“With the stroke of his pen, President Trump has taken a wrecking ball to our environment. His executive order sets our pursuit of clean energy back decades and foolishly seeks to return us to a bygone era of coal mining jobs and fossil fuel production. Trump’s backward views on climate change will not make America great again. But they do show how important it will be for New Jersey voters to elect a new governor who is committed to enacting science-based energy policies and building a firewall to protect New Jersey from the worst of Trump’s dangerous anti-environmental agenda.”
TRENTON – President Trump has released his proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2018 recommending the elimination of funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, Chesapeake Bay Program, and other geographic watershed programs – a total reduction of $427 million from last year’s support. This would bring to a standstill these critical programs aimed at protecting, preserving, and restoring our nation's waters.
“These restoration efforts offer a huge economic return on investment and should not face cuts, let alone being zeroed out,” said Ginger North, Director of Conservation at Delaware Nature Society. “Protected and restored watersheds provide clean drinking water, increase property values, support fish and wildlife, are vital for industry and transportation, and enhance outdoor recreation.”
In our region, the Delaware River Basin contributes $21 billion annually in ecosystem services such as water and air filtration and flood reduction. The Basin is also a huge economic powerhouse; each year it generates $25 billion economic activity throughout a variety of sectors from supporting agriculture and fisheries to providing world-class recreation opportunities.
“For years, Congress has shown strong bi-partisan support for these types of approaches in major watersheds across the country and has recently affirmed its commitment to the Delaware River Watershed, when it passed the Delaware River Basin Conservation Act in December 2016,” said Madeline Emde, Conservation Associate for the Coalition for the Delaware River Watershed at New Jersey Audubon.
The Delaware River Basin Conservation Act establishes the Delaware River Basin Restoration Program within U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to identify, prioritize, and implement restoration and protection projects throughout the watershed while supporting locally-led projects through technical assistance and a new grant program.
This non-regulatory, bottom-up approach is intended to support critical conservation work across the watershed by leveraging private investment as part of the 50 percent non-federal match requirement for the grant program.
While the appropriations process has not yet begun for this new program, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has already initiated development of a basin-wide strategy to provide a framework for this important work.
“We are disappointed to see the lack of support for regional watershed programs similar to the Delaware River Basin Restoration Program in the proposed budget, but we are hopeful that the overwhelming public and bi-partisan Congressional support will ultimately give rise to a successful, funded program,” said Madeline Urbish, Director of the Coalition for the Delaware River at New Jersey Audubon. “If funded, this program stands to be a critical piece in protecting one of our nation’s most important river systems, the Delaware River Basin, which provides clean drinking water to over 15 million people.”
It is critical for Congress to follow through on its intent when it authorized the program just last year and provide robust funding sufficient to get this important program started.
The Coalition for the Delaware River Watershed, which unites nearly 100 organizations working throughout the region, will continue to work with Members of Congress from both sides of the aisle to secure funding to support clean water for the Delaware River Watershed.
The Coalition for the Delaware River Watershed unites organizations working throughout the region to enhance their capacity to effectively advocate for protecting and restoring the Delaware River Basin. It works to achieve this mission by coordinating communications, messages, and actions fostering accountability for success at the federal, state, and local levels. The Coalition is coordinated by New Jersey Audubon in partnership with the National Wildlife Federation.
The League of Conservation Voters just released its 2016 National Environmental Scorecard, which shows mixed results for the environment.
New Jerseyans can be proud of eight environmental champions who consistently voted to protect our air, water and land against an onslaught of attacks climate change deniers. Unfortunately, too many Congress members – representing New Jersey and elsewhere – are voting to further the interests of polluters and developers instead of protecting public health.
Facing the triple threat of President Trump, Congress and Gov. Christie, we need environmental champions more than ever. Senators Menendez and Booker, earned 100% in this year’s scorecard along with Reps. Frank Pallone, Donald Norcross and Bonnie Watson Coleman. Reps. Bill Pascrell, Albio Sires and Donald Payne were nearly perfect. On the dismal side of the ledger, Reps. Leonard Lance, Tom MacArthur and Rodney Frelinghuysen scored no higher than 13%. Chris Smith scored 45 and Frank LoBiondo tallied 50. Significantly, the delegation’s most fervent anti-environmentalist, Scott Garrett, was voted out of office last November.
The shift to an anti-environment EPA makes this year’s election for governor the most important election we’ve faced in generations.
For 40 years, the LCV Scorecard has been conservation voters go-to guide: http://scorecard.lcv.org
Executive Director, New Jersey LCV
TRENTON – The New Jersey League of Conservation Voters (New Jersey LCV) – the leading political voice for the environment – endorsed Phil Murphy in the Democratic Gubernatorial Primary today, becoming the first statewide environmental group to announce its support of a major-party candidate in this year’s critical New Jersey governor’s race.
New Jersey LCV cited Murphy’s commitment to environmental protection, leadership skills, and vison for making the state a national and international leader in combating climate change. With an anti-environment administration in the White House, New Jersey has a moral imperative to protect our families and future generations by electing a leader who will respond aggressively to escalating environmental and public health threats.
“I’m honored to receive the endorsement of the New Jersey League of Conservation Voters, one of our state’s most dedicated and influential environmental leaders,” said Murphy. “New Jersey’s environment has been neglected by our governor, and special interests have kept us from taking action. I've seen how progressive environmental policies can move economies forward and build sustainable futures. As governor, I will reenter the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, identify a path to get to 100% clean energy by 2050, safeguard our clean drinking water, and reinvigorate our wind and solar industries so we can make up for the good, middle-class green jobs we have lost due to Governor Christie's obstruction."
Debbie Mans, Board Chair of the New Jersey LCV, said of the endorsement: "We are proud to endorse Phil Murphy because he understands the importance of clean air, safe drinking water and open space for all of New Jersey's families, and he is committed to protecting our air, water and land while invigorating our economy. It is time for New Jersey to once again become a leader on clean energy and green jobs and that is why the New Jersey League of Conservation Voters enthusiastically endorses Phil Murphy in the Democratic Primary for Governor."
In interviews and on his website, Murphy says he is committed to seeing New Jersey regain its place as a national clean energy leader, starting by immediately increasing the percentage of our electric supply generated by clean sources, and tapping into offshore wind energy. He is committed to developing resiliency plans for the Jersey Coast, ending raids on environmental program funds, and ensuring continuation of a robust open space preservation program.
"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 NJLCV Political Committee Chair Kelly Mooij. "New Jersey LCV is an organization committed to supporting viable candidates, regardless of party affiliation, who are serious about protecting the environment and ensuring that New Jersey is a great place to live and work for current and future generations. That's why we are endorsing Phil Murphy in the Democratic Primary for governor."
New Jersey LCV’s endorsement is the culmination of a months-long screening process in gubernatorial primary races. That process is continuing for Republican candidates.
One of 28 statewide LCV organizations, New Jersey LCV is the only environmental organization in New Jersey with an affiliated PAC and the only one with a Super PAC, which gives the organization the ability to help get environmental advocates elected and defeat environmental foes.
"New Jersey League of Conservation Voters (LCV) released the following statement regarding Assemblyman Chris Brown’s candidacy in the LD2 Senate race against Assemblyman Vince Mazzeo:
“While we haven’t made any decision regarding our involvement in this Senate race, today’s announcement ensures that no matter who wins in November, the environment will have another champion in the Senate,” said Ed Potosnak, Executive Director of the New Jersey League of Conservation Voters. "In 2015, New Jersey LCV supported both Assemblyman Brown and Assemblyman Mazzeo in their reelection bids. “Supporting candidates from both parties has paid off. Thus far, in this legislative session, both have supported New Jersey’s environment many times, including standing up to the governor to protect open space funding and working to protect environmental settlements.”
“New Jersey LCV was established to help elect pro-environment candidates and we are proud to have supported both Assemblyman Brown and Mazzeo in the past. We will continue to closely monitor the election in LD2, as well as races throughout the state, to ensure that next legislature is the most environmentally friendly in history.”
New Jersey LCV serves as the leading political voice for the environment. We are a nonpartisan, statewide organization dedicated to holding elected officials accountable for all their actions that impact our precious natural resources. We are one of 36 statewide LCV organizations across the country, and have been engaged in New Jersey politics since 2010.
Regardless of Party Affiliation, Voters Want More Aggressive Policies to Address Climate Change
TRENTON – A new statewide poll commissioned by the New Jersey League of Conservation Voters found solid support among voters of both political parties for policies that will move the state to 100 percent clean energy by 2050.
A majority of respondents also believe that that government at all levels should do more to address the problem of climate change, according to the poll by the Washington, D.C.-based national polling firm, Global Strategies Group.
The poll, conducted between the presidential election and the inauguration, found majority support for the 100 percent clean energy goal – even among supporters of Donald Trump, a climate change denier who wants to increase our reliance on coal and natural gas.
Overall, 70 percent of respondents support the clean energy goal, compared with 15 percent, who do not. By party affiliation, 82% of registered Democrats, 68% of unaffiliated voters, and 54% of Republicans support the goal, as do 86% of Hillary Clinton supporters and 51% of Donald Trump voters.
“This is a big election year in New Jersey, with an open seat gubernatorial election and every member of the State Senate and Assembly up for election. The results of this poll clearly show that the environment will be on the ballot. Moving to 100% clean energy is important to New Jersey residents of every political affiliation,” said New Jersey LCV Executive Director Ed Potosnak. “New Jersey families understand that the energy we use needs to come from clean sources like solar and wind, and that continuing with fossil fuels is not sustainable for our health or the conserving our environment.
“Committing New Jersey to 100% clean energy by 2050 would reclaim our state’s leadership role in clean energy production and create the next generation of good, sustainable middle-class jobs.” Potosnak added. “New Jerseyans are on board with 100% clean energy by 2050 and we hope all the candidates for office will be too,” he concluded.
The telephone survey of 1,109 respondents has a margin of error of +/- 2.9%
NJLCV Statement on Pinelands Pipeline Hearing & Trump’s Green-lighting of Dakota and Keystone Pipelines
“Building new dirty and dangerous fossil fuel pipelines through fragile natural lands will not foster energy independence, respect the environment or grow the economy,” said Ed Potosnak, executive director of the New Jersey League of Conservation Voters.
“At the very moment we should be doubling down on clean and renewable energy sources to aggressively combat climate change, Trump has green-lighted the Dakota and Keystone oil pipelines, while, closer to home, PennEast is pursuing a gas pipeline that traverses the Delaware River and a South Jersey Gas wants to build a pipeline through the Pinelands National Reserve, a proposal that was strongly contested at a public hearing today.”
“We condemn this wrong-headed, backward approach to meeting our energy needs,” Potosnak added. “Clean air, safe drinking water and the health of American citizens depend on leaders like Trump making more responsible energy choices.”
Statement from NJ League of Conservation Voters on Gov. Christie’s Environmental Record Ahead of his State of the State Address:
“Gov. Christie will leave office next year with a toxic environmental legacy: He has rolled back environmental protections to help line the pockets of developers, gutted the state’s environmental regulatory and enforcement agency, pulled New Jersey out of the multi-state greenhouse gas reduction initiative and let big polluters off the hook by settling major lawsuits for pennies on the dollar. Sadly, there is no reason to expect transformative environmental policy in his final year in office.
“During this last year, we will continue to fight, but we will also look forward. Christie’s atrocious environmental record – coupled with Trump’s indifference toward climate change and selection of anti-environment Cabinet nominees – make it more urgent than ever that New Jersey’s environmental community elevates the conversation about key air, water, land and public health and safety priorities, puts candidates on the record and works harder than ever to elect a green governor who will again make New Jersey an example for other states to follow. New Jersey League of Conservation Voters will be leading the way.”
Statement from NJ LCV on Bipartisan Passage of Natural Resource Damages Ballot Question (SCR39/ACR127)
Ed Potosnak, executive director of the New Jersey League of Conservation Voters, issued the following statement on bipartisan passage of SCR39/ACR127, a resolution asking voters to require pollution restoration funds be spent as intended and not diverted for other, unrelated purposes:
“We’re relieved that families and local businesses harmed by years of industrial pollution are one step closer to knowing that they will receive the entire pot of restoration monies intended to help communities recover,” said Potosnak. “In a fair and just world, this ballot question would not be necessary. But, as we’ve witnessed in the past two state budgets, legislators of both parties have grabbed pollution settlement money above $50 million to cover unrelated expenses. It’s time to establish a lockbox on these funds, which will ensure that our urban neighborhoods and communities of color are protected from money grabs and will receive due compensation.”
The New Jersey League of Conservation Voters, the leading political voice for the environment, has been spearheading the effort to get SCR39/ACR127 on the ballot.
A resolution is placed on the ballot if it passes both houses of the Legislature by a simple majority two years in a row, or by three-fifths votes in one year, as it did today. With today’s legislative votes of 28 affirmative votes in the Senate and 56 in the Assembly, voters will see this important question on the ballot in 2017.
Press Release: Lawmakers, Environmental Advocates, Residents Want NJ Voters to Direct Natural Resource Damage Monies
TRENTON – A common-sense ballot measure requiring pollution damage settlements to remain in the intended communities and not grabbed to plug holes in the state budget has been posted for floor votes in the Legislature on Monday, thanks to the leadership of legislative champions Sen. Bob Smith and Assemblymen John McKeon and Tim Eustace, the diligence of advocates from the NJ League of Conservation Voters, NY/NJ Baykeeper, American Littoral Society and NJ Audubon and the voices of more than 2,400 taxpayers and voters.
The resolution (SCR39/ACR127) asks voters to safeguard monies intended to enable communities to recover from industrial pollution, sometimes sustained over several decades, rather than allow diversions for unrelated spending, as is now the case. If approved by both houses of the Legislature on Monday and again next year, the question will go to voters next November, a gubernatorial election year in New Jersey.
“These funds are the one shot local families and businesses have to restore their community from damages made to natural resources by polluters,” said Ed Potosnak, executive director of NJ League of Conservation Voters, the leading political voice for the environment. “The Trenton money grab needs to stop, that’s why this public question is so important, it puts environmental settlements into a lockbox ensuring communities harmed by polluters are made whole.”
Sen. Bob Smith, who chairs the Senate Environment Committee, has worked diligently on the wording of the ballot question to be put before voters in November of 2017 building consensus among the state’s diverse environmental community.
“The constitutional dedication of Natural Resource Damages is essential to ensure that the damaged property is cleaned up and restored, unlike the Exxon Mobil Corp. settlement wherein the governor plans to use the NRD money for non-environmental purposes,” said Smith.
Like Smith, many see the court-challenged Exxon Mobil settlement as falling far short of what the polluted communities of Bayonne, Linden and others deserve as compensation for natural resource damage to more than 1,500 acres of wetlands, marshes and waters at refinery sites. The $225 million NRD settlement accepted by the Christie Administration would shrink further if budget language was allowed to stand capping the restoration at $50 million and rerouting the rest to the general fund.
“Right now, the state is able to use this money for any purpose, and the Christie Administration has taken full advantage of this,” said Assemblyman John McKeon, vice chair of the Assembly Environmental Committee. “These monies were not meant to plug holes in the budget. These monies were the result of environmental contamination settlements and should only be used to repair the damage caused by the contamination and for measures that can help protect our environment."
McKeon notes that diverting these funds “sends the wrong message to residents,” and his words are borne out by the more than 2,400 residents who in just four days signed a petition urging lawmakers to put a question on the ballot protecting communities from these unscrupulous money grabs.
"Natural resource damage settlements are investments back into communities impacted by years of pollution,” said Debbie Mans, executive director of NY/NJ Baykeeper. “These projects include preservation of open space for neighborhood parks or habitat restoration. One example is the expansion of Newark's waterfront park along the lower Passaic River, a showcase of urban park development."
Kelly Mooij, vice president of government relations for NJ Audubon, noted the tremendous good these monies can do when applied properly to habitat restoration.
“We believe that funds from this program must be used to restore natural resources and provide recreational opportunities where damage has been done,” says Mooij. “Money should flow to the same community where pollution took place, or through another nexus, such as a connected watershed, in lands that protect the local water source or by identifying another natural resource that is used by the community.”
Tim Dillingham, executive director of American Littoral Society, notes the economic benefits – for jobs and tourism – of remediating communities that have sustained industrial pollution.
"The damaged resources, often tidal marshes and beaches, are the foundation of important economies like recreational and commercial fishing. Fixing the damage supports these struggling industries and the folks who rely on them for jobs," said Dillingham.
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