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New Jersey has some of the worst air quality in the nation, according to the latest State of the Air report by the American Lung Association. Bergen and Mercer Counties received ‘F’ ratings in the report, while Camden County’s ‘D’ rating is among the worst in the Philadelphia region. Exposure to air pollution and smog can cause asthma, heart disease, strokes, and cancer. As NJPP’s Alex Ambrose told The Star-Ledger, the biggest driver of air pollution in New Jersey is the transportation sector, underscoring the urgent need to promote mass transit and electric vehicles. More on both of those below. [NJ.com / Steven Rodas]
NJ Transit is expecting a $1 billion budget shortfall by 2026, and all options are on the table to resolve it, according to state Transportation Commission Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti. If that sounds bad, that’s because it is. “All options” includes fare increases and service cuts, which would result in longer and more expensive commutes, and more cars on the road. Two NJ Transit board members, Shanti Narra and Bob Gordon, have called on lawmakers to provide the agency with dedicated funding so the budget isn’t balanced on the backs of commuters. This echoes calls from transit and environmental advocates, who have been sounding the alarm on the need for consistent, dedicated funding for years. Oh, and note that the $1 billion shortfall is almost exactly the same size as the corporate tax cut lawmakers want to include in next year’s budget. [NorthJersey.com / Colleen Wilson]
Now for some electric vehicle news: The state’s electric vehicle incentive program, Charge Up New Jersey, was put on pause this week as the program has exhausted its $35 million budget for the year. This is a testament to the success of the program and increasing electric vehicle sales. Still, electric vehicles only made up eight percent of new car sales in 2022, a rate that must grow — and fast — for the state to meet its goal of 100 percent clean energy by 2035. [ROI-NJ / Linda Lendner]
The Editorial Board at The Star-Ledger is calling on the Murphy administration to move faster and adopt the Advance Clean Cars II rules, which would require all new cars and light-duty truck sales to be zero-emission by 2035. Because the rule-making process can take months, the state risks missing another model year of implementation if the rules are not introduced by late Spring. Further delay would also make it less likely that New Jersey will meet its clean energy goals. “[W]hen it comes to doing our part in cooling the climate, time is a luxury we can no longer afford.” [The Star-Ledger / Editorial Board]
Speaking of rules … On Monday, the state’s Environmental Justice Rules were finalized and adopted, creating some of the strongest safeguards in the nation against pollution for residents in “overburdened” communities. The rules require permits for pollution-generating facilities (e.g., power plants, incinerators, sewage treatment plants, landfills) to be denied if they disproportionately harm residents in overburdened communities. More than 340 municipalities — home to over 4.6 million people — are considered overburdened based on the number of low-income residents, people of color, and people for whom English is not their first language. The only open question is whether the new rules will apply to proposals and permits that predate its adoption. [NJ.com / Steven Rodas]
We’re looking for an Operations and Finance Manager — could that be you? Click the link for more information, and please share this with anyone you think may be interested. [NJPP / Career Opportunities]
Pets of NJPP
Sticking with the Earth Day theme, here’s a picture of a
weird looking dog fox from NJPP’s environment and transit analyst, Alex Ambrose. The fox, while not a pet, frequently visits Alex’s backyard to soak up the afternoon sun. Woof?
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