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Enviros Call on Governor to Conditionally Veto the Permit Extension Act

Date : Tue, 26 Aug 2008 12:39:16 -0400

For Immediate Release Contacts: Jeff Tittel, NJ
Sierra Club, (609) 558-9100 August 26, 2008 Dave Pringle, NJ Enviro Federation, (732) 996-4288

Enviros Call on Governor to Conditionally Veto the Permit Extension Act

Today more than thirty leading New Jersey environmental groups called on Governor Corzine to conditionally veto the Permit Extension Act, a bill that automatically extends all land use permits and approvals for two years and brings back to life permits and approvals that have expired over the past eighteen months. "The Permit Extension Act is one of the worst environmental bills ever passed by the New Jersey legislators and one of the biggest giveaways to developers in the state's history," said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. "While the bill was amended to remove some of the most outrageous provisions, it is still seriously flawed and undermines good planning and environmental protection."

The groups asked the governor to fix the following issues in the bill:

* Eliminate the Dracula Clause, which would bring back approvals and permits that have already expired in violation of the right to due process guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. Many of the projects that have lapsed and would now be brought back to life include some of the worst proposals in New Jersey, including Cherokee in Camden, Encap, and dumping dredge spoils in Palmyra Cove Nature Center. This provision would have tremendous environmental impacts.

* Provide for good planning, especially in redevelopment areas where communities have changed their zoning to promote appropriate redevelopment, such as transit villages and affordable housing, as well as in communities that have amended their Master Plans and zoning ordinances. In the past eighteen months cities like Newark and Jersey Cities, as well as many towns such as Bernardsville, have worked to redo their Master Plans and zoning. This bill would thwart those actions.

* Exempt Planning Area 4, which is the state's prime agricultural land and necessary to maintaining a vibrant agricultural economy.

* Exempt the Global Warming Response Act and other important standards that are being set to help New Jersey reduce greenhouse gas emissions and transition to a clean energy economy. The bill in its current form would exempt many new developments from meeting more stringent energy efficiency and green buildings standards for homes or commercial buildings.

* Clarify the extremely open-ended definition of "approval" by deleting the last nine lines of the definition.

"In the midst of presidential politics, Governor Corzine has to govern New Jersey, including deciding the fate of the Permit Extension Act. Within two weeks, he will decide whether or not to undermine core environmental and public health protections, good planning and the constitution," commented Dave Pringle, Campaign Director of the New Jersey Environmental Federation. "Despite assertions to the contrary, developers aren't motivated here by the public interest of economic stimulus, which this bill won't provide anyway, but rather by a special interest - further lining their already well-lined wallets."

"Sacrificing the environment for economics is a false choice that ends up hurting the economy, not improving it," added Mike Pisauro of New Jersey Environmental Lobby. "The Permit Extension Act sacrifices the environment without providing any immediate economic help to those who need it. Government needs to protect our natural resources so that we have a healthy environment to live in and the economy has the natural resources it needs to develop and grow. The Permit Extension Act is not the answer."

The groups also released a letter sent by Eastern Environmental Law Center to the governor earlier this summer that highlights possible constitutional issues raised by the bill. According to attorneys Richard Webster, Esq., and Julia LeMense, Esq., the bill violates separation of powers, as the legislative branch is interfering with the executive branch on permit decisions. In addition, it violates due process by reviving permits and approvals without public notice, public participation, or governmental action, denying property owners the right to hearings on projects that directly affect their property and environmental quality in their communities.

##########

Attachments: Letter to Governor from Environmental Groups

                       Letter to Governor from Eastern Environmental Law Center

American Littoral Society -- Association of NJ Environmental Commissions (ANJEC) - Burnham Park Association -- Clean Ocean Action -- Concerned Pilesgrove Residents (CPR) - Delaware Riverkeeper Network -- Environment New Jersey - LWV of Ocean Twp. - Musconetcong Mountain Conservancy - Musconetcong Watershed Association - Natural Resources Defense Council -- NJ Audubon Society - NJ Conservation Foundation - NJ Environmental Federation - NJ Environmental Lobby -- NJ Highlands Coalition - NY NJ Baykeeper - NY NJ Trail Conference - North Jersey Environmental Justice Alliance -- Passaic River Coalition -- Pequannock River Coalition - Pinelands Preservation Alliance - Sierra Club, NJ Chapter - Skylands CLEAN - South Branch Watershed Association - South Jersey Bayshore Coalition - South Jersey Environmental Justice Alliance -- Stony Brook Millstone Watershed Association - Surfider Foundation -- Upper Raritan Watershed Association

The Honorable Jon S. Corzine The State House Trenton, NJ Via Hand Delivery

Tuesday, June 24, 2008 (updated with additional sign-on's 7.1.08)

Dear Governor Corzine,

On behalf of the undersigned, we thank you for your Administration's considerable effort to date to minimize the Permit Extension Act's undermining environmental and public health protections, and good planning and urge you to complete this task with a conditional veto of the bill as described below.

We appreciate the intent to provide economic stimulus and believe the following changes would ensure the bill helps good projects in the right places but not bad projects in the wrong places:

1) Re-restricting the "Dracula Clause" to January 1, 2008 - Last Thursday the bill was amended to expand the "Dracula" clause, which would bring back projects from the dead, from 6 to 18 months, and make valid permits and approvals without any notice, public participation, government action or due process for impacted property owners;

2) Exempt Redevelopment Areas and preserve other municipal actions to a) protect the environment, health, and safety, and b) promote appropriate redevelopment including transit villages, good planning, and affordable housing -- In the past 18 months, Newark, Bernards, Jersey City, and many more NJ towns have been moving to improve their planning and this bill will thwart these actions. Without action, casualties could include achieving round 3 affordable housing obligations, local protections for clean water, and building code improvements;

3) Exempt Planning Area 4, the state's prime farmland, to maintain a vibrant agricultural economy;

4) Exempt the Global Warming Response Act and other new important standards - the bill would limit the application of new rules and laws, e.g., requiring developers to meet more stringent energy efficiency standards in new home and commercial buildings, making it very difficult to comply with the Global Warming Response Act, which requires major reductions in greenhouse gas emissions; and

5) Clarify the very vague, open-ended definition of approval by deleting the last 9 lines of its definition. As drafted, rejected projects like Cherokee in Camden, EnCap, and the dumping of dredge spoils at Palmyra Cove Nature Center could come back to life.

We appreciate your consideration of this request and would also like to meet with you to discuss this further. Please contact David Pringle at 732-996-4288 and/or Jeff Tittel at 609-558-9100 to make arrangements.

Sincerely,

Abigail Fair, Association of NJ Environmental Commissions (ANJEC) Alison Chase, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) Alison Mitchell, NJ Conservation Foundation Beth Styler Barry, Musconetcong Watershed Association Bill Kibler, South Branch Watershed Association Brenda Holzinger, NY NJ Trail Conference Carleton Montgomery, Pinelands Preservation Alliance Cheryl Reardon, Concerned Pilesgrove Residents (CPR) Cindy Ehrenclou, Upper Raritan Watershed Association Cindy Zipf, Clean Ocean Action David Pringle, NJ Environmental Federation Debbie Mans, NY NJ Baykeeper Dena Mottola Jaborska, Environment New Jersey Ella Filippone, Passaic River Coalition Jeff Tittel, Sierra Club - NJ Chapter Jim Waltman, Stony Brook - Millstone Watershed Association John Weber, Surfrider Foundation Julia Somers, NJ Highland Coalition Kim Gaddy, North Jersey Environmental Justice Alliance Dr. Lynn Siebert, Burnham Park Association Marie Curtis, League of Women Voters of Ocean Twp. (Monmouth) Mike Pisauro, NJ Environmental Lobby Robin O'Hearn, Skylands CLEAN Ross Kushner, Pequannock River Coalition Roy Jones, South Jersey Environmental Justice Alliance Sandy Batty, South Jersey Bayshore Coalition Tim Dillingham, American Littoral Society Tom Gilmore, NJ Audubon Society Tom Koven, Musconetcong Mountain Conservancy Tracy Carluccio, Delaware Riverkeeper Network

Cc (via email): Lisa Jackson, Patti McGuire, Maggie Moran

Becca Glenn, Program Assistant New Jersey Sierra Club

145 W. Hanover Street Trenton, NJ 08618

609-656-7612: phone

609-656-7618: fax

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Received on 2008-08-26 09:50:04

New Jersey Sierra Club, 145 West Hanover St., Trenton, NJ 08618, USA
tel: 609 656 7612, fax 609 656 7618
or email Nicole Dallara, Outreach Coordinator, at nicole.dallara@sierraclub.org

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