Florio speaks about sustainability

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In a Sept. 18 address at the Woodrow Wilson School, former New Jersey Gov. James Florio said that the United States will need to balance economic growth, energy production, and environmental sensitivity in order to achieve “sustainable prosperity.”

Florio, who authored the Superfund law as a young congressman and championed clean water legislation during his time as governor, delivered the keynote remarks at “Sustainability and the Obama Stimulus Agenda: Engaging and Connecting with Government,” a conference jointly sponsored by Princeton’s Policy Research Institute for the Region and The Earth Institute of Columbia University.

In his speech, Florio highlighted initiatives in New Jersey that have addressed sustainability issues, including the Clean Energy Program, which in the last five years has funded energy-efficiency improvements in well over 100,000 homes, businesses, and schools; efforts to create renewable energy through solar installations and offshore wind farms; and training for “green” jobs in the energy sector, aimed specifically at urban areas, where the unemployment rate is disproportionately high.

New Jersey was “on the cutting edge” of many environmental policies, Florio said, in part because it had so many environmental problems. Similarly, the state stands to gain from energy initiatives because it has high demand for energy.

Florio urged states to aim for innovative policies that address sustainability. Washington will play an important role, he said, “But as the bumper sticker says, we have to think globally and act locally.”