Interview: New Jersey State Senator Stephen Sweeney

BY ON September 5, 2014

sen_sweeneyThis is an exclusive Moms Clean Air Force interview with New Jersey State Senator Stephen Sweeney:

What is unique about protecting New Jersey’s resources?

This is not the New Jersey I grew up in. When I was a kid, these hundred year storms actually happened once every hundred years. Now, it feels like every year we are dealing with it. Obviously, something is going on. And, as we saw with Sandy, there is so much at stake when storms of that nature hit. Lives are lost, homes are destroyed, and it’s taking years to rebuild. We can’t afford to keep doing this, not just in New Jersey, but also across the country and the world. That’s not to say Sandy was caused by climate change, but these kinds of storms are happening almost every year and we’d be blind not to realize that something is going on.

As a parent are you worried about the effects of climate change on your children and the children of New Jersey?

Of course. We can’t deny something is happening. In the short term, the impact on me is probably not going to be all that drastic. But as the problem gets worse, what it means for our kids and grandkids could be horrific. Just thinking of New Jersey alone, with all our miles of coastline, and what it would mean to millions of people…it’s why we have to do something. It’s why I pushed for New Jersey to join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI)* and why we are forcing the governor to get New Jersey back in.

Why is a bipartisan effort so important and how can these efforts be achieved in our politically polarizing culture?

Because we won’t be able to solve the problem until everyone acknowledges there is a problem. Too much time is being wasted debating something that is simply long past debate. It is fact. The sooner we get everyone to realize that, the sooner we can take action to slow the impact we are having on climate change.

Is there anything you would like to share with Moms Clean Air Force members?

Just to keep working and putting pressure on people to make change happen. Nothing happens without the action of people. So keep up the good work.

Thank you, Senator Sweeney for protecting New Jersey’s children!

Senate President Steve Sweeney represents New Jersey’s Third Legislative District. First elected to the New Jersey Senate in 2001, he has served as Senate President since 2010. An ironworker by trade, Senator Sweeney has been a strong advocate for organized labor and the rights of workers, having sponsored laws to raise New Jersey’s minimum wage and create the state’s Paid Family Leave program.

When his daughter was born, Senator Sweeney spent nearly two months with her in the hospital, an experience that helped him craft and create New Jersey’s Paid Family Leave program. He’s also remained a tireless advocate for individuals with developmental disabilities throughout his career. In 2014 Senator Sweeney sponsored a law that ensures students with disabilities are not prevented from participating in athletics and are provided with reasonable accommodation or modification based on individual needs of the student. 

 Senate President Sweeney is championing the “Sandy Bill of Rights” legislation which would help victims of Superstorm Sandy get the aid and assistance they need, and would bring more fairness to the distribution of recovery aid. The Senate President has vowed to continue to work with advocates to bring Sandy victims the answers and information they deserve.

Senator Sweeney was born on June 11, 1959 in Camden and is a graduate of Pennsauken High School. He is currently the Vice President for the International Association of Ironworkers. Senator Sweeney and his wife, Patti, were married in 1986. They live in West Deptford with their two children, Stephen and Lauren.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) is an initiative by states in the Northeastern US and Eastern CA regions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. RGGI is a cap-and-trade system for CO2 emissions from power plants in 9 states: Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, new york, Rhode Island and Vermont. New jersey formerly participated, but Gov. Chris Christie removed NJ from RGGI in 2011.



TOPICS: Climate Change, Heat and Extreme Weather, New Jersey, Politics