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Legislature Holds Water Bill Opposed by EPA

Date : Thu, 7 Jan 2010 16:46:50 -0500

For Immediate Release
January 7, 2010 Contact: Jeff Tittel, NJ Sierra Club, 609-558-9100

Legislature Holds Water Bill Opposed by EPA

The Water Quality Planning Bill (S2985/A4345), which would delay implementation of critical water rules, has been held by the Legislature due to concerns raised by the EPA. Amendments to the legislation are pending and it will likely be revisited by the Legislature Monday.

On Jan. 5, EPA Regional Administrator Judith Enck sent letters to New Jersey's Senate President and Speaker of the House asking them to hold the Water Quality Planning Bill because it violates agreements between the state and the EPA on water quality planning.

The bill would delay for a year and three months the DEP implementation of the Water Quality Management Planning Rules, which were supposed to be adopted in 1994. This bill seeks to delay rules that would require proper environmental analysis be done prior to granting a sewer extension, protect environmentally-sensitive areas from sewers, and ensure there is enough water for proposed developments to go forward.

"We were able to get this bad bill held today but Monday is another day," NJ Sierra Club Director Jeff Tittel said. "We're going to see what kind of amendments are made and will continue the fight next week."

Tittel thanked the EPA for weighing in on the issue and attributed the bill being held to the concerns raised by the Regional Administrator.

The Federal Government has provided New Jersey with $203 million in Federal Stimulus money for water projects, including $1.6 million to upgrade water quality planning. The bill would delay implementation of those plans, not only violating federal law but jeopardizing New Jersey's ability to receive Federal Stimulus money.

In addition to imposing a delay on these critical rules, the bill violates the law because it includes a clause stating that the DEP has 90 days to review and approve wastewater management plan amendments. This is a both a breach of due process and a violation of the National Environmental Policy Act and the Clean Water Act, since it puts a time frame on reviews and mandates approval of amendments.

This legislation blocks the DEP from pulling back a sewer service area and puts burden of proof on the state agency, making it virtually impossible for any withdrawal for environmental reasons. It also has a clause that would allow any project that has received local approval to be grandfathered. This violates the continuous planning process.

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 2010-01-07 13:46:50

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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