by Peter J. Boughton

I retired from the NJ DEP in 2013 after 10 years. During that time I watched in dismay as NJ sank from pride in the forefront of clean environment and leader in alternative energy encouragement. I had been very proud that NJ was one of the states in the RGGI consortium. In fact I interviewed for an RGGI position just as it was being shut down. One reason I left DEP was the erosion of progressive approaches to energy conservation by encouraging alternative energy generation such as solar, wind and hydro away from coal and oil. Imposed top down management was substituted for professional individual initiative and monies were diverted from helping to fund innovative solutions. It is time for NJ to regain the positive momentum and rejoin RGGI. The claim that most of our pollution is contributed from the US mid-west is bogus. There are in fact pockets of air and water and soil pollution contributed by older local power plants that harm the health of nearby residents, who often tend to be the poor, the elderly, the very young, and the disadvantaged; this leads to burdening our healthcare and educational systems.

We in NJ also owe it to downstream recipients of our pollution, which in fact negatively impacts Europe and Africa on far-reaching air and water currents. We ought to incentivize our own coal and gas and oil burning power plants to upgrade in all sorts of ways to reduce their polluting. An excellent way is the cap and trade where CO2 tonnage is proportionately assessed and the monies redirected to funding the innovations. This makes good business sense and provides good jobs especially in technology, engineering and construction. Ratepayers will also benefit as efficiencies move into the system. A multi-state regional effort is a common-sense leader until a national system is put in place.

Our state should regain pride of place. We have been lagging the past 6 or 7 years in retaining and gaining skilled jobs that make best use of the young professionals graduating from our schools and the experienced professionals who otherwise stay away and move away. Both the capital improvements and the salaries will restore tax dollars to the state’s dire budget shortfalls. I urge the readers of this commentary to take personal responsibility to see the many common sense reasons to restore progress rather than regress NJ into the lower tiers of states. Do not let a top-down administration sap your personal responsibility and sense of right. Do the right thing for your family and your neighbors and vote and verbalize your conscience in this matter. The thanks of many will buck you up if you do. Thank you for taking these concepts to heart and doing the right thing.

Add Your Two Cents

The last day to submit your comments to the NJDEP regarding our state’s participation in RGGI is Friday, September 5th.  To submit your comments and concerns go to http://nj.gov/dep/rules/comments/.  You may also sign your name to Environment New Jersey’s online petition here.  Thank you for all you do.