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Republicans Want to Eliminate DEP

sunrise at Seaview

sunrise at Seaview

According to the Press of Atlantic City today, Republican challengers in the Assembly 1st District (Cape May/Cumberland/Atlantic) want to eliminate the DEP.

Let me repeat that – political candidates for the NJ Assembly want to eliminate DEP.

Cape May lighthouse - managed by DEP

Cape May lighthouse – managed by DEP

Republican candidates Mike Donohue and John McCann are on the outside looking in, and they do not like what they see. They say the DEP, with 2,978 employees and $327 million in state funding, is too big and‚ responsible for too much. The agency covers everything from historic preservation to coastal management. It has numerous divisions, bureaus and offices, as well as 21 advising councils and commissions.

The challengers want to eliminate the DEP and replace it with a smaller “Department of Natural Resource Management.”

I am one of DEP’s biggest critics, but this is ridiculous – I think we’ve crossed some kind of rhetorical threshold (and DEP does not get $327 million in state funding).

This kind of know nothing assault is what happens when the environment is taken off the public policy agenda during an election cycle.

This is not the mere radical craziness of a couple of South Jersey Republican challengers. These perverse views are shared by many uninformed politicians and voters.

The Governor has failed to lead on the environment, and has a poor record. So Corzine has no incentive for even mentioning the environment during the campaign.

Worse, Republican challenger Christie recklessly invites such crazy attacks by his call to slash DEP budgets further and transfer the natural resource programs out of the agency.

Independent Daggett, a candidate who knows better and has actual environmental management experience as USEPA Regional Administrator and DEP Commissioner, is not exactly out there leading the charge defending DEP.

The media is depleted by downsizing, diverted by the political circus, and seemingly locked into traditional horse race electoral coverage that ignores policy issues.

Environmental groups – heavily invested in Trenton lobbying –  seem to have lost all ability to organize and mobilize the public, or shape public opinion.

Let’s hope the voters can see through it, but that may be tough, because no one is talking about the environment, the protections DEP provides,or the economic facts.

DEP protects air quality

Beasley’s Point – DEP protects air quality

If the typical voter is not concerned about DEP’s public health protections (clean air, clean water, drinking water, toxic site cleanup, oil and chemical plant safety, et al) and is concerned only about taxes and money, one fact they might want to consider is that ONLY 24.7% of DEP’s FY 2009 $230 million operating budget, just $56.81 million, is paid by taxpayers from the state general fund.

Under the “polluter pays” philosophy, over 75% of DEP’s budget comes from industry fees, pollution enforcement fines, and federal EPA grants. (read DEP budget here)

The total State budget for FY 2009 was $32.87 BILLION. That means that DEP’s share of the state budget was less than 2 tenths of 1% (0.17% – do the math).

There is NO money to be saved by cutting DEP.

Additional cuts to DEP’s budget can not be justified on fiscal grounds.

Actually, cuts would INCREASE taxpayer burdens because DEP would receive less federal grant funds and fee and fine revenues would be reduced as DEP workload decreases. These would have to be made up with general funds from the taxpayer.

Taxpayers are getting a bargain at DEP!

It’s the polluters and developers who want DEP eliminated, not the voters. 

Shameful republican hacks are manipulating public opinion and doing the bidding of polluters and developers, who want DEP off their backs.

DEP protects our rivers, bays, estuaries

DEP protects our rivers, bays, estuaries

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