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ALEC Attacking NJ Environment

Date : Wed, 11 Apr 2012 14:49:16 -0400

/For Immediate Release/
April 02, 2012 Contact Jeff Tittel, 609-558-9100

*ALEC Attacking NJ Environment*

** The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is a secret organization made up of some of the biggest polluters in the country, headed by the Koch Brothers.Their main purpose is to pass legislation to weaken environmental protections and get rid of government oversight and transparency.ALEC bills include "stand your ground" and voter identification laws.They have been very active in New Jersey passing dozens of bills and regulations secretly over the past number of years.This has accelerated even more under the Christie administration.Their agenda directly impacts our lives by weakening environmental and public health standards.We have already seen some of their handiwork in New Jersey from the DEP Waiver Rule and the Governor pulling out of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative to the Governor's Red Tape Review Group, and the privatization of our parks.

"ALEC is not only a threat to the environment but a threat to democracy itself.ALEC not only devises draft legislation, but they provide the campaign money and political muscle to push it through, going after everything from the environment and clean energy to education and healthcare," *said Jeff Tittel*, *Director, NJ Sierra Club*. ALEC's legislative members in New Jersey include Senators Steve Oroho, Anthony Bucco, and Gerald Cardinale, and Assemblymen Jay Webber, the former Republican State Chair.Oroho and Webber are the ALEC State Chairs.There has been a large public outcry against ALEC in other states because in those states they are directly tied to the Republican party.In New Jersey, the ALEC agenda has received bipartisan support.Parts of their agenda like policies for no rules stricter than federal standards have support from Democrats such as Assemblyman John Burzichelli.He is sponsoring the bill in the Assembly.Democratic Senator Van Drew is co-sponsoring another ALEC bill to repeal New Jersey's Global Warming Response Act.

"Anti-environmental ALEC bills have been stopped in other states but here they have bipartisan support in the Legislature.With the one-two punch of ALEC and business lobbyists we are seeing bills passed in New Jersey without the same scrutiny and outrage as in other states," *said Jeff Tittel*. Many of Governor Christie's Executive Orders (EO) and Red Tape Review Group policies came directly from ALEC, especially EO 2 which sets up agency waiver procedures and calls for no state rules stricter than federal standards.The DEP Waiver Rule is verbatim from an ALEC bill, even the language about keeping out federal programs to prevent EPA oversight.ALEC supports privatization panels and red tape reviews, all implemented by the Governor.Economic cost consideration in rule making (ALEC bill "Environmental Audit Privilege) and the regulatory flexibility act making it harder to write regulations come from ALEC.The ALEC efficiency in government bill in almost identical to Governor Christie's policies in setting up the Red Tape Review Group.The Lt. Governor's Business Action Center is based on the ALEC agenda.ALEC has a bill creating a science board of polluters to oversee environmental regulations; the governor has done that with the DEP Science Advisory Board.The transformation in DEP also comes out of ALEC.Governor Christie is implementing many of the ALEC bills through regulations.

"This is part of a national plan by ALEC to weaken environmental protections from Maine to Wisconsin.Governor Christie is leading the charge here in New Jersey.Many of these bills and changes are not being made because of New Jersey related issues but go against the needs of our state.These changes are being made to promote the Governor's national career by taking care of potential political supporters and donors," *said Jeff Tittel*."Governor Christie has met with the Koch Brothers and has been praised by the Koch Brothers and now we see why." But then again, why wouldn't the Governor be close to ALEC since his former Chief-of-Staff Rich Bagger was the Pfizer representative to the ALEC board.Other ALEC member companies that have had a lot of influence in New Jersey in weakening environmental protections include Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company and Williams which have pushed for gas pipelines across the Highlands region to carry gas produced through fracking in the Marcellus Shale.DuPont, Bayer, ExxonMobil, Kraft, Conoco Phillips, Dell and BP are also members. What is not being done through regulation is being done through laws.Dozens of bills that match the ALEC agenda have passed through the Legislature or have been introduced in the new session.Everything from fast tracking permits to logging on state lands for "healthier forests" to eliminating public oversight on rule making. Many of the bills set up procedures to limit transparency or public review.Bills allow for major changes on adoption of an agency rule after the public comment period, get rid of public notice, and give final decision making to an appointed administrative law judge instead of the agency head.Bills would extend permits and regulations automatically to preclude public review and oversight. Other bills that have passed the Legislature like Fast-Track, permit extension, business ombudsmen, and the DEP science Advisory Board are now put into place.Some of the bills are direct ALEC bills while other come from a portion of an ALEC bill.Many of these same bills are in state legislatures in Maine, Ohio, Wisconsin, Michigan, and other states.

"We should call for an independent investigation of ALEC by the State Comptroller or Office of Legislative Services because how can we trust the administration or the Legislature to do it?" *asked Jeff Tittel*. ALEC direct or ALEC related bills that have passed the Legislature in the past year or have been introduced in the new session:

*S235* (Oroho/Van Drew) a bill that would prohibit New Jersey rules and regulations from exceeding Federal standards

*A2720/S2014* (Burzichelli/Oroho) Establishes new procedure in "Administrative Procedure Act" to allow substantial changes to agency rule-making upon adoption (Approved P.L.2011, c.33)

*A1500/S276 *(Carroll/Doherty)**Repeals "Global Warming Response Act" and related sections of Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative implementing law

*A2721/S2013 *(Burzichelli/Oroho) Changes five year chapter expiration date for rules to seven years; changes procedures for readoption of rules. (Approved P.L.2011, c.45)

*A2853/S6*(Burzichelli/Sarlo)**Streamlines process for State and local agency business permits related to economic development projects (Approved P.L.2011, c.34 )

*A1524/S913 *(Burzichelli/Oroho) a bill that will change permitting processes and public oversight by giving a governmental agency the power to veto another agency's rules and allowing any affected person or entity to challenge any proposed or existing rule for inconsistency with another rule.

*A2464/S1783* (Burzichelli/Oroho) requires all State agency rules be published in the New Jersey Register and prohibits the use of regulatory guidance documents.This law could stop or slow down the adoption of important environmental rules by making it tougher for businesses to implement rules and regulations because instead of being able to get a guidance document they will have to consult with staff, delaying permitting.(Approved P.L.2011, c.215)

*A1532 *(Burzichelli) Requires assessment of administrative penalty amount by administrative law judge for environmental violations

*ACR103* (Handlin) supports a Constitutional Amendment that will allow for nullification.

*A1521 *(Burzichelli/Rumana): allows agency heads to wave any penalty that may be assessed at their own discretion.This bill gives Office of Administrative Law judges final decision-making authority when it comes to agency rules.

*A2315 *(Chivikula/McHose)**Expands scope of New Jersey Regulatory Flexibility Act dealing with economic impact of rules on small businesses.

*A2508/S349*(Milam/Oroho)**Establishes in DEP the Environmental Science Review Board to review proposed environmental regulations for consistency with science**(Set up by Corzine and implemented by Christie)**

"This is all done behind closed doors.This secret organization of elected officials and corporations is becoming more dangerous with the /Citizens United/ decision giving them unlimited cash to implement their agenda.It is not a conspiracy, it is a fact: they are meeting secretly to dismantle environmental protections," *said Jeff Tittel*. There are hundreds of ALEC bills and about one-third of them are up on the ALEC Exposed website which can be accessed here: http://alecexposed.org/wiki/ALEC_Exposed

-- 
Kate Millsaps
Program Assistant
NJ Chapter of the Sierra Club
609-656-7612
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NJ-Sierra-Chapter-Ex-Committee List Info & Archives:
http://lists.sierraclub.org/archives/NJ-EXCOM.html
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Received on 2012-04-11 11:49:16

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