Murphy at the STOP Act bill signing

Environmental groups are varied in how they grade Gov. Phil Murphy on his first 100 days.

The New Jersey League of Conservation Voters Education Fund gave him an A-, while New Jersey Sierra Club graded him a C.

“Murphy has indeed delivered on some of his commitments including blocking offshore drillings, promoting environmental justice, and promoting offshore wind,” Sierra Club Director Jeff Tittel said in a press release.

But he said the administration also has cut the Department of Environmental Protection budget and is taking some of its surplus, and is still taking money from the Clean Energy Fund -- which is created through surcharges on utility customers' monthly bills -- for the general fund. 

In contrast, League of Conservation Voters Education Fund Executive Director Ed Potosnak said Murphy gets high marks, calling the first 100 days “a whirlwind of pro-environmental actions, propelling New Jersey back to a leadership position to become the greenest state in America.”

The fund did take into account some negatives, he said.

"In our analysis we are giving the governor an A- (rather than an A or A+) because of the reduction in funding at DEP, and continued diversion of Clean Energy Funds," said Potosnak, adding Murphy is diverting less of the CEF funds than Christie did.

But he said the positives under Murphy have far outpaced the negatives.

Tittel said the DEP budget was cut by 14 percent from its latest level under Gov. Chris Christie.

Potosnak said the reduction is really 3 percent, when capital spending is removed from the equation, and that staffing there has increased under Murphy.

"Because of the fact that with retirements newer staff come at lower cost, there are at least 65 additional staff being added to the rolls," said Potosnak. "That was one of our major asks for the new governor."

Tittel focused on Murphy's promise to use 100 percent of the Clean Energy Fund to advance energy efficiency, grow the clean-energy economy and drive down carbon emissions.

“Instead, $140 million from the CEF is being diverted in this year’s budget," said Tittel. "This includes $50 million for lights in government buildings."

Tittel said DEP surplus is also being raided.

“The DEP takes in $120 million more than it spends, however Murphy’s budget is robbing the fund by $80 million,” Tittel said. 

Potosnak said it's important to look at all of the factors Murphy is facing, including severe budget shortages.

He expects continued good news from the Murphy administration.

Murphy is expected to sign a bill to require the state to reach more than 50 percent renewable energy by 2030, “a great down-payment for Gov. Murphy’s commitment to 100 percent renewable energy by 2050,” Potosnak said.

Clean Water Action put out a statement of support for Murphy and his 100-day speech, which he gave Wednesday at Rutgers University in New Brunswick.

Among other things, he vowed to fight for federal funding for the Gateway Tunnel project and against offshore drilling in federal waters that is being pushed by the Trump administration, said Amy Goldsmith, NJ state director of Clean Water Action.