NJ.com- City officials joined environmental activists on Tuesday to call on state lawmakers to pass legislation promoting electric transportation and establish a statewide system for charging electric vehicles.
Mayor Steve Fulop, council members Denise Ridley, James Solomon and Mira Prinz-Arey joined environmental activists at a press conference a day after Earth Day to send one message to the state Legislature: pass the bill that would fund charging stations for electric vehicles.
The bill, which was introduced in the state Senate and Assembly last year, outlines the goals, initiatives and programs that encourage and support the use of plug-in electric vehicles.
And while Fulop pointed out that Democrats are now enjoying “a unique moment” in Trenton, with majorities in both the Senate and Assembly, the bill has been stuck in the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee since October.
“The key for today is that we have a governor, we have legislators who talk about ‘we need to do something about climate change.
We need to create green jobs,'" said Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “Well, quite frankly, if they don’t move that bill out, and move it out soon, then all that rhetoric is just more hot air."
The bill calls for at least 600 fast chargers at 300 locations throughout the state by the end of 2020. During the press conference, Doug O’Malley, the director of Environment New Jersey, called on Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin (D-Middlesex) to help the push for the bill’s passing.
“We want to see action ... over the course of the next eight weeks to work to get this bill moving,” O’Malley said.
During the press conference, activists and officials stood in front of four electric vehicles — two Teslas, a Hyundai Ioniq and Honda Clarity — and also called for electrifying public transportation and garbage trucks.
"Nearly 50 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in New Jersey come from the transportation sector,” said Norah Langweiler, campaign organizer for Jersey Renews. “While we need statewide commitments from big players like NJ Transit and the Murphy Administration, municipalities can lead the fight by encouraging communities to move towards electrification.”
Electric vehicles appear to be getting more popular in the Garden State. According IHS Markit, a London-based data analysis firm, there were 4,000 more electric vehicles on the road in 2018 than there were in 2016.
In Hudson County, the number of registered electric vehicles jumped from 55 in 2016 to 70 in 2017 before reaching 244 in 2018, IHS Markit data indicates.
The press conference concluded with giving the public a glimpse at what electric cars have to offer through a test drive of the cars.
“By incorporating electric vehicles into our municipal fleet, and providing charging stations for the community, we are taking necessary steps towards increasing quality of life with cleaner, healthier air," Fulop said.
"It is my hope that this encourages other communities in the state to do the same.”