New report looks at NJ Congressional delegation’s environmental votes

Feb 25, 2019

FAR HILLS – Two years ago, in response to the Trump Administration’s weakening of environmental protections, New Jersey Conservation Foundation developed a set of “Principles to Protect Public Lands, Water, Air and Wildlife.” New Jersey’s U.S. Senators and Congressional representatives were asked to sign on as a pledge of their support for the environment.

Today, New Jersey Conservation Foundation released a report, “What’s Next for Environmental Protections in Congress?” The report evaluates how key environmental legislation fared during the 2017-18 session of Congress and what lies ahead for New Jersey’s new Congressional delegation.

The report along with the Principles can be read at

“In 2017, a majority of our Congressional members including both of New Jersey’s senators pledged to support and defend environmental laws, including the Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, National Environmental Policy Act, Endangered Species Act, Wilderness Act and Antiquities Act, which provide the basic underpinnings for the protection of our environment and the public good,” said Alison Mitchell, policy director for New Jersey Conservation.

The new report focuses on six issues: environmental reviews of fossil fuel projects, the Land and Water Conservation Fund, funding for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, clean water and stream protections, the federal tax bill and the federal Farm Bill.

“As a whole, New Jersey’s 2017/18 Congressional delegation was relatively supportive of the environment when compared with delegations from many other states and often voted against bills that would have harmed our public lands, water, air and wildlife,” Mitchell said. “We have great hope that our 2019/20 delegation will do even more to protect and defend the environment.”

Mitchell noted that The Principles will be revised and reissued in 2019 to include more voices and reflect the values of New Jersey’s diverse communities. “We’re looking forward to working with our new delegation to adopt an updated set of Principles that builds upon and enhances the existing Principles,” she said.


Principles to Protect Our Public Lands, Water, Air and Wildlife

According to The Principles, “clean water, clean air, parks, forests, and farms are fundamental to the economic success and vitality of the State of New Jersey and the United States of America. Moreover, the quality of our environment is fundamental to our health, well-being and quality of life. We acknowledge that environmental protection must remain a bipartisan matter.”

Those who signed The Principles pledged to support and defend environmental laws, and to:

  • Protect and defend public lands and support continued public funding for land preservation;
  • Promote renewable energy and energy conservation;
  • Demand that all federal agencies, policies and laws be grounded in sound science; and
  • Work to address the critical and impending threat of manmade climate change.

The original principles were spearheaded by former Governors Brendan Byrne, Tom Kean, James Florio and Christine Todd Whitman, along with former Congressman Rush Holt and former Assemblywoman Maureen Ogden.

The Principles were subsequently formally supported by nine of the fourteen members of New Jersey’s 2017/2018 congressional delegation.

A broad set of New Jersey’s environmental partner groups worked with New Jersey Conservation Foundation to urge the New Jersey Congressional delegation to adopt these Principles.  (A list of 19 partner groups working with us to advance federal policy is included on page seven of the report.)

About New Jersey Conservation Foundation

New Jersey Conservation Foundation is a private nonprofit that preserves land and natural resources throughout New Jersey for the benefit of all. Since 1960, New Jersey Conservation has protected 125,000 acres of open space – from the Highlands to the Pine Barrens to the Delaware Bayshore, from farms to forests to urban and suburban parks. For more information about the Foundation’s programs and preserves, go to or call 1-888-LAND-SAVE (1-888-526-3728).

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By Michele S. Byers,
Executive Director