In this episode of Wine, Women, and Revolution, Heather sits down with Doug O’Malley from Environment NJ. They discuss 3 environmental topics relevant to New Jersey.
An Auspicious Meeting
Heather and Doug first met at a Pinelands Commission meeting about 2 years ago. The Commission barred the doors to the meeting room preventing dozens of activists from entering. As a result, Heather began live streaming what was happening inside the building. This was long before NJRR existed. Meanwhile, the activists outside huddled around cell phone screens to have any idea what was going on. Sadly, Heather’s battery died after about an hour. Doug managed to smuggle a battery upstairs to keep Heather on the air.
Elementary School Activist
Doug O’Malley is the NJ director with Environment NJ. Doug developed his relationship with nature as a kid. He loved being outdoors and climbing trees. He remembers a science project he did in 4th grade concerning acid rain. His young mind was blown when he discovered rainwater he collected was acidic. His wake-up call came earlier than many when he realized pollution has an impact. After that, he started encouraging his family to recycle. Later, The Exxon Valdez crash shook him deeply.
After Doug graduated college, he earned a job as an organizer with the group that would become Environment NJ. He lobbies politicians and organizes activists on environmental issues facing citizens of NJ. Environment NJ is also a think tank and research group. Doug mentioned 3 subjects that he is currently focusing on.
Banning Single Use Plastics
Firstly, Environment NJ working to create pressure on the local as well as state level. Towns and cities are taking action. Momentum is growing to end the era of single use plastics. Doug suggests bringing it to your local town councils and frame is as a quality of life issue. These plastics impact fisheries and beach tourism. In addition, single use plastics create unsightly trash. How often have you seen a plastic bag stuck in a tree? In other words, although there is an environmental impact there is also a huge lifestyle improvement when we can rid the streets of garbage.
Next, Doug talks about a new plastic bag ban being considered on the state level. This new bill looks much more promising than the last one. The previous bill was written by The Food Council. Its always a bad sign when your opposition writes a bill and tries to force it through.
Electrifying The Transportation System
Secondly, Environment NJ is working to expand electric vehicles. Cars create pollution. That is not being debated. Electric vehicles are still expensive and difficult to charge. Environment NJ sponsored an electric vehicle ride and drive for earth day. Electric vehicles are getting much cooler and stylish though. Currently, most EVs on the market get 200 miles per charge. Environment NJ is working to expand charging stations throughout the state. Even buses can be electric. NJ Transit is running a pilot program in Camden with 6 electric buses.
Fossil Fuel Moratorium
Finally, Environment NJ is working in a coalition to transition NJ off fossil fuels by 2035. Empower NJ is demanding Governor Murphy put forth a moratorium on all new fossil fuel infrastructure. Energy companies are seeking approval on 12 new projects. If all of those projects are approved NJ’s emissions would increase by 32%. That is the opposite of the reduction we require. Murphy ran on a platform of emission reduction. Therefore, its time for him to take action. The Governor needs to take a bold leadership stance and put his money where his mouth is. We are at the start of a climate catastrophe. We need bold leadership willing to take the necessary action to stave it off. It up to us to force their hands if need be.