The New Jersey Assembly Science, Innovation and Technology Committee advanced a bill to codify the state’s Energy Master Plan (EMP) energy goals.

On Thursday, the committee voted 4-2 to advance A-5720/S-3667, which would codify various goals for electric vehicles and the transportation sector. Among the goals, by 2025, NJ Transit must have a prototype of a battery-electric train in development, and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey must emit 35% less greenhouse gas than it did in 2006.

New Jersey Business & Industry Association (NJBIA) Vice President of Government Affairs Ray Cantor said the legislation gives the governor the authority to set New Jersey’s energy policy.

“By giving this administration complete discretion to set energy policy under an undefined clean energy standard the committee is saying we don’t care if our residents or businesses can afford to pay their energy bills, or have reliable energy in the future,” Cantor said in a statement.

“It is highly disappointing that this committee is essentially creating a pathway to allow a ban on all future natural gas generation to produce electricity – despite the fact that natural gas has helped New Jersey meet its carbon reduction goals, is essential for grid reliability, and is actually needed to secure both wind and solar power generation,” Cantor added.

The EMP aims to put the state on pace to use 100% clean energy by 2050. However, groups have questioned the plan’s cost, and the Garden State Initiative (GSI) released a report that found it is unclear whether the EMP will reduce emissions or what it might cost New Jersey taxpayers.

Gov. Phil Murphy’s office has not released a cost estimate for the plan.

Meanwhile, state Sen. Anthony M. Bucco, R-Boonton, said Murphy and Democrats in the state legislature are working to reduce scrutiny of the EMP.

He points to newly introduced legislation, S-4214, which he says would diminish how much consideration the New Jersey Division of Rate Counsel would give to the cost of a proposal for consumers. The rate counsel serves as an independent advocate representing consumers when gas and electric companies submit proposed rate increases to the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities for approval.

“Governor Murphy’s proposed Energy Master Plan would cost New Jerseyans hundreds of billions of dollars, but he doesn’t want anyone to know that,” Bucco said in a news release. “The governor and Democrats in the Legislature have concocted a new scheme to hide the cost of their massive energy tax by cooking the books to prevent effective opposition by the public advocate who is responsible for protecting ratepayers.”