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State Audits Shows Failure to Cleanup Diesel Pollution

Date : Thu, 5 Jul 2012 17:08:47 -0400

For Immediate Release
July 3, 2012 Contact Jeff Tittel, 609-558-9100

State Audits Shows Failure to Cleanup Diesel Pollution A new audit by the Office of Legislative Services shows that New Jersey has not been doing enough to retrofit and clean up state-owned diesel vehicles.Governor Christie has committed to cleaning up diesel on state construction sites, but little to no action has been taken.According to the audit under his administration only one out of 500 pieces of off road equipment has been retro-fitted.This study comes just weeks after the World Health Organization's cancer agency declared that diesel fumes carcinogenic.Diesel fumes pose a risk to public health as individuals are exposed to exhaust daily.

"The Governor's environmental policy on reducing diesel pollution is more about press releases and photo-ops than an actual commitment.We have seen the administration touting clean air while putting in place policies that actually weaken those protections.On diesel the Governor has made numerous public commitments while the audit shows very little or nothing happening.Out of 500 pieces of equipment, only one has been retrofitted- that is ludicrous," *said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club.*"These are state construction projects being paid for with billions in tax payer funding.Why isn't the Governor enforcing his Executive Order to protect the health of the people of New Jersey?" Of the public vehicles that were supposed to be retrofitted, 105 were examined and in 52 cases proper forms were not submitted to the Department.Out of 9997 vehicles, almost half 4456 did not have proper forms submitted. The Department has not been collecting outstanding debt for licenses, permits, and other fees associated with the program.DEP staff was not following up with vehicle owners who did not submit forms or referring them to compliance and enforcement until the OLS audit started. New Jersey has some of the highest concentration of diesel trucks anywhere in the county and some of the worst air quality in the nation.New Jersey is out of compliance for ground level ozone and particulate matter in part because of diesel trucks with some areas having high levels of air toxins. There is no part of New Jersey from High Point to Cape May that meets the Clean Air Standard for particulates with diesel being a major part of that. All of this air pollution greatly affects kids and the elderly especial with asthma and respiratory illnesses. Air pollution from particulates can lead to hospital visits for kids with asthma and heart attacks for others, which could be fatal.New Jersey has so much air pollution the Governor should be working to clean up our air and protect our health and our lungs instead of siding with polluters and big oil.

"The Governor cutting the Corporate Business Tax and raiding it to subsidize sprawl and development cuts the funding available for diesel retrofits for school buses and other public vehicles," said Tittel. The Christie Administration has failed to implement policies that would clean up our air and reduce pollution from diesel engines. The Christie Administration has done next to nothing to improve our air quality in New Jersey. Governor Christie has delayed the Sulfur Rule, which would bring in low sulfur fuel cleaning up diesel and oil furnaces. The Administration has not implemented an Executive Order requiring diesel engines on state projects to be retrofitted to clean diesel along with the Port Authority to clean up trucks going in and out of the port. This Administration has exempted diesel engines for off road vehicles and construction sites from having to meet new standards.

"We have some of the worst diesel pollution anywhere in the country. We are ranked ninth unhealthiest in the nation for pollution from diesel soot. The state needs to strengthen protections for the people of New Jersey by upgrading our anti-idling regulations, cleaning up ports and construction sites, and developing special programs to help people in effected communities like Newark and Elizabeth," Tittel said. The Administration has failed to implement a program to reroute buses and trucks from traveling in the middle of communities especially past schools. They have not put in place Environmental Justice guidelines for air toxins from diesel in communities like Newark, Elizabeth, and Jersey City.These areas are one thousand times the health base standard for toxic air emissions due to heavy truck traffic and diesel fumes. We need to implement a more aggressive monitoring and inspection program for trucks to make sure they are not spewing more pollution then they should. We still have a lot of old diesel buses that need to be replaced with new technology like compressed natural gas , hybrid electric or fully electric buses like those in Oregon, Washington State, Chicago, and other places around the country. There have been no plans in place to implement clean diesel or hybrid diesel for trains or to electrify many routes like the Raritan Valley Line or Jersey Shore Line that would help reduce diesel pollution. The state does not have any programs to implement electric vehicles, clean diesel, or biodiesel programs that would help lower particulate matter. The state has failed to implement current anti-idling regulations for trucks or to come up with stricter regulations.

"The Governor's policies on diesel is just more hot air, putting the people of New Jersey at risk from more diesel pollution.New Jersey needs to develop and support strict regulations for diesel trucks and pollution not weaken them, which has been the case with the Christie Administration. There is a lot we can do, but if we do not do it, shame on us," stated Jeff. The OLS audit can be viewed here: http:www.njleg.state.nj.us/legislativepub/auditor/420311.pdf<a>

-- 
Kate Millsaps
Program Assistant
NJ Chapter of the Sierra Club
609-656-7612
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