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DEP seeks cover on Fast Track – confirms stream buffer weakening

“Worse than Whitman” Jeff Tittel, Sierra Club.

Avoiding landmines – Governor Corzine confers with DEP Commissioner Jackson prior to his remarks to NJEF conference.

Yesterday, at the 22nd Annual NJ Environmental Federation Conference held at Rutgers Law School in Newark, DEP Commissioner Jackson and Governor Corzine spoke to defend the Administration’s environmental policy. The most recent controversies include a plan to close State Parks and the creation by DEP of an industry dominated “Fast Track” Task Force to allow lobbyists to re-write DEP pollution and development permit standards and procedures. (see: “DISPATCHES: Efficiency v. ecologyhttp://www.packetonline.com/articles/2008/03/28/cranbury_press/opinions/doc47ed055c2e041780196362.txt

Jeff Tittel, Executive Director, Sierra Club NJ Chapter, moderates NJEF Conference panel.

Jeff Tittel of the Sierra Club set the context with this harsh assessment: “What we are witnessing (by the Corzine Administration) is worse than during the Whitman Administration.” Tittel discussed the implications of what he described as a well coordinated lobbying effort to rollback hard won protections, and to impose a moratorium on DEP’s ability to adopt necessary new protections.
I want to touch upon two key concessions by DEP Commissioner Jackson.
First, Jackson announced that she would expand the membership of the Permit Efficiency Task Force. That Task Force was formed by her own Administrative Order, issued just days ago. The 19 member Task Force is dominated by industry and development lobbyists. The Task Force has no – zero – representatives of environmental groups, environmental justice advocates, urban community groups, or global warming or sustainable development experts.(see: NEW JERSEY ASKS BUSINESS TO REWRITE ENVIRONMENTAL STANDARDS — Developers See Slow Economy as Lever to Weaken Anti-Pollution Permit Rules http://www.peer.org/news/news_id.php?row_id=1013

DEP Commissioner Lisa P. Jackson defends the Administration’s policies at talk to NJEF Conference.

Jackson pledged to expand the Task Force to include members of 2 environmental groups – and perhaps an environmental justice representative. But she also added 2 lobbyist from the NJ Business and Industry Association and the League of Municipalities that would negate the token environmental presence.

Roy Jones, of Camden, head of South Jersey Environmental Justice Alliance spoke at conference on eminent domain abuse, gentrification, environmental justice, and schools on toxics sites.
Will Roy be chosen or serve as a Task Force member?

It remains to be seen whether the environmental community will embrace these token appointments and engage this fatally flawed Task Force. Their alternative is to mount a campaign along the lines of the “Fast track” coalition that defeated the McGreevey plan by vigorously generating public opposition. What is clear is that the task Force will bogusly attempt to justify rollbacks in protections under the guise of reducing red tape, streamlining the bureaucracy, and stimulating the economy.
Second, Jackson conceded that her recent revocation of her own 2007 Order to protect stream buffers from development was prompted by a legal challenge by developers. Previously, the DEP press office tried to spin that rollback as motivated by purely technical issues. Jackson’s admission that the revocation of her Order was done in response to legal challenge exposes that alleged prior justification as a lie. (see: NEW JERSEY CUTS DEEPLY INTO PROTECTED STREAM BUFFERS — Commissioner Revokes Her Year-Old Order, Leaving Buffers at Mercy of Politics http://www.peer.org/news/news_id.php?row_id=986

Phil Thompson, MIT Professor, speaks about cities, environmental justice, and huge economic development opportunities for urban small scale “distributed energy” systems.

I will write about the fascinating speakers at the conference in a future post – especially the presentation on the environmental justice implications of energy and global warming policy by Massachusetts Institute of Technology Professor Phil Thompson, who emphasized the economic development opportunities of “distributed energy” systems in cities.

  1. energeer
    April 7th, 2008 at 07:39 | #1

    I can recall getting into heated arguments with a realtor/family member (wife’s side) over the environmental bogeyman that was ruining our state’s and national economies.
    Then I would bring to mind the empty and ruinous conditons of the many large buildings that you can see when taking the PATH trains out of Newark. These buildings were vacated and abandoned long before any environemntal laws could have possibly had any effect. The view is replicated in the other large NJ cities like Elizabeth, Camden, etc. Can someone please quote me the environmental laws that produced this urban desolation?
    The answer is: There are none. The business and banking industries are creating a straw man. They have no one to blame but themselves and pure straightforward economics. They over build, over market and over promise municipalities with the “big ratable” story that never fully appears. The industry is like a swarm of locusts: They land, consume, get fat and move on; never taking up residence in the places they devour.
    They produce a glut available real estate and wonder why the marketplace can’t support the high prices. They oversell the product to buyers who buy at their financial limits, so much so that, at the slightest economic downturn, will not be able to keep the property.
    We are the most densly populated state in the country and we are, at long last, running out of buildable space; something that everyone knew would happen some day but no one wanted to plan for. Environmental regulations were, in a large part, put in place to help insure the “liveability” and health of such a dense population.
    The Corzine administration is falling prey to the same lies and economic fairytales that have been told again and again about the windfalls of development.

  1. September 27th, 2010 at 21:52 | #1
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