Statement from Berenice Tompkins, Jersey Renews Organizer, NJ Work Environment Council
Newark – Today, Governor Murphy appeared alongside labor and community advocates to announce the launch of New Jersey’s Office on Climate Action and the Green Economy. The new office, to be headed by Jane Cohen, will coordinate clean energy and emissions reduction projects and workforce development for emerging green industries such as electric vehicles and offshore wind. The office’s workforce development programs will seek to make green career paths accessible to BIPOC and low-income NJ communities who have often been excluded from opportunities in the green economy.
The announcement also included investments of more than $100 million in electric vehicles and EV infrastructure through the state’s RGGI and VW Settlement funding, including advancing NJ Transit’s EV Bill commitment to electrify its bus fleet, an electric truck voucher pilot program for Newark and Camden, an e-mobility pilot program in Trenton and a buildout of EV charging infrastructure. The Governor stressed that charging infrastructure will be built “primarily with union hands, meaning that benefits to New Jersey families will compound not only in the environmental sense, but the economic sense as well.”
Newark Mayor Ras Baraka emphasized the significance of Newark’s pilot project — to include more than $1 million for electric garbage trucks, more than $7 million for electric cargo handling equipment and nearly $2 million for e-mobility rideshare charging stations — for air quality and health in the city. The mayor spoke alongside Kim Gaddy, Environmental Justice Organizer with Clean Water Action and a resident of Newark, who stressed that all programs coordinated by the office must prioritize communities hit hardest by climate change and environmental racism – for emission reductions as well as for economic investment and job creation.
Berenice Tompkins, Jersey Renews Organizer with NJ Work Environment Council, released the following statement:
“The announcement of the Office of Climate Action and the Green Economy marks a recognition of the historic opportunity and responsibility New Jersey holds in this moment. We face converging climate, health and injustice crises, and we can and must address these crises together — by transforming our economy to a just, renewably powered one, bringing emissions down at the speed both science and justice demand, and doing so while putting New Jerseyans back to work in good, union jobs.
Thank you to Kim Gaddy for highlighting that both emissions reductions and economic and jobs investments must go first to communities on the front-lines of climate change and systemic racism. Including workforce development as a priority of the new office is key to ensuring that jobs created in burgeoning green industries such as offshore wind and electric vehicles reach BIPOC, LMI and other communities who have often been left out of the green economy, even while taking the worst hit from COVID-19 and economic fallout.
This news is a critical step toward the just, green recovery Jersey Renews has been calling for since the release of our Roadmap report last June. We look forward to working with the Murphy Administration and with labor and community partners to shape and build on the Office’s programs and to make real the promise of a green economy that serves every New Jersey worker and community.”
Jersey Renews is a broad-based coalition of 65 labor, environmental and community groups fighting for state-based climate action and good, family-sustaining jobs in the transition to a green economy.