Fighting for New Jersey's Energy Master Plan
Paul Kaufman is GreenFaith's Advocacy Director. He recently represented GreenFaith on a call with New Jersey legislators and environmental leaders voicing concern about revisions to NJ's Energy Master Plan proposed by Gov. Christie.
New Jersey's state policy on energy and climate change has been a national model for hears, so it has been disappointing lately that Gov. Chris Christie has taken steps to weaken New Jersey’s commitment to leadership on this issue. Earlier this week I was invited to participate in a phone press conference prior to joint hearings by the Environment Committees of the New Jersey State Senate and New Jersey State Assembly. The hearings would focus on Gov. Christie’s revised Energy Master Plan (EMP), recently introduced, which would continue to weakens the state’s energy leadership.
GreenFaith was the only faith-based organization participating. My colleagues on the call were all experienced environmental advocates, so I spoke about the moral issues involved in an Energy Master Plan.
State Senator Bob Smith and Assemblyman John McKeon, strong environmental leaders in their roles as Committee Chairmen, spoke about the negative impact the Governor’s plan would have on jobs and the environment, and the plan’s failure to address reducing greenhouse gas emissions from transportation, which accounts for 40% of the energy consumed in the state.
I spoke about our religious obligation to protect our planet. Consistent with GreenFaith’s commitment to environmental justice, I protested that the plan would increase pollution, resulting in serious health impacts on children, families, and communities. My remarks concluded with the statement that, “in a state as wealthy as New Jersey, this is morally wrong.”
Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club, said, “This EMP gets rid of 20 years of clean energy progress, and we… (need help from the Legislature) to protect our economy, our environment, and the public health of the people of New Jersey.”
Matt Elliot, Clean Energy Advocate for Environment New Jersey pointed out that the EMP significantly scales back goals for renewable energy, and “lacks any clear plan to reduce state-wide energy demand.”
Dave Pringle, Campaign Director of the New Jersey Environmental Federation, decried the three earlier hearings held by the Bureau of Public Utilities on the EMP, as being dominated by industrial polluters, with advocates for the public and for the environment being deliberately overlooked.
This call proved to me that the faith community is a vital voice in any discussion of environmental conservation. I hope that the revised Energy Master Plan ends up taking these concerns into account.