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More Pollution With Less Enforcement
Date : Wed, 10 Jul 2013 14:05:36 -0400
Press Conference Call on New DEP Enforcement Data TODAY at 12pm
CALL IN INFO:The call in number is 1 866 501 6174
Conference Code 1004000#
For Immediate Release
July 11, 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 compliance.
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
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,"
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 programs
were 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 $9.1 million in fiscal 2011.Of the $9.1 million proposed in
2011, only $7.5 million was collected- the lowest figure since 2006 and
15 percent lower than the 10-year average.
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
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 waivers.
"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:
-- Kate Millsaps Conservation Program Coordinator NJ Chapter of the Sierra Club 609-656-7612 _________________________________________________________ NJ-Sierra-Chapter-Ex-Committee List Info & Archives: http://lists.sierraclub.org/archives/NJ-EXCOM.html - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - To view the Sierra Club List Terms & Conditions, see: http://www.sierraclub.org/lists/terms.aspReceived on 2013-07-10 11:05:36
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