New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy

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Environmental allies of NJ's Gov. Murphy say he should do more

April 22, 2019 - 7:44 pm

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) -- New Jersey Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy needs to do more to make good on promises to help the environment, a group of environmental groups, many of which endorsed him, said Monday.

    Nine groups accused the first-term governor and the Democrat-led Legislature of not moving quickly enough on such issues as setting up a dedicated fund for New Jersey Transit and issuing a promised energy master plan. They also call for more funds for the Department of Environmental Protection and halting construction on fossil fuel infrastructure.

    The news conference was a rebuke of a governor who has campaigned as an unabashed progressive and champion on the environment. One of his top promises was to make New Jersey 100 percent clean-energy dependent by 2050.

    ``He's certainly not my ally in my fight,'' said Agnes Marsala, who heads a group called People over Pipelines that's opposed to a southern New Jersey gas pipeline. ``He's let me down time and time again.''

    Marsala said she wants the governor to use his influence to force a vote in the state Senate on commissioners to a board that oversees the pipeline project, but he hasn't.

    Many of the groups, including Clean Water Action, Environment New Jersey and the Sierra Club, backed Murphy's election in 2017 and hoped he would undo two terms' worth of policies they disagreed with under Republican Chris Christie.

    Murphy has undone a number of Christie's policies, most prominently he reversed Christie's decision to pull out of a regional greenhouse gas initiative. He's also embraced the environmental movement in a way that contrasts sharply with Christie.

    But it hasn't been enough, according to the groups meeting on the statehouse steps on Monday, which was also Earth Day.

    ``We're disappointed and angry,'' said New Jersey Sierra Club director Jeff Tittel. ``Actions speak a lot louder than words. That's why we're here today. We're calling on him not just to tweet about Earth Day. But to act to move forward.''

    Murphy's office didn't immediately respond. But earlier this month, he touted his environmental policy in a speech, saying his administration is seeking offshore wind bids and expanding solar projects to lower-income residents.

    ``As Governor, I have made future-focused energy policy, based on the transformation of New Jersey to a clean energy economy, a top priority of my administration,'' he said. ``Creating a path to clean and renewable energy for New Jersey's residents is critical in ensuring our state's clean energy future.''