NJ to spend $100M on statewide electric vehicle program

Daniel J. Munoz//February 16, 2021

NJ to spend $100M on statewide electric vehicle program

Daniel J. Munoz//February 16, 2021

The Murphy administration will be spending $100 million on statewide electric vehicle programs, through a combination of funds from the Volkswagen emissions settlement and the state’s revenue from the recently re-joined multi-state Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.

Gov. Phil Murphy, during a Feb. 16 press announcement in Newark, boasted the proposal as a means to push the state toward a “green economy,” which is focused on clean and renewable energy while kickstarting the state’s recovery from the COVID-19 recession.

Broken down, those funds include $36 million toward the electrifying port, cargo-handling and other typical carbon-producing medium and heavy-duty equipment; $15 million toward NJ Transit electric buses, $9 million toward electric garbage and delivery trucks in low-income neighborhoods; $13 million toward electric school buses in low-income neighborhoods; $5 million toward electrification of ridesharing services; and $5 million toward 27 fast-charging stations across the state.

There are hundreds of submitted proposals listed on the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection website.

Murphy said during the Feb. 16 press announcement in Newark that those projects will “prioritize economic development with a specific focus on environmental justice.”

The funds come from the $41 million the state has available from the Volkswagen 2015 emissions scandal, and from the $94 million out RGGI, more commonly referred to as “reggie,” which the governor reinstated in 2018.

Under that cap-and-trade agreement includes 10 Northeastern states, including Maine, Maryland and New York. Power plants effectively bid “emission credits” which set the amount for how much carbon they can release into the atmosphere. Auction proceeds then go towards local environment and clean energy projects across the 10 states.

“Trucks and buses are major sources of harmful air pollutants, including greenhouse gases. Electrifying this sector offers the biggest benefit to our communities and children who deserve to breathe cleaner, healthier air,” Mary Barber, who heads regulatory and legislative affairs at the Environmental Defense Fund, said in a statement.

RGGI funds are being used to finance a $15 million program run by the New Jersey Economic Development Authority, which entails between 100 and 300 vouchers to cover the costs for Camden and Newark businesses to buy and use electric trucks.

“We’re going to move now from an industrialized economy to one of technology and environment,” remarked Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver.

A newly announced Office of Climate Action and the Green Economy will oversee New Jersey’s transition into such an industry. Jane Cohen, the governor’s senior policy advisor on the environment, will oversee the new office and focus on job training and growth in the clean energy sector.

“As we continue to lead our state towards our clean energy goals with the principles of economic justice and equity and economic development at the center, we must be intentional in how we address both the challenges and the opportunities before us,” said Cohen.

The New Jersey Council on the Green Economy, which Murphy also unveiled in Newark, will focus on similar efforts.

Newark was chosen deliberately as the location to hold the press announcement. According to Newark Mayor Ras Baraka, the city and its residents have long-carried “the burden of taking on some of the state’s heavy environmental issues.”

For those reasons, Murphy signed a similarly-goaled bill in Newark this September requiring large-scale projects – be it new construction or an expansion – that produce heavy pollution in lower-income, typically African American and Latino communities, to consider the local impact.