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Cover Up Not Oversight: Committee Hearing Avoids Tough Questions on Hurricane Sandy

Date : Thu, 6 Dec 2012 12:57:01 -0500

Tough Questions on Hurricane Sandy

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

*Cover Up Not Oversight: Committee Hearing Avoids Tough Questions on Hurricane Sandy * Today DEP Commissioner Bob Martin testified before the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee.Jeff Tittel, Director, NJ Sierra Club, issued the following statement in response to watching today's hearing online:

"Today's Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee hearing was a dog and pony show to make it look like the DEP is doing something in response to Hurricane Sandy when they are not.Instead of an oversight hearing it was more of a cover up.The Committee did not get to the real points such as reforming CAFRA, addressing the Waiver Rule and other big issues why the storm was so bad and how the DEP policies made its impacts worse.Committee members were asking about streamlining and permitting instead of how to rebuild better and smarter and fixing broken programs.They were talking about replenishing beaches without addressing providing access. Instead of uncovering why the damage was so bad the commitee spent their time downplaying what happened and working toward solutions to the failures to protect our coast."

"Commissioner Martin was spinning the issues, not getting into the facts.Senator Gordon asked about the FEMA mapping updates and Commissioner Martin flat out lied saying he never heard of the agency's opposition to the mapping updates.Earlier this year the DEP had said doing so would be too expensive in a statement on a Wagner bill requiring the mapping update.Commissioner Martin said the DEP opposed lowering dunes when they did not."

"Instead the DEP has been implementing policies that make the impacts of storms such as Hurricane Sandy worse.The Christie administration has not done anything to address the impacts of climate change on our state.He has gotten rid of the Office of Climate within the DEP and stopped all adaptation planning on climate change.Governor Christie stopped progress under previous administrations who had come forward with studies on adaptation to climate change and sea level rise including hazard planning.There were important reports and mapping about the Delaware Bay Shore and protecting critical infrastructure in the Meadowlands and Newark airport.Now you cannot even find those reports on the DEP website.Many of the areas that were devastated in the hurricane where identified in that mapping and we should have been doing more to protect those communities, not scrapping the program and ignoring storm surges and flooding.The Governor has weakened and delayed the Water Quality Management Rules allowing more development in many of the areas impacted by the storm."

"The Governor has pulled New Jersey out of RGGI and has diverted $600 million from the clean energy, undermining programs that help New Jersey reduce its greenhouse gas pollution."

"The committee did not question the DEP's Waiver Rule even though these exemptions will make flooding impacts worse.They did not address Permit Extension Act.How many of those permit extensions are on lots that have been flooded or washed out to sea?"

"The DEP ACO allows municipalities to rebuild in the same places that just got destroyed instead of building better for the future."

"The DEP was not prepared for the storm, resulting in major impacts across the state.At the Passaic Valley Sewerage Authority billions of gallons of untreated sewerage entered our waterways following the storm.DEP is waiving compliance on debris measurements to get rid of it because they did not have an emergency plan in place.One of the lessons of Katrina is that you create new toxic sites when you waive debris standards and pile the garbage in places in to get rid.We need to be looking at these issues and making changes."

"DEP was unprepared and their policies are making flooding impacts worse.We need legislators to ask to the tough questions to find out why the DEP policies and response have failed the people of New Jersey."

-- 
Kate Millsaps
Conservation Program Coordinator
NJ Chapter of the Sierra Club
609-656-7612
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Received on 2012-12-06 09:57:01

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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