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More Pollution With Less Enforcement
Date : Fri, Jul 12, 2013 at 11:50 AM
For Immediate Release
July 12, 2013
Contact Jeff Tittel, 609-558-9100
More Pollution With Less Enforcement
DEP has just released data for compliance and enforcement for Fiscal Years
2011 and 2012. These reports are supposed to be released annually, but
have been behind schedule under the Christie administration. The FY 2011
and 2012 are years late and show a very disturbing trend.
"The Christie administration has created a polluter"s holiday. The amount
of violations has not gone down, but we have seen a significant drop in
enforcement actions. Even if polluters get caught they are let off the hook
and may not be penalized. The people of New Jersey are left to suffer from
more pollution. If you have more inspections and the same compliance rate
the number of enforcement actions should go up, not down. They are either
looking the other way or they are not enforcing when violations occur," said
Jeff Tittel, Director NJ Sierra Club.
Overall enforcement actions by DEP have dropped by almost 60%. In 2008
there were 29,579 enforcement actions; in 2012 13,555 actions. This number
is even more staggering since the number of inspections is actually up and
the compliance rate stays the same. If compliance remains the same,
enforcement actions and violations should have increased as well with more
inspections but have not. In water quality there has been a decrease in
The one area that shows an increase in compliance is underground storage
tanks. This program was privatized under the Licensed Site Remediation
Professionals (LSRP) program in 2009. The number of inspections in this
area has gone down from 1496 in 2008 to 1012 in 2012 under the privatized
program. We do not know if these are accurate without independent
Inspections are down in some program areas. In the air program the number
of inspections has gone down from 881 in 2008 to 590 in 2012. The biggest
drop in inspections is in land use from 287 down to 78. Solid waste
inspections have decreased from 3001 in 2008 to 2127 in 2012. Inspections
are routine and done annually at some facilities or sites.
"Inspections keep regulated entities on their toes and are an important
deterrent. If they think they are going to get inspected they are more
likely to follow their permits and environmental laws. If they do not
think they will be inspected they are more likely to take short cuts," said
Jeff Tittel. "By putting force in enforcement polluters are less likely to
violate environmental laws and create pollution."
DEP investigations are triggered by a complaint or reported problem.
Investigations are down in certain areas. Investigations for water supply
dropped from 178 to 101. Land use plummeted from 1174 to 651.
In hazardous waste investigations have dropped from 800 in 2008 to 394 in
2012. This is especially important as fracking waste has come into New
Jersey and the DEP has already issued a Notice of Violation to a site in
Kearney for accepting waste that exceeded the limit they were allowed to
take for Radium-226 and Radium-228.
Some programs have seen a major decrease in enforcement actions. In Land
Use enforcement actions dropped from 703 in 2008 to 276 in 2012.
Pesticides fell from 778 to 420. Water supply had 3718 enforcement actions
in 2008 and dropped to 2488 in 2011 and 2811 in 2012.
"The Christie administration has stopped new standards from being adopted
for numerous chemicals including arsenic, PFOA, and chlorate. Since we
still have old weaker standards, there are even more threats to public
health that are not being reported," said Jeff Tittel.
In the air program enforcement actions increased from 818 to 1147 even
though overall inspections are down. There must be a problem if finding
these additional violations. Despite the increase in enforcement actions,
air pollution fines had the largest decrease, from $13.8 million to $2.1
million over four years.
"When the regulated entities are less inspected, investigated and issued
violations it can lead to more pollutions and disasters because people tend
to get lax. If they think there is a cop on the beat they will be more
observant and efficient," said Jeff Tittel.
Water quality investigations (beach monitoring) have slightly increased
from 684 to 802, however New Jersey still does not do proper monitoring
after it rains and only tests beaches on Monday with equipment that takes
three days to get results instead of updated equipment that could give
results in a few hours.
This official DEP report comes about a year after an Asbury Park
Press*special investigation found violation notices across all DEP
down to 5500 last year versus 6900 in 2008 as well as the proposed fines.
Proposed fines covering seven major DEP programs, including air and water
quality and land use, plunged from $31.6 million in fiscal year 2007 to
The DEP is also cutting Enforcement staff and a political appointee has
been named Assistant Commissioner. DEP Compliance and Enforcement programs
are seeing significant staffing cuts, impacting their ability to
investigate and monitor violations. Since 2005 the number of inspectors
has dropped by one-fifth from 209 to 166. Total staff is down from 313 to
259 with the department"s budget remaining flat since FY2008. With recent
retirees those numbers could be lower.
"Former Asst. Commissioner Wolf Skacel who just retired was a person of
integrity and had the knowledge to run this report. He was working under
sometimes difficult conditions," said Jeff Tittel.
Last week John Giordano was appointed to the role of Assistant Commissioner
for Enforcement. Giordano is a political appointment without a lot of hands
on environmental experience or expertise who previously worked for the PA
Department of Conservation under gov. Tom Corbett. Under Giordano and
Corbett, Pennsylvania lifted a moratorium on gas drilling and fracking on
public lands, eliminated environmental requirements and oversight, and
killed the water line to Dimock.
What we are seeing is even more disturbing because of Hurricane Sandy. We
need more enforcement and inspections in the aftermath of the storm to make
sure rebuilding is being done right. It is especially important now with
the Governor waiving permitting for rebuilding in his emergency orders.
This is part of the Christie administration rolling back 40 years of
environmental protections. Polluters are being treated like customers.
Under DEP Transformation if you report a violation you do not necessarily
get an enforcement action or fine. If you do you get cited you can use the
money to fix the problem even if you created it. They also allow
alternative compliance such as planting trees instead of fixing the
problem. Environmental protections are being gutted in the name of red
tape. As inspections and violations are down, the DEP is rewriting key
regulations to weaken protections. The Waiver Rule went into effect last
year and will allow the DEP Commissioner to let polluters off the hook with
"At one time people who broke environmental laws were called violators,
then they were called responsible parties and now they are called
customers. This shows the problem in DEP is they now believe they work for
polluters and people who break environmental laws, not the public who it is
their job to protect. I guess that means the public has gone from being
victims to suckers," said Jeff Tittel.
The consequences of weakening oversight and enforcement is more pollution
in our environment. Lack of inspections and enforcement will mean more air
pollution impacting public health, especially children with asthma. If we
are unsure about underground storage tanks because the program has been
privatized it may mean more oil pollution in our groundwater. Fewer
enforcement actions in wetlands may mean more destruction of wetlands and
more flooding. In hazardous waste it may mean more toxic sites later.
There may be more chemicals that put people"s health at risk in our
drinking water. Without enforcement of the solid waste program we may see
more illegal dumping. Lack of inspections and enforcement at sewer plants
will mean more water pollution.
"There are real consequences to weakening enforcement that will affect
public health, safety and the environment and have real impacts for the
people of New Jersey. That is why the Legislature required these reports
and why this report is so disturbing," said Jeff Tittel.
To access the full report visit:
-- 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 609-656-7612Received on 2013-07-12 06:50:00
New Jersey Sierra Club, 145 West Hanover St., Trenton, NJ 08618, USA
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Page URL: http://NewJersey.SierraClub.org/PressReleases/0497.asp
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