New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy announced Friday he supports a bill that would force applicants filing for environmental permits to take into account their impact on nearby low-income and marginalized communities.

The Democrat said it would be the strongest such law in the country.

“Some will look at what we’re championing here today and wonder why all the fuss for what is at its heart a bureaucratic action,” Murphy said. “But it is the seemingly small acts of government that can have huge impacts.”

A proposal in New Jersey would provide rebates of up to $5,000 to people who buy electric cars and set statewide goals for their future use, in what lawmakers hope will be a boost to an industry that is still eclipsed by traditional gas-powered automobiles.

Supporters said the move would also be a major step in fighting climate change in New Jersey, where the transportation sector accounts for more than 40% of greenhouse gas emissions.

Fiona Goodall / Getty Images

New Jersey could ban all plastic and paper bags as well as polystyrene containers, in a move lawmakers say will address environmental and public health concerns associated with those materials.

While discarded plastics and polystyrene end up in waterways, littering beaches and harming marine life, humans can also ingest small pieces in the environment.

“When they get into your body, because you’re ingesting them, they also bring with them organic chemicals, some of which are carcinogenic,” said state Sen. Bob Smith, D-Middlesex. “This is a public health crisis.”

Ang Santos / WBGO

Dozens of high school, college, and community environmental advocates skipped work and class Friday, protesting NJ Transit’s proposed power plant along the Hackensack River in Kearny.

“We want to be in school, we want to be working, we want to be participating in our everyday lives, but it’s about disrupting those everyday patterns to make a statement,” said 16-year-old Ananya Singh of Morristown, a facilitator of the ‘North Jersey Climate Strike.’

New Jersey officials have announced a new goal to power more than three million homes using offshore wind energy by the year 2035.

The state is attempting to deal with a worsening climate crisis caused by fossil fuel use and also capitalize on a booming new clean energy industry.

“Here’s my message to the skeptics and the climate deniers, and it really is this simple: offshore wind is a win for our environment, a win for our economy, and a win for our future,” said Gov. Phil Murphy at an event in Jersey City on Tuesday.

Ang Santos / WBGO

Climates of Inequality: Stories of Environmental Justice is an exhibition that uses virtual reality and other forms of media to tell the stories of communities directly affected by climate change.  

Climates of Inequality is a multimedia installation that was created by over 500 students, environmental justice, other community advocates and scholars from twenty different cities across the hemisphere,” said Liz Sevcenko, director of the Humanities Action Lab, a coalition of organizers across 40 cities that curate projects based on social issues.

New Jersey is marking the anniversary of Superstorm Sandy with a new set of policies to address climate change.

At a press conference in Hoboken, Gov. Phil Murphy said the state faces increasing threats from climate change seven years after Sandy, which damaged tens of thousands of homes in New Jersey and killed dozens of people.

“Even though we know we’ll never have another Sandy,” Murphy said, “it would be naive of us to think that we won’t ever see one of Sandy’s siblings in New Jersey.”

The Environmental Value of Biochar

Oct 19, 2019
Jon Kalish for WBGO News

Construction to begin by the end of this month on a plant in Linden that will turn treated sewage sludge into biochar. Biochar is a form of charcoal but it’s not used as a fuel. The biochar produced at the Linden plant will be used as a substitute for fly ash in concrete.

Biochar can also be made from nut shells, wood chips and landscaping waste. Biochar has environmental value because it sequesters carbon and can filter agricultural chemical before they run-off into lakes and streams. Biochar is being embraced in New England.

New Jersey has announced an ambitious plan to replace all of its aging lead-lined water pipes in the next ten years.

The state also wants to help residents rid their homes of lead-based paint, which is the leading cause of lead poisoning.

“It’s a problem that’s been handed to us by years — and in some cases, by generations — of inaction. Well, this is our time for action,” said Gov. Phil Murphy during a Thursday press conference.

New Jersey will begin borrowing $100 million to pay for lead remediation projects in schools across the state and require educational facilities to test for lead contamination more often.

The efforts are Gov. Phil Murphy’s latest attempts to deal with growing public concern about lead contamination in homes and schools across the state.

“Lead contamination is not a Newark problem or an urban problem,” Murphy said at a Monday press conference in Bergenfield. “It’s a problem that has been building in communities up and down our state and, indeed, across the country.”

A new poll finds that New Jersey residents support cutting down on single-use plastic bags, but they get squeamish at the idea of a complete ban.

The Monmouth University survey found that about two in three residents said they supported a plastic bag ban, but many backed away from that zeal when presented with specifics about how it would impact their shopping habits.

New Jersey lawmakers want the state’s nearly 300 water utilities to provide more information about water quality and be held accountable for the data they publish.

State legislators conducted a hearing Tuesday amid an ongoing public-health crisis in Newark, where recent tests showed elevated lead levels in the drinking water of two homes.

Sen. Troy Singleton, D-Burlington, said it was crucial that the public has access to information about local water quality.

A coalition of environmental groups is calling on the multistate agency that oversees the Delaware River watershed to ban fracking and related activities in the area.

The activists hope it would codify a de facto moratorium that has been in place for nearly a decade that prohibits fracking, the treatment and disposal of fracking waste, and the transfer of water for fracking operations elsewhere.

Ask Governor Murphy
Ask Governor Murphy

How is Governor Phil Murphy doing when it comes to environmental matters in New Jersey?  We want to hear from you tonight when the next edition of Ask Governor Murphy airs on WBGO at 7pm.

Host Nancy Solomon and Governor Murphy will be in the WBGO studios taking your phone calls and social media questions.   

Smokers will no longer be able to light up at New Jersey’s parks and beaches starting later this month, when a ban on smoking cigarettes and vaping takes effect.

Anti-smoking advocates have hailed the move as a step forward for public health in the Garden State, and environmentalists hope the ban will reduce the amount of smoking-related litter discarded along the Jersey Shore.

The Garden State’s top law enforcement official says time is up for polluters who contaminate sites in low-income and minority neighborhoods, saddling disadvantaged populations with the negative health effects of environmental pollution.

New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal announced Thursday his office had filed eight lawsuits against companies from Newark to Trenton to Camden.

Rutgers Newark / The Cornwall Center

Fashion changes at such a rapid pace in the 21st century, yesterday’s styles can literally end up in a landfill.  Experts call it fast fashion. 

NJ Enviromental Leaders Oppose Trump Budget Cuts

Aug 17, 2017

Environmental groups and New Jersey officials are urging Congress to reject President Donald Trump's proposed 30 percent cut in the Environmental Protection Agency's budget.

They expressed their opposition to Trump's plan in Brick Township at the base of a bridge that was wiped out by Superstorm Sandy nearly five years ago.

Ed Potosnak leads the New Jersey League of Conservation Voters. He says the budget cuts would put the state’s environment in grave danger.

Four former New Jersey Governors are urging the state's Congressional delegation to defend environmental laws.

Republican Christie Whitman says the Trump administration's proposal to slash the Environmental Protection Agency budget would hurt environmental enforcement and scientific research on what's acceptable for human health.

Coalition Urges Action To Fight Climate Change

Jan 26, 2017
Coalition members outline their goals.
Phil Gregory

A coalition of more than 30 environmental, labor, and community organizations says climate change poses a massive threat to New Jersey and is urging the state to do more to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase clean energy.

Dan Fatton is executive director of the Work Environment Council. He says the collation is a ray of hope in the Trump era.

NJ Might Ban Foam Food Product Sales In Schools

Jan 20, 2017
Assemblyman Troy SIngleton
Phil Gregory

A bill advanced by the Assembly's Environment Committee would prohibit public schools and colleges in New Jersey from selling food in foam containers.

Assemblyman Troy Singleton says food remains on them, making the polystyrene containers difficult to recycle, so most recycling places won’t take them.

He says the foam products take years to degrade and small pieces end up littering streets and waterways.

"Because this stuff gets thrown out and finds its way into our waterways, by 2050 which isn't that far off we will have more plastic in our ocean than fish."