DEP and “Fast Track” Implicated in Federal Criminal Indictments
AnotherÂ Legislator IndictedÂ for Pushing DEP Approvals – Will ChristieÂ Repeat CorruptionÂ in Expediting DEP Reviews?
Today, the US Attorney issued more indictments involving political intervention in expediting and securing DEP approvals, soÂ lets trace some recent history.
Even before theÂ Corzine administration era Bid Rig scandals,Â weÂ always knew that efforts to “Fast Track” DEP permits and approvals were fundamentally corrupt, in terms of compromising protections of public health and the environment for the economic profitsÂ ofÂ special interests andÂ developers.
After Governor McGreevey signed the Fast Track bill into law in July 2004, we led a succesfulÂ statewide environmental group campaign,Â which led directly to Acting Governor Codey’s Executive Order #45Â which established a moratorium on implementing the law.
Subsequently, but prior to the Bid Rig indictments, the Encap Meadowlands project became the poster child for abuse of Fast Track and Pay To Play.Â Â Our assessment of DEP’s role in Encap:
“It’s an egregious failure in oversight,” said Bill Wolfe of the New Jersey chapter of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility.
Bill Wolfe, of the New Jersey Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, said the loan “is a deep conflict of interest” for state environmental regulators who must also approve the validity of EnCap’s plans to close the landfills and clean up ground water in the Meadowlands.
“These limited state funds should be targeted to give us the biggest bang for the buck in terms of reducing water pollution — not more bangs for those with the biggest bucks,” Wolfe said.
Now it looks like those efforts were criminal too.
According to today’s US Attorney’s criminal indictmentsÂ of former NJ State Senator Wayne Bryant and prominent attorneyÂ Eric Wisler:
BRYANT provided a consistent vote for legislation that was favorable to WISLER’s clients, such as a 2004 amendment to the Redevelopment Area Bond Financing Law that facilitated bond financing for the Meadowlands project, appropriations legislation by which the Meadowlands project received more than $200 million in loans from the New Jersey Environmental Infrastructure Trust (“NJEIT”) and New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (“NJDEP”), and “fast-track” legislation that required the NJDEP and other state agencies to expedite their review of applications for permits or have those permits deemed granted. BRYANT also sponsored a bill in 2005 for a $112 million loan from NJEIT to be used for the Meadowlands project.
More to follow as detailsÂ emerge.
[full disclosure: I witnessed attorneyÂ Eric Wisler in action in my capacity at DEP during loan negotiations on incinerator loans - federal investigators should look into the Newark incinerator financing.]