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Environmental Issues Take Center Stage for New Jersey Politicians

New Jersey political leaders in Trenton and Washington are putting environmental issues front and center with two separate announcements Feb. 11.

Assemblyman Speaker Craig Coughlin announced the creation of the Special Committee on Infrastructure and Natural Resources to assess the state’s current standing and future needs for our water infrastructure and the protection of other natural resources.

The bipartisan panel plans to hearings throughout the state on topics including beach erosion, water integrity and security, dams and reservoirs, algae blooms, lead contamination, waste water infrastructure, stormwater challenges, and the effects of climate change. Those expected to take testimony from experts, elected officials, planners, and members of the general public

Water Infrastructure

“This session, I believe it is imperative for us to focus our energies on addressing the concerns that have been raised over the state’s aging water infrastructure and integrity,” said Coughlin. 

“Working to ensure greater protection and preservation of our natural resources now will help stabilize New Jersey’s future. I am confident the work of the Special Committee on Infrastructure and Natural Resources will allow us to be more innovative in our planning surrounding these environmental issues,” the speaker stated.

Assemblyman Robert Karabinchak and Assemblywoman Annette Chaparro will serve as chair and vice-chair, respectively, of the special committee.

“Our goal, through this committee, is to secure New Jersey’s water future through discussion and legislative action,” said Chaparro (D-Hudson). “This is an opportunity to work on critical issues affecting our communities and the entire state as a whole.”

The Clean Economy Act

In Washington, Sens. Bob Menendez and Cory Booker joined Democratic colleagues in introducing The Clean Economy Act, legislation looking to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by no 2050. Backers of the bill say passage would boost American competitiveness, promotes healthier frontline communities and fosters a growing economy that works for everyone.

EPA would be required to build upon existing state, local and private climate programs and set greenhouse gas emission reduction targets for 2025, 2030 and 2040. Other federal agencies would be required meet the net-zero goal and help enhance America’s global competitiveness through investments in research and development, innovation and equitable access to worker training. 

Bold Plan

“There is no time to waste to reduce greenhouse emissions and get our country back on track to aggressively address the growing threat posed by climate change,” said Sen. Menendez. “The Clean Economy Act would do that by achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions no later than 2050. This bold, achievable plan would improve environmental quality and the public health of Americans by also significantly cutting emissions of smog, smoot and other dangerous pollutants.”

According to the United Nations annual Emissions Gap Report, collective global efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions are not yet substantial enough to reach that temperature goal.

Sen. Booker noted communities of color disproportionately face these environmental and economic impacts.

“The threat of climate change is one of the greatest challenges we face. Increasing temperatures and rising seas continue to adversely affect our economy, infrastructure, and public health” said Sen. Booker. 

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