Cabinet Announcements and Clean Energy News

NorthStar Strategies TrueNorth Insights

Murphy announces picks for DOT, DOBI, State and DEP

A busy week for the Murphy Transition, with four cabinet announcements in four days this week. We overview and opine below…

Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti for DOT

Governor-elect Murphy announced that Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti is his pick to be the next Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Transportation. Gutierrez-Scaccetti, who currently runs the Florida Turnpike, will return to New Jersey to take the helm of NJDOT. She spent over two decades at the New Jersey Turnpike Authority and served as its Executive Director from 2008-2010.

The announcement was met with widespread praise. The American Council of Engineering Companies of New Jersey, the business trade association for New Jersey’s engineering profession, released a statement of support.

The Utility & Transportation Contractors Association also issued a statement of support, lauding Gutierrez-Scaccetti’s “fairness and deliberation in decision making”.

NorthStar Strategies CEO Joe Fiordaliso, a member of Murphy’s Transportation & Infrastructure Transition Committee, stated that Gutierrez-Scaccetti will bring a new vision to the position and help the Murphy Administration provide New Jersey with the world-class transportation network it needs and deserves.

Assemblywoman Marlene Caride for DOBI

Earlier this week Murphy nominated Bergen County Assemblywoman Marlene Caride to run the Department of Banking & Insurance (DOBI). The three-term Assemblywoman will take the helm of the agency responsible for regulating the banking, insurance and real estate industries.

One of Caride’s top priorities as Commissioner will be establishing a public bank, one of Murphy’s major campaign proposals. The bank would be a vehicle for investment in education, infrastructure and small businesses by offering loans and alternative financing methods.

Caride is well-positioned to handle the task, having served on a number of committees – including the Assembly Financial Institutions & Insurance Committee – whose work intersects with DOBI and the public bank. She is Murphy’s first Latina cabinet pick, drawing the praise of the influential LUPE PAC, the premiere statewide organization supporting the interests of Latinas.

Tahesha Way for Department of State

On Monday, Murphy announced he would nominate former Passaic County freeholder Tahesha Way as New Jersey’s Secretary of State. If confirmed by the Senate, she would be responsible for quarterbacking efforts to expand voting rights and opposing the Trump Administration’s voter-fraud investigation.

Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno – Murphy’s opponent in November’s election – would hand off the Department of State to Way. Murphy has already promised to sign several bills to expand voting rights previously vetoed by outgoing Governor Chris Christie. The wife of former New York Giants RB Charles Way may quickly become Murphy’s lead blocker on voting rights issues prioritized during the campaign.

Catherine McCabe for DEP

Rounding out a flurry of cabinet announcements this week, Murphy yesterday announced Catherine McCabe as his pick to lead the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP).

McCabe is a former acting Administrator of the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and a former federal prosecutor. She will be responsible for re-asserting “New Jersey’s leadership on the national and global stages” according to Murphy.

Murphy and McCabe both committed to pursuing offshore wind farms as a way to advance a clean energy future for New Jersey. McCabe’s pick was praised by environmental activists across New Jersey.

Clean energy in the news

Speaking of a clean energy future, two of New Jersey’s progressive thought leaders on energy policy weighed in this week with their thoughts on the direction New Jersey should follow under a Murphy Administration.

NJBPU’s Fiordaliso on Offshore Wind

Joseph L. Fiordaliso, the most tenured Commissioner on the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities, penned an op-ed in this morning’s Asbury Park Press calling for investments in offshore wind as a way to meet  Governor-elect Murphy’s ambitious clean energy goals. His column, which you can read here, calls for wind power to occupy a larger share of New Jersey’s electric generation portfolio.  He argues for investments now to secure New Jersey’s energy independence in the future.

Fiordaliso was nominated by Governor Dick Codey in 2005, re-nominated by Governor Chris Christie in 2011 and 2014 and is well-positioned to help Murphy achieve his goal of 100% increase in clean energy generation by 2050.

McKeon bill would end pension fund investment in fossil fuels

Another of New Jersey’s thought leaders on clean energy and sustainability is Assemblyman John McKeon. The Vice-Chair of the Assembly Environment & Solid Waste Committee this week introduced legislation requiring New Jersey to divest from fossil fuel investments in the state’s pension and annuity funds.

Specifically, his bill would prohibit the director of the Division of Investment from investing assets of the state’s retirement funds in any of the top 200 publicly traded fossil fuel companies. McKeon isn’t planning to move the bill in the waning days of the current Legislative session but instead will focus on action in 2018.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced this week he would pursue a similar initiative. Cuomo’s announcement was followed by a statement from New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer who said he would look into the feasibility of City funds divesting from fossil fuels.