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Sierra Club Blasts Governor for Signing Permit Extension Act

Date : Mon, 08 Sep 2008 14:31:18 -0400

For Immediate Release
Contact: Jeff Tittel September 8, 2008 (609) 558-9100

Sierra Club Blasts Governor for Signing Permit Extension Act

Over the weekend Governor Corzine signed the Permit Extension Act. This was done behind closed doors and without putting out any kind of statement. . "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. "The way in which the governor chose to sign this bill shows just how bad this bill is - he couldn't even sign it in public or let the public know what he was doing."

More than two months ago, the Sierra Club and over thirty other environmental groups sent a letter to the governor asking him to conditionally veto the bill to make changes that would protect the state's natural resources from the bad projects that might be revived. Attorneys from the Eastern Environmental Law Clinic also sent a letter making the case that the bill was unconstitutional. Nonetheless, neither the governor nor his council met with the environmentalists and their attorneys to address these concerns before the bill was signed.

The Permit Extension Act 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. 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 had asked the governor to fix the following remaining issues:

* 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.

"The Permit Extension Act is so bad that even the Bush Administration opposed it," noted Tittel. "This stealth signing was a way to keep the public in the dark on a bill that will dramatically impact their communities."

"Today the governor took the side of the developers over the people of New Jersey," he concluded. "The governor needed to step up and conditionally veto this bill. The fact that he didn't shows that he's more interested in protecting developers than in protecting our environment."

##########

Becca Glenn, Program Assistant New Jersey Sierra Club

145 W. Hanover Street Trenton, NJ 08618

609-656-7612: phone

609-656-7618: fax

Received on 2008-09-08 11:40:01

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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