New Jersey Takes Aggressive Action on Energy, Climate and Resilience

January 28, 2020
Bruce S. Katcher
MGKF Newsflash

On January 27, 2020, New Jersey took three important steps to set the path forward for the state to address climate change in a comprehensive fashion.

First, it issued its revised Energy Master Plan (EMP) which is intended to set the path forward to meeting the Governor’s stated goal of 100% clean energy by 2050.  The EMP identifies seven strategies to meet this goal, including (1) reduction of transportation-related energy consumption and emissions, (2) accelerating the deployment of renewable and distributed energy, (3) reducing overall energy consumption, (4) reducing energy consumption and emissions from the building sector,  (5) decarbonizing and modernizing the energy system, (6) supporting community energy planning and action in underserved communities; and (7) expanding innovation.  The EMP will likely have a major influence on BPU decisions going forward.  The Energy Master Plan can be found here.

Second, the Governor issued Executive Order #100 which requires the NJDEP to adopt, within two years, a series of  “Protecting Against Climate Threats (PACT) Regulations”.  These regulations will (1) establish a new greenhouse gas monitoring and reporting program to monitor progress toward limits set forth in the Global Warming Response Act, (2) establish criteria to govern and reduce carbon dioxide and short lived climate pollutants (e.g., methane), and (3) integrate climate change and sea level rise into NJDEP’s regulatory and permitting programs including, but not limited to land use, water supply, stormwater, wastewater, air quality, solid waste and site remediation. EO #100 can be found here

Third, The NJDEP issued an Administrative Order (2020-1) which sets forth its schedule to implement the third part of EO # 100, including efforts to identify other regulatory programs where changes are needed beyond those identified by the Governor.  The NJDEP Order is here

The New York Times characterized this effort as “the broadest, and most specific, attempt to leverage land-use rules to control where and what developers can build, and to limit the volume of emissions that are spewed into the air.”  The PACT rules are an effort to follow-up on the state’s ongoing resiliency planning efforts that were instigated based on an earlier Executive Order (EO #89). See also our January 21 Forecast article entitled New Jersey's Climate Change Resilience Strategy.

The Governor’s press release indicates that “[t]hrough these aggressive actions, New Jersey will drive a world-leading innovation economy that invests in people and communities, ensures environmental justice for all residents, creates good-paying jobs, protects diverse vulnerable ecosystems, improves public health, and leads the way in the global clean-energy transition.” The extent to which this will actually happen will begin to unfold with the development of the PACT regulations over the coming year.