TRENTON — Hundreds of protesters marched on New Jersey's Capitol on Thursday, urging Gov. Phil Murphy to deny permits to any future project that involves the burning of fossil fuels.

Environmentalists and advocates of environmental justice listed a litany of proposed projects around the state that they want the governor to reject, including power plants and transport facilities for liquefied natural gas.

Many of the proposed projects would be built in minority communities that already deal with substantial amounts of air pollution and other contaminants.

The Democratic governor did not see or hear the protest, however: He was in Washington attending a White House meeting on offshore wind energy development. His office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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Rey Watson, 17, of Whitehouse Station, said she came to the protest out of frustration that those in power are not doing enough to address climate change.

“I'm a young person; I decided to get involved when I realized our leaders aren't doing anything about the climate crisis,” she said. “I want our generation and future generations to live on a healthy, nonpolluted planet. It's up to our leaders to do that.”

The protesters want Murphy, through state government, executive order or a combination, to deny permission for polluting projects to go forward. Their targets included proposed power plants in Woodbridge and Newark, and the transport of liquefied natural gas through the western part of the state near the Pennsylvania border.

Roy Jones, a minister at Mount Zion Baptist Church in Camden, said his already polluted city endures 326,000 trucks a year emitting pollution into the air. With an additional 600,000 or so possible if large-scale transport of liquefied natural gas is allowed, he said there could be nearly a million trucks driving through Camden each year.

“We are talking about very serious diesel emissions into a community that is already overburdened with pollution,” he said.

Julie Ann Ferreira, of Perth Amboy, was protesting a proposed power plant in neighboring Woodbridge that she said would worsen already bad air quality throughout the region.

“I was born and raised in Perth Amboy, and I've suffered from respiratory issues since I was 13,” she said. “People are actively moving out of New Jersey because of the air quality. We have some of the worst air in the nation.”

Wynnie-Fred Victor Hinds, of Newark, was one of many calling on the governor to reject a hotly contested plan to add a backup natural gas-fired power plant to a sewage treatment plant in Newark's polluted Ironbound section.

“People are dying,” she said. Murphy “talks about respect and dignity: Where is the respect and dignity for Newark? We are already overburdened with pollution. Do the right thing and deny that permit.”

These are the best hiking spots in New Jersey

A trip to New Jersey doesn't have to be all about the beach. Our state has some incredible trails, waterfalls, and lakes to enjoy.

From the Pine Barrens to the Appalachian Trail to the hidden gems of New Jersey, you have plenty of options for a great hike. Hiking is such a great way to spend time outdoors and enjoy nature, plus it's a great workout.

Before you go out on the trails and explore some of our listeners' suggestions, I have some tips on hiking etiquette from the American Hiking Society.

If you are going downhill and run into an uphill hiker, step to the side and give the uphill hiker space. A hiker going uphill has the right of way unless they stop to catch their breath.

Always stay on the trail, you may see side paths, unless they are marked as an official trail, steer clear of them. By going off-trail you may cause damage to the ecosystems around the trail, the plants, and wildlife that live there.

You also do not want to disturb the wildlife you encounter, just keep your distance from the wildlife and continue hiking.

Bicyclists should yield to hikers and horses. Hikers should also yield to horses, but I’m not sure how many horses you will encounter on the trails in New Jersey.
If you are thinking of bringing your dog on your hike, they should be leashed, and make sure to clean up all pet waste.

Lastly, be mindful of the weather, if the trail is too muddy, it's probably best to save your hike for another day.

I asked our listeners for their suggestions of the best hiking spots in New Jersey, check out their suggestions:

New Jersey's smallest towns by population

New Jersey's least populated municipalities, according to the 2020 Census. This list excludes Pine Valley, which would have been the third-smallest with 21 residents but voted to merge into Pine Hill at the start of 2022.