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Legislation Needed: New Jersey e-Waste Programs Facing Elimination

New Jersey’s Electronic Waste Management Act requires manufacturers that sell their electronic products in New Jersey to develop and fund programs that provide convenient, free recycling of televisions, computers and monitors.  It is illegal to dispose of these items, which often contain toxic materials, in the regular trash stream.  Many counties and municipal environmental commissions host free collection stations or collection events that have been supported by manufacturer recycling contracts, and residents have come to value and rely on this service.

Over time, some manufacturers have looked for ways to minimize or avoid their obligations under the e-Waste law, and in the past few years they have had increasing success. This is affecting the ability of counties and municipalities to offer free collection events.

AS OF JANUARY, THIRTEEN COUNTIES HAVE ABANDONED E-WASTE RECYCLING, OR OPTED TO PAY THE COST OF HIRING PRIVATE RECYCLERS TO CONTINUE THEIR PROGRAMS.  ENVIRONMENTAL COMMISSIONS ARE LEARNING THAT THEIR COUNTIES NO LONGER HAVE ACCESS TO FREE DISPOSAL OF E-WASTE, AND THEY WILL NOT BE ABLE TO HOST COLLECTION EVENTS AS THEY HAVE IN THE PAST. 

Material is piling up at various collection sites, as well as at homes.  Also, some retailers such as Best Buy are now charging a fee to collect televisions and computers, not accepting equipment over a certain size, or limiting their collection in other ways.

In late 2015, Governor Christie pocket vetoed A-4763, a bill that would have reformed some provisions of the e-Waste law to get the recycling programs back on track. NJDEP was in support of the bill, as was the Association of NJ Recyclers and a majority of the Senate and Assembly.  The Legislature is now reconsidering the bill (concurrent versions in both the Assembly A-2375  and Senate S-981) for 2016 in hopes of bringing it to a vote again in the near future.

If your town and commission are concerned about the lack of e-waste recycling and potential harmful disposal of hazardous and toxic e-wastes, contact your NJ representatives to tell them how you feel (see sample letter).  Explain the effects on your community, your county and your taxes as the free programs disappear.  Also send a copy to the Governor’s office, as his signature is needed for the bill to go into effect after it passes both houses of the Legislature.


Contact info: 
NJ Legislature -Click on “Find Your Legislator” for Assembly and Senate representatives’ contact information for your town.

Governor Chris Christie: Office of the Governor, PO Box 001, Trenton, NJ 08625
Submit a message through the Governor’s website.

To read A-2375 or S-981, search for the bills by number on the NJ Legislature website “Bills 2016-2017”

Please explain this problem to your municipal officials and residents, and encourage them to write to their representatives, too.

 

State Water Supply Master Plan

Gov. Chris Christie’s failure to release an update to the State Water Supply Master Plan is threatening New Jersey’s supply of clean, fresh drinking water. On Earth Day 2015, in April, the state Senate Legislative Oversight Committee held a hearing at which experts testified on the need for an updated Water Supply Master Plan. Our current plan is 20 years old and 15 years overdue for an update. The Legislature requested that the governor release the draft plan immediately, yet amidst a drought watch, there is still no sign of the plan.

The Water Supply Master Plan works as an accounting checkbook for New Jersey’s water supplies. The goal is to ensure that we have enough clean water for residents, business, power production, farming, and the environment for this and future generations. The master plan includes recommendations to balance the amount of water we use with the amount of water that replenishes the sources of that water — our shared streams, rivers and underground water sources known as aquifers.

New Jersey’s water woes are compounded by the fact that business and residents are also using more water than ever, according to estimates released in August by the United States Geological Survey. Increases in New Jersey’s population over the past 10 years are one of the reasons for this increased use.
According to preliminary research by ANJEC, more water is being taken out than is being replenished in one of our major aquifers, the Kirkwood-Cohansey in South Jersey. That aquifer, which runs beneath southern Monmouth County and all of Ocean County, supplies drinking water to approximately 3 million of New Jersey’s 9 million residents. ANJEC’s estimates show that if all the permits for water use granted by the DEP were used to their fullest extent, portions of the aquifer would violate safe levels of use by more than 1,000 percent.

The lack of a Water Supply Master Plan to ensure clean and plentiful water in the Garden State puts public health, welfare, and the environment at risk. New Jersey residents, businesses, and farmers have benefitted from living in a traditionally water rich state. Our state’s economy is intimately linked to water supply. Three of the Garden State’s top economic generating industries, agriculture, tourism and pharmaceutical research and manufacturing, are dependent on a clean and plentiful supply of water.

The lessons of California’s water scarcity should be ringing loudly in the ears of New Jersey officials. We have time to correct the problem of over-using water in the Garden State, but we need to act now. The governor needs to release the updates to the Water Supply Master Plan immediately. Once the draft plan prepared by the DEP is released, experts on the Water Supply Advisory Committee can review and provide feedback on the plan, and scheduling public hearings to discuss water concerns will legally be required.
Towns are encouraged to pass the Resolution in Support of Clean Water Supplies

 

ANJEC Comments on the Draft Energy Master Plan
In August 2015, ANJEC submitted comments on New Jersey’s Draft Energy Master Plan. While ANJEC supports the EMP’s stated objectives for managing our state’s energy in a way that:

  • drives down the cost of energy for all customers;
  • promotes a diverse portfolio of new, clean, in-state generation;
  • rewards energy efficiency and energy conservation and reduces peak demand;
  • capitalizes on emerging technologies for transportation and power production; and
  • supports the renewable  energy portfolio standard.

 
ANJEC also agrees with the NJ Board of Public Utilities that the amended plan should address:

  • Protecting critical energy infrastructure;
  • Improving emergency preparedness and response by electric distribution companies;
  • Increasing the use of microgrid technologies and applications for distributed energy resources;
  • Creating long-term financing for resiliency measures through the Energy Resilience Bank. 

In the spirit of making the EMP as strong as possible, ANJEC offered additional comments for consideration.

1.       Follow-through on existing EMP goals, especially for initiatives that have failed to materialize, such as off-shore wind projects.
2.      We need much more aggressive clean energy goals that: 

  • Comply with the Federal Clean Power Plan, especially regarding renewable deployment. The EMP should, but currently does not, establish a trajectory for compliance with that.  
  • Comply with NJ’s 2007 Global Warming Response Act, which sets a goal to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 80% below the 2006 level by 2050. 
  • Restore the 30% renewable energy goal from the 2008 EMP, which the Christie Administration rolled back to a 22.5% renewable energy portfolio standard in 2011.

3.       The EMP should address the critical need to reduce transportation-related GHG emissions, which comprise about 50% of NJ’s carbon footprint. 

  • The EMP should support and expand public transportation and introduce programs to reduce vehicle miles traveled.
  •  Incentivize EV adoption, which would bring multiple benefits to the state.  It will not only reduce GHG emissions and dependence on fossil fuels, but also benefit electric utilities by increasing utilization of the public grid and the sale of electricity, thereby offsetting revenue lost to energy efficiency and conservation.  More vehicle charging stations, with enough penetration in public streets and private parking lots, can provide a way to relieve range anxiety.

4.      To increase renewable energy penetration, and improve resiliency in the process, the EMP should recognize the importance of electricity storage and offer incentives for expanded storage capabilities. This will not only deliver some short-term benefits to current grid operation (such as peak reduction), but also provide the foundation for replacing more carbon-based energy generation with clean renewable energy.

5.      While there are some benefits to displacing coal-fired energy production with natural gas as a transitional fuel, the ultimate goal should be replacing all fossil fuels with clean energy that produces little or no climate-heating greenhouse gases.  Therefore:

  • The EMP should discourage development of new infrastructure, such as pipelines, that encourage increased production and utilization of fossil fuels and pose serious environmental and health risks to the communities through which they pass. 
  • Excessive dependence on natural gas could also create a structural weakness resulting in demand spikes, especially during the winter heating season.  For the sake of market diversity, we should limit how much energy we get from any single resource.   


6.      NJ has fallen far behind on its 2011 Energy Master Plan goal of 1,500 MW from Combined Heat & Power for commercial businesses. We need to ramp up investment in Combined Heat & Power programs for the commercial sector as well as energy efficiency incentives, especially weatherization, for the residential sector. New Jersey once ranked in the top 10 states nationwide for energy efficiency as recently as 2011, but has now fallen to 19th place. 

  •  To help ensure funds are available for these programs, the EMP should explicitly preclude the raiding of the Clean Energy Fund to balance the state budget, which has already lost ratepayers $1 billion during the Christie Administration. 

7.       THE EMP should call for NJ’s return to the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). The decision to pull us out of RGGI in 2011 has cost our state $50 million a year in revenue and more than 1,800 jobs. The program has been strengthened in the last four years, and meanwhile, New Jersey has squandered close to $200 million that could have been invested in energy efficiency programs to save consumers money and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

 

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Proposed State Plan

In November 2011, the State Planning Commission (SPC) approved its Draft Final State Plan, starting the last steps for approval of a new State Plan, the document required by the State Planning Act to guide growth and conservation in New Jersey. The Public Comment Period closed on October 15th, 2012, and a Summary of Public Hearings and Comments was released in November 2012. No action has been taken to adopt or amend the Draft since then.

In written comments, ANJEC expressed grave concerns about the Draft State Plan. Rather than presenting a comprehensive document to chart the growth, limited growth and preservation areas of the state, this is an economic growth plan. The Plan offers no strategies for containing growth within centers, to prevent it from overwhelming the rest of the State with further sprawl development.  Beyond outright purchase of land, the Plan offers no protection for environmentally sensitive regions. It fails to acknowledge that because sewers enable growth, sewer service areas should be kept out of water resource and habitat areas.

The Draft Final State Plan calls for the State Planning Commission to phase out use of the State Plan Policy Map, which accompanied previous versions of the State Plan.  In its place will be the criteria-based system. The SPC has released a draft of these criteria in an “Advance Notice of Rules” prior to formal consideration as a rule proposal and has asked for comment.

Under the criteria, development is preferred in the Priority Growth Investment Areas; Alternate Growth Investment Areas should have planned or existing infrastructure and also may be able to get funding.  Priority Preservation Investment Areas are areas where land preservation, agriculture, historic or environmental protection is preferred, and the Plan calls for the State to establish a dedicated, sustainable source of preservation funding. ANJEC has submitted comments on these criteria.

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Hydrofracking

ANJEC has joined other environmental organizations in opposing natural gas development using hydraulic fracturing (hydrofracking) that threatens the quality of our waterways by extracting millions of gallons of water from the Delaware River and its tributaries. (See letter)  The water is then laced with toxic chemicals including volatile organic chemicals and carcinogens like benzene, methyl benzene, and formaldehyde and injected below ground into the well. The process releases these as well as naturally occurring toxic chemicals that are trapped in the shale deposits, and brings them to the surface in the wastewater.
ANJEC supports a ban on hydrofracking and for regulation by the Delaware River Basin Commission to prevent pollution and avoid degradation of the water resources and ecosystems of the Delaware River Watershed.
At least three New Jersey municipalities have enacted ordinances banning fracking and dozens of NJ communities have passed resolutions opposing the dangerous consequences of hydrofracking. 
Click here for a sample resolution for use by municipalities.

NJ Legislature Updates

 

 

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