NJDEP proposed sweeping changes to Freshwater Wetlands regulations on May 1. Consistent with its goals to undo the hard won environmental regulations developed over the past 40 years that protect New Jersey's air and water, NJDEP under the current administration is proposing to make it easier to develop in ecologically sensitive wetlands, and to approve many permits by applicants self-certifying that they are compliant with the regulations. The deadline to submit comments is close of business on Friday.
The Department received 1,969 comments when it proposed changes to the Highlands septic density provisions. Because DEP produces a response to comments document when it adopts a new rule, this unusually large number of comments significantly delayed the rule's adoption, until one year after the rule was proposed. It is unlikely that the Department would delay the rule's adoption until a new Governor is elected, but we should try! Any of the likely successors to Governor Christie, of either political party, are far more supportive of the programs that protect New Jersey's clean water resources.
The New Jersey Chapter of the Sierra Club has posted an easy-to-use online form, with sample language and bullet points, for submitting comments on the proposed wetlands rules. Please visit the page here to submit your comments before the end of the business day tomorrow.
Governor Thom Kean signed the Wetlands Protection Act in 1979. It is considered one of the crowning achievements of his term as Governor. We are a healthier and wealthier New Jersey because we value and protect wetlands and other natural features that contribute to our supplies of clean water. Let's do what we can to prevent the weakening of these important protections! Please submit a comment before you start your long holiday weekend. And have a happy and safe Fourth of July.
The staff of the New Jersey Highlands Coalition