Tom Gilbert

Nowhere is the contrast between the federal government’s actions and those of New Jersey starker than when it comes to addressing the serious threat that climate change poses to our health and economic wellbeing.

The Trump administration has its head in the sand on climate change. The president and his appointees promote a reckless fossil-fueled energy agenda that disregards science and — willfully or otherwise — puts our health, safety, and economy in grave danger. Most recently, President Trump signed an executive order that amounts to an unprecedented power grab to reduce states’ authority under the Clean Water Act to stop unneeded oil and natural-gas pipelines that would damage their waterways. In reality no executive order can waive that well-established legal right.

That leaves it up to states to take the lead in responding to the enormous threat of climate change, and New Jersey is stepping up, big time. That’s especially important in a coastal state like ours that has seen up close the toll taken from superstorms, rising seas, and more frequent and intense flood events.

In 2007, long before Donald Trump took office, New Jersey adopted far-reaching legislation, the Global Warming Response Act, that requires harmful greenhouse gas emissions to be reduced 80 percent by 2050. Unfortunately, the act was never implemented during Governor Christie’s tenure. Science took a back, seat and the state lost precious time.

Fortunately, we now have a governor and legislative leaders who understand the urgency and are making addressing climate change a priority.

Thanks to Senators Bob Smith, Kip Bateman, and Linda Greenstein, the State Senate passed legislation in March — via a bipartisan 29-6 vote — to strengthen the Global Warming Response Act, including amendments that require establishment of interim benchmarks and adoption of measures to make sure New Jersey gets on track to meet the emissions reductions targets under the act. If the Assembly approves the measure, Governor Murphy has made clear his intention to sign into law this important step toward a healthier, safer, cleaner New Jersey.

At ReThink Energy NJ, we’re proud of our efforts in support of making real the promise of the Global Warming Response Act. We are working to inform and empower New Jersey decision makers and residents to make this a state with sensible energy policies that reduce harmful emissions, save consumers money, and create tens of thousands of good local jobs. Our campaign is leading the charge to transition New Jersey away from polluting fossil fuels to clean, affordable, renewable energy such as wind and solar. To this end we worked in concert with the New Jersey League of Conservation Voters, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and the Environmental Defense Fund to support the landmark clean energy law Governor Murphy signed last year.

For those who share a sense of urgency about dealing with the threat of climate change, and are frustrated by the harmful policies coming out of Washington that promote more polluting pipelines instead of the infrastructure we need for a clean-energy future, this is New Jersey’s best opportunity to take matters into our own hands. Join us in calling on the Assembly to ensure that New Jersey rises to address the challenge of climate change by strengthening and implementing the Global Warming Response Act.

Tom Gilbert is campaign director of ReThink Energy NJ and the New Jersey Conservation Foundation.

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