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Race to the Bottom

Date : Wed, 9 Jun 2010 11:16:01 -0400

For Immediate Release
June 9, 2010 Contact: Jeff Tittel, NJ Chapter Director, 609-558-9100

Race to the Bottom Legislature Would Rather Protect Kansas than New Jersey

The Sierra Club strongly opposes A2486, a bill that would prohibit New Jersey rules and regulations from exceeding Federal standards. Federal rules are widely considered to be the floor, and the federal government allows the states to adopt rules and standards that are stricter. This legislation will rollback decades of environmental protections in New Jersey and undermine public health and safety.

"The spill in the Gulf shows why we cannot allow businesses to self regulate. This bill is the BP of self-regulation: BP for benefits polluters," said Jeff Tittel, New Jersey Sierra Club Director.

Abolishing slavery, women's right to vote, desegregation, creation of public schools, clean cars, and the Spill Act to reduce toxic contaminants all have one thing in common. These issues all were first addressed by the state of New Jersey before the federal government. Only after New Jersey led and pushed did these issues gain federal prominence.

This bill is an attempt by the Legislature to push through dangerous Executive Orders by the Christie Administration that aim to rollback environmental protections. The Sierra Club believes this bill will not only hurt the environment but will also hurt the economy. After eight years of the Bush Administration weakening federal rules, the Christie Administration and the Legislature are now trying to duplicate that scenario in New Jersey.

This legislation is actually worse than Governor Christie's Executive Order. The EO allows for New Jersey-specific exemptions to be made on regulations that are applicable only to the state. This bill does not include that provision. As the most densely populated state with a history of heavy industry and cultural diversity New Jersey has to push and lead on issues. More people in less space means we have much more at risk than other states.

"This is a race to the bottom. The legislature is trying to outdo Governor Christie and who could be worse for the environment?," Tittel said.

This legislation will set up undue hurdles and extra red tape for approving rules that are important to the protection of public health and safety. Rules will have to go through a series of major hurdles, which will only slow down adoption, make it more costly for the government, and lead to delays in important protections.

A2486 undermines the concept that a government closest to the people knows best and runs counter to sound science. Federal rules are typically broader because of not only politics but also due to the fact that they must apply to a larger area.

"We're the most densely populated state in the nation and therefore have more environmental problems than anywhere else," NJ Sierra Club Director Jeff Tittel said. "New Jersey is denser per square mile than Japan, China or India. The only thing that's denser is the legislators who don't get it."

Because New Jersey is such a small state, there's less area to dilute the air and water pollution that comes as a result of our dense population. In addition to the air pollution generated here in New Jersey, we pick up pollution from other states as well. Because of this, we need stronger standards on air.

Because of our size and population, as well as our desire to protect our natural resources, the people of New Jersey have traditionally demanded stricter standards than those implemented by the Federal Government. By taking away our right to implement these stronger standards, we will jeopardize our water and air and put the public at risk.

"We're not in Kansas anymore; we're in New Jersey and we've got a problem," Tittel said.

Regulations that would be affected by A2486 include:

* Coastal dumping rules: In New Jersey, we do not allow the dumping of garbage or contaminated waste off our coasts, making our rules stricter than Federal standards. * Rules on air toxics: We have stricter standards for mercury, nitrous oxide and sulfur dioxide. * Stormwater standards, flood hazard rules, and water quality planning rules, all of which are stricter in New Jersey. Our right to know regulations are more stringent. * Arsenic Standards: The Bush Administration chose to ignore science and play politics by refusing to strengthen Federal arsenic standards from 10 parts per million. To protect the public, New Jersey strengthened its standard to 3 parts per million. New Jersey has more than 15 other standards on drinking water that are stricter than the Federal Government's. * The Inherently Safe for Technology rule under TCPA (Toxic Catastrophe Prevention Act) * Regulations on solid waste and garbage * Renewable Energy Portfolio Standards and our Energy Efficiency Standards

In the past, the New Jersey Legislature has demonstrated it knows we must pass strong laws to protect our environment. That's why our standards that protect drinking water and regulate contaminated sites are based on a one in a million cancer risk, while the Federal Government's standard is one in 10,000. By adopting the Federal standard, we'll see cancer risk in our population increase by a factor of 100 times, with increased health care costs and tragedy.

Through the Global Warming Response Act, New Jersey requires reductions in greenhouse gases, and the federal government has not. We've passed laws that protect the Highlands and Pinelands. Our coastal rules, CAFRA, are stricter than Federal standards.

New Jersey passed clean car legislation that is stronger than the federal standard to protect citizens from air pollution. We also require higher standards for diesel motors. Our wetlands law provides a higher level of protection than the Federal Government's. Our stream buffers and wetlands buffers afford protection to our waterways that Federal rules lack. New Jersey's TCPA, Spill Act, Safe Drinking Water Act, Pollution Prevention, and Clean Water Enforcement are all laws that protect our state beyond Federal standards.

"Instead of doing their job, the Legislature is already trying to rubber stamp Gov. Christie's anti-environmental Executive Orders," Tittel said. "This legislation isn't about saving money or streamlining regulations; it's about weakening protections and taking care of special interests."

"New Jersey citizens have a right to an environment better than Mississippi," Tittel said.

###

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 2010-06-09 08:16:01

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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