FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 6, 2021
Lawrence Hajna (609) 984-1795
Caryn Shinske (609) 984-1795
(21/P014) TRENTON – Governor Phil Murphy has proclaimed May 3 to May 7 Air Quality Awareness Week in New Jersey, urging residents to learn about the importance of healthy air, make simple changes to reduce air pollution, improve their health and partner with the Department of Environmental Protection to combat climate change.
“We are improving air quality for all New Jerseyans while also reducing the greenhouse gas emissions that fuel climate change, moving the State aggressively toward our goal of 100 percent clean energy by 2050,” Governor Murphy said. “Clean air is critical to our public and environmental health, and I encourage every resident to make simple lifestyle changes to help improve air quality in their communities and join our fight against climate change.”
“With Governor Murphy’s leadership, the DEP is hard at work making New Jersey’s air and all of our communities cleaner and healthier,” said DEP Acting Commissioner Shawn LaTourette. “During Air Quality Awareness Week, and every week, we invite the people of New Jersey to join us and one another in creating a healthy clean air future for our great state.”
To further ensure that the DEP’s operations contribute to cleaner air, Acting Commissioner LaTourette signed an Administrative Order mandating that the DEP transition to an all-electric vehicle fleet. Whether DEP staff is out inspecting water treatment plants, sampling streams to ensure improved water quality, or maintaining New Jersey’s beautiful state parks, the DEP will use the most fuel-efficient vehicle possible to achieve the lowest emissions. Traditional gasoline or diesel vehicles would only be purchased if absolutely necessary.
The DEP’s new purchasing hierarchy will enable it to meet the goals of the New Jersey Electric Vehicle Law requiring at least 25 percent of state-owned, non-emergency, light-duty vehicles will be plug-in electric vehicles by Dec. 31, 2025, and the entire fleet be plug-in vehicles by Dec. 31, 2035. See the new DEP electric vehicle fleet and learn more by watching the Acting Commissioner’s video filmed at DEP headquarters in Trenton yesterday.
Everyone in New Jersey can contribute to reducing air pollution and climate change by taking simple actions and making smart choices such as:
New Jersey has been a leader in the national call to action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and combat climate change, including through its 2019 Energy Master Plan, the 2020 New Jersey Global Warming Response Act 80 x 50 Report, and the New Jersey Protecting Against Climate Threats (NJ PACT) regulatory reform.
New Jersey is set to propose a series of Climate Pollutant Reduction (CPR) rule proposals as part of NJ PACT which will reduce greenhouse gas emissions, particulate matter and other air toxins. The hearing on the first of these rule proposals, the Advanced Clean Trucks Program and Fleet Reporting Requirement Proposal, is scheduled for May 20. Other Climate Pollutant Reduction rule proposals are expected through the spring and early summer.
Governor Murphy also signed landmark legislation last year to protect environmental justice communities, which are disproportionately burdened by unhealthy air quality and other environmental health hazards. To that end, New Jersey has accelerated the electrification of the transportation sector, especially in environmental justice communities. New Jersey’s Drive Green program encourages the use of electric vehicles that have no harmful tailpipe emissions to help meet the State’s 2050 greenhouse gas goal.
Air Quality Awareness Week is a great time for residents to learn how simple changes can help make New Jersey’s air healthier and reduce climate change impacts. Air Quality Awareness Week coincides with the beginning of the ozone season, the period of the year when ozone levels in the outside air can reach unhealthy levels. As warmer weather fast approaches the Garden State, residents are encouraged to take steps to protect their health from ozone.
Ground-level ozone is a respiratory irritant formed by the interaction of certain pollutants, hot weather and sunshine. It remains the most persistent criteria pollutant problem in New Jersey and the northeastern United States. Ozone can bring on asthma attacks and adversely affect the health of sensitive individuals, including those with respiratory and heart illness, older adults, young children and people who are active outdoors. Ground-level ozone has been linked to cardiovascular disease and premature death.
New Jersey was one of the first states to adopt an air pollution control law with the 1954 passage of the New Jersey Air Pollution Control Act. This law established the framework for the state’s air pollution standards and goals. Tremendous progress has been made since that time.
Each day of Air Quality Awareness Week has a special theme designed to help residents better understand air quality issues. For more tips and information, visit www.nj.gov/dep/aqaweek/
Residents may sign up for air quality information and alerts through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s EnviroFlash system at www.enviroflash.info.
Follow Acting Commissioner LaTourette on Instagram and Twitter @shawnlatur and follow the DEP on Twitter @NewJerseyDEP.