Most New Jersey voters in both political parties want the state to move to 100 percent clean power by 2050, according to a poll released this week by the New Jersey League of Conservation Voters.
“Seventy percent said they would support a policy requiring the state to get 100 percent of its energy from clean energy by 2050. Only 15 percent were opposed,” said Andrew Baumann, of the polling company Global Strategies Group, in a phone conference.
He said people from all demographics and regions were supportive, as were people who voted for both Hillary Clinton and Donald J. Trump for president.
Among Trump voters, 51 percent supported the 100 percent goal, while Clinton voters were almost unanimous in their support, Baumann said.
The poll of 1,100 registered New Jersey voters took place between Election Day, Nov. 8, and the presidential inauguration day, Jan. 20. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.9 percentage points, Baumann said.
Clean power is defined as renewable energy, such as solar or wind power, rather than power made with fossil fuels.
“This is timely not only because of what is happening in Washington, but pretty much everybody at the state level is up for election this year,” NJ Conservation Voters Executive Director Ed Potosnak said. “One hundred percent is an ambitious goal. We need environmental leadership at the top.”
Potosnak cited Trump’s recent decisions to restart the Keystone and Dakota Access oil pipeline efforts; the nomination of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, who has sued the Environmental Protection Agency many times, to head the EPA; and a media blackout imposed on the EPA as signs New Jersey may have to go its own way, with strong state leaders.
The poll also showed New Jersey voters want to see all levels of government take more action on climate change, Baumann said, with 64 percent saying governments should be doing more and 51 percent saying they should be doing much more.
“What it helps us to understand is, we are on the right path looking at tackling climate change” and other issues such as clean air and energy, Potosnak said. “As environmental issues are brought up by the Trump administration, voters will become more engaged.”
He said his group will make sure all candidates for the state Legislature and governor are “aware of where we want to see the state go. We will be taking action to push them to put together plans to deliver on the desires of the people,” Potosnak said.
A bill that has passed the Senate would increase the state’s renewable energy standard to 80 percent by 2050, he said.
“Currently, there is not a bill on the 100 percent (standard). There’s a lot of opportunity in state to get to that 100 percent,” Potosnak said of increasing solar and offshore wind energy generation.
New Jersey has a standard of achieving 24.5 percent renewable energy use by 2020, Potosnak said.