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Eustace, Benson & Johnson Clean Vehicle Task Force Bill Advances

(TRENTON) – Legislation Assembly Democrats Tim Eustace, Daniel R. Benson and Gordon Johnson sponsored to evaluate the use of low- and zero-emission vehicles or “clean” vehicles in New Jersey was recently approved, 50-17-2, by the Assembly.

The bill (A-2405) would establish the Clean Vehicle Task Force, whose 11 members would evaluate issues related to the promotion, development and use of low-, zero- or partial zero emission vehicles in New Jersey. The body would submit a report with recommendations to the governor and the legislature within a year of organizing.

“Knowing that vehicle emissions are a major contributor to air pollution, it’s critical that we find ways to get more vehicles with lower emissions on the road,” said Eustace (D-Bergen/Passaic). “This task force will help us find ways to protect the environment and advance our goal of slowing climate change.”

“The governor’s removing New Jersey from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative and his veto of a bill establishing a task force to study clean vehicles raises concerns about the future of the environment,” said Benson (D-Mercer/Middlesex). “Consuming millions of barrels of oil per day in America simply isn’t sustainable, regardless of whether you approach it from an environmental perspective or an economic one.”

“It is clear that the effects of vehicle emissions have a tremendous and visible impact on the environment,” said Johnson (D-Bergen). “Setting up a task force to explore clean energy options for vehicles is the right step toward fulfilling our obligation to protect the environment for future generations.”

The task force will be responsible for studying the development of electric vehicles and hydrogen fuel cell technology, identifying bureaucratic obstacles to the use of low-emission vehicles and evaluating any proposed or adopted changes with respect to air quality, fuel economy and greenhouse gas emission standards made by federal agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The legislation also clarifies that, as it has since 2009, the Department of Environmental Protection would be required to continue implementing the California Low Emission Vehicle Program and the California zero-emission vehicle requirements.

The task force would consist of: the DEP commissioner, who would serve as chair; the president of the Board of Public Utilities; the commissioner of the Department of Transportation; the state treasurer; the director of the Division of Rate Counsel; one member each of the Senate and the Assembly, to be appointed by the Senate president and the Assembly speaker, respectively; one representative each of auto manufacturers, auto retailers, a public electric or gas utility and a recognized statewide environmental organization, to be appointed by the governor with the advice and consent of the Senate.

The Assembly passed the bill on December 17. It will now be referred back to the Senate for a concurrence vote.