Calls for Forward-Thinking State Clean Energy Policies Following Paris Climate Agreement
FAR HILLS, NJ (December 16, 2015) – The ReThink Energy NJ campaign today urged the New Jersey Senate to approve a landmark renewable energy bill that is up for vote on Thursday. The campaign said it was time for New Jersey to adopt forward-thinking clean energy policies with the same sense of urgency demonstrated by 196 world leaders in Paris as they finalized a unanimous, international climate pact earlier this week.
ReThink Energy NJ, launched in October, is a campaign to inform and empower New Jersey citizens on the need for reduced reliance on fossil fuels and pipelines and a swift transition to efficient, clean and renewable energy.
The bipartisan legislation, (S-2444), sponsored by Senators Bob Smith and Christopher “Kip” Bateman would require an increase every five years in the percentage of the state’s energy coming from renewables, such as solar and wind, eventually reaching 80 percent by 2050. Currently, New Jersey has a set target of 22.5 percent of energy from renewables by 2020.
Recent polling shows that voters overwhelmingly support the goals of the legislation. A survey of 709 registered voters conducted by FDU Public Mind for New Jersey Conservation Foundation in September found that 78% support the goal of having 80% renewable energy by 2050, including 89% of Democrats and 71% of Republicans.
“The Paris agreement on climate change marks a momentous shift away from the world’s reliance on outdated fossil fuels like natural gas,” said Tom Gilbert, campaign director for the New Jersey Conversation Foundation and ReThink Energy NJ. “It’s now time for New Jersey to make the same transition and adopt an energy policy that will create healthy and safe communities through clean forms of energy like solar and wind. Passage of S2444 would be a strong first step in that direction.”
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, carbon emissions from New Jersey increased by 14% in 2014, due largely to increased emissions from natural gas-fired power plants. In addition, a 2015 report from the Union of Concerned Scientists identified New Jersey as one of 16 states at high risk of over-reliance on natural gas, which is a fossil fuel that emits dangerous greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide and methane, which is 84 times more potent as a greenhouse gas than carbon over the first twenty years in the atmosphere.
“Our reliance on natural gas in New Jersey presents a serious challenge,” added Gilbert. “Our state’s Energy Master Plan (EMP) is moving us in the wrong direction, as it relies too heavily on natural gas and requires costly and damaging long-lived infrastructure projects, such as the numerous new pipelines proposed throughout the state. We need our state leaders to adopt policies, like S-2444, that are forward-looking and put New Jersey into a leadership role in clean energy.”
Investing in renewable sources of energy, like solar and wind, will create three times as many jobs as investing the same amount in fossil fuels, according to a Union of Concerned Scientists study. “This is the best path forward to protect both our environment and our economy,” said Jim Waltman, Executive Director of the Stony Brook Millstone Watershed Association.
“There is an urgent need for New Jersey to move forward with clean, renewable sources of energy and energy efficiency,” said Carleton Montgomery, Executive Director of the Pinelands Preservation Alliance. “The direction of our state’s energy path needs to change if we are to keep on pace with the rest of the country and the world.”