Doug O'Malley, the director of Environment New Jersey, spoke with APN about their work:
What does the organization do?
Our mission is to protect New Jersey’s environment. We represent more than 20,000 citizen members across the Garden State. We advocate to protect our air, water and open spaces and expand clean energy, whether we’re working to expand protections or defend them. The last five years we’ve been playing more defense than offense with the Christie Administration, in the Legislature, regulatory agencies and the courts. While we continue to stand up to Christie Administration rollbacks, we know the winds of political change are in the air. We want to start sowing the seeds of a green agenda for a new administration of either party. The rollbacks of the Christie administration are out of step with our state and we hope we can catch up for lost time in a new administration.
Who does the organization help?
We represent and serve our dues-paying members but it’s clearly more than that. We serve every resident of New Jersey. We’re working to expand environmental protections and we represent fellow travelers who are supporters, members and activists. We have a lot of people who couldn't join us or haven’t heard of us either. I like to think we represent them too.
What does poverty look like in the agency’s work?
If we look at New Jersey’s population, there are way too many people living at or beneath the poverty line, or just above it -- struggling in ALICE land. I know there are members of the business community who think the way to help the state’s economy is to slash environmental protections. We couldn't disagree more. Protecting the environment also protects the most vulnerable populations, the people who can’t elevate their house in a floodplain, or can’t leave their home during flooding.
We have advocated against the continual raiding of the Board of Public Utilities Clean Energy Fund. Every ratepayer in the state pays a small Societal Benefits Charge, so New Jersey can fund energy efficiency programs that ultimately reduce our energy bills. But the Christie Administration has raided more than $1 billion dollars over the last five fiscal years. That’s a huge amount of dough! The Clean Energy Fund should create green jobs in our neighborhoods, reduce our energy bills and make our homes more comfortable -- not be annually raided during the budget process. We need to ensure these raids don’t become a permanent fixture of our state’s budget process.
Why is Environment New Jersey a part of APN?
APN is increasingly an incredibly vocal and visible part of the NJ advocacy landscape. APN is doing outreach, connecting constituencies and showing their muscle on the state stage. We are proud to be a member.