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Sierra Club Joins Coalition to Fight Privatization

Date : Mon, 14 Feb 2011 12:55:40 -0500

 

 _____ From: Kate Millsaps [mailto:Kate.Millsaps_at_SierraClub.org] Sent: Monday, February 14, 2011 12:22 PM

For Immediate Release
February 14, 2011 Contact Jeff Tittel, 609-558-9100

Sierra Club Joins Coalition to Fight Privatization

The Sierra Club is proud to be a member of the Coalition fighting privatization of the state's services and supports ACR150. ACR150, now before the Legislature, proposes to amend the State Constitution to ensure that state contracts with private companies will result in less costs and more services for tax payers.

"The word privateer comes from privatization and we know that is just another name for a pirate," said Jeff Tittel, Director NJ Sierra Club. Increased regulation of these deals is necessary because the result of privatization is often a decrease in services to the public, higher costs, and the proliferation of pay to play contracts.

Privatization often leads to higher rates for services and worse quality in drinking water and more pollution from sewer systems going into our streams and rivers. Studies have shown that when public services are privatized corporate profits replace meeting the needs of consumers and the environment.

There have been many instances where private water companies have deliberately botched water quality tests to avoid problems from contamination that would require costly upgrades to their systems. In many cases the water supply did not meet minimum standards for pollution. Just this December, United Water in Indiana was federally indicted for falsifying water tests. The company is charged with 25 violations of the Clean Water Act including not taking proper water samples. The indictment states United Water gave substantially higher weight to improving the financial operation of the company instead of meeting environmental requirements. These practices hurt the environment and put public health and safety at risk. United Water Company also maintains the water supply for Jersey City. The company began selling a portion of the City's capacity to suburbs in the Rockaway River watershed which resulted in more pollution from sewer plant discharge entering Jersey City's water supply, the Boonton Reservoir. In addition to the increased pollution, Jersey City lost future growth capacity. Instead of putting the best interests of the citizens of Jersey City first, the company saddled the City with decreased water quality and quantity to increase corporate profits.

"With privatization we see higher costs, worse services, and at times threats to public health and safety. Its bad for the consumers and bad for the environment," said Jeff Tittel, Director of NJ Sierra Club. "Many of the companies care more about their shareholders than the public they are suppose to serve."

Many of the companies that receive contracts from the state are privately owned. These contracts turn the resources and infrastructure of New Jersey over to multinational foreign corporations to implement their own mission and agenda often at the expense of the state's residents and environment.

The Christie administration has taken the first steps toward the privatization of our state parks and forests by contracting with a non-profit organization to conduct educational programs this summer. The privatization of public parkland will result in the loss of public access to open space, parks and forests, and historic sites. In the past many of these contracts have been sweetheart deals for the park operator that have cost the state money and restricted public access. If a private company has a choice between a corporate event such as a company picnic and public access, the company will choose the money-making event at the expense of public access, as seen in Island Beach State Park and the Farley Marina in Atlantic City. Historic artifacts and artwork have disappeared from privatized historic sites. These contracts could also allow logging in our state forests. These lands are for the public, by the public and privatization breaks the public trust.

"When a for-profit company takes over public infrastructure and public lands and is responsible for public health and safety, we are concerned that their mission which is private and corporate does not include anything for the public," said Jeff Tittel. ACR150 will require companies bidding on state contracts to conduct cost analyses and demonstrate cost reductions can be achieved through more efficient practices, not through the reduction of services or increased costs to the public. The bill will increase public oversight of contracts by requiring public disclosure of contracts.

Kate Millsaps, 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 2011-02-14 09:55:40

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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