EmpowerNJ analysis shows Murphy administration not serious about climate goals
Trenton, New Jersey – EmpowerNJ released the following statement this morning and released the attached report estimating that New Jersey’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions have increased by up to 19% from 6 major expansion projects fossil fuels approved by the Murphy administration in the past 4 years and has the potential to increase an additional 38% if 7 pending projects are approved and completed during his 2nd term. This contrasts sharply with Governor Murphy’s Executive Order (EO) 274 which calls for reducing GHG emissions by 50% by 2030.
The continued proliferation of pipelines, compressor stations, power plants, freeway extensions, liquefied natural gas projects and other fossil fuel polluting infrastructure in our state poses a significant threat to climate, public health and our economy.
At the release of EO 274 five months ago and the signing of New Jersey’s landmark Environmental Justice Act, Governor Murphy said:
- We will no longer allow black and brown communities in our state to be dumping grounds, where access to clean air and clean water is neglected.
- Global atmospheric warming, caused in large part by the burning of fossil fuels, is one of the greatest long-term threats facing humanity today and is driving significant changes in weather patterns here in New Jersey.
- New Jersey’s communities and economy are especially vulnerable to the devastating effects of climate change
- Reducing the severity of the adverse effects of climate change requires large and immediate reductions in economy-wide greenhouse gas emissions
- Emissions cuts in this decade are essential to reduce the harmful effects of climate change
These urgent imperatives are incompatible with the six projects approved since 2017 and the seven additional projects currently being approved. Five of the pending projects would be located in low-income and/or communities of color, and three are offered by public entities under the authority of the Murphy administration. Additionally, five current projects are either unnecessary or will not benefit New Jersey residents (rejecting them will not increase resident costs or reduce energy availability), while the other two may achieve their goals with clean and renewable energy.
The EmpowerNJ report updates and uses the same models to estimate GHG volumes that the NJDEP accepted in the 2019 Empower NJ report which found that pending projects that were just completed or on hold under the Murphy administration would increase emissions by about 30%. The report finds that emissions are growing faster than expected and details projects completed in New Jersey since 2017, projects currently awaiting approval from this administration, and estimated annual GHG emissions from both.
Projects completed since 2017 emit approximately 19.3 MMT (million metric tons) of CO2e emissions per year, while ongoing projects could emit up to an additional 37.8 MMT per year. If all pending projects are approved and completed, the total increase in CO2e GHG emissions under this administration is estimated at 57.1 MMT, a 57% increase in total GHG emissions. Given our state policy to reduce GHGs by 50% below 2006 levels by 2030 (a reduction of 60 MMT), Governor Murphy must recognize the incongruity of the state’s actions against to its policies and take immediate corrective action.
At the same time, state progress in implementing the vision of 100% clean energy by 2050 announced in spring 2017 and codified in EO 28 in spring 2018 has been painfully slow. There have been many missed deadlines and regulatory measures that put this vision at risk and do not allow us to achieve the essential interim objective of EO 274 (50% reduction in GHG emissions by 2030) :
- It took two years to revise the energy master plan. When it was released in January 2020, it lacked significant detail, and NJDEP’s OE 100 and AO 2020-01, which both accompanied it, gave the NJDEP an additional two years to January 2022. to develop the rules required by EO 28 and 100;
- DEP missed EO 100 rulemaking deadlines for at least seven PACT rules. Most are at least 3-6 months behind schedule and at least three are 1-2 years behind schedule, having not yet been proposed (these were all due for adoption by January 2022);
- DEP’s featured stationary source rule in this package only reduces GHG emissions by 3% and postpones it to 2035. It does not even recognize, much less is informed by EO 274, though it was concurrently written in late 2021;
- DCA and DOT have not even developed policies to reduce GHG emissions building and transportation sectors as required by EOs 28 and 274 and BPU refuses to include in cost analyzes the true social, health and climate costs of GHGs even less frame the analyzes around them; and
- The DEP refused to enforce the July 2019 and January 2020 laws to use a 20-year timeframe for all GHG calculations and to establish interim benchmarks under the Global Warming Response Act.
In addition to the severe consequences for our climate, the continued proliferation of fossil fuels in New Jersey will exacerbate the public health damage that kills hundreds of thousands of people in the United States each year and disproportionately endangers communities in low-income color. Research shows that phasing out fossil fuels will bring immediate public health improvements to historically targeted communities.
With this pace of rule implementation and the potential increase in GHGs, it is impossible to see a clear path to our 50×30 goal. For these reasons, EmpowerNJ is asking Governor Murphy to:
- Prevent the construction of the seven pending fossil fuel projects; and
- Direct all state agencies, especially DEP, DCA, BPU, NJTA, and DOT, to provide written plans and rules to implement EO 274 to achieve our existential goal of reducing GHGs by 50 % by 2030 this year.
 None of these increases take into account other increases or decreases in emissions in past or future years.
 Gibbstown LNG, NJTA Highway Extensions, Keasbey Gas Plant, NJ TRANSIT Gas Plant, PVSC Gas Plant
 EO100 and NJDEP AO 2020-01 required DEP to propose seven PACT rules by January 2021: 1) Clean Truck was proposed in Spring 2021, adopted in December 2021; 2) GHG Monitoring and Reporting, proposed in June 2021; 3) Fixed source, proposed in December 2021; 4) Mobile cargo handling equipment, proposed in January 2022; and 5-7) coastal zone management; Freshwater wetland; and flood risk have not yet been proposed.
Empower NJ is a coalition of more than 135 environmental, civic, faith-based, and progressive organizations calling on Governor Murphy to ban all new fossil fuel projects in New Jersey and urgently implement policies that reduce gas emissions emissions by at least 50% below 2010 levels by 2030. www.empowernewjersey.com
Quotes From Empowering New Jersey Leaders
“Communities across the state are facing new pipelines, power plants and other dirty energy projects that threaten to knock New Jersey off the climate cliff. The governor must act now to protect air and water quality for all New Jerseyans, regardless of zip code, and reject these disastrous and unnecessary projects,” said Matt Smith, NJ Director, Food & Water Watch.
“This report compels New Jersey residents, elected officials and members of the Murphy administration to recognize the stark difference between the Governor’s stated policies to reduce greenhouse gases and the reality that we are rapidly heading into the opposite direction. said Ken Dolsky of the Don’t Gas the Meadowlands Coalition.
“It’s hard to understand how New Jersey justifies its abysmal climate record. Communities and the environment suffer irreparable damage, but Governor Murphy and state agencies are increasing greenhouse gas emissions, despite their stated goals. There is no excuse to stay away from the climate crisis, we want no more fossil fuel projects and REAL action to implement truly clean and renewable energy,” said Tracy Carluccio, associate director, Delaware Riverkeeper Network.
“Data and science will always unequivocally provide us with the truth, and the numbers and facts shown in this emissions report point to the raw reality of where NJ is today. Fossil fuel projects continue to expand, greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise, our ability to fight and mitigate climate change continues to decline, and the health of our residents does not cease to be threatened. We call on Governor Murphy to halt fossil fuel development to pave the way for true clean renewable energy,” said Anjuli Ramos-Busot, NJ manager for the Sierra Club.
“Transportation creates over 40% of New Jersey’s GHGs, more than any source. Yet the NJ Department of Transportation and the NJTurnpike Authority have no plan or strategy to reduce GHGs in violation of EO 274. Instead, they’re taking us in the opposite direction, like spending tens of billions to expand highways, underfund public transport and pursue plans to build a gas-fired power plant in the Meadowlands. Governor Murphy must immediately order these agencies to back down and follow his own so-called policies,” said John Reichman of BlueWaveNJ.
“Our organization has worked hard to empower Governor Murphy to address the climate crisis. What we have got are six new fossil fuel projects and seven in the pipeline. He can and must do better. This administration is our last best chance,” said Eric Benson, Clean Water Action, NJ Campaigns Director.
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