Gov. Phil Murphy is stepping up efforts to promote clean energy and fight climate change.

During an event at a Mount Olive solar farm on Wednesday, the governor signed an executive order that fast-tracks the state’s goal for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

“This is not a course change, it is a course acceleration, with a new interim reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of 50% below the 2006 levels by the year 2030,” he said.

New Jersey already has set a goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions 80% by the year 2050.

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He said as many Garden State residents continue to recover from the recent flooding from the remnants of Hurricane Ida, it has become clear the impact of climate change is already upon us.

“The time for wakeup calls is frankly long past, and while we can’t turn back the clock, we also can’t keep hitting snooze, now is the time for bold action,” he said.

Murphy said the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions is from transportation so “the Department of Environmental Protection and the Board of Public Utilities are collectively dedicating more than $13 million to assist communities with longstanding air quality issues, to electrify their school bus and municipal truck fleets.”

At the same time, the governor said the New Jersey Economic Development Authority will invest an additional $20 million “in its NJ Zip program that works with an even broader array of communities, looking to purchase electric medium and heavy-duty vehicles.”

He said these funds will come from the proceeds the state is getting from rejoining the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a cooperative market-based effort among several Northeast states to cap and reduce CO2 emissions in order to reduce climate change.

Former Gov. Chris Christie pulled New Jersey out of RGGI in 2012 because he said it was a tax on utility customers.

EmpowerNJ, a statewide coalition of more than 125 environmental, civic, faith and social-justice groups and organizations issued a statement in support of the governor’s actions.

“This is what climate science demands and it’s a goal EmpowerNJ has been working for over the past 3 years. This is an essential step forward in the fight to avert climate catastrophe.”

“Now we need the administration to immediately mandate this goal of 50% greenhouse gas reductions through rules and regulations including in their soon to be released NJ PACT. The DEP must also grant the EmpowerNJ petition which calls for this reduction as well as a prohibition on all new fossil fuel projects as a critical next step towards achieving the goal.”

The state’s leading business group, the New Jersey Business and Industry Association called for more "pragmatic and realistic policies."

"While it’s laudable to attempt to address climate change through carbon reduction, it’s imperative that New Jersey not put forth energy benchmarks that are both impractical and improbable," NJBIA Vice President of Government Affairs Ray Cantor said. "New Jersey’s energy goals should instead consider realistic policies that reduce carbon while also assuring affordable and reliable energy for all our citizens and businesses.”

"When you consider that New Jersey’s greenhouse gas reduction target is currently 20% of 2006 levels – requiring 15 years to get there, primarily through the state’s energy transition from coal to natural gas – it’s simply not feasible to get to 50% by the year 2030 without jeopardizing energy reliability or greatly impacting costs for all New Jerseyans.”

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NJ teachers and educators caught in sex crime busts

Over the past few years, state lawmakers have taken on the challenge of dealing with accused child predators among the ranks of teachers and educators.

In 2018, the so-called “pass the trash” law went into effect, requiring stricter New Jersey school background checks related to child abuse and sexual misconduct.

The follow individuals were arrested over the past several years. Some have been convicted and sentenced to prison, while others have accepted plea deals for probation.

Others cases are still pending, including some court delays amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

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