More Older Related New Jersey Green Economy Reports

The Students’ report summarize a number of older reports on a green economy for New Jersey). Here are some more.

A Master’s Thesis on Incorporating New Economic Ideas into New Jersey Environmental Policy

This was a very early look from 1998 on how two (then) relatively new fields, both largely unknown in New Jersey, could be incorporated into state policy at a time of backlash against environmental protection efforts, and even help catalyze a “revitalization.” Sustainability efforts in New Jersey were then just starting and were noted, as were the realities of the policy process.

Ecological economics takes a deeper look at some of the relationships between economy and environment than related fields such as environmental economics and resource economics, including positioning ecosystems as the critical underpinning of economic vitality. In turn, the field is not far along on the “how business can help” side of that relationship compared to what was then called “The Greening of Industry.” Together, though, they could offer benefits to environmental problem-solving in New Jersey, even during a challenging political period.

Barriers to these fields were explored and guidelines given, along with Conclusions and Recommendations.

The theme of environmental regulations’ impact on the economy received considerable discussion. Six existing studies of that impact were mentioned, four specifically about New Jersey, and two were compared in an Appendix.

In addition, three other Appendices explored this, as well as presented an outline of a proposal to address it. It proposed a five-point “Social Contract” between State Government and business. Some of these points involved: (a) establishing a new relationship between the two (as well as re-gaining trust between government and environmental groups) in order to re-establish the vitality of government, which is necessary for what is now called a green economy; (b) linking this to greening of industry efforts, including what government could do to help; (c) taking advantage of the best thinking on how to structure environmental regulations, such as the work of Porter and van der Linde (1995), including “focusing on outcomes, not (requiring specific) technologies,” regulations should be “strict rather than lax…,” “employ…phase-in periods.” Also mentioned were trying to better distinguish between when regulations do and do not hurt the economy, along with whether properly structured regulations could actually help economic competitiveness, and whether government could actually help willing businesses create competitive advantages—a couple of contrarian positions.

Finally, the importance of clarifying the meaning of key, but ambiguous terms, whose use hides lack of full agreement, was mentioned (Polsky, 1998).

Letter from Matt Polsky to Former NJDEP Commissioner Bob Martin on Economic Growth and Environmental Stewardship

This was in response to the Commissioner’s speech to a business audience emphasizing improving “Customer Service” and better efficiency at NJDEP.

He was told this theme would be much better if paired with departmental help to the state’s businesses to get “ready for the resource-constrained world of the 21st Century, or the opportunities available to them if they [do]…”

The letter included sections of a report from the Commissioner’s former employer, Accenture, about the role business could play in society’s pursuit of a sustainable future, but was not yet performing at that level. CEOs were quoted saying business needs the right policy support from government to play this role.

Efficiency-improvements within government are not enough.

He was encouraged to re-do his thinking on this for the next speech (Polsky, 2013).

An Early Report by Cook College on Economic Development Through Environmental Responsibility

This 1995 study by the then-Cook College EcoPolicy Center was discussed in the-above Masters’ Thesis and cited as a rare example of “vision.” The latter said about the former: “The major recommendations” [of this] “multisector-attended workshop about how state government, academia, and the business community could work together…” were: “New Jersey needs a comprehensive integrated economic/environmental strategy…; a call for largely unprecedented public/private cooperative efforts to help ‘green’ industry through incentives, education, training, and information programs; and call for additional measures by specific, progressive New Jersey companies to promote some of these ideas. It proposes that New Jersey seek to become a leader in aligning economic development and environmental protection.”

This report also discussed stakeholders’ views of New Jersey’s relevant Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, & Threats (SWOT) not picked up in the other reports, and discussed ideas to overcome regulatory issues (Decter & Meagher, 1995).

Guidance Document on NJDEP Efforts to Support Sustainability

This was an internal NJDEP report for managers and staff, also in the early days of sustainability, to help them understand how to begin to understand sustainability and guide the department’s future efforts. This summary of this Document includes some of the history of State Government sustainability efforts at that time, including the results of studies (much of which may not be well known).

The Work Group which wrote this Document did have some outside membership from New Jersey Future and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region II. It held a public meeting to get input on how the department should look at sustainability; had meetings with several divisions within the department to, after explaining sustainability, get the views of staff; met with the Office of State Planning to explore each’s view of sustainability; and invited a few sustainability-informed citizens to discuss their views, as well.

During this Work Group’s existence, former Governor Whitman issued two Executive Orders on Sustainability (which were shown in Appendices within the Document): establishing the Office of Sustainable Business (OSB); and requiring that State Government update the earlier work of New Jersey Future to report on progress, or lack of it, using indicators of 11 overarching Sustainability Goals for the state–as well as to work towards achieving them.

The Document mentions some of the work of the OSB. (See below.)

Besides identifying areas needing clarity within the department about the meaning and implications of sustainability, two categories of its several recommendations fit within the subject of this Proposal: those directly on business, and those more indirect, that discussed some ways to look at the economics: environment relationship.

Regarding the direct connection to this Proposal, it states: “Promote sustainable business practices.” Under this, it added, very uncommonly, a number of ways to couple this to regulatory reform. Usually these are treated as separate subjects.

Regarding the indirect connections regarding ways to look at economics/environmental connections, it stated:

• To the often expressed view that “Environmental protection and economic growth need not be antagonistic to each other,” it added the unusual: “In fact, sustainability requires that both efforts proceed in increasingly complementary ways”

• “Traditionally, understanding the economic (and well as the social) implications of the decisions made in the Department has been done on an ad hoc, issue-specific or even project-specific basis. There is no consistent across-the-board understanding of economics or economic development issues, or even how to most appropriately think about and integrate economics.” “Development of a greater level of economic capability in the Department will be necessary” for a number of reasons, including “development of market-oriented policies and tools.”

    • The Document had a footnote about decoupling. During this period, the NJDEP was also developing a relationship with the government of The Netherlands, to, among other things, exchange policy views. Therefore, it had this quote: “The Dutch are aiming to decouple their environmental and economic performance (through sustainability) and reduce their emissions per unit of GNP by a factor of between 2 and 10—an enormous challenge”
  • This was also an era when a great deal of effort was being made on the subject of objectives and indicators. Therefore, the Document notes a need for new “Stewardship” objectives and indicators, that could include “numbers of businesses practicing life cycle analysis and full cost accounting,” “cap and then reduce per capital generation and use of natural resources such as energy, solid waste, toxics,” “number of companies with ‘Netherlands’-type covenants with the Department (an idea at the time for individual agreements between specific companies and NJDEP for the former to go beyond compliance, potentially significantly, in exchange for regulatory flexibility) and number of companies with pollution prevention goals greater than a to-be-specified percentage.” “Economic vitality” objectives could include “develop guidelines and a framework to maximize the economic gain of environmental protection measures and, where this is not feasible, how to minimize the economic impact; develop new measures of economic performance of the state that account for natural resource depletion, damage from pollution, and clean-up costs; and promote proactive environmental strategic thinking among New Jersey businesses.”

Again, most of these recommendations came from NJDEP staff, including those within the Department interviewed by the Work Group.

During the public hearing, relevant comments were:

  • “Communities should be provided opportunities to say…what they want in the area of economic development”
  • “[There should be]…a full cost accounting to put a value on air, water and land. Industry should use full cost accounting to evaluate their total cost of doing business, including putting a price on the value of environmental services they use, which in most cases is currently zero.” “They called for a vision of the role of heavy industry in the state.” Lastly, “they stated that the State should embrace a zero emission goals.” “While zero emissions may seem economically irrational and technically infeasible, a few companies, including Interface Carpet Company, have actually adopted it as a goal. Interface plans to go beyond even this by adapting the concept of restoration as a further goal.” (See the above about Interface’s 7 Front model.)

(The OSB issued its own report in 2000, “Greening the Garden State,” a copy of which proved impossible to find these years later. The Guidance Document, fortunately, captured some excerpts from it, which are shown immediately below:

This report identifies more than 300 companies that are taking sustainable actions in New Jersey’s energy, manufacturing, agricultural and chemical sectors. This study also evaluated State programs and policies and how they affect sustainable businesses, identified opportunities for the further development and growth of sustainable businesses and made recommendations regarding how to target and assist businesses to broaden this sector of the economy.

Sustainability programs put forward thus far by the Office include:

  • A $1.75 million dollar loan fund for sustainable business initiatives
  • A model green state government procurement program to leverage New Jersey’s $2 billion dollars in purchasing power, the world’s 18th largest economy
  • A clearinghouse for public-private inquiries and information sharing
  • Sustainable business networking, including promoting New Jersey businesses to trade shows such as the DC Eco-Expo
  • Finally, this Guidance Document emphasized the need to go further with equity, with a recommendation to “factor equity issues into governmental decision-making processes.” A few ways were provided by staff at some of the divisions by which to that. *?

    The recommendations of the Guidance Document were not considered or implemented by NJDEP Senior Management and the Work Group ended, although one interpretation at the time was that its efforts, and some of its staff, were re-directed to focus on leading the implementation of Governor Whitman’s second Executive Order on Sustainability.

    (That latter effort was led by the inter-agency New Jersey Sustainability Working Group. They produced two reports: Living With the Future in Mind, which updated the State’s performance on the sustainability indicators originally developed by New Jersey Future, and Governing With the Future in Mind, which both looked at what each state agency was doing that was considered sustainable, and developed recommendations for going beyond that, as discussed in the earlier “Summary” section. The work of these two reports was accepted by Governor Whitman and her immediate successor, but this entire initiative, including both reports, their recommendations, and the existence of the Interagency Working Group was ended by Governors after that. The OSB, as mentioned in the earlier Students’ section, was also eliminated.)