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Air Quality Awareness Week…   Clean Energy and Healthy Communities…   Sign Up for EnviroFlash

Monday, May 4: Prescribed Burning in New Jersey to Prevent Wildfires

Did You Know? The State Forest Fire Service plans prescribed burns around New Jersey to reduce the potential for wildfires and promotes its beneficial ecological effects, such as improving plant and wildlife habitats. Reducing the potential for wildfires supports the state’s initiative on climate change as it supports measures that will reduce the formation of air pollutants that may contribute to climate change. In 2019, the Forest Fire Service facilitated prescribed burns on 28,816 acres in New Jersey and has set a goal to conduct prescribed burns on more than 35,000 acres across the state this year.

Prescribed burning has become one of the most important tools in helping to prevent wildfires and protect New Jersey citizens who may live near forests, grasslands, or other natural areas that are prone to wildfires. In addition to burning away materials that can fuel wildfires, prescribed burns can provide significant benefits to New Jersey’s forest ecosystem by helping to manage competing species of plants and trees, control insects and disease, and recycle important nutrients into the soil.

Prescribed burns, also known as controlled burns, typically take place during the late winter months. Less smoke is produced, and weather conditions are more predictable during these months making the fires easier to control. The prescribed burns are also conducted during these months as a preventative measure, since peak wildfire season begins in late March and continues through early May.

During prescribed burns, areas nearby will experience elevated levels of smoke. Particulate matter, one of the six criteria air pollutants, can often be formed in the atmosphere when smoke is emitted. To protect the public health of New Jersey residents, the Forest Fire Service has been working closely with the DEP’s Division of Air Quality by ensuring that a prescribed burn does not take place on a day with poor air quality conditions as determined by the Air Quality Index (AQI). The Forest Fire Service also works to provide as much public notice as possible on the areas where prescribed burns are to take place to ensure the safety of citizens and communities nearby.

Take these actions to help New Jersey’s efforts prescribed burns, help prevent wildfires and its impacts on climate change, protect property and improve air quality:

 
Tuesday, May 5: Asthma, the AQI and Your Health

Did You Know? Asthma is a condition that makes it difficult to breathe. It usually begins with exposure to a "trigger," which is something (usually an external allergen) that causes the airways to react. During an asthma attack, the lung airways tighten and fill with fluid. The resulting effects are chest tightness, wheezing, breathlessness, and coughing. Over 600,000 adults (9%) and 167,000 (8.7%) children currently have asthma. Asthma affects all races, ages and genders. There are many triggers of asthma attacks and outdoor air conditions can be one of them. High levels of ozone and fine particulate matter (PM2.5) can trigger asthma in children, particularly during the warm months in spring and summer. A study by the New Jersey Environmental Public Health Tracking Program found that days with high levels of ozone were associated with increased pediatric asthma emergency department visits.

The Air Quality Index (AQI) is an index for reporting daily air quality. It tells you how clean or polluted your air is, and what associated health effects might be a concern for you. The AQI focuses on the health effects you may experience within a few hours or days after breathing polluted air. The AQI is currently driven primarily by ground-level ozone and fine particulate matter (PM2.5). The NJ Air Monitoring Network has a notification system that sends alerts to your email or cell phone and uses colors to represent the daily AQI.

Actions: Take these actions to reduce your exposure to ozone/PM2.5 and improve air quality:

Protect yourself

  • Check the AQI for your local air quality. This enables you avoid over exertion on bad air days.
  • Limit outdoor activities on bad air days, especially sensitive individuals, such as older adults, children, and people with lung diseases, including asthma and emphysema, and change the time of day of strenuous outdoor activity to early morning or late evening.
  • Get the daily air quality forecast. Sign up for EnviroFlash, (www.enviroflash.info), a free online alert system, that delivers air quality information straight to your email inbox or cell phone. Do your part
  • Delay mowing your lawn until the air quality is healthy again.
  • Refuel your vehicle at nighttime and stop at the click.
  • Do not idle vehicles.

To learn more, go to https://www-doh.state.nj.us/doh-shad/indicator/view/NJASTHMAHOSP.stateAAR.html and https://www.state.nj.us/dep/airmon/ to see how asthma hospitalizations and ozone have decreased steadily since 2000 in New Jersey.

For all of New Jersey’s air quality facts, and suggested actions for the week, go to https://www.state.nj.us/dep/aqaweek/

 
Wednesday, May 6: New Jersey Protecting Against Climate Threats (NJ PACT)

Did You Know? New Jersey is the first state to comprehensively address both land-use and greenhouse gas emissions impacts of climate change. New Jersey has taken a major leap forward in addressing climate change through the NJ PACT, a targeted regulatory reform effort that will modernize many of New Jersey’s environmental regulations. NJ PACT will bring necessary changes to our air emissions and environmental land use regulations to enable government, businesses, and residents to effectively respond to current climate threats and reduce future climate damages.

NJ PACT will take steps that will cut emissions of greenhouse gases and short-lived climate pollutants, and tailor land use and planning policies to adapt to unavoidable impacts, such as sea-level rise, extreme weather, and chronic flooding.

NJ PACT represents an agreement with New Jersey residents to help them adapt to the reality of climate change to protect property, infrastructure and quality of life and support new economic development and smart growth. NJ PACT is also an agreement with our children and grandchildren, across generations, to reduce further climate change.

NJ PACT will strengthen New Jersey’s long-term ability to withstand impacts of climate change and will make New Jersey fairer by putting vulnerable communities and future generations at the forefront of new policies.

Over the next two years, DEP will achieve the following through NJ PACT:

  • Require greenhouse gas monitoring and reporting from fossil fuel manufacturers and distributors, electric generating units, any gas public utility, and other significant emitters of GHGs and short-lived climate pollutants, to enable New Jersey to meet our goals of reducing emissions to 80 percent below 2006 levels by 2050.
  • Enact new air pollution regulations that achieve critically needed reductions that pave the way for a new clean energy economy.
  • Reform environmental land use rules to help New Jersey residents better plan and build resilient communities by avoiding flood prone areas, reestablishing chronically inundated wetlands, revegetating riparian areas, and encouraging green building and green infrastructure.
  • Lead by example by ensuring that projects built with public funds integrate climate resilience measures so that taxpayer dollars are put to good use and that infrastructure we build, or fund provides lasting value in a changing world.

Be informed about New Jersey’s efforts to protect against climate threats. Learn more at https://www.nj.gov/dep/njpact/index.html

For all of New Jersey’s air quality facts, and suggested actions for the week, go to https://www.state.nj.us/dep/aqaweek/

 
Thursday, May 7: Electric Vehicles
green car

Did You Know? Electric vehicles are crucial to meeting our ambitious goal of 330,000 light duty electric vehicles on the road by 2025. With more than 50 electric sedans, SUVs, crossovers, minivans and now trucks from almost every major automaker in the market, more than 1 million Americans have made the switch to electric. In New Jersey, electric vehicle registrations have increased from just over 300 in 2011 to more than 26,500 in 2019. 2025 is going to be a landmark year, with other aggressive goals including, twenty-five percent of state-owned non-emergency, light-duty vehicles becoming electric by 2025 with a goal to increase up to 100% electric by 2035.

No tailpipe? No Problem! Nearly half of NJ’s greenhouse gas emissions come from transportation, mostly from on-road gasoline vehicles. In fact, the transportation sector is the largest source of climate-warming emissions in the state. Electric vehicles are approximately 80% cleaner than gasoline or diesel vehicles, even when you count emissions from the power plants that generate electricity to power electric vehicles.

In addition to their environmental benefits, electric vehicles have proven to exude the cool factor. Their impressive performance is enough to blow away even their toughest competition. New Jersey’s rapid-growing network of public charging stations ensure that “range anxiety” is a thing of the past. Most electric vehicles are charged at home, but for those who are always on the go, NJ boasts 1,115 publicly accessible charging outlets at 388 locations. Roughly 95% of the state is within 25 miles of a DC Fast Charger, which can provide 60-80 miles of drivable range in 20 minutes of charging. The Governor has also pledged to install an additional 400 public fast charging stations along major highways by 2025. Looking to get charging stations installed at your multi-unit dwelling or workplace? Check out NJ’s Electric Vehicle Charging Station Grant Program, It Pay$ To Plug In, for information on how to apply for funding: https://www.drivegreen.nj.gov/plugin.html.

What Are You Waiting For?! With new models being released in the market every year, now is the time to do your research and prepare for the switch. To learn more about the performance, availability and comfort of electric vehicles, as well as how to save money and reduce pollution, visit
DEP’s Drive Green New Jersey website www.drivegreen.nj.gov.

Action:

  • Consider an electric vehicle when it’s time for your next vehicle lease or purchase.
  • Take advantage of all available rebates and tax incentives
    • Rebate programs - Consumers will receive up to $5,000 when they buy or lease an all-electric or plug-in hybrid vehicle with an MSRP below $55,000 in New Jersey. Consumers who buy or lease an eligible vehicle after January 17, 2020 are eligible for the rebate. For questions regarding the rebate program, please email EV.programs@bpu.nj.gov.
    • Zero Emissions Vehicle (ZEV) Tax Exemption - ZEVs sold, rented, or leased in New Jersey are exempt from state sales and use tax.
    • Qualified Plug-In Electric Vehicle (PEV) Tax Credit - qualify for a $2,500 to $7,500 federal tax credit.
  • View the NJ Public Electric Vehicle (EV) Charging Locator to see how many charging stations are available in your area today.

Additional Resources:

Drive Change. Drive Electric. www. driveelectricus.com

Electric Vehicle Charging Station Locations – U.S. Department of Energy www.afdc.energy.gov/fuels/electricity_locations.html

For more information about the Volkswagen settlement and the DEP’s Beneficiary Mitigation Plan, visit www.nj.gov/dep/vw/.

For all of New Jersey’s air quality facts, and suggested actions for the week, go to https://www.state.nj.us/dep/aqaweek/

 
Friday, May 8: Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) Strategic Funding Plan

Did You Know?  On April 17, 2020, Governor Murphy announced the release of New Jersey’s first strategic funding plan for investing the state’s auction proceeds from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), the cap-and-trade pact among northeastern states dedicated to reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the electricity generating sector. This plan includes new investments in climate change reduction, environmental justice and clean energy, and was jointly developed by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP), the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (NJBPU), and New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA).

The plan identifies four initiatives the agencies will invest the RGGI auction proceeds in for the years 2020 through 2022: Catalyzing Clean, Equitable Transportation; Promoting Blue Carbon in Coastal Habitats; Enhancing Forests and Urban Forests; and Creating a New Jersey Green Bank. These initiatives align with Governor Murphy’s strategic vision for achieving 100 percent clean energy by 2050 and the Global Warming Response Act mandate of reducing statewide greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent below 2006 levels.

New Jersey plans to invest an estimated $80 million each year in programs that reduce greenhouse gas emissions, drive forward projects that boost clean energy and create jobs, protect the health of residents in environmental justice communities and increase the resiliency of coastal communities.

Governor Murphy has taken other significant steps that inform and guide the funding allocation priorities established by the RGGI Strategic Funding Plan, including:

  • Forming the New Jersey Partnership to Plug-In, a first-of-its-kind, statewide partnership to build out the necessary infrastructure to support electric vehicle ownership to improve air quality and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Signing landmark legislation to boost electric vehicle use in New Jersey by setting aggressive goals for New Jersey electric vehicle sales and public charging stations, requiring the establishment of rebates for electric vehicle purchases, and directing the state to electrify its fleet.
  • Releasing a comprehensive Energy Master Plan that includes rigorous goals and spans multiple sectors and governmental agencies to achieve the Governor’s goal of 100 percent clean energy by 2050.
  • Issuing an order directing DEP to develop “NJ Protecting Against Climate Threats,” or NJ PACT, a targeted regulatory reform effort that will modernize environmental laws and regulations to help government, businesses and residents effectively respond to current climate threats and reduce future climate damages.

Be informed about New Jersey’s RGGI Strategic Funding Plan. Learn more at :https://nj.gov/dep/aqes/rggi.html

For all of New Jersey’s air quality facts, and suggested actions for the week, go to https://www.state.nj.us/dep/aqaweek/

 

 

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