2023 Clean Energy Act Heard in Senate Enviro Cmt: SC Supports with Amendments

For Immediate Release

Media Contact: Jackie.Greger@sierraclub.org 

Senate Environment Committee Holds Public Hearing on 2023 Clean Energy Act: Sierra Club Strongly in Support with Amendments 

New Jersey Senate Environment and Energy Committee

Yesterday the New Jersey Senate Energy and Environment Committee held S2978 (Smith). The bill focuses on providing clean electricity attribute certificates to clean electricity production facilities. The New Jersey Sierra Club supports the New Jersey Clean Energy Act of 2023 with the addition of amendments. 

The hearing was a marathon of close to five hours in which various stakeholders from academia, environmental, justice, industry, labor and community groups provided testimony. The majority of testimony was in overwhelming support of the bill, with some caveats or amendments to ensure the most stringent clean energy definition and regulation of co-pollutants. The bill will be up for vote at the next Committee meeting on December 18th. 

Anjuli Ramos-Busot, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club, giving testimony in support of S2978 with amendments.

Anjuli Ramos-Busot, New Jersey Director of the Sierra Club released the following statement: 

“New Jersey is on track to achieve 75% of its annual energy usage by 2025, and 84% by 2030 through renewable and nuclear energy. While these are impressive goals and achievements to be proud of, it is essential to take it to 100%. 100% of the electricity we consume should come from renewables and clean energy sources, so that we continue to displace fossil fuels and pollution in our grid. It is also imperative to do this while maintaining affordability so that low and medium income households are not disproportionately impacted by unaffordable energy burdens. Our state is already one of the most expensive states to live in the country, therefore New Jersey must maintain an intentional balance where in-state jobs and affordability are achieved and a benefit to many. 

“NJ Sierra Club strongly agrees with the inclusion of co-pollutants in the definition of clean electricity production facility as well as the exclusion of resource recovery facilities or incinerators. These actions truly provide meaning to the term “clean”. It is well understood that some communities but not all bear the burden of pollution by having heavy industrial facilities like refineries, incinerators, and fuel tank farms in the proximity of or in the actual community itself. Focusing on transitioning to energy sources that do not emit co-pollutants is the fair and just thing to do. 

“We also strongly support the NJDEP determining de minimis levels of co-pollutants at the point of generation and in the fuel supply chain. As a former DEP Air Quality scientist, I can attest that NJ has the ability and authority to be more stringent than the US EPA, and as a result the DEP is one of the most protective and comprehensive Departments in the country when it comes to tackling and regulating co-pollutant emissions. The Department is able to do this because its approach to co-pollutants is based on health standards that are frequently updated independent of rulemaking. NJDEP’s approach to de minimis levels of co-pollutants for qualifying an energy source as a clean electricity production facility will be based on health impacts to our community and not technology, which is how it should be done and the most protective way to tackle pollution. However, New Jersey Sierra Club disagrees with this approach for carbon emissions. Carbon emissions do not have direct health impacts therefore its regulation and approach is always technology based. There are no health standards for carbon dioxide, for example. Therefore, carbon must be zero, not a de minimis level based on technology. If we do this, we are not moving the needle. This is the amendment we are asking for. 

“While NJ Sierra Club advocates for zero carbon emissions, we also recognize that there must be flexibility for grid reliability purposes, while of course being protective of human health. The ultimate goal is to not rely on fossil fuels, and this bill does just that. The New Jersey Clean Energy Act of 2023 will provide, in statute, a requirement of in-state jobs, something NJ does not currently have for all clean energy sources, thousands of jobs in the clean energy industry,  which is one of the fastest growing in the country to which New Jersey is the 4th fastest-growing state in terms of jobs, it takes us to 100% clean electricity consumption while displacing dirty energy generation in our regional grid, protects the health of our communities, does not incentivise the burning of trash as a clean energy source and makes us energy independent. In today's world, energy independence is essential to be achieved. The New Jersey Clean Energy Act of 2023 is one step closer to less volatility in our utility bills, more jobs, better health and curbing the impacts of climate change.”