Can You Hear Me Now? Local Citizens, Environmentalists Rally At Rutherford, Princeton and Asbury Park To Build Support for RGGI & Clean Air
Trenton – Environment New Jersey and nine partners gathered today with local citizens at three locations across the state to voice their support for two vital clean air and clean energy programs, the Regional Greenhouse Gas Program (RGGI) and the New Jersey Clean Energy Program. Those assembled called on state Senators Paul Sarlo (D-36), Jen Beck (R-11) and Kip Bateman (R-16), as well as Assemblywomen Casagrande and Angelini (R-11) and Assemblyman Biondi (R-16) to support these programs and oppose the Governor's moves to unravel them.
“Governor Christie's energy policies are putting the growth of clean energy technologies in reverse. The RGGI and New Jersey Clean Energy Program have built tremendously successful markets for solar energy and energy efficiency in this state. In his efforts to unravel these programs, the Governor has sided with coal, oil and gas interests. Now, we need the Legislature to stand up for clean air, clean energy and the rest of us. Today we are calling on Senator Sarlo to support the RGGI program and defend the New Jersey Clean Energy Program,” said Dena Mottola Jaborska, Executive Director of Environment New Jersey.
Today's rallies were the culmination of Environment New Jersey's week long grassroots drive to identify and mobilize citizen support for the state's clean energy and RGGI programs in three key state legislative districts: 36, 16, and 11.
Environment New Jersey has had outreach staff on the ground in the three districts petitioning citizens on busy streets and going door-to-door since Saturday gathering hand written letters and petition signatures to Legislators, as well as postcards urging the Governor to change his position on RGGI. In addition, nightly phone banking of Environment New Jersey's members in these districts has been generating a steady stream of phone calls to all three Senators representing these districts on a daily basis from local constituents who support the RGGI program and want their Senators to do the same.
New Jersey has some of the worst air pollution in the nation – in fact, this summer, the state ranked 5th in the nation for smog pollution.
Last spring, out-of-state fossil fuel companies paid handsomely to try to kill the RGGI program, spreading lies and misinformation across the state. Incredibly, Governor Christie went along with their campaign of misinformation, and he announced in May that he hopes to pull New Jersey out of RGGI by the end of this year. The Legislature tried to push back by passing a bill to keep the state in the program, but the governor vetoed it this past August.
Senators Paul Sarlo, Jen Beck and Kip Bateman, as well as Assemblywomen Casagrande and Angelini and Assemblyman Biondi stood with the governor and with out-of-state fossil fuel interests and voted against the bill.
“We’re calling on these state legislators to be true leaders on clean air and clean energy and do all they can to override the governor’s decision,” continued Mottola Jaborska.
"This is personal, this is about clean air for my children. RGGI is a successful program that is working to create a clean energy future for my children. Let's work together to make it even better!" said Harriet Shugarman, North Jersey Public Policy Network.
"ANJEC strongly supports New Jersey's participation in RGGI. Our state's municipalities have been working to reduce their output of greenhouse gases, but they have no way to reduce of carbon dioxide from power plants outside town borders. State and regional action is absolutely necessary if we are to combat climate change," said Sandy Batty, Association of New Jersey Environmental Commissions (ANJEC).
The groups also urge the legislators in these three districts to support a bill now moving through the statehouse (S3032) that would expand New Jersey’s commitment to clean energy to 30% by 2020 and cut state-wide energy demand 20% by promoting more efficient buildings. It would also maintain the current level of funding for the successful Clean Energy Program, which funds energy saving retrofits for homes and businesses.
“This is the kind of forward-thinking energy policy we need. Not rollbacks, like Governor Christie is proposing, but real, meaningful steps forward,” continued Mottola Jaborska.
"Combating climate change means cleaner air, greener jobs and a securer nation. RGGI's a key part of that -- providing funding, acting locally while thinking globally, and setting the precedent for national solutions. It's not perfect, what is?, but we need to fix it not kill it. We can't just say no and sit on the sidelines. Elected officials that have said yes to clean energy solutions in the past but have backed off that of late need to get off the slow track and back on the fast track for a 21st century green economy," said Amy Goldsmith with the New Jersey Environmental Federation.
"By far the largest gap in Governor Christie's ten-point plan for Barnegat Bay is that it lacks an element to reduce the nitrogen in our air. Staying in RGGI would be an excellent way to fill that gap," said William deCamp Jr., President, Save Barnegat Bay.
“We’ve come together today to urge our legislators to stand for clean air and clean energy, keep New Jersey in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, and support efforts to bring more clean energy to the state. We can no longer afford to let oil and coal companies dictate our energy future. It’s time to move forward toward a truly clean and safe energy future,” concluded Mottola Jaborska.
These groups supporting the rallies and local citizens include the Stonybrook Millstone Watershed Association, the New Jersey Conservation Foundation, the New Jersey Sierra Club, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the North Jersey Public Policy Network, the New Jersey Environmental Federation, the NJ Highlands Coalition, the Association of New Jersey Environmental Commissions (ANJEC), and Save Barnegat Bay.
Environment New Jersey is a state-wide citizen-based environmental group which advocates for clean air, clean water, and open spaces on behalf of our 60,000 citizen members.