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Attack on the Environment; Stakeholder Meetings on Weakening Rules Start Tomorrow

Date : Mon, 1 Mar 2010 12:06:29 -0500

For Immediate Release
March 1, 2010 Contact: Jeff Tittel, 609-558-9100

Attack on the Environment Stakeholder Meetings on Weakening Rules Start Tomorrow

The real attack on environmental protections starts tomorrow as the DEP begins a series of "stakeholder" meetings on the Executive Orders and rules that are currently frozen. The Sierra Club is concerned that this process will be used to weaken environmental standards and pull down rules that are important to the protection of public health and safety.

We're concerned these meetings will be stacked by industry representatives and will give Governor Chris Christie and his administration cover to weaken environmental protections in New Jersey. The meetings are open to the public.

Hearings will be held on rules that have been frozen, including those that regulate phosphorus, which is a major source of pollution in our water, and standards for chlorate, a toxic chemical found in drinking water, as well as others.

"The war on the environment begins. These meetings are an excuse to weaken environmental protections and turn New Jersey over to the special interests," New Jersey Sierra Club Director Jeff Tittel said. "The Christie Administration is hiding behind red tape as a way to weaken protections."

This process will violate the Administrative Procedure Act, since these meetings are being held after the public comment period on the rules and standards has closed. The adoption of new rules should be based on the record taken during the public process, not through meetings with so-called stakeholders after the fact.

These meetings are also being held to discuss how to implement the Governor's Executive Orders, which are an attack on environmental regulations and standards. In January, Governor Christie signed eight Executive Orders, four of which pose a serious threat to environmental protections.

The Executive Orders threaten the environment by implementing a 90-day freeze on environmental regulations and setting up a "red tape" commission to review and possibly repeal important protections that are considered an undue burden to business. The Executive Orders also freeze "Time of Decision," grandfathering applications from the time they are made despite changes in rules or regulations.

The Executive Orders prohibit government programs that are unfunded mandates to towns and say that New Jersey rules cannot be stricter than federal rules, a violation of New Jersey law.

The language in the Executive Orders is very similar to the weakening of environmental protections that builders and other special interests have been pushing for. These Executive Orders apply not only to the DEP but also to the Highlands Council, Pinelands Commission, Meadowlands Commission, and the State Planning Commission.

"We're concerned that this process of stakeholder meetings will be used to undermine protections," Tittel said, adding the Sierra Club will challenge actions taken based on the outcomes of these meetings if they violate state law and weaken environmental protections.

According to a recent Monmouth University Poll, 79 percent of the people in New Jersey do not want Governor Christie to weaken environmental protections. "Weakening important rules and standards will not only impact our environment and put our health and safety at risk, but will also lead to more sprawl and more pollution, hurting New Jersey's economy," Tittel said.

The following is the schedule of hearings:

* Underground Storage Tanks Rules, March 2, 10 a.m. to noon, DEP 7th floor conference room, Trenton * Surface Water Quality Standards - phosphorus, March 5, 10 a.m. to noon, DEP public hearing room, Trenton * Coastal Rules - wind and solar energy, March 8, 9 a.m. to noon, DEP public hearing room, Trenton * Air rules - sulfur in fuels, March 8, 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., DEP public hearing room, Trenton * Forestry Rules - readoption, March 8, 10 a.m. to noon, Forest Resource Education Center, 370 East Veterans Highway, Jackson * Safe Drinking Water Rules - readoption, March 10, 9 a.m. to noon, DEP public hearing room, Trenton * Safe Drinking Water rules - permit efficiency and enforcement, March 10, 9 a.m. to noon, DEP Public Hearing Room, Trenton * Safe Drinking Water Rules - perchlorate MCL, March 10, 9 a.m. to noon, DEP Public Hearing Room, Trenton * Water Pollution Control Act Rules - readoption, March 11, 9 a.m. to noon, DEP 6th floor large conference room, Trenton

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 2010-03-01 09:06:29

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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