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Debbie Mans, Deputy Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, called for state governments to take more initiative with environmental challenges.

In a public lecture, Mans spoke about climate and energy challenges in New Jersey. Recent federal government pullbacks from key environmental initiatives have made efforts at the state level more important than ever.

“We can all do our part,” said Mans. “Now, states need to take the lead.”

She highlighted several actions that New Jersey governor Phil Murphy has taken to combat climate change.

For instance, Murphy issued Executive Order No. 7, directing New Jersey to rejoin the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative — a market-based method for lowering greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, New Jersey joined the U.S. Climate Initiative, a coalition of states pledging to follow principles similar to those in Paris Climate Agreement.

Mans celebrated the outcomes of the New Jersey Global Warming Response Act. According to Mans, New Jersey achieved its 2018 target goal of reducing emissions back to 1990 levels by 2020.

Mans then spoke about continued efforts to expand clean energy in solar, wind, and electrical power. New Jersey recently had the largest solicitation of offshore wind development, enough to power 1.5 million homes. Community solar energy programs also allow neighborhoods to draw energy from a single shared source.

Mans emphasized that New Jersey’s Greenhouse Gas Emission profile shows that transportation accounts for 42 percent of the greenhouse contribution in New Jersey, compared to transportation only contributing 32 percent contribution for the rest of the U.S. To reduce transportation emissions, New Jersey has focused on expanding its public charging network. The “It Pay$ to Plug In” program provides grants to install charging stations.

“It’s really important now more than ever for key players in local and state governments and private businesses to get together and talk about what we’re doing to address climate change,” Mans said.

The lecture was held on Thursday, Sept. 20, at 4:30 p.m. in Maeder Hall Auditorium at the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment. It was the first event of the two-day conference “Accelerating Climate Action in the United States: What Are We Doing and What More Can Be Done?”, which will focus on evaluating U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, particularly from the power and transportation sectors. It will include input from researchers, policy makers, business and nonprofit leaders, and more. Events continue into Friday, Sept. 21, with a keynote address given by Tammy Snyder Murphy, the First Lady of the State of New Jersey.

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