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Actions, Not Photo Ops, to Protect the Shore

Date : Thu, 27 May 2010 12:27:31 -0400

  For Immediate Release
May 27, 2010 Contact Jeff Tittel, 609-558-9100

Actions, Not Photo Ops, to Protect the Shore

Sandy Hook -- Today the DEP commissioner is releasing the annual State of the Shore report on New Jersey's beaches. This skewed report is more about public appearance than it is about public information. It is inaccurate and does a disservice to the people of New Jersey. This year as their doing their annual photo op, the administration is saying one thing but doing another. The state of the Jersey shore is as scary as the Christie Administration policies that are affecting it.

Because of Governor Christie's strong attacks on environmental regulations, he could undo 25 years of progress in coastal protections. Instead of stepping forward and strengthening those protections, the administration has taken leaps backward.

"As the DEP rates the Jersey shore, the Sierra Club rates it scary, as decades of environmental improvement are rolled back," said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club.

Recently, there have been increases in beach closings, a decline in water quality, over pumping of aquifers, more overdevelopment and stormwater threatening the coasts. The Christie Administration has been pulling back rules the keep pollution out of the state's waterways. The governor has done nothing to mitigate the affects of climate change on the coast. The major funding cuts to environmental programs are only going to intensify these affects.

The Christie Administration has effected that no New Jersey rules be stricter than those of the federal government. This could allow ocean dumping and undermine clean water regulations.

The Barnegat Bay is dying because of overdevelopment and pollution from the Oyster Creek nuclear plant. Instead of enforcing the decision to construct cooling towers, the Christie Administration is holding stakeholder meetings on the bay.

"This delay is causing more pollution and could turn the bay into a New Jersey's largest stormwater detention basin," Tittel said.

Governor Christie's administration has weakened Water Quality Planning Rules. They are currently attacking and want to appeal stormwater rules which will put more non-point storm pollution in the bays. The administration has rolled back Category 1 and stream buffer rules. These are all designed to keep pollution out of the waterways. Weakening these rules will result in massive fishkills, destruction of wildlife habitat and more beach closings.

Beaches in Old bridge and Lawrence Harbor have been declared Superfund Sites and medical waste is washing up on Avalon's shores. Beaches in Brick Township have been closed due to jellyfish overpopulation and beaches in Brielle, Spring Lake and Lake Como are closed when it rains. There have been numerous fish kills in the Raritan Bay within the last year. Brown tide outbreaks are occurring along the northern coast. Dissolved oxygen levels are dropping due to high levels of nutrients from storm water, resulting in algae blooms.

Last New Jersey ranked 10th in the nation for the number of times its beaches exceeded national standards for bacteria from human and animal waste. Testing is only done one day per week, and not after it rains. Weekends attract the most beachgoers and water testing is done on Mondays. This results in five days of untested water before most people get to the beach, leaving the highest number of swimmers vulnerable to unsafe water.

Overdevelopment and unnecessary transportation projects in our coastal communities contribute to erosion and pollution of the beaches and oceans. Widening the Parkway and Atlantic City Expressway promotes sprawl and will have detrimental impacts on the shoreline.

"The Jersey shore drives the state's economy. It's a $39 billion a year industry. If the state allows pollution and overdevelopment to destroy the coasts, not only does it hurt the environment, but it hurts the economy," Tittel said.

Governor Christie's policies are putting New Jersey's beaches at risk. The administration needs to move forward, not backward, and take steps to continue the past progress made in coastal protections. If not, the people of New Jersey won't need a State of the Shore report because they'll have to go to other state's beaches.

"If the Christie Administration's policies are putting the shores at risk, the only Jersey shore we'll see is a bad MTV show. As New Jerseyans celebrate Memorial Day this year, the concern is that one day there will be a memorial to Jersey beaches because no one will be able to enjoy them," said Tittel.

Christine Guhl Program Assistant New Jersey Sierra Club

145 W. Hanover Street Trenton, NJ 08618 Tel: (609) 656-7612 Fax: (609) 656-7618 christine.guhl_at_sierraclub.org

Received on 2010-05-27 09:27:31

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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