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Heat Wave and the Christie Administration Unhealthy for the Environment

Date : Wed, 7 Jul 2010 14:07:55 -0400

For Immediate Release
July 7, 2010 Contact Jeff Tittel, 609-558-9100

Heat Wave and the Christie Administration Unhealthy for the Environment

Trenton - As record temperatures plague New Jersey and the DEP issues air quality advisories throughout the state the state may be heading into another drought, the environment and public health are at risk. The Christie Administration and the legislature have dismantled environmental programs through budget cuts and bad bills, putting the health and safety of the people of New Jersey in jeopardy.

"It is not just the weather that is putting the public at risk; it is the Christie Administration's weakening of protections for air, water and toxins and dismantling protections on global warming and the Highlands. We can easily say that not only is the air unhealthy, so is environmental protection in New Jersey," said Jeff Tittel, New Jersey Sierra Club Director.

Rivers and streams throughout the state are approaching record water temperatures of near 82 degrees. Round Valley, the state's deepest reservoir is at 85 degrees. This could have a devastating impact on water quality and water supply. New Jersey is in serious jeopardy of a drought and there have been daily forest fire warnings throughout New the state. Lawns and woods are turning brown in early July. The impacts of the heat wave and potential drought are magnified as the Christie Administration and some in the legislature put the environment and public health at risk.

In the state's rivers, the amount of water will drop and the amount of pollution will increase because there is less dilution from sewers and industrial discharges. Warm water will cause bacteria and algae to grow and clog filters. Treating this with chlorine will lead to an increase of toxic chemicals, such as trihalomethane, in the water supply. The state is doing nothing to deal with the drought. There have been no real conservation measures.

The legislature recently passed a bill that extends the waiver for new car inspections for five years and eliminates safety inspections for certain motor vehicles. Extending inspections of new cars from four to five years means cars will go longer without maintenance, making them unsafe and inefficient. This extension will result in an increase in air pollution and automobile accidents.

New Jersey Transit subsidies were cut, resulting in a record-high fare hike and cuts to bus service. Transit ridership has already dropped 6% and will continue to decline. This will lead to an increase in traffic and air pollution.

The governor's Executive Orders gave authority to government officials to weaken environmental protections in favor of developers, undermining state and federal regulations. EO 1 put a moratorium on all rules which prevented the implementation of more than 28 environmental rules. EO 3 set up a task force to look at government regulations that is made up of all business people and no one from the environmental community.

EO 5 set up red tape task force whose job was to find more creative ways to weaken protections. The Red Tape task force recommended getting rid of the Highlands Council as an unnecessary board. The findings of the task force attacked beach access rules taking side of marina owners and businesses over the public's right to go to the beach. The task force recommended extending rules from 5 to 7 years. This will delay updating of rules based on scientific findings having a direct impact on the environment and public health.

The Governor's Administrative Order extended the DEP implementation of Water Quality Management Planning Rules that are more than 13 years in the making

The governor slashed funding to the Highlands that was critical in implementing the Highlands Act. The Highlands Act was passed to protect the drinking water for more than half of the people in New Jersey. Governor Christie's budget cuts put that drinking water at risk. These cuts will not only undermine preservation in the Highlands they will mean more sprawl and therefore more pollution in the state's waterways.

Governor Christie's budget cuts money for the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) and $68 million in programs funded by RGGI will be eliminated. RGGI, a compact with multiple states in the Northeast, was established to create programs that reduce the greenhouse gas footprint. Programs help pay for clean energy programs that reduce carbon and create jobs.

The budget slashes the Clean Energy Fund by a total of $52 million - $42 million in direct cuts and $10 million in diversions. These cuts will significantly reduce the amount of money available to reimburse residents for solar installations and high efficiency appliances, like furnaces and air conditioners. This program helps to reduce air pollution in the state by supporting clean energy and energy efficiency. This would also help prevent brown outs during a heat wave.

The Burzichelli bill would prohibit New Jersey rules and regulations from exceeding Federal standards. New Jersey has stricter rules for air toxins, including mercury, nitrous oxide and sulfur. Federal rules are widely considered to be the floor, and the federal government allows the states to adopt rules and standards that are stricter. New Jersey is a small state with the highest population density in the nation. Standards for air and water pollution need to be strict.

The Board of Public Utilities approval of the Susquehanna-Roseland power line upgrade project will import more dirty coal energy from Pennsylvania. This will lead to an increase in levels of air toxins and water pollution in New Jersey. Instead of bringing more coal energy to the state, New Jersey should be targeting its own coal plants for conversion to natural gas or to be closed.

Throughout the state public lands are being sold or leased for development. Environmentally sensitive areas that are critical to maintain air and water quality have been handed over to private companies. The State House Commission is on the verge of leasing hundreds of acres in the Highlands to Tennessee Gas for pipeline. This region provides drinking water to over 2 million New Jersey residents.

With air and quality at risk throughout the state, now is the time to make decisions to protect the environment and public health.

"Nature may bring the weather, but it's DEP policies that make the impacts worse. Instead of weakening environmental protections, the state needs to ensure that adequate funding and programs are in place to move New Jersey forward, not only in protecting the environment but providing clean energy and green jobs to promote economic growth," 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 2010-07-07 11:07:55

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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