Jeff Tittel, the director of the Sierra Club’s New Jersey Chapter, has announced he will retire as of May 1.
According to a press release, for nearly 23 years Tittel has been an advocate for the environment. He has been involved in every major piece of environmental legislation that has been passed in New Jersey since 1998.
Tittel worked for the passage of the following legislation:
• Saving Sterling Forest – This 25-year battle resulted in one of the most significant open space victories in the nation. Ultimately, 20,000 acres of forest were saved in one of the largest coalitions of environmental groups and government entities ever assembled;
• The New Jersey Highlands Act – 2004: The Highlands Water Protection and Planning Act is a landmark piece of legislation that put critical protections in place for one of New Jersey’s most environmentally sensitive and ecologically important areas;
• New Jersey’s Clean Car Program – 2004: Sometimes characterized as New Jersey’s “first major climate response bill,” the program brings New Jersey in line with California’s automobile emissions requirements, which are the strictest in the nation;
• Global Warming Response Act – 2007, updated 2019: Under this law, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection must assess the state’s greenhouse gas emissions, and find ways to reduce emissions by 80% by 2050;
• Plastic bag ban – New Jersey’s bill is one of the most comprehensive in the country;
• Banning fracking in the Delaware River Basin – this recent ruling by the Delaware River Basin Commission was lauded by environmental groups across the country. Tittel worked closely with the Delaware Riverkeeper Network and the Water Defenders on the campaign that resulted in this decision.
“I would like to thank everyone who I had the pleasure of working with over the years as New Jersey Sierra Club’s director and the accomplishments we made together,” Tittel was quoted as saying in the press release.
“You have been part of my extended family and I will miss our camaraderie. We worked from one end of New Jersey to the other and everywhere in between, whether it was working to protect the Pinelands, cleaning up toxic sites, protecting our parks, reducing climate change impacts, saving open space in the Highlands, protecting our clean water and more.
“Moving on was a hard decision. However, given that I have spent 51 years as an environmental activist and almost 23 years as the New Jersey chapter director, I felt it was time to make a change,” Tittel said.
Rich Isaac, chair of the Sierra Club’s New Jersey Chapter, said, “Jeff has worked tirelessly in Trenton working to protect our state’s clean air, water and soil, to fight for the rights of people living in overburdened communities and to combat climate change. He will leave some very big shoes to fill.”
Congressman Frank Pallone (D-NJ) said Tittel “knows more about environmental issues on the state and federal levels than anyone I know.”
New Jersey State Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg (D-Bergen) said, “It is hard to imagine the Sierra Club without Jeff Tittel. He was never shy, never retiring, never someone who is afraid to fight for the values of the Sierra Club, as well as his own.
“He has contributed mightily to a cleaner environment for me and for all the generations who come after us. His leadership will be missed, but I know he has built an organization that will continue to fight for a better, cleaner future,” Weinberg said.
Matt Smith, New Jersey director of Food and Water Watch, said, “Nobody has a better handle on New Jersey environmental policy than Jeff Tittel. And like the great basketball guards of the modern game, Jeff understands you need a strong inside and outside game to excel.
“With his leadership, the New Jersey Sierra Club organized a powerful network of volunteer groups in every region of the state. And unlike some contemporaries who rely on expensive lobbying and slick public relations campaigns, Jeff has consistently paired his policy expertise and political savvy with a deep commitment to grassroots organizing.
“This combination has made him one of the most effective environmental guardians in Garden State history, whose contributions to the movement will be felt for generations to come,” Smith said.
Tittel co-founded Empower NJ, a 120-plus member coalition that is working to stop new fossil fuel infrastructure projects in New Jersey, according to the press release.