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OMG! Appointment Puts Our Water Supply at Risk

Date : Fri, 10 Feb 2012 16:23:28 -0500

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

* *

*OMG! Appointment Puts Our Water Supply at Risk*

* * Michele Siekerka has just been named the Assistant Commissioner of Water Resource Management at the NJDEP. We are very concerned about her appointment since she has no background in engineering, water supply or water quality. The New Jersey Sierra Club believes there is an inherent conflict of interest since she is also serving currently as a chairman of the board of Roma Bank. Roma Bank Corp. invests money in shopping centers, office parks, and residential developments. We are concerned as her job as Assistant Commissioner she is involved in water and sewer permitting as well as water supply. The President of Roma Bank is the former Republican state Senator Peter Inverso. The bank is very active politically in trying to weaken environmental protections.

“Her appointment puts our water supply at risk. We are very troubled that there is an inherent conflict of interest between someone who is an Assistant Commissioner at the NJDEP for Water Resources, while at the same time is holding a position as chairman at Roma Bank where there is a direct conflict. Who will she represent the bank’s interest or the public’s interest?” *said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. *“Having her in charge of our water supply is like putting Ben & Jerry’s in charge of Weight Watchers.”**

Before the DEP she worked as a lobbyist at the Mercer County Chamber of Commerce where some of the biggest polluters in the region like PSEG and Hill-Wallack, the largest developer attorney in New Jersey are members. The head of the Mercer Chamber, Bobby Prunetti who was the former Republican Mercer County Executive, testified in favor of fracking and lifting the moratorium. That was in 2011 at the DRBC meeting on the natural gas drilling regulations. As the Assistant Commissioner for Water Resource she is New Jersey’s representative on the DRBC. She is also currently on the board of the NJ Economic Development Authority, which loans out money for development projects.

“She was previously a lobbyist for the Mercer County Chamber of Commerce which was one the biggest supporters of fracking and she is going to be sitting in a position of authority that will directly regulate fracking water coming into the state and a reprehensive on DRBC deciding on natural gas drilling in the Delaware River Basin,” *Tittel said.*

* * Michele Siekerka also ran the Office of Economic Growth whose main function is to perform economic analysis used to weaken environmental standards and regulations. The office also facilitates stakeholder meetings with companies that are regulated by the DEP to help those businesses weaken environmental protections and promote economic opportunities for those companies. The Office is a liaison to the Business Action Center in the Secretary of State Office, which works as clearing house for business interest to weaken environmental regulations. When they do the economic analysis work they do not look at the cost of rolling back these protections to public health and safety as well as the additional medical costs, lost of production, and other costs these roll backs would cause.

“Her role in DEP is to lobby on behalf of polluters and developers to get their permits to try to weaken environmental standards or regulations. Now she is going to be in charge of those environmental standards, regulations, and permits,” *Tittel said.*

* * While she has no real background or experience she will be in charge of Category 1Waterways, the Environmental Infrastructure Trust, NJDEPES permits, sewer and storm water permitting, water supply and water assessment. The DEP’s core mission is to protect the air, water, land, and natural resources of New Jersey, however we are concerned she may do just the opposite by pushing through pro-development and pro-polluter agendas.

“She is totally unqualified and unsuited for this position. She is a chairman of the board of a bank and was a big business lobbyist with an anti-environmental agenda. She is putting New Jersey’s water supply and water ways at risk. Her job is to dismantle water quality threatening our water supply and putting our health at risk.” *stated Jeff Tittel. *

-- 
Nicole Dallara, Outreach Coordinator
New Jersey Sierra Club
145 W. Hanover Street
Trenton, NJ 08618
609-656-7612
-- 
Nicole Dallara, Outreach Coordinator
New Jersey Sierra Club
145 W. Hanover Street
Trenton, NJ 08618
609-656-7612
-- 
Nicole Dallara, Outreach Coordinator
New Jersey Sierra Club
145 W. Hanover Street
Trenton, NJ 08618
609-656-7612
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Received on 2012-02-10 13:23:28

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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