From the Executive Director's Desk

New Jersey made history again! The Board of Public Utilities announced the winner of the country’s largest offshore wind project. Orsted will be building the 1,100MW project, called OceanWind, which will bring clean energy to approximately 500,000 homes. Kudos to Governor Murphy for his vision on clean energy.  

New Jersey is now positioned to become an economic powerhouse for this new industry.

And June in New Jersey means one thing, budget. After a hard fought campaign by allies to include a millionaires tax in the budget, it was a non-starter for Senate President Sweeney. Read more below. 

Wishing everyone a safe, happy and healthy July 4 celebration.

In Solidarity,

Debra Coyle McFadden
Executive Director

P.S. Save The Date! November 22, WEC’s Annual Award Dinner, The College of New Jersey 6 pm.

Philadelphia Refinery Explosion 

In the 4am hour on June 21, a series of explosions at Philadelphia Energy Solutions (PES), the largest oil refinery in the northeast, rocked houses in Philadelphia and as far away as South Jersey. The U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) has disbatched inspectors to investigate the cause of the fire and explosions. Fortunately, there were no fatalities or serious injuries.

Philadelphia emergency management issued a shelter in place order for the immediate area surrounding the facility following the explosions. It was later lifted when air monitoring conducted by the Philadelphia Department of Public Health found the test readings to be normal. 

This is the latest in a series of near-miss incidents at facilities that use hydrofluoric acid (HF) that could have been dramatically worse had HF been released. HF is an extremely hazardous and corrosive chemical. It can cause permanent damage to eyes, skin and lung and can be fatal. The facility's reported vulnerability zone for HF is seven miles, according to its Risk Management Plan filed with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) with more than a million people living in the vulnerability zone.  

Known safer alternatives to HF in the refining industry have been know for years. In April, the CSB called on EPA to examine the effectiveness of existing HF regulations and risk management procedures.

UPDATE: On June 26, Mark Smith, CEO of PES announced it will close the refinery. More than 2,000 workers are employed at PES. United Steelworkers 10-1 represent approximately 600 front-line workers there. In addition to the loss of these good paying jobs, thousands more indirect jobs will be lost.

New Jersey Offshore Wind Project Made History

On June 21, the Board of Public Utilities announced the winner of the country’s largest offshore wind project. Orstead will be building the 1,100MW project, OceanWind, 14 miles off the coast of Atlantic City. According to the BPU, the project is expected to power roughly 500,000 New Jersey homes and generate $1.17 billion in economic benefits, in addition to creating an estimated 15,000 jobs over the project life.

Thank you to Governor Murphy for his vision and commitment to clean energy and recognizing the importance of supply chain opportunities for this industry. Offshore wind development has obvious clean energy benefits and also promises to bring good, family-sustaining jobs to the state. These are skilled, well-paying jobs such as construction, maintenance, operations, ports, and supply chain, more than 74 occupations in total, that cannot be outsourced. To spur this, New Jersey has created an offshore wind supply chain portal.

With this announcement today, and an aggressive solicitation schedule for the next 2,400 MW, New Jersey is well positioned to become a regional offshore wind clean energy and economic powerhouse.

Millionaires Tax is a Non Starter for Sweeeny

Despite enormous support from constituents, advocates, and experts, economic justice just didn't seem to be on the docket for New Jersey’s legislature this year. 

On June 13, more than 2,000 state workers and activists rallied outside the Statehouse to demand tax fairness and a budget that isn’t balanced on the backs of working class people.

Senate President Steve Sweeney, who previously voted for the millionaires’ tax five times during Christie’s tenure as governor, has other ideas. Just to be crystal clear, that’s 2c for every dollar you earn over $1,000,000. Fixing New Jersey’s regressive tax structure, in which the rich pay less than the working poor, was a non- starter for Sweeney and the legislature. 

And to put a finer point on it, that same day as the state worker rally, the Assembly Commerce and Economic Development Committee held a hearing to extend the Economic Development Authority (EDA) corporate subsidy programs “AS-IS,” ignoring a series of economic development bills that detail important program reforms introduced by the governor’s office.

Earlier this year, the Comptroller put out a damning audit of EDA’s tax incentive programs. The audit exposed  $11b in EDA tax incentive programs that were poorly audited, failing to create the jobs they were intended to create, with later reports detailing serious internal corruption.

As middle class workers rallied outside the Statehouse just to hold on to what they have, inside the Statehouse corporations and the wealthy were fighting for, and winning, exactly what they want -- the status quo.

ELC Ready to Go to Court Over SDA Funding

The Schools Development Authority (SDA) has no money left for new capital projects. 

Because of this, Healthy Schools Now continues to seek the reauthorization of NJ Schools Development Authority (NJSDA) funding for the 31 SDA districts (former Abbott districts) as well as funding for Regular Operating Districts (ROD) in the form of ROD grants.

There are 381 school facility projects in New Jersey, including 200 major renovations and 102 new school buildings needed, according to the most recent long range facility project plans (LRFPs). Many of these schools have serious issues,including leaking roofs, crumbling buildings and ventilation issues which contribute to mold, mildew, and poor temperature control.  

To date no plan has been proposed to provide state-mandated funding to remediate these issues.  

The Education Law Center (ELC) made a final appeal to the Attorney General’s office stating that if “compliance is not forthcoming in the FY20 budget cycle, we will have no alternative but to take appropriate legal action to effectuate our clients’ constitutional right to school buildings that are safe, not overcrowded and educationally adequate.”  School staff and students have waited long enough for this issue to be rectified. The time has come for a resolution.

We continue to ask partners, parents, and advocates to attend monthly SDA Board meetings to provide testimony regarding insufficient school conditions and the need for reauthorization of funding. Join us for the next SDA meeting on Monday, July 1st at 9:00 am at the SDA building located at 32 E Front St, Trenton, NJ 08608.  Please contact for more information.


Transportation Electrification: Keeping an Eye on Equity

The Murphy administration recently released the first draft of the much anticipated draft Energy Master Plan. This plan, which Jersey Renews, WEC, and other partners contributed to via robust participation in pre-plan public hearings, outlines how New Jersey will source its energy, much of which will come from renewables in the coming years. 

At the top of the plan is a dedication to the electrification of New Jersey’s transportation system. As the largest producer of greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution in the state, contributing nearly 50% of our emissions, cleaning up the transportation sector is foundational to reducing our state’s impact on the environment. A recent op-ed ran in the Philadelphia Inquirer by WEC and partner HPAE focusing on the health impacts of pollution in our cities from transportation and the health benefits of transitioning to electrification.

Just in time, Jersey Renews released a comprehensive paper on the electrification of our transportation system called Transportation Electrification: Keeping an Eye on Equity. The paper outlines who electrification helps, barriers to achieving it, and lays out a basic roadmap to get us there. The paper was officially released on June 26 at a panel event featuring experts in transportation, environment, and community development.

September 11th Victim Compensation Fund

For those of us who were alive during the September 11th terrorist attacks, we can never forget the images we saw on TV. Two planes crashing into the World Trade Center and images of emergency responders digging through the wreckage desperately trying to find survivors. It was on a loop, 24/7, for days. It was an emotional time filled with confusion, anger, and deep sadness, as well as a deep pride, and respect for the quick, heroic response from emergency responders who were called to action that September.

2,977 people lost their lives in the attack on the World Trade Center. Families forever shattered. But 18 years later, the toll from injury and illness suffered by those who participated in the extremely dangerous rescue effort continues to destroy the lives of those who have already sacrificed so much. 

And here we are once again, fighting for Congress to fund the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund. This fund should be fully funded based on the needs of the victims for as long as they need it. Jon Stewart, a long time advocate of the Compensation Fund, said it best when he testified in front of the Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties: 

“9/11 responders shouldn’t have to decide whether or not to live, or to have a place to live.”. You can watch the video here. 

We have to do more than remember every person who was lost on 9/11. We must take care of those who sacrificed so much on that day to save so many more. It's our turn to take care of them


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Wed, July 3: SDA Monthly Board Meeting, 9 am, SDA Headquarters, 32 East Front Street, Trenton, NJ 08825. For more information, contact Heather Sorge, WEC Campaign Organizer for Healthy Schools,


Friday, August 16: Time for Turbines,
Stockton State College, Atlantic City

Friday, November 2: WEC Awards Dinner, The College of New Jersey

National COSH Conference: December 3- 5, Maritime Conference Center Near Baltimore, MD

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