NEW JERSEY – A long time environmental spokesman known for his strong words of opposition to certain development projects, and support of regulations that protect open space, will be retiring.
Jeff Tittel, the longtime director of the New Jersey Sierra Club, recently announced his retirement from that position which he served in for 23 years. He will retire on May 1.
During his time in the organization, Tittel was involved in every major piece of environmental legislation passing in the state for close to 20 years.
Some of his legislative and regulatory lobbying achievements include passage of the California Car Law, the Highlands Act, New Jersey’s Global Warming Response Act, New Jersey’s Fertilizer Law, and NJ’s Electronic Waste Recycling Law.
It has been a privilege and one of the greatest opportunities of my life to work for the Sierra Club for 23 years. I have fought tirelessly to protect New Jersey’s natural resources, such as the Highlands and Pinelands. Over the decades I have helped write and lobby for most major environmental legislation, from the passage of the Highlands Act to the Global Warming Response Act,” he said.
“Through my environmental activism, I hope that I made New Jersey a better place for all of us. Over the years, I worked to help pass the private well testing law and the bear feeding ban, and acquired funding from Governor Whitman to acquire Sterling Forest. I also worked to pass New Jersey’s Fertilizer Law, the Electronic Waste Recycling Law, and helped write and design the Category 1 Surface Water Rules,” Tittel added.
Tittel added, “more recently, I helped pass the Plastic Bag Ban and to get the DRBC to ban fracking in the Delaware River Basin. This has been a tough decision for me. I have so many close friends that are part of my Sierra Club family and the environmental movement. However, after being an activist for most of my life, having COVID and being home for over a year, I think that I need to move on to the next phase.”
He said that his original plan was to retire next February when he turned 65, “but I was able to take advantage of Sierra Club’s voluntary leave program this year. This has given me the opportunity to spend more time with my spouse Barbara and my family, especially my grandchildren. Now I will have time to travel, spend more time outdoors, and focus on other parts of my life.”
Tittel said he comes from “a family of activists. My first sit-in was when I was four. A few years later I went to the 1963 March on Washington with my family, and I have attended hundreds more marches since then. Growing up on the Newark Hillside border, I learned about the meaning of Environmental Justice and the importance of activism from an early age.”
“When you threw matches at the stream it would flare up. There was a foundry down the street that left soot on the cars so that you could write on them. My family also helped run Camp Midvale in Ringwood, which was the first interracial camp in New Jersey for trade unionists and environmentalists,” Tittel added.
He said this year marks his 51st Earth Day. “For the first Earth Day, I organized the cleanup of the Elizabeth River in Hillside when I was in Junior High. I have been involved as an activist for social justice, civil rights, peace, women’s rights, labor rights, immigrant rights, and the environment for my entire life. Although I am taking a break and stepping down to figure out my next steps, I will always be some type of activist. It’s in my DNA.”
Tittel received the Outstanding Achievement award by the Sierra Club in 2004, the highest honor given to an employee. He has worked on transition teams for Governors McGreevey and Corzine. President Obama also appointed him to the New Jersey Sandy HUD Task Force Advisory Committee and he was also on the FEMA Sandy Natural Resources Committee.