In this mini episode of Wine, Women, and Revolution, Heather is joined by Food and Water Watch’s Matt Smith to talk about the New Jersey Energy Master Plan. Governor Murphy released this disappointing plan months later than expected. It falls short on a number of issues that Matt lays out and explains for us. There is a brief window of time to get your voices heard and ask them to do better. This is a call to action. Get involved and demand something better.
Heather Warburton 0:02
This is Wine Women and Revolution with your host Heather Warburton coming at you here on New Jersey Revolution Radio.
Hi and welcome to Wine Women and Revolution. I’m your host Heather Warburton coming at you here on New Jersey Revolution Radio. You can find us online www.njrevolutionradio.com. Get us wherever you get your podcasts from and find us on all the social medias. Today I’ve got a guest joining me from Food and Water Watch, Matt Smith. Welcome to the show, Matt.
Matt Smith 0:33
Thanks for having me, Heather.
Heather Warburton 0:35
So I wanted you to come on today because I think people are starting to hear a little bit about this thing called an energy master plan. And they may not know exactly what it is or what a good energy master plan would look like. So can you give us a little information about what it is?
Matt Smith 0:51
Yeah, sure. The energy master plan is really a document that guides all policy making on energy decisions for this state of New Jersey over a 30 year period. So it’s a fairly substantial and weighty piece of policy. And, you know, we had suffered under eight years of Governor Christie’s energy Master Plan, which explicitly called for more pipelines and more fossil fuel infrastructure. And, you know, so in 2016, when Governor Murphy was campaigning on a plan to get New Jersey to 100% clean energy in order to fight the climate crisis and promote public health and safety in New Jersey, we were very excited. And you know, many of us have been anticipating this plan for quite some time. And, you know, we were very, very disappointed when, last month a governor Finally, after several months delay released a draft plan that was very inadequate. That did not go nearly far enough or fast enough in terms of the rapid transition that we need to make off of fossil fuels and onto renewable energy in order to avoid a real climate catastrophe, the worst case scenarios of the climate crisis.
Heather Warburton 2:15
So what kind of things were in the plan versus what we were hoping was going to be in the plan?
Matt Smith 2:20
Yeah. So I think the first thing that stands out to me is that for the last year plus, over 85 organizations that are part of the Empower New Jersey No Fossil Fuel Projects Campaign, have been actively campaigning and calling on the governor to declare a moratorium on new fossil fuel projects, the thinking being that if the governor agrees we have to get off of fossil fuels rapidly to fight climate change, then the first step in that process is to not make the problem bigger. Let’s not build any new stuff that will be pumping out greenhouse gas pollution and other pollution for 30 plus years.
Heather Warburton 3:02
When you’re digging a hole, stop digging.
Matt Smith 3:04
Yes, the first step. If you want to get out of that hole, you gotta stop digging yet. Nowhere in the plan does governor Murphy address this issue of the 13 new fossil fuel pipelines, power plants, compressor stations and other fossil fuel infrastructure that’s either proposed or under construction currently in the state of New Jersey. And, you know, the Empower Coalition. We released a report last year that showed that if the state does nothing to stop these projects, instead of decreasing our greenhouse gas emissions, like we need to, we would actually be increasing greenhouse gas gas emissions in New Jersey by over 30% making the problem virtually insurmountable. So, that was the first issue that we took with the energy master plan is that it doesn’t include a moratorium on new fossil fuel project permitting.
I think the second big thing, was just the insufficient targets that they said, you know, here we have, you know, the two landmarks landmark reports from last year, the UN IPCC report and the US National Climate Assessment, both of which concluded in very clear terms that we have just about a decade to cut global greenhouse gas emissions world wide, virtually in half, to avoid critical climate tipping points where we would not be able to come back from and yet the governor in his plan. First of all, the only target that was set was for 2015. So there’s no interim targets or benchmarks, no reporting on how we get there.And, you know, furthermore, they concluded in their report, that they’re not sure if they even want to regulate greenhouse gas emissions, and the state has had authority to do so since 2004 and they meekly call for a study to assess the greenhouse gas problem further as if we need more scientific evidence of the situation we’re in. So that was the second major failure.
And I would say the third and final major failure was this cynical redefinition in an Orwellian Trump-ian fashion, to say that instead of 100%, clean energy, we’re going to go for 100% carbon neutral energy. What this means is that New Jersey could still under the 100% carbon neutral goal, operate fossil fuel power plants, fracking infrastructure, use unproven, and unreliable carbon capture and sequestration technology.Which there isn’t a single instance where this this technology is being used commercially in the entire world, and we have targets to meet now. So governor Murphy can’t point to technology that doesn’t exist. to address our greenhouse gas crisis, it allows for nuclear, it allows for trash incineration and allows for market based schemes like carbon credits. You know, basically the carbon fairy is going to, you know, wave her wand and all of a sudden it’s okay to burn to continue burning fossil fuels. This is the kind of cynical move that Governor Murphy did when he renamed the goal away from 100% clean energy, which is what we need to 100% carbon neutral energy.
Heather Warburton 6:29
All right, let’s talk a little bit about that, because I don’t think I’ve actually had a discussion about that on the show of these unproven untested, kind of non existent technologies of carbon capturing technology that we hear a lot of people referring to rather than demanding a 100% clean energy. What are they talking about?
Matt Smith 6:54
Yeah, that’s my question, Heather. What are they talking about because carbon capture and sequestration is an ill conceived idea on a multiple of fronts. First and foremost, it doesn’t really exist yet. So as I mentioned, there’s not a single commercially viable instance of anywhere on the planet of carbon sequestration being used successfully. And, you know, we simply don’t have time to wait and see if this technology eventually will pan out and be affordable and practical to use when we have reductions targets we need to meet today. So that’s the first problem.
The second problem is that carbon capture singles out just one pollution, one pollutant from burning fossil fuels and that’s carbon. And it tries to say that the only crisis that we have from the continued extraction processing burning of fossil fuels is carbon and that virtually ignores the fact that environmental justice communities here in New Jersey largely low income communities of color, who live around the state’s largest polluting facilities are getting poisoned every day by things like ground level ozone pollution, Noxs and Soxs, nitrogen oxides, particulate matter soot, black carbon, all of these things are literally poisoning people in these communities. It’s why the kids in Newark have the highest rates of childhood asthma anywhere in the entire country. And all of that would be allowed to persist for decades under a scenario where all we try to do is capture carbon from from power plants, and virtually gives the fossil fuel industry free reign to continue polluting and poisoning these communities.
Heather Warburton 8:47
They are ignoring essentially a whole myriad of other pollutants and greenhouse gases like methane and things like that are not addressed by this idea that we’re going to plant some trees collect carbon in them essence?
Matt Smith 9:03
Well, well, I mean, so I think it’s important to distinguish that there are natural processes for carbon sequestration that we should be pursuing at scale. Things like reforestation, wetlands mitigation, all of those things are proven ways to capture and store carbon in a way that’s sustainable, that’s working in harmony with the planet’s life providing cycles, and that can provide meaningful work to lots of people. What I’m talking about is the carbon sequestration out of the science fiction novel, which is basically a proposal to create giant vacuum cleaners, and literally suck carbon out of the air and then put it underground and pipelines and other caverns and stuff, and in many cases do other crazy things with it. There’s proposals to use it to continue extracting gas and oil reserves from deep shale rock formation. So the insanity knows no bounds. But I think that’s, that’s the specific form of carbon capture and sequestration that first of all, it doesn’t exist in any practical commercial way. Now, and secondly, it’s specifically what the fossil fuel industry is talking about when it talks about carbon capture.
Heather Warburton 10:20
And so the science fiction Murphy’s, like buying into it, it kind of just sounds like he’s kicking the can down the road. He’s like, I don’t feel like dealing with this. Although, you know, climate chaos is happening every day. It’s already happening. It’s already here. So he has to deal with it, but it kind of seems like he’s just pretending it’s not a thing.
Matt Smith 10:41
Yeah, I mean, he wants to be seen as a climate leader without actually challenging the power of the fossil fuel industry. And I think that’s really what makes this sort of democratic version of you know, climate denialism, in which is really about climate incrementalism. setting targets so far out into the future, that you create an excuse for inaction today that we’re seeing throughout the country, whether that’s here with Governor Murphy, whether it’s in New York State with Governor Cuomo, you know, everyone’s applauding his new Climate Community Protection Act.
But same thing, it waters down all the environmental justice considerations within the plan, and it set targets that are not only inadequate, but they’re so far out that the governor’s can continue approving new fossil fuel projects, and delaying or really avoiding the political fight that we need to have, which is we have a rogue industry, whose business plan would put the earth out of business permanently or all life on it at least for quite some period of time. And so we need to make a moral decision that their profits are not more important than the survival of life on earth. And it seems like as of right now, the democratic party at large is is not stepping up to the plate. There are exceptions, you know, freshman members of Congress and certain legislators here in New Jersey and other states, but, but certainly governor Murphy is not meeting that challenge.
Heather Warburton 12:12
And so this is governor Murphy’s sort of in charge of this plan, right. It’s, if we want something to change about it Governor Murphy’s, who we have to reach out to contact about his plan.
Matt Smith 12:22
The buck stops with, with Governor Murphy. So definitely encourage people to call governor Murphy every Monday we’re doing a thing called moratorium Mondays, which is, you know, everywhere throughout New Jersey, where there’s fossil fuel projects, either under construction or being proposed organizing community members to contact the governor and demand an immediate moratorium on fossil fuel expansion projects. And so folks can do that. You can either opt in to get a regular Monday alert with a new message each week to call by texting the words, no fossil fuels to the number 69866 that’s 69866 and the message to send to that number via text is “no fossil fuels”. So that’s every Monday. We’re also there’s critical public hearings that the governor and his board of public utilities are holding on the energy master plan. And we really need to mobilize everyone who cares deeply about these issues, public health, from dirty energy pollution, the climate crisis, the potential to create jobs from a green economy, and the issues of environmental justice.
Anyone who cares about these issues really needs to make their voice heard through this public comment process. So there’s two hearing dates coming up. The first is August 8, and that one’s right in Newark, New Jersey at Seton Hall University. The hearings start at one o’clock and there’s an afternoon session from 1-4 and then an evening session from 430 to seven. So anytime between. We will be there from noon to close 730 at Seton Hall University, either rallying on the outside or testifying on the inside. And we need hundreds of New Jerseyians to join us to to make this political point to Murphy that we’re watching the decisions he makes in implementing the final version of the plan. And then folks can also comment online. So all of these details are up on our empower New Jersey coalition website. So if you go to WWW.EmpowerNewJersey, that’s EmpowerNewJersey.com. You can get all this information when the hearings are how to sign up to comment on the draft plan, suggested talking points and our analysis about the plan and its shortcomings, as well as all the details for the Newark hearing on on August 8.
Heather Warburton 14:56
And when’s the other hearing? The one that’s in Camden?
Matt Smith 15:00
That hearing is September 12. I’m going to double check my own
Heather Warburton 15:09
Right check and give us the address too if possible.
Matt Smith 15:12
Heather Warburton 15:14
And while you’re looking that up, um, when does this draft become official? Like when does it get certified? Is there a timeline for that?
Matt Smith 15:23
There’s an estimated timeline. So the final hearing date thus far, and we are calling for more public hearings because we think that only two evening hearing dates for the entire state of New Jersey to weigh in on this critical plan isn’t acceptable. But as of now, the final hearing would be Thursday, September 12. in Camden, New Jersey, again from 1pm to 7:30pm. And that’s at the Kroc Center – K R O C 1865 Harrison Avenue in Camden The close to the public comment period on the draft energy master plan is September 16th. If you can’t get to a hearing date, you can still submit a comment online. Again, the details for how to do that, including the email address or on our website EmpowerNewJersey.com And we expect the final plan will be published in late 2019, although I wouldn’t be surprised if that was delayed again, this administration, in addition to not having the political courage just seems to not have their house in order and consistently not meeting their own deadlines.
Heather Warburton 16:33
Okay, so and once it’s finalized, it’s finalized until the next governor comes along?
Matt Smith 16:41
I mean, you could get the next governor who would seek to you know, open up a new energy master plan hearing process, but these are supposed to be long term. You know, policy documents that guide us.
Heather Warburton 16:53
So we only have a few weeks left to act on this, that they’re only having two public hearings. So get your comments in as quickly as possible. This is not Matt talking, this is Heather they’re talking, be as annoying as possible, you know, call governor Murphy every day, you know, be a pain in their butt until they want you to go away. And to make you go away, they’re going to have to step up and do something worthwhile. That was not the official opinion of Food and Water Watch. But that is the official opinion of New Jersey Revolution Radio of if they’re not doing what you want be more annoying.
Matt Smith 17:34
Yes, I mean, we definitely agree that we need everyone to raise their voices on this on this issue. We do have a limited window of time to act not just on this energy master plan, but on the climate crisis at large. And so you know, in addition to the energy master plan, I would also want to point to the next wave of global climate strikes, which is happening the week of September 20 Go to, you know, if you google global climate strikes, there’s a website where you can get more information sign up there. The young people who are leading this, you know, millions of kids from across the world who are walking out of their classrooms demand more action on climate from our elected leaders are calling on adults to join them in the streets during this next wave on the, you know, the week of September 20. So, if you haven’t yet found your opportunity to plug in, I would say that, you know, when the kids are calling on on us to join them in the streets that you know that that’s not a call that we should leave on answered.
Heather Warburton 18:39
I 100% agree because, you know, they’re the ones that aren’t going to live to be as old as we are now. You know, these young kids are not going to have a future unless something changes very, very rapidly.
Matt Smith 18:54
Heather Warburton 18:55
Well, I just wanted to thank you so much for helping clear up a few points about the energy masterplan maybe people hadn’t heard about it yet or didn’t quite realize how significant it might be. But there’s something that sets the tone for the, you know, next several years. And those several years are the critical years where we decide if we have a future on this planet or not. So hopefully, my listeners are going to get involved and you know, at least you know, email and say, Hey, this is not a good plan. But if you can show up all the better.
Matt Smith 19:27
If you say nothing else, you know, our top line demand is and continues to be any real energy plan that seeks to avoid climate catastrophe has to start with the moratorium on fossil fuel expansion. We just simply cannot build new fossil fuel power plants and pipelines and and address the climate crisis at the same time. So it’s a simple in is an easy to digest message. And so if nothing else, if you can reiterate that message in your comments to the governor, it will definitely have an impact because it’s coming from all corners of the state.
Heather Warburton 20:00
Thank you so much for your work, Matt to my listeners. Thank you for listening to this quick little update episode here. A call to action up episode as it were. I appreciate you listening. We appreciate everything you do to help support us. If it’s all possible, please go on to our website www.njrevolutionradio.com, click on that Donate button so we can get out to more events and cover more things. Or you can support us on Patreon even if it’s only a couple of dollars a month that really helps. The future is yours to create. Go out there and create it.