New Jersey Currents | Fall 2022
In this issue:
- New Jersey Residents Demand Healthy Communities and Win!
- Tell Governor Murphy: Protect our Homes from Future Flooding and Storms
- Be a Clean Water Voter This Midterm Election
- Green Amendments: Transforming Environmental Rights from Rhetoric to Reality
- No, Sending More Cars Through the Holland Tunnel Won’t Ease Traffic (But It Will Cause More Climate Emissions)
- Extended Producer Responsibility
- We're Back in the Field!
- Clean Water Action Co-Leads Efforts to “Get The Lead Out”
- Download a PDF of the Newsletter
Residents, community organizations, and small businesses banded together to defeat Amazon. The Good Jobs Clean Air (GJCA) NJ coalition organized for 10 months, to fight against a secret deal between Amazon and the Port Authority of NY and NJ, that would have allowed Amazon to open an Air Hub at Newark Airport without considering impacts on the surrounding communities.
The Amazon Air Hub would have increased truck and airplane traffic and the pollution that comes along with it, in communities where public health is already disproportionately threatened. And despite Amazon’s job creation claims, the data shows that injury rates are disproportionately high at Amazon facilities, and that average wages go down when Amazon comes into communities.
“Environmental justice and labor advocates representing Newark and Elizabeth stood strong. Our coalition is committed to setting higher standards: No more bad jobs and dirty air in black and Latinx communities. Our community deserves protection,” said Terrance L. Bankston, NJ Environmental Justice Organizer, Clean Water Action.
“This is a great victory for residents who came together in solidarity for clean air and good jobs,” said Kim Gaddy, National Environmental Justice Director, Clean Water Action.
Help the GJCA coalition defend overburdened communities and protect the interest of workers. Click here to join efforts powered by the GJCA coalition.
▲Terrance Bankston, NJ EJ Organizer, Clean Water Action and local resident speaks at Good Jobs Clean Air (Amazon) campaign kick off event in Newark’s South Ward. Photo by Liana Dalton
New Jersey’s current flood hazard rules are out of date (1999) and allow developers to keep building in areas we know will flood in the future. Governor Murphy promised his administration would update these regulations in light of current and anticipated climate changing impacts. That’s why we are asking Governor Phil Murphy and NJ Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Shawn LaTourette to adopt flood hazard protection rules, effective immediately, so that further loss of life and additional, devastating property damage can be avoided.
The time is NOW. Please send an urgent message to Gov. Murphy and DEP Commissioner LaTourette asking them to adopt emergency regulations around flooding and stormwater ASAP.
With the U.S. House and Senate hanging in the balance, every race matters. What’s potentially at stake? Continued federal action to fight the climate crisis, bills to tackle toxins like PFAS, and legislation to protect voting access. Check out our New Jersey endorsements, and then read on to find out your options to vote this year!
In New Jersey’s 7th Congressional District, Clean Water Action has endorsed Tom Malinowski. Congressman Malinowski has maintained a perfect environmental voting record. He stood with farmers, landowners, and environmental activists to defeat the dirty PennEast pipeline, and he is a champion of New Jersey’s clean energy sector. This will most likely be a very close race, so make sure you share this endorsement with your NJ friends and family!
We have also endorsed:
- Andy Kim – CD3
- Frank Pallone – CD6
- Bill Pascrell – CD8
- Donald Payne – CD 10
- Mikie Sherrill - CD11
- Bonnie Watson-Coleman – CD12
The deadline to register to vote in the November 8th election is October 18th. Check your registration and register to vote.
There are three ways to cast your vote in NJ in 2022!
1. VOTE BY MAIL: If you would like a ballot mailed to you, your county clerk must receive your application to vote by mail by November 1st. You can also request a mail ballot in person at your County Clerk’s office until November 7th at 3:00 p.m.
To return your mail ballot:
— You can mail it. It must be postmarked by 8:00 p.m. on Election Day, November 8th and received by your county’s Board of Elections on or before 6 days after Election Day.
—You can put it in one of your county’s secure ballot drop boxes by 8:00 p.m on Election Day, November 8th. Find your closest drop box here.
—You can deliver it in person to your county’s Board of Elections Office by 8:00 p.m. on Election Day, November 8th.
2. IN-PERSON EARLY VOTING: You can cast your ballot in-person, at a voting machine, prior to Election Day. Early in-person voting will take place from October 29th through November 6th, 2022. Each county has a list of early voting locations.
3. VOTING ON ELECTION DAY: Election Day is November 8th. Find your polling place, and head over between 6:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m.
Make a plan to vote! The state of NJ has given us a buffet of voting options! Whether you fill out a mail ballot at the beach and drop it in a secure drop box, bring your toddler to an early voting location, or show up on Election Day, your vote will help determine our climate’s future. See you at the polls!
◀ Green Amendments: Transforming Environmental Rights from Rhetoric to Reality. 100 EJ advocates from 23 states celebrated the 2nd Green Amendment Day. We learned that enforceable environmental rights, in the form of constitutional Green Amendments, can help frontline communities’ address environmental racism and climate injustice. Photo by Amy Goldsmith.
No, Sending More Cars Through the Holland Tunnel Won’t Ease Traffic (But It Will Cause More Climate Emissions)
Governor Murphy understands the climate crisis and has proposed solutions to fight the climate crisis, BUT (and this is a huge but) he also supports policies that are undermining his own efforts to move the state to a renewable energy future. Case in point, he recently doubled down on his support for a controversial plan to widen the New Jersey Turnpike extension to and from the Holland Tunnel. To be clear, this plan would NOT widen or enlarge the Holland Tunnel in any way nor would it ease the downtown New York congestion awaiting drivers on the other side. It would spend 5 billion dollars on Parkway and Turnpike tolls to widen the road that leads to the tunnel. Essentially, it’s a $5 billion parking lot.
The city councils of Hoboken and Jersey City both unanimously passed resolutions opposing the project pointing out that more cars idling outside of the narrow tunnel entrance will lead to more pollution in their communities. New York City is in the process of considering congestion pricing as it works to *reduce* the number of cars clogging city streets. And despite the governor’s assertions that the future Turnpike will only be used by clean EVs, the reality is that combustion engines will continue to use that road for decades, spewing carbon emissions and other co-pollutants into nearby neighborhoods while they wait to enter the tunnel.
Currently, 40% of New Jersey’s greenhouse gas emissions come from the transportation sector. Spending billions of dollars on road expansion while mass transit remains underfunded completely misses the urgency of the climate moment we are in. Despite the fact that the state is flushed with federal dollars and recently passed the largest state budget in NJ history, NJ Transit is raiding its own capital expense fund to pay for operating expenses. Highway expansion is not going to stop the climate crisis, but investments in mass transit can.
So what are we going to do about this? Climate organizers with the Empower NJ coalition (of which Clean Water Action is a part) rallied outside the NJ Turnpike Authority’s headquarters in Woodbridge to oppose the project, and activists, allies, and impacted neighbors continue to show up and testify against the highway widening. In addition, activists across the state are working to spread the word and hold Governor Murphy accountable for supporting this environmentally destructive and shortsighted plan. You can help! Email Eric Benson (email@example.com) to get updates on upcoming actions and opportunities to testify. We need to all work together to make sure that Governor Murphy backs up his climate talk with climate action.
▲ Governor Murphy: “Walk Your Talk On Climate.”
7 fossil fuel projects would increase NJ’s total greenhouse gas pollution by 38%. Environmental Justice Advocates canvassed from Newark to Elizabeth, Woodbridge to Old Bridge, and then to Red Bank,calling on Governor Murphy to stop the 7 major fossil fuel projects threatening our climate. Photo by Terrance L. Bankston
Clean Water Action is co-leading an effort in NJ to reduce single-use plastics. It started with a 2020 law (S864) that eliminates single-use plastic/paper bags, polyfoam containers and allows straws only by request. Effective date, May 2022, with a 6-month delay (November 2022) for food pantries. Earlier in 2022, A4676 was passed to increase the amount of post-consumer recycled content in packaging. We recently introduced a revolutionary program to switch homebound meal delivery to reusable containers. Stay tuned!
Now we are laser focused on a best-in-the-nation “Extended Producer Responsibility” (EPR) law that includes environmental standards, mandates less plastic and least-toxic packaging, addresses beverage, residential and commercial sectors, avoids loopholes, and has strong oversight and accountability measures such as higher fees on products with more egregious packaging.
The cost of plastics and waste management is currently placed almost exclusively on taxpayers. The environment also pays the price of plastics clogging waterways and storm drains, filling landfills and being incinerated. If done right, EPR puts the burden and costs on the industry to develop and pay to reduce, reuse and recycling. It could also slow down the fracking of gas, the primary feedstock for making plastics. We are meeting with State House leaders to introduce a great bill this legislative session. Want to get involved in the plastics campaign? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This spring, we reopened our field canvass operations from our Montclair office. We are so glad to be back talking face-to-face with our fellow community members, mobilizing to tackle the climate crisis and make your voices heard on the environmental issues that concern you most. We have collected hundreds of constituents’ letters to Governor Murphy, urging him to act now to live up to his climate promises. Thank you for your continued support, and we look forward to seeing you again soon!
Clean Water Action has partnered with Passaic Valley Water Commission & NJ American Water to inventory locations with lead service lines; and to promote and register impacted residents for no-cost lead service line replacements. The initial focus is older neighborhoods with a high population of children, specifically infants and pregnant women (the most vulnerable to lead in water.) “I am excited to lead this effort to bring lead free water to overburdened communities,” stated Terrance Bankston, NJ Environmental Justice Organizer, Clean Water Action. Click here for more information.