Murphy Gets Green Thumbs-Up from NJ Conservation Voters

Tom Johnson | February 14, 2017 | Energy & Environment
New Jersey League of Conservation Voters has endorsed Phil Murphy, Democratic hopeful for his party’s gubernatorial slot

Gov. elect Phil Murphy
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Phil Murphy yesterday picked up the endorsement of the New Jersey League of Conservation Voters, vowing to reverse much of Gov. Chris Christie’s environmental agenda.

The endorsement could be meaningful this November given the perception among environmentalists that the new administration in Washington will seek to roll back regulations protecting the nation’s air, water, and natural resources — giving the issue more prominence than in recent elections.

“New Jersey has built a tremendous environmental legacy, but faces significant and growing threats, from state and federal regulatory rollbacks, pollution, climate change, and much more,’’ said Kelly Mooij, political chair of the organization.

Much of the past seven years found the conservation community embroiled in battles with Christie over efforts to streamline and reduce funding for environmental programs. In Murphy, the league views it has found an ally.

In his remarks at a press conference, Murphy pledged to push back against those initiatives and more. He said he would also have the state rejoin a regional program to curb greenhouse-gas emissions from power plants. Christie pulled out of the program early in his first term, calling it a tax on utility customers.

Murphy also vowed to push back against new regulations to ease flood control and water-quality rules, as well as a proposal to allow more septic systems in the New Jersey Highlands. Critics say the proposals roll back protections, resulting in more pollution of drinking water and more sprawl.

“It runs counter to the whole objective to why the Highlands was created,’’ Murphy said.

The former ambassador to Germany also said he would identify a path to get to 100 percent clean energy by 2050, a target more ambitious than one stalled in the Legislature, which proposes to have 80 percent of the state’s electricity generated by renewable energy by 2050.

Murphy argued the state can revive its economy by pushing for innovation and promoting clean-energy industries, such as solar and wind. He also advocated better planning, criticizing the current administration for its failure to update a water supply master plan and scrapping of a state development plan.