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Stimulate the economy, not pollution


Date : Tue, 05 May 2009 12:45:47 -0400

For Immediate Release

May 5, 2009

 

Contact: Jeff Tittel, Chapter Director

               (609) 558-9100

 

Sierra Club to Corzine: Stimulate the economy, not pollution

 

As Governor Jon Corzine holds a press conference today outlining stimulus spending on water projects, the NJ Sierra Club is urging the state to use those funds appropriately and avoid pay to play projects that would be detrimental to both the environment and the state's economy.

 

Stimulus funds intended for water projects should go towards combined sewer overflows into cities and to fix sewer plants. The dollars should not be spent on another EnCap or to run sewer lines into environmentally sensitive areas, resulting in unnecessary sprawl.

 

The $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), singed into law by President Barack Obama in February, contains an estimated $100 billion for green investments such as public transit, energy efficiency programs, weatherization of buildings, development of smart-grid technologies, renewable energy research and toxic site cleanups. New Jersey will be the recipient of about $17.5 billion of that funding over three years.

 

With the large flow of money coming into the state, it is essential that the proper oversight is used to ensure funds are not spent on wasteful projects or to promote overdevelopment.

 

"We're pleased that the federal government is encouraging job growth and supporting many programs beneficial to the environment," said NJ Sierra Club Director Jeff Tittel. "These funds will allow us to get a jumpstart on some long-awaited projects. However, this is New Jersey and we've learned from experience that rigorous oversight is needed if want money spent wisely."

 

While all of the allocations by state and category have yet to be made, here are some examples of funding that New Jersey has so far received:

 

. $161.4 million for The Clean Water State Revolving Fund, which allows municipalities and counties finance projects that help to protect and improve water quality. As with all funds that New Jersey will receive to improve water systems and infrastructure, the Sierra Club strongly supports upgrading sewer systems in urban areas rather than using the money create sprawl-inducing sewer lines in rural areas.

 

. Up to $160 million for the Hazardous Substance Superfund, to aid in the cleanup of eight Superfund sites in New Jersey, including the former Roebling Steel site in Florence Township, the Welsbach site in Camden and Gloucester City, as well as the Cornell Dubilier Electronics site in South Plainfield. Even though this money is an important contribution to cleaning up the state, it demonstrates the need to bring back the superfund tax on polluters to ensure the remediation of dozens of other toxic sites.

 

. $118.9 million for the Weatherization Assistance Program. Under this program, The New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (DCA) will help income-qualified residents reduce household energy use through energy efficiency upgrades. However, New Jersey could loose Phase 2 of this funding due to its inability to pass new green building code standards. We encourage our leaders to pass legislation that will enable us to receive the second round of funds.

 

. $75 million for Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grants. These grants are intended to facilitate an overall reduction statewide and municipal energy use, fossil fuel emissions and an improvement in energy efficiency. The state says it is awaiting guidance from the United States Department of Energy on more details on how to implement the program. Again, we may risk loosing Phase 2 funding unless the legislature passes upgraded building code standards.

 

. $73.6 million for New Jersey's State Energy Program, which provides funding for energy efficiency improvements and development of renewable energy, with the overall goal of reducing carbon emissions and promoting clean energy.

 

. $43.5 million from the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund, which allows public and private water systems to finance infrastructure in order to comply with Safe Drinking Water Act.

 

. $1.6 million in Federal Water Quality Management Planning Grants, which will finance projects that needed to ensure clean and safe drinking water. The EPA is also requiring states to apply at least 20% of the money towards eligible green projects.

 

. $1.73 million for Diesel Emissions Reduction programs, specifically for tailpipe retrofits of construction equipment. Also, $18.4 million of similar funding is available for Environmental Protection Agency Region 2 competition. New Jersey has said it plans to partner with the region's port authorities and apply additional federal funding towards emission reductions from port-related diesel sources. This additional money is important because New Jersey is cutting corporate businesses taxes that support the Diesel Retrofitting Program.

 

. $469 million for Department of Transportation projects. The Sierra Club is working to ensure this money is not spent to widen the Turnpike or the Garden State Parkway. We also oppose its application towards extending Route 55, and widening 206 in the Highlands as well as the Atlantic City Expressway.

 

. $420 million for NJ Transit projects, including $130 million for the new tunnel into New York City, which the Sierra Club opposes as currently designed. Commonly referred to as the ARC tunnel, the project as proposed does not meet the initial objectives. The Sierra Club wants to be sure the money for transit isn't spent on bad projects like Lackawanna Cutoff but rather on smart initiatives like the MOM (Monmouth-Ocean-Middlesex) line. We're pleased that other major NJ Transit investments include the River LINE/Atlantic City Rail Line transfer station and minibuses that serve riders in rural areas and people with disabilities.

 

"While many of the programs slated to receive stimulus cash sound promising from an environmental standpoint, we plan to track the money as it makes its way from the federal government to the state to avoid its application towards environmentally damaging projects," Tittel said. "With proper oversight, we can ensure the stimulus money does what it was intended to do
- strengthen our economy while making us a greener country less reliant on fossil fuels."

 

 

 

 

Kara Seymour, Program Assistant

NJ Sierra Club

145 W. Hanover Street

Trenton, NJ 08618

609.656.7612

(f) 609.656.7618

 <http://www.newjersey.sierraclub.org> www.newjersey.sierraclub.org

 
Received on 2009-05-05 09:45:47

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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