By Nicholas Voltaggio
Declaring the world doesn’t need any more hot air from politicians, Jeff Tittel of the New Jersey Sierra Club urged activists in Morristown to demand clean energy.
“We don’t want words… we want action, and we want action now! Together we will win!” he said Saturday at the People’s Climate Movement to Rise for Climate, Jobs, and Justice.
Tittel was among a diverse slate of speakers from environmental groups that gathered outside town hall to address dozens of cheering, sign-waving supporters.
The rally coincided with two others across the state and more than 200 events nationwide, according to organizers. BlueWaveNJ, NJ 11th for Change, Sustainable Morristown, and the Wind of the Spirit Immigrant Resource Center were listed among 26 sponsor organizations.
Speakers spoke of an increasing urgency to act in response to climate change, as storms grow more severe.
“Clearly, clearly, you have to be from another planet if you don’t see what’s going on right in front of your eyes,” said Morristown Mayor Tim Dougherty.
Slideshow photos by Kevin Coughlin. Click /hover on images for captions:
With less than two months left until the 2018 midterm elections, many rally-goers waved signs supporting Democratic Congressional candidates and attacking the Trump administration’s environmental deregulation and ties to the fossil fuel industry.
Dismissing President Trump as the “fossil fool in the White House,” Tittel also took jabs at former Governor Chris Christie, saying the Republican had been the state’s “biggest source of hot air.”
However, Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy did not get a free pass. Tittel called on Murphy to further regulate fossil fuel-burning polluters, and to commit the state to 100 percent renewable energy use by 2050, a commitment made by Hawaii and California.
Christine Clarke, former environmental director of Action Together New Jersey, said such a transition to clean energy would create 86,000 construction jobs and 58,000 operation jobs in the state.
Murphy also should deny crucial permits to a natural gas power plant proposed for the Meadowlands, said Matt Smith of Food and Water Watch. The 1,200-megawatt North Bergen Liberty Generating Project plant would send power to New York and profits to Mitsubishi subsidiary Diamond Generating, while creating harmful levels of ground-level ozone, he said.
“They get all the profits, and New Jersey gets all the pollution,” said Smith.
Others voiced opposition to six pipelines, and hopes that the state would uphold and meet goals of the Paris Climate Accord, despite President Trump’s withdrawal from the agreement last year.
Climate change exacerbates socioeconomic disparities, affecting primarily lower-income communities and communities of color, according to Kim Gaddy of Clean Water Action.
Gaddy, who is African-American, has three asthmatic children, and fears for their health as air pollution rises in her community and other communities of color. She is fighting, she said, for a world “free of environmental degradation,” where everyone, “regardless of race or income,” has clean air to breath and clean water to drink.
Morristown Green contributor Nicholas Voltaggio is a sophomore at Morristown High School. Editor Kevin Coughlin contributed to this report.