The American Jewish Committee is asking houses of worship to reserve one or more spaces in their parking lots for fuel-efficient vehicles.
The Green Spaces initiative seeks to promote hybrid, flexfuel, electric, or any other cars that log 30 or more miles per gallon of gasoline.
“We want to reward people who drive cars that use less gas. We want to continue to keep this issue on everybody’s mind,” said Allyson Gall, director of the AJC’s New Jersey Area.
The program, launched last year at the AJC chapter in Cleveland, dispenses Green Space signs for parking lots and places explanatory brochures in building lobbies.
The initiative, said Gall, “educates people about the issue of our dependence on foreign oil, which affects national security, Israel, human rights, and the environment. Someone might come to a church event or a synagogue event and see that not just the handicapped get a good parking spot.”
Gall talked about the program when she appeared along with several hundred other activists at the Environmental Lobby Day rally in Trenton on June 20.
AJC intern Anna Kamen, a Short Hills resident about to become a freshman at Princeton University, was charged with the task of contacting synagogues across the state to enlist in the program.
Seven synagogues have already signed on (see list) and AJC hopes to enlist many more, along with churches, mosques, and Hindu temples, before enlisting owners of businesses and parking lots.
“We want to make sure that in New Jersey there are a lot of recharge stations, and the [Christie] administration likes this notion,” said Gall. “They are trying to figure out how to do it along the Turnpike and the Parkway to get people over the hump so they will buy these cars and not run out of power somewhere.”
NJ Gov. Chris Christie is decidedly less enthusiastic about two other initiatives supported by AJC.
As members of a coalition of 28 different environmental, trade union, and faith groups, AJC is pressing for a state energy master plan that increases electricity production, controls global warming, encourages conservation, and develops more clean technologies.
AJC also supports the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a 10-state agreement to reduce industrial carbon dioxide by 10 percent before 2018.
Christie opposes both ideas.
In May, he withdrew from the RGGI after calling it “a gimmick” that will drive up energy costs. Earlier this month he announced that his administration would scale back its goal for reducing energy costs as outlined in a revised master plan.
AJC leaders “don’t believe the governor should change the energy master plan and make the goals of it less ambitious,” Gall said. “It should stay strong. He is trying to pull out of the RGGI and he shouldn’t do it.”
Gall said she plans to meet with other environmentalists to strategize on how to overcome the governor’s objections to the master plan.