New Jersey’s Clean-Energy Future

We owe it to future generations to talk about achieving a cleaner environment—and the costs that accompany it.

Person charging electric car
Governor Murphy’s Energy Master Plan includes reducing emissions from transportation, which involves electric vehicles. Photo: Adobe Stock Photo

There is a lot of talk about clean energy these days: Electric cars, offshore wind energy, LED lightbulbs, natural-gas versus electric appliances. But what exactly is New Jersey’s clean-energy future?

Governor Phil Murphy’s Energy Master Plan has set an ambitious goal of 100 percent clean energy by 2050 and includes key strategies to get there, such as reducing energy consumption and emissions from the transportation sector, accelerating the deployment of renewable energy, maximizing energy efficiency and conservation, and decarbonizing New Jersey’s energy system—just to name a few.

Yet state Senate Republican Leader Anthony Bucco has shared his concerns about the cost of this plan. Says Bucco, “They understand that it’s going to be a tremendous cost to every homeowner and every resident….And when you consider that people are living paycheck to paycheck, we’re talking about some large costs here to the low- and middle-income families.”

While Senator Bucco’s concerns about economics are worth considering, the environmental status quo is unacceptable. Sure, we need to debate the issue of electric cars and a reasonable timeline to achieve auto-emission goals, but according to Democratic state senator Bob Smith, chair of the Senate Environment and Energy Committee, the key is to keep our focus on renewable energy. “Nobody wants to take anybody’s stove or any of their appliances,” says Smith, responding to Republicans who have accused Governor Murphy of this. “What the governor and the Legislature are trying to do is to provide incentives. Incentives, not demands. Not laws saying you have to change anything over but giving you incentives for you to use electric appliances and more electrification of buildings, but not penalties against you if you don’t.”

According to Smith, the way to make serious progress on carbon emissions is by electrifying as much as possible using renewable resources instead of burning coal, oil or even natural gas. Complex stuff, I know, and a rational, honest and sobering conversation must take place.

Other interest groups are also weighing in. I spoke with Anjuli Ramos-Busot, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club, to get some clarity on offshore wind energy, another huge part of Governor Murphy’s Energy Master Plan. When Ørsted, the world’s largest developer of offshore wind power, decided it was too expensive to continue to do business here, that complicated things. It also reignited the debate between Republicans and Democrats on the pros and cons of offshore wind energy. Ramos-Busot reminds us that, with wind energy, cost is a concern especially due to inflation and supply-chain issues, so we would need more help from the federal government. It’s not so clear if and when that help is coming. (The outcome of the 2024 presidential election clearly matters.)

Most reasonable people don’t dispute that we need a cleaner environment. Cleaner energy is a key to that goal. However, an honest discussion about the cost of these initiatives is just as important. None of this stuff is easy. These conversations will sometimes be painful and uncomfortable. But the stakes are too high not to confront these issues. Clearly, our elected officials in the Statehouse and all concerned citizens owe it, if not to ourselves, then to our children and grandchildren who will inherit the environment we leave behind. That is not debatable.

Steve Adubato, PhD, is the author of six books, including his newest, Lessons in Leadership 2.0: The Tough Stuff. He is an Emmy Award–winning anchor with programs airing on Thirteen/WNET (PBS) and NJ PBS. He has also appeared on CNN, CBS News and NBC’s Today show. Steve Adubato’s Lessons in Leadership video podcast, with cohost Mary Gamba, airs Saturdays at 5 pm and Sundays at 10 am on News 12+. For more information, visit

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