By Andre Sayegh, Mayor of Paterson, NJ
When an array of interests find a collective voice for action on an issue, it’s a sign we are onto something significant. In this way, I am proud to place Paterson as a focal point for this consensus about the health, and environmental and economic benefits of a transition to electric vehicles. I have committed my voice in support of key legislation (S2252/A4819) to develop incentives and infrastructure for electric transportation across New Jersey.
In February of this year, Paterson joined with Jersey Renews and Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) in hosting New Jersey’s commemoration of Transit Equity Day at City Hall, part of a national day of action by the Labor Network for Sustainability. ATU and a broad array of partners, including NJ Work Environment Council, Tri-State Transportation Campaign, Environment NJ, Working Families, and Clean Water Action called for accessible and affordable public transit that is run on clean and renewable energy to improve public health, create new jobs in the green energy sector, and mitigate climate change. I signed a proclamation in support of those goals, particularly for electrifying our city fleet, to benefit Paterson residents and to showcase a statewide model of what is possible working together.
Then in May, with Councilman Lu is Velez and business leaders, I stood with a gathering of African American ministers representing Greenfaith at an Electric Vehicle Blessing Ceremony to call for passage of the EV bill (S2252 /A4819). We were inspired with new possibilities in my city.
Lungs and labor
Why? It’s about lungs and it’s about labor. We want clean air and we want green jobs. Nearly 5 0 % of greenhouse gas emissions in New Jersey come from the transportation sector. That’s why the City of Paterson is taking transportation electrification seriously. Air polluted from years of gasoline and diesel-powered vehicles is making our residents and transit workers sick – with asthma, COPD, lung cancer, and other devastating conditions. According to the American Lung Association 2019 State of the Air report, a majority of our counties failed for ozone pollution. Urbanites suffer disproportionately from New Jersey’s dirty air as a result of proximity to ports and major thoroughfares.