New Jersey Establishes New Climate Office and Green Economy Council

Awards $100M in Green Transportation Grants

February 18, 2021
Bruce S. Katcher
MGKF Newsflash

In a major announcement targeted at further enhancing New Jersey’s image as a state at the forefront of the green economy and the response to climate change, Governor Murphy heralded the following major steps on February 16, 2021:

  • Awarding of over $100 million in grants directed at a wide range of green transportation projects. The grants are funded by New Jersey’s share of the proceeds of the settlement of the national emissions fraud litigation against Volkswagen and from the New Jersey’s proceeds of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) carbon dioxide allowance auction.  These grants will fund projects throughout the state including a multitude of vehicle and port equipment electrification and charging station infrastructure projects with emphasis on projects in environmental justice communities.  Grants were awarded on a competitive basis and can be found here.
  • Establishment, by Executive Order 221, of the following:
    • A new Office of Climate Action and the Green Economy in the Governor’s office headed by newly appointed Executive Director Jane Cohen, Senior Policy Advisor to the Governor on Environment and Energy.
    • The Climate Office Executive Director will also serve as the Executive Director of the new Council on the Green Economy which will be co-chaired by the Commissioners of Environmental Protection and Labor and the President of the Board of Public Utilities. Membership will include a wide range of agency heads and representatives of labor, industry, environmental justice and environmental groups, small businesses, green economy businesses, utilities, academia and workforce training.

The Climate Office is primarily intended to “coordinate the policymaking processes of the Executive Branch agencies with respect to all climate change and green economy issues”.   

The Council is charged with assessing and analyzing a wide range of issues associated with the current state and future development of the green economy through government programs and private industry.  Particular attention is given to workforce diversification and the enhancement of access for historically underrepresented populations as well as the impacts of a “just transition to a green economy”. The Council must report its recommendations to the Governor within one year.

These actions represent an effort to further integrate New Jersey’s response to climate change with its economic development and environmental justice initiatives and to enhance the implementation and coordination of these separate but obviously related policies.  How these efforts will play out in view of the many separate agency initiatives, such as the Protecting Against Climate Threats (PACT) initiative, the Energy Master Plan and the implementation of the new Environmental Justice Law, will be determined in the coming months. For further information in these initiatives, see prior MGKF alerts from January and September 2020, here and here.  Questions can be directed to Bruce Katcher at 484-430-2320.