What is the Environmental and Energy Agenda for the Murphy Administration in New Jersey?

January 18, 2018
Bruce S. Katcher, Esq.
MGKF Special Alert - Forecast 2018

In late November 2017, we published a Special Alert with our predictions on what may be the environmental and energy initiatives under the new Murphy administration.  In brief, the following initiatives are likely to be at or near the top of the agenda:

1.  Greenhouse Gas

a.  Re-entry into the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative and (RGGI)
b.  Possible expansion of RGGI objectives into transportation
c.  Support of the U.S. Climate Alliance and the Paris Accords

2.  Electric Vehicle Use and Infrastructure

a.  Promotion of electric vehicles and infrastructure
b.  Pursuit of California zero-emission vehicle program

3. Renewable Energy and Storage

a. Wind – vigorous effort to promote off-shore wind
b.  Solar – promote increased investment in solar to once again position New Jersey as a solar leader among the states
c.  Portfolio Standards – support a move to 100 percent clean energy by 2050
d.  Storage – promote clean energy storage
e.  Siting – promote renewable siting to minimize adverse environmental impacts

4.  Nuclear – Murphy indicated support for nuclear as an energy source during the campaign, however many of the environmental groups supporting him are not on board.

5.  Fracking – support for initiatives that would disincentive fracking

6.  Resiliency – Continue to support resiliency efforts including smart girds, microgrids and advanced metering as well as protection of the shore from damaging storms.

7.  Urban toxics, diesel emissions, environmental justice and ports – The Governor-elect’s campaign materials emphasize the importance of addressing disproportionate environmental impacts on low income and politically vulnerable communities. Thus, these areas are expected to be a focus of these efforts.

8.  Land Use Regulation

a.  Smart Growth – An important plank of the Murphy platform was to return New Jersey to a leadership role in smart planning.
b.  Status of recent regulatory changes – Land use regulatory revisions adapted over the last several years could be a target for re-evaluation.
c.  Highlands and Pinelands – The composition of both Commissions could face change and some key recent decisions (e.g., re pipelines in the pinelands and septic density in the Highlands) could face re-examination.

9.  Site Remediation – this topic is addressed under a separate article in this Forecast here.

10.  Strategic state leadership on environmental issues where EPA retreats – Expect New Jersey to take a leading role on issues such as climate change where EPA is retrenching.