NEWARK, NJ — Months after signing expansive environmental justice legislation, Governor Phil Murphy on Tuesday vowed New Jersey would put its money where its mouth is by investing over $130 million in clean transportation projects.
Murphy also signed an executive order creating a climate action office and the New Jersey Council on the Green Economy, honorarily chaired by First Lady Tammy Murphy.
“[It is] a significant investment in clean transportation that prioritizes job creation, overwhelmingly union jobs, and economic development with a specific focus on environmental justice communities. These projects, which range from electric school buses and garbage trucks, to E-mobility projects, to port and cargo handling equipment and investment in the electrification of NJ Transit buses, show the sheer breadth of transformation ahead of us,” said Murphy at Newark’s Department of Public Works building.
“Polluters continue to unfairly target overburdened communities,” Kim Gaddy, environmental justice organizer for Clean Water Action of New Jersey, said.
“In Newark alone, a new frack[ing] gas plant and a new sewage plant have been proposed in just the past month. The science dictates we have to do even more, faster, 45 percent reductions in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 is our goal," Gaddy continued. "The state's budget sets the moral compass for our state's critical programs from New Jersey Transit and the Clean Energy Fund to NJDEP. They cannot remain unfunded and achieve a different and more just outcome.”
Murphy explained that $94 million of the funds come from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), which New Jersey re-joined when Murphy took office. Another $45 million was available from Volkswagen Mitigation Trust funds, which resulted from emissions cheating.
They represent a significant investment on the Garden State’s road to reach 100 percent clean energy by 2050.
Per the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP), a large portion of the funds will be dispersed for the following:
- $9 million in grants for local government electrification projects that will help to improve air quality in environmental justice communities through the deployment of electric garbage and delivery trucks.
- $13 million in grants for low- and moderate-income communities to reduce emissions that affect children’s air quality through the deployment of electric school buses and shuttle buses.
- $5 million in grants for equitable mobility projects that will bring electric vehicle ride-hailing and charging stations to four more New Jersey towns and cities.
- $5 million in grants for the deployment of fast charging infrastructure at 27 locations statewide.
- $36 million to reduce diesel and black carbon emissions in environmental justice communities by electrifying port, cargo handling, and other medium- and heavy-duty equipment in port and industrial areas.
- $15 million towards New Jersey Transit bus electrification.
- $15 million towards flex funding to further deploy additional funding to the listed initiatives.
The newly-formed Office of Climate Action and the Green Economy will be led by senior policy advisor Jane Cohen.
Murphy said the office will work part and parcel with President Joe Biden's administration's climate agenda, which will rely on U.S. farmers to lead the charge.
Cohen spoke about visiting Lake Turkana in Northern Kenya in 2015 and talking with farmers and herders about the “dry” conditions they’ve had to reckon with as a result of climate change.
“Their children didn't have enough to eat, their crops and their livestock are dying and their land, which had always been arid, have become increasingly and unbearably dry. And while the context and details of those conversations could not be any more different [from] where we are in New Jersey today, the themes are strikingly similar,” Cohen said. “That climate change threatens every aspect of our lives. That those who already are the most vulnerable, bear the biggest burden. And that to address climate change, we need both individual action and bold commitment from government.”
She was echoed by Lt. Governor Sheila Oliver, who said the shift from a farm economy to industrial, and now “one of technology and the environment” will be a welcome change for all.