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Highlands Act Opponent Confirmed to Council

Date : Tue, 09 Jan 2012 17:24:37 -0500

/For Immediate Release/
January 9, 2012 Contact Jeff Tittel, 609-558-9100

*Highlands Act Opponent Confirmed to Council*

** Today the Senate Judiciary Committee put the drinking water supply for 5.4 million state residents at risk by approving Sussex County Freeholder Richard Vohden's appointment to the Highlands Water Protection and Planning Council.Mr. Vohden has publically spoken out against the Highlands Act and DEP regulations in the past and we believe will work to undermine and roll back these protections as a member of the Highlands Council.

"The newest Highlands Council member is an opponent of the Highlands Act.This underscores the Governor's intent to dismantle the Highlands regulations by stacking the Council with members that will not enforce the landmark protections we have established in the region," *said Jeff Tittel, Director New Jersey Sierra Club*. "Today the Senate Judiciary Committee placed politics before protecting the drinking water for 60% of the state." Mr. Vohden was a Charter Member of the Highlands Conservation Association, a group whose goal is to overturn the Highlands Act and restore " home rule authority by municipalities and their citizens in the Highlands region".He signed the group's petition calling for the repeal of the Highlands Act.Mr. Vohden called portions of the DEP Highlands regulations "unconstitutional" and challenged the science behind those regulations, especially related to stream buffers and septic density standards. Freeholder Richard Vohden will serve in a public seat, not one of the eight seats dedicated by the Highlands Act for elected officials.Public seats were created by the Highlands Act for non-elected state residents who have "practicable, expertise, knowledge, or experience in water quality protection, natural resources protection, environmental protection, agriculture, forestry, land use, or economic development".Public seats were also created so that water consumers outside the Highlands but dependent on the region's water would be represented on the Council.Appointing elected officials to fill these seats instead of the eight seats specifically set aside for municipal and county officials excludes non-elected state residents from participating in the Highlands Council.

"Today the Judiciary Committee took the side of politics over the protection of drinking water for the people of New Jersey," *said Jeff Tittel*. "This appointment will undermine critical protection for New Jersey's water supply."

Kate Millsaps
Program Assistant
NJ Chapter of the Sierra Club
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Received on 2012-01-09 14:24:37

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