Home > Uncategorized > Senate Committee Ignores Science, Caves to Christie DEP, and Approves Watered Down Drinking Water Bill

Senate Committee Ignores Science, Caves to Christie DEP, and Approves Watered Down Drinking Water Bill

 Scientists’ prior recommendations for standards for 14 chemicals in your drinking water ignored

Gov. Christie’s “regulatory relief” policy remains unchallenged by Dems

Let me begin today’s note about the absurdity of yesterday’s Senate Environment Committee hearing on a bill that would require that DEP set a drinking water water standard for the “potent carcinogen” tri-chloropropane (TCP) with this analogy.

This analogy is absurd, but it is a serious analogy – no joke. There are many close parallels between the analogy and actual real events.


What would happen if AFTER the Bridgegate episode occurred, Gov. Christie’s Commissioner of the Department of Transportation testified to the legislature that the Port Authority’s traffic engineers did “shoddy” work so he was appointing David Wildstein to conduct traffic studies and “reform the culture” at the Port Authority?

Obviously, there would be widespread condemnation and ridicule. It wouldn’t pass the straight face test.

But that is exactly what Christie DEP Commissioner Bob Martin has done with respect to drinking water standards at DEP.

Martin has created a huge traffic jam and bottled up recommendations by DEP scientists to adopt 15 new or more stringent drinking water standards.

Here is what Martin did to create that traffic jam – Martin:

  • called the work of DEP drinking water scientists “shoddy”
  • testified to the legislature that he found their work “in disarray”
  • blocked the adoption of a drinking water standard for perchlorate, which was proposed by the Corzine DEP in 2009 (he used Gov. Christie’s Executive Order #1 moratorium and Red Tape review process as cover for letting the Corzine DEP rule proposal legally expire)
  • issued a press release attacking then Senate Majority Leader Buono for criticizing abandonment of the perchlorate standard
  • lied to the press about it and when the truth came out he got ridiculed in a Bergen Record editorial for that
  • prohibited the Drinking Water Quality Institute from meeting for almost 4 years
  • ignored DWQI scientific recommendations to adopt new drinking water standards for 15 hazardous chemicals

And this is just Martin’s horrific record on drinking water standards. I could cite many more examples in other DEP programs that are as bad or worse.

Martin has the same credentials that Wildstein does. Political hack.

His record at DEP for the last 5 1/2 years is unprecedented in both its failure to adopt a single new regulatory standard or protection; and by the degree of dismantling of DEP programs.

Like my analogy of appointing Wildstein to fix the traffic engineering problem, Martin has claimed to have “fixed” the DWQI and DEP drinking water standards development process as he has essentially destroyed and dismantled it.

So, what does the Democratically controlled legislature do about all this?


What do they do when public outrage over drinking water contamination in Moorestown forces them to act?

They craft a very narrow bill, then, when faced with opposition by DEP, gut the core provisions.

Let me be specific.

To deal with the DEP’s intransigence in ignoring scientific recommendations, the introduced version of the Assembly bill (A3954) would have legislatively established a 0.03 ppb drinking water standard for TPC. The DWQI recommended a standard for TCP back in 2009. Martin ignored it.

To deal with the issue of delays by DEP in adopting drinking water standards recommended by the DWQI, that legislative standard would have been put in place  until DEP acted to adopt a regulatory standard.

To deal with the much larger issue of ignoring ALL prior DWQI recommended standards – not just the single chemical TCP – I testified that the bil should be amended by including prior DWQI recommendations for standards for perchlorate, radon and 13 hazardous chemicals.

The DEP opposed the mandates in the introduced version of the bill. They obviously opposed my more expansive recommendations.

Presumably, DEP opposition would lead to a veto by Governor Christie.

So, what did Assemblyman Conaway do?

Assemblyman Conaway gutted his own bill. He eliminated the legislative standard and the interim standard and ignored 14 other hazardous chemicals that have far greater statewide risks and impacts on public health.

Read the amended assembly version yourself

Yesterday, the Senate Environment Committee sadly followed that lead (see S2981).

While the Democrats got praise from the environmental lobbyists for this cave, at least I told the truth in my testimony (listen here – hit link for “prior proceedings” – it’s at the very end, when there were about 5 people in the room, all the press had gone home, and probably very few people still listening on line. Yay Brave Dems!

PS – I even threatened them with deploying the Stroller Brigades!

[Update: The bill would direct the DWQI to make an MCL recommendation in 90 days. But the DWQI already made a recommendation in 2009. WTF!

Because DEP Commissioner Martin has so severely criticized the prior work of the DWQI and highly touted his own “reforms” to the DWQI review process, sending the issue back to the DWQI implies there were problems with the prior recommendation.

Just what Bob Martin ordered.

The DWQI made recommendations for 14 other MCL’s (12 hazardous contaminants, plus perchlorate and radon.

Bob Martin has ignored those prior recommendations and savaged criticized them.

The bill ignores those prior recommendations. By ignoring those recommendations, the bill implies that they are somehow flawed.

Again, exactly what Bob Martin ordered.

I tried to explain this to the Senate Committee yesterday. They feigned not to understand how that could be the inference. This kind of cowardice is pathetic. Assembly staffer at least told me he couldn’t get support in caucus for a stronger bill. ~~~ end update


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