Op-Ed: It’s Time to Rethink How We Move People and Goods Around New Jersey

Jeff Perkins | December 3, 2018 | Opinion
A clean transportation system would have benefits for the state’s public health and economy. It would also create investment opportunities

Jeff Perkins
As New Jersey refocuses on the need to confront climate change and embrace a leading role in the clean energy economy, state leaders must get serious about reducing emissions from transportation. It is time to re-envision the way we move people and goods around the state.

The New Jersey Legislature is currently considering major legislation (S-2252) that would help our state usher in a clean transportation future and open up exciting investment opportunities. We believe that New Jersey should lead on climate, and this bill is a key part of that work.

Friends Fiduciary is an investment manager serving Quaker organizations across the country, including 48 meetings, schools, and retirement communities in New Jersey. As long-term investors, we seek investments and policy solutions that build business sustainability and protect the environment. That is why we are proud to promote socially responsible investment solutions that will help to reduce emissions and build a clean energy future. It is also why we strongly support efforts to modernize the region’s transportation system and reduce harmful emissions.

Transitioning to a clean transportation system will not only improve the public health and prosperity of all New Jerseyans, it also presents a forward-thinking investment opportunity that could make the Garden State a hub for future economic activity. To ensure that the state remains a leader in the low-carbon economy, New Jersey’s leaders should transition to a modern transportation system that expands public transit options and increases investment in electric vehicles — and the state needs smart policies that allow us to do so.

Lawmakers, let’s get going

S-2252 would set a bold vision for New Jersey by establishing a binding statewide goal for electric vehicles, developing a public-charging infrastructure network throughout the state, and creating a robust rebate program for electric vehicle purchases. Lawmakers should act swiftly to pass this legislation.

It has become increasingly clear that the future of transportation is electric. To keep pace, New Jersey should be bold in its commitment to supporting that transition with clear, time-bound goals — like S-2252 proposes. A goal of 90 percent electric vehicle sales by the year 2040 and increased availability of accessible, affordable, and convenient public-charging infrastructure will ensure our state is ready to meet the clean economy of the future. Many companies with a large footprint in New Jersey — including Amazon, IKEA, and Unilever — are already investing in electric vehicle fleets, and this legislation will encourage more businesses to adopt similar policies.

In addition, many nearby states already have generous rebate or tax incentive programs to hasten the adoption of electric vehicles, and are increasingly investing in public-charging infrastructure. New Jersey should join its peers in incentivizing consumers to make a choice that benefits the state’s communities, economy, and environment.

Keeping millions of dollars in NJ

Increasing the number of electric vehicles on the road will allow New Jerseyans to take advantage of the ongoing efforts to clean the electricity grid through wind, solar, energy efficiency, and more. Electrifying the transportation sector and powering that new system with clean energy would prevent the state from sending tens of millions of dollars out of the local economy each year. Instead, that money could be reinvested in local communities and clean-energy jobs.

Seven other Northeastern states and Washington, D.C. recently held listening sessions as they consider a regional policy approach to reducing emissions from transportation. Given the importance of New Jersey as a key transportation hub for the entire region, it is critical that we participate in these discussions to ensure that the health, prosperity, and interests of New Jerseyans are represented as we pursue a bold regional approach to reducing emissions.

As long-term investors, we think states that take advantage of opportunities will be best positioned for economic success in the future. We recognize that advocating for climate solutions is essential to keeping our communities prosperous and healthy for generations to come.

We urge lawmakers to move forward on proposals to advance electric vehicles in our state and applaud Gov. Phil Murphy for advancing climate and clean energy to the top of his agenda.