Doug O'Malley

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.

An environmental group says public health in New Jersey is at risk from air pollution.

Environment New Jersey director Doug O’Malley says air quality in New Jersey’s metropolitan areas ranks in the top ten in the nation for most elevated levels of ozone and particulate matter.

He says they had an average of 91 days of degraded air quality in 2016, and summer heat waves make ozone problems worse.

It’s now up to Governor Murphy to decide whether to sign a bill passed by the New Jersey legislature that would impose a five-cent fee on plastic and paper shopping bags.

Assemblywoman Valerie Huttle says the goal is to reduce the use of bags that litter the environment and end up in waterways. She says the fee is an incentive to change consumer behavior by encouraging the use of reusable bags.

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

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy has until the end of the month to decide whether to sign a controversial bill to subsidize nuclear power plants.  A coalition of environmental, community, and business groups is urging him to conditionally veto it.

Environment New Jersey director Doug O’Malley says the bill on the governor’s desk is wrong headed.

Governor Phil Murphy wants New Jersey to rejoin the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.

But indications are that won’t happen quickly.

Acting Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Catherine McCabe told

lawmakers the nine other states in RGGI are ready to welcome New Jersey back but it’ll take a while to negotiate the specifics of the agreement.

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.

New Jersey lawmakers are delaying action on a bill calling for subsidies to Public Service Enterprise Group to keep nuclear plants open in Salem County.

New Jersey Sierra Club director Jeff Tittel says additions to the bill are making it worse for consumers. He says it could increase costs for ratepayers by more than $4 billion over the next ten years.

In 2011, then Governor Christie pulled New Jersey out of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative and vetoed three attempts by the legislature to rejoin it.

Lawmakers expect Governor Phil Murphy will be receptive to their latest effort to get back in.

Supporters and opponents for a measure that would require the state to be part of RGGI testified at a Senate Environment Committee hearing.

Environment New Jersey director Doug O’Malley says the RGGI program improves air quality and reduces pollution that contributes to climate change.

The drinking water at nearly 400 schools in New Jersey contains lead and advocates say the state must do more to address the problem.

The state is reimbursing school districts for the costs of the water testing.

Environment New Jersey director Doug O'Malley says that's a good start, but he believes remediating lead contamination from old pipes and fixtures should be a state priority.

An analysis by an environmental group finds that 55 percent of the water in schools in New Jersey's most populous county show some level of lead contamination.

Schools had until last week to test their water for lead and Environment New Jersey director Doug O'Malley believes the results in Bergen County indicate what will be found statewide.

He says it's a wakeup call for the state to fund replacement of school water fountains and fixtures that contain lead.

The New Jersey Senate's Environment Committee will hold a hearing Monday on a plan to phase out the diversion of money intended for energy efficiency and renewable energy programs.

The so-called societal benefits charge on electric and natural gas bills is supposed to be used for those programs, but over seven years New Jersey Sierra Club director Jeff Tittel says about $1.5 billion of that money has funneled into the state budget for other uses.

Mike Egenton and Sara Bluhm oppose the legislation.
Phil Gregory

New Jersey lawmakers are trying again to get the state back into the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.

Governor Christie pulled the state out of the program in 2011, saying it was an ineffective way to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power plants. He vetoed previous bills to force the state to resume participation.

Sara Bluhm with the New Jersey Business and Industry Association told lawmakers the state doesn't need to get back in.

Opponents rally outside the New Jersey Statehouse
Phil Gregory

A few dozen environmental activists rallied in front of New Jersey's Statehouse to oppose construction of a natural gas pipeline though the Pinelands.

The proposed 21-mile pipeline is part of a South Jersey Gas project to convert the B.L. England generating plant from coal and oil to natural gas.

Dave Pringle with New Jersey Clean Water Action says a vote by the Pinelands Commission to approve the project would violate its comprehensive management plan to protect the heavily forested area that's an important natural resource.