Twenty million people celebrated on the first Earth Day in 1970. Since then, hundreds of millions more have followed their pioneering example to spread the inspiring message that each of us can make a difference for the environment.
The environmental awareness promoted by Earth Day has already had a major impact. Our air, water and land are cleaner than they were in 1970. Many steps have helped. Recycling has become an everyday habit for millions of families. Efforts across the nation to restore wetlands, preserve open space, safeguard wildlife habitats, reduce pollution and clean up former industrial sites have improved the quality of life.
New Jersey is benefiting, too, from this focus on the environment. Today, in the heart of one of the nation’s most developed areas, wildlife is rebounding. There are countless examples of the environment making a comeback from the Shore to the Highlands.
There’s much to celebrate this Earth Day – April 22. Yet much more needs to be done. Society wants – and the threat of climate change compels us to provide – cleaner energy with lower emissions.
Building a sustainable energy future may be the largest civic works project ever undertaken. Some common-sense principles can help us make progress.
First, we will need a rich diversity of resources. Clearly, renewables like solar energy will have a growing role. We’ve been busy building grid-connected solar farms on landfills and brownfields to provide clean energy to all of our customers across the Garden State. At the same time, we can’t afford to lose sight of the fact that carbon-free nuclear power today provides half of New Jersey’s energy and does so whether or not the sun is shining. Nor can we overlook the large and increasing contribution of clean-burning, low-cost natural gas to support a new generation of growth while keeping our customers warm and comfortable. We like an “all of the above” approach that doesn’t foreclose any good options.
Second, we need to start building an energy system based on using less – helping our customers save energy and money while reducing impacts on the environment. Energy efficiency when done right can produce a triple win – for our customers, our shareholders and the environment.
Third, we need to keep working together. PSEG is proud to partner with many environmental and community organizations on efforts that make a difference for the environment. For example, PSEG has sponsored for more than two decades a landmark effort that has restored more than 20,000 acres of salt marsh near our Salem and Hope Creek nuclear facilities in southern New Jersey. The PSEG Foundation has provided more than one million dollars in funding to support local sustainability initiatives in towns and schools across New Jersey.
There’s no limit to what we can achieve together. We foresee a future in which utilities will work closely with technology providers to offer universal access to new, clean energy products and services – in ways that benefit our customers at all income levels and help the environment, too.
Earth Day’s message is more important than ever. A sustainable future can be built if people really get involved – neighborhood by neighborhood. This Earth Day, let’s rededicate ourselves to turning our environmental challenges into opportunities to make our world a cleaner, healthier place.