Officials Gather to Discuss Climate Change

Lawmakers and environmental activists were part of a press conference about the environment.

By David Cruz

President Obama has focused his executive order powers on environmental issues, specifically cutting greenhouse gases and promoting a green economy.

“One of the best things we can do for our economy, our health and our environment is to lead the world in producing cleaner, safer energy,” the president said.

His executive order earlier this month would force coal-fueled power plants to cut their carbon emissions by 30 percent over the next 15 years. Today, Democrats and environmentalists in New Jersey were calling on the governor and their fellow citizens to get together to help save the environment — and maybe stimulate New Jersey’s economy.

“If we build the wind and solar here, that’s jobs and money that’s staying here versus when we buy power, a lot of it is coming from out of state and it’s dirty power. That money goes to Chicago, where the corporate headquarters are and not to New Jersey,” said Sierra Club New Jersey Chapter Director Jeff Tittel.

On a day when much of the State House was focusing on a budget showdown, it wasn’t easy to get lawmakers to stop for a press conference on the environment but a few stepped in to lend their support.

“We have a responsibility to the generations that come after us and to do anything else is just political folly,” said Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-15).

Republicans in New Jersey have been mostly silent on the issue, while the governor has been a bit all over the place, opting out of regional greenhouse gas initiatives while grudgingly acknowledging that pollution affects climate. But one of his predecessors — a former EPA administrator — came out strongly in support of the president’s stronger regulations.

“We all know that the earth’s climate is changing. We also know that human activity — although not solely responsible and we should freely acknowledge that — is both contributing to that change and increasing the risk that we will push the environment beyond the point at which we can repair it,” said former Gov. Christie Todd Whitman.

For April Kuzas, a Jersey City mom of a 4-year-old with asthma, dealing with the effects of climate change — not only extreme swings in weather, but things like pollen and ozone levels — is something she deals with every day.

“My life is like a typical day of being a parent. I wake up early, pack my son’s lunch, I get him ready for the day, except I have to prepare one more step. I have to check the ozone. I have to see if it’s going to be a bad or a good day. If we’re on a high-alert, like a level Orange, that means I have to pack a nebulizer and a rescue inhaler to send to school with him,” she explained.

Kuzas says she supports the president and the lawmakers who showed up today but warns that the message about climate change needs to be translated from the rhetoric of regional climate control initiatives and carbon credits to simpler terms that regular folks can understand and support.

We’re in this together
For a better-informed future. Support our nonprofit newsroom.
Donate to NJ Spotlight