ASSEMBLY VOTE ON THURSDAY:
HISTORIC ACTION BY THE NJ LEGISLATURE TO FORCE NJDEP
BACK INTO THE BUSINESS OF ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION
We have seen too many recent examples of the NJ Department of Environmental Protection losing its way, endangering the public trust natural resources it is supposed to protect:
- Maneuvering to facilitate private, commercial development interests at Liberty State Park despite great public opposition;
- Approving the importation 1.5 million tons of contaminated soil for use as fill in the flood plain of the Rahway River in the Rahway Arch Project;
- Fast-tracking the Fenimore Landfill to Solar Project, resulting in an environmental catastrophe for a community in Roxbury that DEP was too quick to bury under a cap after refusing all attempts to identify the kinds and extent of illegal contaminants dumped at the site by the convicted waste management felon DEP contracted with to operate the site;
- Approving a previously denied wastewater discharge permit for the Bellemead property in Tewksbury after secret discussions with the owner;
- Entering into a settlement agreement and issuing wetlands permits for the Pinnacle/Bi-County development it previously strenuously denied in an environmentally sensitive, Natural Heritage Macrosite in Oakland;
- Entering into a $225 million sweetheart deal with Exxon/Mobil for the $8.9 billion the Department estimated it would cost for the contamination the company was on the hook to remediate;
- The list goes on…
At the urging of New Jersey’s environmental groups, including the NJ Highlands Coalition, the Legislature is taking a rare, Constitutional action, to force DEP to withdraw its proposed Flood Hazard Control Act Rules for violating legislative intent. If adopted, regulations that protect against flooding will be weakened, more development will be allowed in environmentally sensitive areas and existing regulations that protect headwaters to important water resources, particularly in the Highlands, will be repealed (Click here for the full text of the Constitutional provision).
The Legislature has taken action to invalidate State agency rules only once in its history (repeal of the Civil Service Commission’s job banding rule in 2014).
On October 23, the Senate passed Senate Concurrent Resolution SCR-180. It is now up to the Assembly to pass the identical Assembly Concurrent Resolution ACR-249 for the action to commence. The NJ Highlands Coalition, NJ Sierra, Clean Water Action, ANJEC, NJCF, Raritan Headwaters Association, Environment NJ, Pinelands Preservation Alliance, Senate and Assembly legislators and others have moved the ball this far,
NOW IT IS UP TO YOU!
The Assembly is proving to be a harder sell. There are only two more Assembly voting sessions left before the close of the 2014-2015 Legislative Session. The next is on Thursday, December 17.
WHAT WE ARE ASKING YOU TO DO IS SO SIMPLE, AND SO IMPORTANT!
Call Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto, whose sole call it is to post ACR-249 for a vote by the Assembly. Call Speaker Prieto’s office at (201) 770-1303. Whether you reach an answering machine or an aide, state your name, town and county, and say, “Assembly Speaker Prieto, I urge you to post ACR-249 for vote on Thursday, to reject the DEP’s proposed Flood Hazard Rules because the rules are a danger to people and the environment,” or, “the proposed rules repeal the regulations that protect the headwaters of important water resource streams and rivers,” or, “they will increase flooding instead of better protecting us from flooding,” or, "they will result in more water pollution,” or, “they unfairly favor development interests over natural resource protection,” or, however you would like to express yourself.
Not only will you be helping to defeat a major rollback of necessary flood hazard regulations, if this action succeeds, NJDEP will finally be censured in its continuing drive rollback needed environmental regulations, including the recently proposed Water Quality Management Planning Rules and the soon-to-be proposed Highlands Preservation Area Rules.
THAT IS WHY IT IS SO CRITICALLY IMPORTANT THAT YOU TAKE TWO MINUTES TO MAKE THIS CALL. IF YOU DO ONLY THIS, IT WILL BE HUGELY HELPFUL.
If you would like to do more, please email your Assembly representatives by clicking here to ask for their support for ACR-249 and that they urge Assembly Speaker Prieto to post the resolution.
TOGETHER, WE CAN DO THIS!