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DEP Transformation Means Environmental Extinction

Date : Thu, 7 Oct 2010 16:56:11 -0400

 

            For Immediate Release
October 7, 2010 Contact: Jeff Tittel, NJ Chapter Director, 609-558-9100

DEP Transformation Means Environmental Extinction

The Department of Environmental Protection today released its Transformation Plan, which will only transform the DEP into a rubber stamp for polluters and developers. This plan is an acceleration of Christie's war on the environment and part of the overall dismantling of environmental regulations and public health protections.

"What they mean by transformation is that they are turning DEP employees into transformers, which are just robots that will push out permits for developers and polluters," said NJ Sierra Club Director Jeff Tittel.

As part of this so-called transformation, the DEP will have more stakeholder processes, including meetings that will be dominated 2-to-1 by industry representatives. The outcomes of these meetings will be used as rationalization to further weaken environmental protections.

"This plan contains a lot of Orwellian double speak," Tittel said. "They talk about streamlining and overreaching and complexity. These are all nice code words to disguise what they're really up to, which is dismantling the DEP and the regulations and programs that go along with it."

The plan says the DEP should allow for more "flexibility in regulations," which is code for weakening regulations and taking care of politically connected developers and polluters. The DEP says it wants to waive "strict application regulations" and use common sense, which really means to do whatever the clients and polluters want.

The so-called transformation plan calls on the DEP to rely more on science, but by that they mean political science. Another goal in the plan is to improve customer service, but the only customers they care about serving are the developers coming in for permits and approvals. The public doesn't count.

The plan talks about streamlining linear development, which simply means to push through more gas and power lines like the Tennessee Gas Pipeline and the Susquehanna Roseland Transmission line. It also says the DEP should do a cost benefit analysis, but that only means if it costs polluters too much, then they don't have to do it. The only people who benefit from a cost benefit analysis are the developers and polluters.

The so-called transformation plan recommends a rewrite of the Administrative Procedures Act, which will only weaken it and take away public input and oversight.

DEP says its mission is to "promote economic development," which means they value taking care of special interests, not the public interest. According to the law, the DEP's real mission is to protect the environment and public health. Protecting the environment will lead to strong economic development, the two are not mutually exclusive. However, under this so-called transformation, economic development trumps environmental regulations.

The Transformation Plan also says:

. Land use regulations are overreaching, which is code that the rules will be weakened.

. Air quality rules are too stringent and should not be stricter than federal standards. This means they want to weaken air quality rules, which is dangerous. The EPA has wanted New Jersey to have stricter regulations because our air quality is some of the worst in the nation. By having the same air quality protections as Minnesota means we will have more children with asthma, and more people with lung disease. S

. Because solid waste programs are too complex, they should be weakened.

. Water quality programs are overreaching, which again is code that these programs will be weakened so more permits can be given out.

. DEP should rely on guidance documents for site remediation, which are currently under review and being rewritten by industry insiders.

. Water quality management planning rules must be changed to ensure there are enough areas for development, resulting in more sprawl and overdevelopment in environmentally sensitive places.

. The DEP should work on public access but the draft rules the department released limits public access.

. Revisit rules that oversee the Highlands and Barnegat Bay, which we're concerned means will weaken protections

This plan doesn't look at overall environmental and health impacts, it only makes it easier for developers to push bad projects through.

"This Transformation Plan is part of the Christie Administration's ongoing war on the environment, which includes Executive Orders, Red Tape Reviews, budget cuts, privatization, and now a systematic dismantling of environmental programs," Tittel said. "This report shows that Governor Christie meant it when he said during the primaries that he wanted to get rid of DEP."

    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  

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Received on 2010-10-07 13:56:11

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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