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DEP Testimony Admits Corruption Widespread

Last week we wrote a lengthy post about how the DEP CAFRA and wetlands permit programs were at the center of the criminal corruption prosecution of former Assemblyman Dan Van Pelt (R-Ocean) (see: Van Pelt Corruption Defense: “Everybody Does It”)

In that post, we outlined some DEP systemic flaws that are regularly abused by developers and we noted the need to enact our reform recommendations.

Well, the trial started yesterday and DEP was called as a witness.

DEP’s testimony confirms exactly what we have alleged and shows why we need to reform the DEP permit process and prohibit secret communications and meetings between DEP and developers, politicians, and lobbyists .

As reported in the Asbury Park Press story “Daniel Van Pelt’s corruption trial kicks off with startling revelation:

Before Dwek, two other witnesses were called to the stand: Former Ocean Township Administrator Kenneth Mosca and Thomas Micai, director of Land Use Regulations for the state Department of Environmental Protection. …

Micai testified about the process that one must undertake in order to obtain certain environmental permits. Under cross-examination, he acknowledged it is not uncommon for local officials and lawmakers to contact him about expediting certain projects. Micai said he tries to accommodate those requests.

So let’s repeat that: under oath, DEP admitted that political influence is commonly used to “expedite” DEP permits for “certain projects”.

The nature of this influence warrants further investigation – we call for legislative oversight hearings to get facts on the record about just who is contacting DEP and for what purpose.

The public has a right to know.

DEP Commissioner Martin should conduct his own internal investigation and publicly disclose the results, if for no other reason than this destroys DEP’s credibility and undermines the public’s trust in DEP’s objectivity, ability to protect the public interest, and fairly enforce environmental laws.

So, was systemic corruption at DEP the “startling revelation” that drove the APP headline?

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