Joint Statement on Governor Murphy Signing Legislation to Ensure Global Warming Response Act Targets are Met

Jul 25, 2019

TRENTON – By signing into law the Updated Global Warming Response Act (S3207), Governor Murphy today took a major step toward a clean-energy future for New Jersey.

The amendments to the Act require the state to adopt measures within specific timeframes so that harmful greenhouse gas emissions will be reduced 80 percent, economy-wide, by 2050.

“Under the Governor’s leadership – and facilitated by the actions of the Legislature – addressing the climate crisis has been a priority. Today, we took another step forward, codifying our place as a national leader in addressing the climate crisis by updating the Global Warming Response Act to mandate the NJDEP to promulgate regulations that ensure we meet our economy-wide decarbonization goals,” said Ed Potosnak, Executive Director, New Jersey League of Conservation Voters. “We now have a critical tool in place to hold ourselves accountable to meeting our commitments.”

On May 23, 2019, the New Jersey Assembly — in an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote — joined the Senate in passing amendments that strengthen the Global Warming Response Act (GWRA) that are essential and fundamental to put the state on a path to achieve the emissions-reductions targets under the Act and fall in line with the state Energy Master Plan being developed to achieve 100 percent clean energy by 2050. Though the existing GWRA, enacted in 2007, established targets for the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) to meet greenhouse gas reduction targets of 80 percent, economy-wide by 2050, it lacked a mechanism to require state action to meet the targets until now.

“Thanks to Governor Murphy and the Legislature, New Jersey now has strong, mandatory requirements to drastically reduce dangerous greenhouse gas emissions,” said Tom Gilbert, Campaign Director for Rethink Energy NJ and NJ Conservation Foundation.  “This legislation, in combination with the landmark Clean Energy Act enacted last year, make New Jersey a national leader in addressing the climate crisis and moving to a clean energy future.”

The amendments to the GWRA encapsulated in S3207 require NJDEP (in consultation with other agencies) to take sensible steps under a clear timeline to achieve those 2050 goals, including developing a strategy to reduce short-lived climate pollutants, which can have a dramatic warming effect much greater than carbon dioxide. The timeline in the bill signed today requires that, within 12 months, NJDEP will publish a report detailing measures to accomplish the economy-wide goals of the GWRA, and, within 18 months of the report, mandates that NJDEP must promulgate regulations to achieve the targets.

In addition, the act requires NJDEP to establish interim targets prior to 2050, which is essential for ensuring that the state is on track to meet the 2050 targets. Interim targets are important for regulators to establish a trajectory toward achieving longer-term goals, which is why, as of 2017, 10 states and the District of Columbia established such targets, ranging from 2025 to 2035.

“Governor Murphy and the NJ Legislature are demonstrating that in addition to passing ambitious goals, they are also taking meaningful steps to ensure those goals are met,” said Trina Mallik, Climate Change and Energy Policy Manager for The Nature Conservancy. “With setting interim targets, NJ sets an example for meaningful climate action.”

“Governor Murphy’s action today marks a critical step in New Jersey’s fight against climate change,” said Eric Miller, NJ Energy Policy Director at the Natural Resources Defense Council.  “New Jersey needs a clear pathway forward to slash its climate pollution – and the updated Global Warming Response Act helps do just that.”

“This law is a pathway for New Jersey to significantly cut climate pollution and achieve its long-term climate goals,” said Mary Barber, Director, Regulatory and Legislative Affairs at Environmental Defense Fund. “With a clear deadline and directive to develop rules and regulations to implement the Global Warming Response Act, New Jersey can become a leader in reducing emissions—particularly by setting and then meeting a science-based reduction target over the next decade.”

“We applaud Governor Murphy for signing into law the Global Warming Response Act, and the bipartisan efforts of the Legislature in moving this bill to the Governor’s desk. We need to roll up our sleeves and work together to meaningfully respond to Global Warming,” said Julia Somers, Executive Director of the New Jersey Highlands Coalition. “This is a step in the right direction, in aligning the Governor, the Legislature, the Department of Environmental Protection and the Board of Public Utilities, in agreeing on the goals and benchmarks, and then meeting them, to get off fossil fuels and making significant reductions of carbon emissions.”

New Jersey League of Conservation Voters is a non-partisan organization whose mission is to elect environmental champions, hold public officials accountable, and support laws which protect our environment and improve the quality of people’s lives.

Rethink Energy NJ works to inform the public and decision-makers regarding the need for a swift transition away from polluting fossil fuels and unneeded pipelines to clean, efficient renewable energy.

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