energy by 2035! Such a rapid transition from rail and pipeline transport of volatile Bakken crude oil which currently threatens our safety, our land, air, and water, to a future of safe, renewable energy would be magnificent! Let's go for it!"
The legislative proposals in New Jersey coincide with similar efforts in four other states--New York, Maryland, Virginia, and Colorado-- modeled on the Off Fossil Fuels for a Better Future Act, or OFF Act, a federal bill introduced by Rep. Tulsi Gabbard that calls for a clean energy transition by 2035, while prioritizing environmental justice and protections for displaced fossil fuel workers.