Governor of Blue State Challenges Biden’s Climate Plan

Democratic New Jersey Governor. Phil Murphy announced on Friday that his administration had filed a suit against the federal government for its approval of New York’s plan to reduce congestion.

Murphy stated that New Jersey had filed a lawsuit against the Department of Transportation and Federal Highway Administration, accusing the federal agencies of breaking environmental laws. The FHWA approved a plan in May from New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority to increase the fee commuters pay to enter Manhattan. This was done to reduce traffic and improve air quality.

Murphy, in a Friday statement, said that the FHWA had illegally accelerated the MTA’s efforts to fill its coffers by ripping off New Jersey families. The costs of ignoring the MTA’s use of New Jersey residents as a means to balance its budget are not just economic.

He added: “As the MTA admits, its tolling system would divert traffic, shift pollution into many vulnerable New Jersey towns, and impact air quality while offering no mitigation to such substantial harm.” “Today, we are united in our opposition to this reckless scheme. We reaffirm that we will fight against the unfair taxation of hardworking New Jersey residents by other states.”

Murphy claimed that the plan violated both President Biden’s environmental justice agenda, as well as Justice40, which mandates 40% of federal investments go to communities that are “marginalized and underserved and are overburdened with pollution.”

The FHWA, in a May 5 letter to New York officials, approved the release of the final environmental assessment of the proposal. This was one of the last hurdles that the project had to overcome. The agency stated that it had determined that the assessment met the legal threshold for moving forward.

The state plans to implement the plan in 2024. Commuters who enter midtown or downtown Manhattan during rush hours could face a charge of up to $13 and at night up to $12. It is estimated that the program will increase state revenue by approximately $1 billion.

New Jersey legislators blasted the proposal, claiming it would increase emissions and force traffic in New Jersey.

As the senior senator for New Jersey, it is my duty to make it clear that New York’s attempt to balance its budget by putting commuters in New Jersey at risk is unacceptable. The proposed congestion tax is nothing but a swindle and must be defeated”, said Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), on Friday.

If the MTA has its way, there will be trucks backed up in North Jersey, releasing cancer-causing pollutants into the lungs of our children. Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.) added: “I want to thank the Governor for retaliating against a state who decided to use Jersey to solve years of criminal mismanagement by the MTA.” “I don’t know how MTA Chairman looks in the mirror.”

Gottheimer, along with Rep. Mike Lawler (R-N.Y.), introduced legislation in the beginning of this year to strip federal funding for infrastructure projects in New York until commuters were exempted from congestion pricing.

The plan was also opposed by local lawmakers and business groups such as the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce and Meadowlands Chamber of Commerce and the New Jersey Business and Industry Association.

Murphy also signed legislation on Friday that will allow New Jersey to tax employees who work for New Jersey-based companies but live outside the state.

The FHWA refused to comment, stating that it does not comment on litigation pending.