New Jersey would have one of the most ambitious clean energy plans in the nation under legislation that has begun advancing in the state Senate.
The state Senate Environment and Energy Committee on Monday voted 4-1 to approve a bill (S2444) that would require New Jersey gets at least 80 percent of its energy from renewable sources like solar and wind by 2050.
“This is the most important environmental bill in the Legislature right now. This bill will do more to reduce greenhouse gases and air pollution and help grow our economy,” Sierra Club New Jersey director Jeff Tittel said in a statement. ” This is probably the most important bill we have to help us deal with the impacts of climate change and moving our state forward when it comes to renewable energy.”
But while the bill has bipartisan sponsorship – It’s sponsored by state Sens. Bob Smith (D-Middlesex) and Christopher “Kip” Bateman (R-Somerset) – it’s unlikely to be law any time soon.
Supporters and sponsors admit that if it makes it as far as Gov. Chris Christie’s desk, they expect him to veto it.
Before approving it, the committee made some changes to the legislation.
The committee struck a provision that would require 13.9 percent of the state’s energy come solely from solar by 2030, as well as language that mandated a certain amount come from wind power.
The committee also removed a provision that would require all of the renewable energy to come from in-state – a prospect environmentalists said was unlikely if not impossible.
The bill’s sponsor, state Sen. Bob Smith (D-Middlesex) said that 80 percent is a “grand, grand goal.”
“The question is how do you get there? What does it mean to ratepayers? What does it mean to solar, wind, all the things that we do?” he said.
Smith said he removed the in-state clause because “our lawyers are saying it’s really going to get you into an interstate commerce clause problem.”
“We pass enough unconstitutional laws as it is in New Jersey,” he said. Smith said he decided to remove the specific goals for solar and wind energy because advocates were not able to come to a consensus on what they should be.
State Sen. Samuel Thompson (R-Middlesex) was the only committee member to vote against the bill, saying that he’d yet to see evidence as to why 80 percent should be the state’s renewable energy goal.
“Nothing being presented here is justifying the numbers,” he said. “It’s like somebody is sticking their finger up in the air and saying ‘these are nice numbers.”
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding