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First Lady of New Jersey Tammy Murphy speaks on climate action

First Lady of New Jersey Tammy Murphy speaks about the state's response to climate change.
Courtesy of Isabel Ting
First Lady of New Jersey Tammy Murphy speaks about the state's response to climate change. Courtesy of Isabel Ting

First Lady of the State of New Jersey, Tammy Snyder Murphy, was invited to deliver the keynote address for the two-day conference “Accelerating Climate Action in the United States: What Are We Doing and What More Can Be Done?”.

Although Murphy said that New Jersey is leading the battle against climate change, she also recalled the setbacks that the state has experienced in the past eight years. She pointed out that New Jersey pulled out from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, cancelled the Arc Tunnel Project, and walked back economic and environmental protections.

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Aside from the setbacks in New Jersey itself, Murphy pointed out the challenges that politics in Washington have created.

“The political forces in Washington are not only ignoring the warnings [about climate change] but are also actively denying what science is telling us,” Murphy said. “Whether it is the Trump administration’s efforts to ensure our reliance on dirty fossil fuel technology or their refusal to look at long-term solutions like mass transit, it is clear that the progress we have made is being imperiled by bad public policy choices.”

Murphy added that willful inaction is more destructive than ignorance. She pointed out that New Jersey is unique because of the state’s experiences with the destructive Hurricanes Sandy and Irene.

Countless families remain homeless from the storms. She shared how just twelve hours prior to her keynote address, she met a man with a Ph.D. who was moving sofa-to-sofa with his family because he had lost his home.

“[New Jersey] is committed to making this state the magnet for innovative solutions,” Murphy said.

Recently, New Jersey has bolstered its response to climate change. It joined the U.S. Climate Alliance, started the process of rejoining RGGI, and stood in favor of a permanent ban on fracking in the Delaware River Watershed region, according to Murphy.

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The state is also drafting a roadmap to achieve 100 percent clean energy by 2050.

“Not only are we going to create smarter energy,” said Murphy, “but we will also use the energy we create in smarter ways.”

She noted the economic benefits that come hand in hand with environmental protection efforts. For example, Murphy explained that for every $1 invested in offshore wind, New Jersey will realize $1.83 of economic activity. Moving to an offshore wind economy stands to create more than 4,300 jobs and a total economic impact of $700 million in the state.

Murphy hopes that New Jersey will spearhead the response to climate change on the east coast. She jokingly pointed out that a friend told her husband, Governor Phil Murphy, “California will [soon] aim to be the New Jersey of the West Coast.”

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The keynote address was given at 10:00 a.m. on Friday, September 21 in the Maeder Hall Auditorium of the Andlinger Center for Energy & the Environment, who hosted the two-day conference. 

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