Governor Phil Murphy’s Environmental Report Card

Everyone in the Garden State had hope that with Phil Murphy’s arrival, it would herald in a new era of progressive clean energy and environmental protection policy. Looking back it seems like wishful thinking, as the new governor has been ineffectual on several important issues.

Back in 2018, Phil Murphy started relatively strong on the environmental front. There were some marked advances in clean energy, such as the passage of an historic bill that would force the state to convert 50% of its energy to clean energy by 2030. This set the stage for aggressive pushes in wind and solar power, as well as looking into other alternatives.

There was also some decent progress in environmental protection as Murphy fought against fracking in the Delaware River Watershed and plans to reduce plastic usage such as a ban on single-use plastic bags.

The truth is these are great initiatives but are the bare minimum. We now know that the state of the environment is rapidly declining. New Jersey is on the front lines of this climate battle, as its seen dramatic reductions in native bird and insect populations, and has to manage the looming threat of beach erosion and rising sea levels, flooding, herbicides and pesticides, and more.

It’s not enough to start strong, it’s what you do when the heat is on. With more and more reports coming out every day about the benefits of green energy and the state of the environment, there’s a certain level of expectation and responsibility that we place in our elected leaders.

Phil Murphy Going Forward

2019 was not a strong year for New Jersey’s new governor.

In fact, some of his decisions over the past year have been downright disappointing and questionable, making NJ voters wonder where his loyalties lie.

From neglecting to overrule terrible Chris Christie federal plans that keep contaminated soil on site rather than a landfill, to doing nothing about the horrendous conditions of the Keegan Landfill in Kearney, to an environmentally costly gas power plant project in the Meadowlands, it seems that Murphy’s record is spotty at best.

The issue is that New Jersey is struggling to rebuild parts of its ailing infrastructure and maintain competitive business acumen, and it seems Murphy (like most politicians these days) has his hand in a multitude of these projects.

While these things aren’t bad on the surface, not enough resources and research has been done to see that green energy projects fill the gaps in our infrastructure while we also look out for the health of our natural parks and other protected areas.

Most New Jersey residents would rather see a long-term plan that is actually sustainable and doesn’t need to be worked over every 5 years, rather than these piecemeal projects that just provide more of the same and a blatant lack of real change or answers.

Other Questionable Decisions

When taking into account someone’s stance on the environment, it helps to look at related issues to get the entire picture. For those who really have faith that Murphy will ultimately fight – and fight hard – for New Jersey’s clean energy and environmental future, it is worth noting that this isn’t the only area where he has made bizarre and politically unhelpful decisions.

For instance, he recently vetoed a simple bill that would have cleared the record of many with marijuana related convictions. Though he did offer an alternative plan, it’s little gestures like this that go a long way and show that you have the community’s best interest at heart. We have yet to see what may come of this alternative plan of his, as well.

There is also the fact that while he champions legal marijuana as a statewide issue he is for, his administration hasn’t really done much in the way to assuage certain people’s fears and actually sell the idea. So far, the governor hasn’t been able to fully legalize marijuana in New Jersey despite the fact that at the time of his election, most people thought it would be an absolutely slam-dunk issue and that it would get legalized in no time at all.

Something is amiss.

It remains to be seen as we head into the 2020 election year how Governor Murphy deals with his sinking reputation as an environmental champion and it will be interesting to see if he can really push through some meaningful legislation during his term.

So far, we give Murphy a solid B-

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