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Sierra Club Statement on Governorís State of the State Address

Date : Tue, 17 Jan 2012 17:28:03 -0500

/For Immediate Release/
January 17, 2012 Contact: Jeff Tittel, 609-558-9100

**

*Sierra Club Statement on Governor?s State of the State Address* Today Governor Christie gave his State of the State address.Sierra Club Director Jeff Tittel issued this statement in response to the Governor?s speech:

?Today the Governor did not mention the environment or open space once during the State of the State address, but given his record he might be ashamed too. His environmental record is one of weakenings and attacks on environmental protections.He failed to mention today that he signed the dirty water bill, a piece of special interest legislation that will directly cause more pollution in our waterways and threatens our drinking water supplies.In his list of achievements he totes protecting the Barnegat Bay, and even quoting the Sierra Club, but he fails to mention he vetoed three of the five bills passed to protect the Bay.?

?His policies so far have had a significant impact on the future of New Jersey?s clean energy economy, drinking water, and toxic sites.The Christie administration has been one of the most challenging for environmentalism in decades.He has weakened key environmental policies regulating air pollution and water quality.He has attempted to roll back 30 years of environmental protections.Even though we have seen some defeats, we have had some significant victories for environmental protections.? The Governor?s environmental actions and policies over the past two years have weakened some our most critical protections for Barnegat Bay, clean air, and public access.

*Pulling out of RGGI*

** Governor Christie folded to corporate polluters and Tea Party conservatives and announced New Jersey will be pulling out of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a ten state compact to reduce climate change pollution.

*Energy Master Plan* The Governor released a revised Energy Master Plan that slashes state renewable energy standards, guts clean energy funding, increases our dependence on fracking and non-conventional fossil fuels, and calls for more nuclear.These policies have caused the price of solar credits to drop, almost causing the market to crash.

*Not Supporting Important EPA Air Quality Protections*

** Governor Christie did not sign onto litigation supporting EPA rules to clean up air pollution.The Cross State Air Pollution rules require coal-producing states to our west to lower their toxic emissions.The rule had the support of PSE&G, Exelon, NJ Chamber of Commerce, and a number of health and environmental groups.Instead Governor Christie wants to go after plants individually, costing taxpayers more and resulting in cases tied up in the courts instead of actual reductions in air pollutants.

*Rollbacks to Water Quality *

** The Governor signed a dangerous bill weakening protections for our water by delaying the implementation of the state?s Water Quality Management Planning rules by two years and substantially undrmining these regulations that are critical for preventing sprawl and overdevelopment.**

**

*Attacks on the Highlands Region* Governor Christie has appointed individuals to the Highlands Council that have spoken out publically against Highlands protections and have challenged the science behind the Regional Master Plan.The Governor has slashed funding for the Council.The State Strategic Plan and the Executive Order implementing it undermine the Council?s planning authority in the Highlands by requiring the Regional Master Plan conform to the Strategic Plan?s economic goals and declaring the Highlands Existing Community Zone a growth area that should receive sewers.

*Barnegat Bay Continues to Deteriorate* Conditions in the Barnegat Bay get worse while the Governor is weakening protections for the watershed.He vetoed three important bills that would help clean up the Bay.One would have required a limit on nutrient pollution entering the Bay and the other two bills would have cleaned up stormwater.His administration did not require Oyster Creek to install cooling towers, instead allowing the discharge of superheated pollution to continue.Governor Christie is doing studies instead of adopting the policies that will clean up the Bay and protect the Jersey Shore?s most heavily used body of water.

*Waiver Rule lets Polluters and Developers Avoid Enviro Regs*

** The DEP proposed waiver rule will create loopholes and open environmental protections to political abuse and pay-to-play negotiations.The Commissioner of the DEP could waive virtually any section of any rule.98 existing rules can be waived, impacting hundreds of permits.Waivers will be case-by-case so anyone can come in and apply, adding more work for an already overburdened DEP staff and less transparency and predictability in permitting.In one rule, Governor Christie is attempting to roll back over 30 years of environmental protection.

*Beach Access Rules Close Waterways to Public*

** The DEP?s proposed revised beach access rules impede our right to access our own waterways.These rules risk the thing we love most about living in New Jersey, accessing our beaches and waterways.These rules need to be withdrawn and the DEP needs to come up with rules that ensure the public?s rights to waterways and protect the public trust.

*Rolling Back Standards on Toxic Sites*

** The DEP proposed regulations to privatize the cleanup of our toxic sites hands more authority over to Licensed Site Remediation Professionals (LSRP) hired by the owners and polluters to conduct clean ups on their property.With over 20,000 contaminated sites in the state, virtually all residents will be affected by the weakening of cleanup standards proposed in these rules.

*Delaying the Sulfur Rule*

** The DEP delayed implementation of the Sulfur Rule by at least one year in response to requests by Hess Corporation.The rule would lower the sulfur content for all fuels to 500 parts per million and for #2 heating oils and lighter fuel oils to 15 parts per million.New Jersey has some of the worst air quality in the nation and this rule was designed to help New Jersey clean up its air and lower the risks from air pollution to public health.

** The administration did have some wins on the environment as well:

*Cleaning Up Dioxins in the Passaic River*

** The DEP won a lawsuit that will allow the cleanup of dioxin in the Passaic River to move forward and will hold the polluter responsible for the costs of the remediation work.

*Cleaning Up Pennsylvania Coal Plant*

** The EPA has required GenOn?s Portland Generating Station coal-fired power plant inNorthampton County, Pennsylvania to reduce its toxic air emissions by 81% over the next three years.The decision came after the DEP submitted a petition calling for the cleanup of the plant based on its toxic air emissions.Sulfur dioxide levels in Warren County exceed the EPA national air quality standard due to the plants emissions and this decision will help New Jerseyans breathe easier.

*Preserving Princeton Nurseries * The administration secured funding for the preservation of the Princeton Nurseries Properties in the Upper Freehold area .This is one of the largest (about 3 square miles in area) and most important properties in Central Jersey that is unprotected and is an important link in a 10 mile greenway. The Sierra Club Central Jersey group has worked for years to try to save this property.

-- 
Kate Millsaps
Program Assistant
NJ Chapter of the Sierra Club
609-656-7612
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Received on 2012-01-17 14:28:03

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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