Montclair Climate Action condemns the recent decisions by the Supreme Court and Senator Joe Manchin (along with Senate Republicans), which strictly limit the ability of the federal government to address the problem of climate change. Given these actions, it is more important than ever to mobilize at the state and local levels – to make Montclair, and New Jersey, leaders in the fight to address climate change.
In its recent decision, West Virginia v. EPA, the Supreme Court, rather than following the text of the law and the advice of the environmental experts at the EPA, has chosen to assert its own right to determine climate policy. Intending to kneecap the federal government’s ability to regulate energy companies that are damaging the environment, the Supreme Court took the “opportunity” provided by an already obsolete and abandoned regulation to attack the federal government’s power to protect us from climate change and, by extension, other environmental threats.
Subsequently, Senator Machin’s refusal to accept Joe Biden’s proposals for policies to address climate change, even on terms that he himself proposed, combined with Republican obstruction of climate policy, placed further limits on what the federal government can do to address the climate crisis. For the third time in thirty years, the Senate has blocked popular policies to address global overheating and instead has chosen to protect the fossil fuel industry, even at the cost of future generations.
Given these recent actions, it is all the more important for states and municipalities to step up and take action. The federal government may not be helping, but we can help ourselves. Governor Murphy, state legislators, Mayor Spiller, and members of the township council need to adopt policies that will push us towards effective action.
What should they be doing? Governor Murphy should immediately declare a moratorium on fossil fuel projects in New Jersey. Even the International Energy Agency, an organization that was set up to promote fossil fuels, now says that we can’t build any more fossil fuel infrastructure. Murphy needs to follow that advice and block all proposed pipelines, power plants, and other fossil fuel projects. He then needs to direct his administration to develop a clear, actionable plan to cut state greenhouse gas emissions, in a concrete way, with the goal of 50% reductions by 2030 and zero emissions by 2050.
And how about Montclair? Let’s start by using the energy aggregation program to move the township towards 100% renewable electricity. And then how about developing EV infrastructure, biking infrastructure, and public transportation structure so we can have carbon-free transportation. And a municipal composting program to cut our waste.
There is so much that New Jersey and Montclair can do, but we need to have the political will to do it. We need leaders who will see in the recent actions at the federal level a call to responsibility: the responsibility to take action to protect our planet for future generations. We can’t use the Supreme Court’s and Joe Manchin’s abdication of responsibility as an excuse for inaction or despair. We must, instead, see it as a call to action.