From The Star Ledger:
New Jersey remains among the top 20 states where carbon-dioxide emissions are steadily increasing, according to a state-by-state assessment of pollution contributions released yesterday by the group Environment New Jersey.
The 63-page analytical study, compiled from U.S. Department of Energy data and international sources, ranks the Garden State at 16 among the other 50 states for overall carbon emissions, and it concludes that pollution output has increased by 16 percent in the state over 1990 levels.
While the state ranking is well behind neighboring Pennsylvania, which is third in the nation for emissions, and New York, which ranked eighth, it is well ahead of neighboring Delaware, which ranked at 46th for carbon emissions.
Additionally, Environment New Jersey said the data show states like Delaware, Connecticut, Massachusetts and even New York, while still high in overall emissions, have reduced their overall emissions output since 1990, while New Jersey has steadily increased. New Jersey also bucks the national trend in that, where transportation is the nation's second-leading source of carbon dioxide pollution, it is the leading cause in the Garden State.
"In New Jersey, transportation was hands down the largest source of carbon dioxide emissions at 53.5 percent. "Â¦ More pollution than ever before is not a trend we want to be setting," said Matt Elliott of Environment New Jersey, citing statistics compiled in the report, entitled "Too Much Pollution."
Zoe Baldwin, the New Jersey advocate for the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, said the state needs to expand mass transit and address the reasons people drive so much in the state.
"We need to make sure we are stopping sprawl development so that people do not have to drive or drive as far," she said.
Baldwin acknowledged that a great deal of the state's traffic stems from interstate travel, with motorists passing through New Jersey to reach destinations such as New York City. But she contends the state still has the ability to reduce its overall traffic.
"We're not doing enough in New Jersey to shift the travel patterns," she said.
The report is based on data collected as of 2007, but acknowledges newer Department of Energy figures showing energy-related carbon dioxide emissions in the United States dropped overall by about 2.8 percent in 2008, reaching their lowest level since 2001 and marking the largest decline since the recession of 1982. The decline has been largely attributed to soaring oil prices in 2008 and the economic downturn.
The leading cause in the nation for carbon emissions is electricity generation, and the report blames a heavy reliance on coal plants.
The group instead endorsed the development of other, alternative energy sources, demanding the state accelerate efforts to build off-shore wind farms and expand the use of solar energy panels.
A state energy goal, set by Gov. Jon Corzine, vows to have 30 percent of the state's electricity produced through wind and solar power by 2020.
The Environment New Jersey report is being released in conjunction with next month's international "Climate Conference" in Copenhagen and congressional debates over controversial "cap-and-trade" legislation designed to reduce the nation's carbon dioxide output.