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Is Senate President Sweeney Playing Politics With Clean Water?

Sweeney Yet to Post Veto of Christie DEP Flood Rules for Senate Vote

Is Sweeney carrying the Builders’ water or saving the best for last?

“We as a legislature have consistently supported the sanctity of buffers for our C1 streams. These are the purest waters we have in the State of NJ.” ~~~ Senate Environment Committee Chairman Bob Smith (June 16, 2016)

Senate President Sweeney has yet to post SCR 66, the veto of Governor Christie’s DEP flood hazard, stormwater management, and coastal rules.

The Assembly passed the Assembly version (ACR 160) and the Senate Environment Committee approved SCR66 and released it to the full Senate on June 16.

The case for a veto is strong.

At a State House rally later that day, Senator Lesniak (co-sponsor) promised that the Resolution would be passed during the Senate’s June 23 session. That did not happen. I really hope he was not just blowing the same smoke he did on Exxon NRD.

And I really hope Sweeney has changed his mind now that he is Senate President – and running for Governor – and is not attacking clean water and promoting inappropriate development again, like he did back in 2007 when the Category One waters buffers were incorporated in the stream encroachment permit program. Back in 2007, then Senator Sweeney joined then Republican Senate President Bob Littell in attacking the C1 program:

404. COMMENT: The proposed Category One designations would appear to be more about curbing development than enhancing water quality standards. Unfortunately, this new regulatory proposal tips the balance even more against the economic prosperity of the areas, district 24 and 3. (127, 221)  (source: DEP regulatory document)

Both houses previously passed the Resolution, but the Constitution requires that DEP be provided a chance to respond and that the Resolution be passed by both houses twice to finally veto the rule.

There are just two sessions left before the Legislature adjourns for summer recess – June 27 and June 30 – the Board list for June 27 has been posted and the Resolution is not on it.

We urge readers to call Senate President Sweeney at (856) 251-9801 and urge him to post SCR 66 to protect clean water and not make flooding worse.

Here is my letter to key Senators urging that they do the same:

Dear Chairman Smith and members of the Environment Committee:

I am writing to urge you to contact Senate President Sweeney and ask him to post SCR 66, the legislative veto of DEP flood hazard, storm water management, and coastal rules DEP recently adopted, despite prior passage of the Resolution by both Houses and legislative requests urging DEP not to do so.

As members of the Environment Committee, you heard the testimony and fully understand the implications of allowing the DEP regulations to stand:, i.e. there will be increased flood risks and further degradation of water quality in NJ’s “exceptional value” Category One waters due to allowance of additional destruction of stream buffers and more development closer to the water.

You have a serious responsibility to convey these implications to Senate President Sweeney and convince him to post SCR 66 for Senate vote, particularly given the Senate’s prior passage of the Resolution.

The DEP rules roll back water quality protections long supported by the Legislature and violate legislative intent and the regulatory policy in NJ’s Surface Water Quality Standards (NJAC 7:9B-1 et seq.).

As Chairman Smith noted on June 16 when the Resolution was released from the Environment Committee:

“We as a legislature have consistently supported the sanctity of buffers for our C1 streams. These are the purest waters we have in the State of NJ.”

It is time to affirm that support.


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