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Dems Do Christie’s Dirty Business For Him

Do Dems think the people of NJ want the chemical industry involved in writing their drinking water standards? 

Dems Turn Big Christie Vulnerability Into Their Own Weakness

[Update 1/18/13 – Tom Johnson at NJ Spotlight wrote a good story on the hearing, see: Expanded Role for Industry Doesn’t Hold Water with Environmentalists

Beyond adding the three members, others said proposed changes in how the institute can make recommendations for tougher water standards will cripple its efforts even more.

Bill Wolfe, director of the New Jersey Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, said the bill would also change how the institute develops risk assessments. He contends those changes could make it more difficult for the institute to adopt tough standards for various chemicals.

“It may not result in a regulatory change, but it is clearly a scientific change,’’ Wolfe told the panel.

The bill would not only make it more difficult for the DWQI to adopt recommendations. I clarified in my testimony that the risk assessment provisions would not just impact the DWQI and drinking water, but also govern how DEP conducted all risk assessments – air, soil, water, groundwater. And in turn, that this would effect DEP regulations for those media.

You can listen to the testimony at this link – I was too harsh on Chairwoman Spencer in the below post. She very likely got blindsided on this and did go out of her way to note problems with the bill and agree that Burzichelli would listen. And I must say that Dave Pringle did a good job! – end update]

WTF were the Assembly Democrats thinking?

The fact that the Christie Administration, in furtherance of an ideological, pro-business “regulatory relief” agenda, has blocked the NJ Drinking Water Quality Institute (DWQI) from meeting for over 2 years should be a scandal. – Strike 1.

The fact that the Christie DEP ignored a series of DWQI scientific recommendations to tighten drinking water standards for more than a dozen toxic and cancer causing chemicals, prompting the DWQI Chairman, a Dean at Rutgers, to resign in frustration, should be an even bigger scandal and a huge political liability for the Govenror. – Strike 2

[Does anyone even remember this? This promise was almost 3 years ago, and still nothing from DEP – April 30, 2010 Bergen Record story):

Just weeks after refusing to sign a proposed rule to regulate perchlorate levels in drinking water, state environmental commissioner Bob Martin indicated Thursday that he will implement restrictions for the chemical, which is harmful to pregnant women and fetuses.

The commissioner does plan to institute a perchlorate regulation as quickly as possible,” Larry Ragonese, a spokesman for Martin, said Thursday.

The fact that the chief lobbyist for the NJ Chemical Industry openly acknowledged that the bill was a chemical industry initiative, and then further testified that he privately met with DEP Commissioner Martin several times to negotiate what he called “regulatory reform” legislation that would allow the chemical industry to be appointed to the DWQI and erect barriers to DEP science of risk assessment, should be an easy millstone to hang around the Commissioner’s neck.

In my written testimony, I named the bill “The Unsafe Drinking Water and Unsound Science Act” – Strike 3!

Do them Dems think the people of NJ want the chemical industry involved in writing their drinking water standards? Do they need a poll to figure that one out? Hello!

But none of that policy accountability happened today, as all 4 Democrats on the Assembly Environment Committee joined with Republicans in unanimously voting for a bill that would provide a formal role for the chemical industry to control the science and write NJ’s drinking water standards.

Worse, this chemical industry’s bill was sponsored by a Democrat!

At least the Republicans on the Committee were honestly voting in support of their policy, which is to lower the costs of regulation, reduce regulation, and promote industry profits, regardless of negative impacts on public health and the environment.

But what were the Dems voting for?

To avoid embarrassing the sponsor, who is in the South Jersey leadership?

To avoid embarrassing the inexperienced Committee Chair, who should never have posted the bill?

I opened my testimony by asking: What exactly is the problem at the DWQI that this bill seeks to correct?

The Chairwoman could not answer that basic question.

I have been writing for 3 years now to document Governor Christie’s actual policy on the environment and public health.

Those criticisms have fallen on deaf ears, and there has been very little pushback on Gov. Christie by environmentalists (other than Tittel) and Democrats. Had there been, a disgraceful bill like this would never have seen the light of day. When you sit on the sidelines, you create a vacuum and embolden the business and industry community, and the Christie anti-regulatory momentum builds.

The DWQI/risk assessment kill bill is the poisoned fruit of the Christie Administration’s collaboration with the chemical industry to roll back regulation, weaken science, and provide “immediate regulatory relief”. At the expense of public health. And clean water, ecological health, clean air, and real toxic site cleanup.

In this case, the Christie policy agenda glaring conflicts with and sacrifices public health and environmental protections – there is no clearer example.

Do them Dems share that agenda? Or do they put political loyalty before the public interest, science and the safety of your drinking water?

Yet the Dems not only fail to make that case and criticize the Govnror, they went over and joined the dark side.

WTF were they thinking?

Bad politics. Worse policy. And just flat out Disgusting.

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