NJ Sues Over Congestion Pricing Plan

Governor Phil Murphy today announced the filing of a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) to block the congestion pricing plan put forward by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) and New York City and State agencies.

The governor called the plan an “unreasonable and unprecedented” policy “favoring New York at the expense of its neighbors.”

In the suit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey, the State of New Jersey argues that the USDOT and the FHWA violated the National Environmental Protection Act, which requires a full environmental impact review for projects of this projected impact and scope, as well as the Clean Air Act.

Commuters would be charged a toll to enter Manhattan south of 60th Street in order to reduce traffic and congestion on New York City streets. It could being as early as next Spring. The MTA released its final environmental assessment in May, paving the way for the plan to proceed. The Federal Highway Administration had declared there’s no reason to derail or postpone congestion pricing. In June, the Murphy Administration announced that it had retained Randy Mastro and Craig Carpenito of King & Spalding to explore all of its legal options over the plan.

“After refusing to conduct a full environmental review of the MTA’s poorly designed tolling program, the FHWA has unlawfully fast-tracked the agency’s attempt to line its own coffers at the expense of New Jersey families,” said Governor Murphy.

“The costs of standing idly by while the MTA uses New Jersey residents to help balance its budget sheets are more than economic. At the MTA’s own admission, its tolling program would divert traffic and shift pollution to many vulnerable New Jersey communities, impacting air quality while offering nothing to mitigate such considerable harm. Today we stand as a unified front against this reckless scheme and reaffirm our commitment to combat the unjust taxation of our hardworking residents by other states,” he said.

Congressman Gottheimer, who has been one of the most vocal opponents of the plan said,  “Today’s a huge day in the fight against New York’s commuter crushing $23/day Congestion Tax. If the MTA gets its way, trucks will be backed up here in North Jersey, billowing cancer-causing pollution into the lungs of our children. I want to thank our Governor for punching back at a state that decided to use Jersey as their piggy bank to solve their years of criminal mismanagement at the MTA,” he said.

Gottheimer has made the argument that in addition to potential environmental impact,  the plan would make traffic increase in and around Bergen County, as drivers would try to evade paying the extra fees.

“I don’t know how the MTA Chairman looks at himself in the mirror. He should come to Fort Lee and look Mayor Sokolich in the eye and tell him why it’s okay to give cancer to the children here. I’ve been speaking with mayors from North Jersey in my district — and my bet is he can expect even more lawsuits. We just don’t take a punch in Jersey, we punch back,” he said.

Murphy also signed a bipartisan law designed to take back tax dollars from New York and other states by fighting policies in which New Jersey residents pay income taxes to the states where their companies are based even if they work remotely.

“NJBIA thanks Governor Murphy, the sponsors, and supporters of this bill for attempting to bring much-needed tax fairness between New Jersey and New York,” said NJBIA President & CEO Michele Siekerka. “As remote work arrangements have increased greatly since the pandemic, it is simply unfair for New York to be claiming income taxes from New Jersey-based workers. New Jersey should be seeing that money for its own fiscal benefit, especially considering there are a number of employees who have not commuted to New York for work for a span of years now.”

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