Bob Smith

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy is expected to veto legislation next week that would impose a 5-cent fee on single-use plastic and paper bags.

Senate Environment Committee chairman Bob Smith got applause from environmental group leaders when he announced the upcoming veto at a legislative hearing in Toms River to examine how to reduce plastic waste.

Doug O’Malley, the director of Environment New Jersey, says the bag fee bill would have prevented towns that haven’t already banned plastic bags from enacting a local prohibition.

18 towns in New Jersey already prohibit smoking on their beaches. A bill advancing in the legislature would ban smoking on all public beaches in the state.

Senate Environment Committee chairman Bob Smith says a statewide ban would prevent beachgoers from being exposed to second-hand smoke and end the litter problem from the tens of thousands of cigarette butts that are left on the beaches every year.

A New Jersey lawmaker is proposing cash rebates to get more zero-emission vehicles on the road.

Senate Environment Committee chairman Bob Smith says his bill would have the state provide rebates of $100 million annually for three years for consumers who switch to electric vehicles.

“I don’t say where the money is coming from because I’m not that smart. But I know we should be doing it if we want to get people into EVs. We have to start the discussion and this bill starts that discussion.”

Environment New Jersey director Doug O’Malley says it’s a good concept.

A bill to provide subsidies for nuclear plants and renewable power incentives is scheduled for a vote in the New Jersey Senate on Monday. It's not clear whether it has enough support to pass. 

Senator Bob Smith is one of the bill's primary sponsors, but he's not sure if he'll vote for it.

"I think the bill is still a work in progress. So, like any bill you want to wait until you see what is in the final bill. The bill started out tremendously with really good stuff. I'm really concerned about the solar portion at this moment."

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy has signed an executive order directing the state to rejoin the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. 

Former Governor Chris Christie pulled New Jersey out of the multi-state program in 2011.

Murphy says that was a retreat from a collaborative effort to reduce carbon emissions that contribute to climate change.

Murphy says getting back in will restore New Jersey’s place as a leader in the green economy.

Advocates are urging New Jersey officials to do more to encourage the use of electric vehicles.

Pamela Frank is CEO of the ChargeEVC coalition. She says the costs of electric vehicles are too high for many consumers and creating a $300 million fund to provide rebates would make them more affordable.

"Giving a $5,000 cash rebate at the point of sale and having that rebate decline by $500 for each $100 million bloc allocated would give us 67,000 new cars on the road with a plug in three years."

Thursday is the last day to submit public comment on President Trump's America-First Energy Strategy to allow oil and gas drilling in the Atlantic Ocean. The New Jersey region has been off limits to drilling and there's an effort to keep it that way.

Trump administration officials say opening up new areas for drilling will help the nation achieve energy dominance.

Cindy Zipf leads the marine-advocacy group Clean Ocean Action. She says opponents believe it would be harmful.