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NJ Senate Urged To Mandate “Climate Impact Statements”

State Government Continues To Ignore Climate Crisis In Policy, Law, and Regulation

Necessary “Radical Revolution of Values” Can Be Advanced By Reforms

The climate crisis and necessary transition to a zero carbon economy, 100% renewables, and deep rapid greenhouse gas emissions reduction will require radical changes not only in the economy, politics, and society at large, but also in law, regulation, and governing.

We desperately seek radical systemic and institutional change – what Doctor King called a “radical revolution of values” – but realize that such change can be facilitated by minor reforms.

In that spirit of minor reform, we suggested a baby step today. That suggestion grew out of recent frustrations with State government and DEP continuing to ignore the climate crisis and miss opportunities to make needed changes.

While State government does absolutely nothing but defend the status quo, political leaders and their political appointees heading critical agencies like DEP continue to mislead the public with slogans and press releases, not real action.

While the focus in NJ is correctly on big changes like a fossil moratorium and phase out and nationally on Shut It Down and the Green New Deal and the Sanders Climate Plan, we’ve got to start somewhere and someone has got to take out the garbage, So, we urged Senate environmental leaders to begin the process of systematically restructuring NJ laws and regulations to address energy and climate.

If you consider this a fools errand, just consider that’s exactly how the Koch Brothers achieved radical right wing Libertarian change – via incremental change over time.

I agree that the climate emergency does not allow time for an incremental reform strategy. But I view social change as a titration: a steady drip, drip, drip, can lead to a radical changed state (there’s also chaos theory and the wing of a butterfly flapping metaphor).

Obviously, there need to be substantive policy changes to laws, not just minor process reforms. But such minor reforms can provide ammunition to the public to demand real change, while holding government accountable. Here’s our letter:

Dear Chairman Smith and ranking members of the Senate Environment Committee:

I write concerning the climate crisis to suggest a modest low cost policy that can begin to address the need for deep greenhouse gas emissions reductions reflective of science and to achieve the goals of the Global Warming Response Act, while improving the transparency and scientific basis for decision-making.

I’ve been disappointed by recent legislation and DEP regulation that ignore greenhouse gas emissions and miss opportunities to consider and reduce emissions.

For example, despite the fact that the building sector accounts for a huge percentage of total emissions, the legislature passed and Gov. Murphy recently signed amendments to NJ redevelopment law that ignore energy conservation, energy efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions, see:

http://www.wolfenotes.com/2019/08/gov-murphy-quietly-signs-major-redevelopment-law-no-standards-to-address-greenhouse-gas-emissions-energy-efficiency-renewable-energy-environmental-justice-2/

On the regulatory front, DEP continues to propose regulations, management plans and issue permits that fail to address energy conservation, energy efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions, see:

http://www.wolfenotes.com/2019/09/murphy-dep-proposes-new-permit-for-fossil-fuel-boilers-no-greenhouse-gas-limits-or-efficiency-standards/

http://www.wolfenotes.com/2019/08/murphy-dep-issues-another-permit-to-a-major-air-polluter-no-limits-on-greenhouse-gas-emissions/

One way to begin to systematically consider and inject energy, greenhouse gas emissions and climate into NJ legislative and regulatory policy across state government would be to enact a law that mandates consideration of energy policy, greenhouse gas emissions and climate in all legislation and regulatory actions.

Current  legislative policy mandates consideration of fiscal impacts of proposed legislation.

With respect to proposed regulation, the NJ APA mandates consideration of social impacts, economic impacts, environmental impacts, federal standards analysis, jobs impacts, agricultural industry impacts, regulatory flexibility analysis, housing affordability impact analysis, smart growth development impact analysis, and racial and ethnic community criminal justice and public safety impact analysis.

Surely, energy (including consistency with the BPU Energy Master Plan), greenhouse gas emissions (including consistency with the Global Warming Response Act and DEP implementation plans), and climate impacts (including adaptation) warrant equal consideration in legislation and regulation.

Accordingly, I request that you draft and introduce legislation to amend the NJ Administrative Procedure Act to mandate consideration (and quantification) of energy, greenhouse gas emissions and climate impacts during promulgation of regulation, adoption of functional plans, development of policies, and issuance of permits, technical manuals, and Guidance documents. The law. should apply across the Executive Branch of State government. The bill should also apply these requirement to the legislature in considering legislation.

The bill should include mandates to consider direct, indirect, secondary, cumulative, and lifecycle impacts.

Such amendments would begin the huge legal and institutional change in State government that will be required by a rational transition to a zero carbon economy, renewable energy, and attainment of deep and rapid greenhouse gas emissions reductions.

I would be glad to work with you in fleshing this out and appreciate your consideration of this modest request.

Respectfully,

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