(Featured photo: NJ Sierra Club Director Jeff Tittel speaking at the recent New Jersey March for Science)
In a teleconference this afternoon, Jeff Tittel, the Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club announced that his organization has given Governor Murphy a grade of C for the first 100 days of the new administration.
The Club, which has been grading governors on environmental performance since Christine Todd Whitman, and which endorsed Phil Murphy in the recent election was generally pleased with the improvement since the anti-environment policies of his predecessor. Tittel called out the hiring of Catherine McCabe to run the Department of Environmental Protection as a plus, given McCabe’s past track record. He applauded the governor’s commitment to rejoin the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative but said it “doesn’t make sense” to wait two years to fully implement this cap-and-trade system that was abandoned by Chris Christie. Tittel also applauded Murphy’s ban on fracking but had hoped that the state would go further in banning fracking waste.
One recurring theme coming out of the Sierra Club in the last several weeks is their disappointment in Governor Murphy’s tendency to divert environmental funds (for example $140 million from the Clean Energy Fund and $69 million from the Volkswagen settlement) into balancing the overall state budget rather than for funding the programs they were intended for. Tittle also expressed disappointment that the new governor is not fighting the giveaway to Exxon in their recent settlement (although former State Senator Ray Lesniak is still on it!)
Other areas of concern were the bailout of PSE&G nuclear plants, the 1200 megawatt power plant in the Meadowlands, and the lack of appointments to the Pinelands Commission and the Highlands Council.
While Tittle was generally pleased with the turnaround from the Christie administration in the first 100 days, he indicated that he wished Murphy would do more, citing several environmental initiatives started by Governor McGreevy at the onset of his administration.