Home > Uncategorized > Star Ledger Editorial Repeats Call on Senate President Sweeney and Legislature to Veto Christie DEP’s Highlands Septic and Stream Buffer Rule Rollbacks

Star Ledger Editorial Repeats Call on Senate President Sweeney and Legislature to Veto Christie DEP’s Highlands Septic and Stream Buffer Rule Rollbacks

“Time for a Legislative veto”

In case you missed it, yesterday the Star Ledger ran another killer editorial calling on Sweeney and the Legislature to veto the Christie DEP’s proposed Highlands Septic Density rule and adopted Flood Hazard rule rollbacks – read the whole thing:

So, enough. Not only should Sweeney stand up to the governor on stream and river protections, the Legislature should pass a similar resolution that overturns the rule changes on sewers and septic tanks, too. Christie officials shouldn’t get to conduct their policy negotiations behind closed doors. Time for a Legislative veto.

The editorial expands prior criticism of the bad public policy of the DEP rules to how they were developed in secret via the Christie DEP’s notorious “by invitation only” stakeholder process.

The SL wrote:

Consider the so-called “stakeholder” meeting the administration held back in March, to gather feedback on how to fix its flood hazard rule proposal that had been rejected by lawmakers— the same one still threatened with a Legislative veto. The administration refused to allow in representatives from the lead groups that protested the rule changes. Many seats went empty, and experts who showed up weren’t permitted to fill them. Those who were invited ended up walking out in protest.

The Ledger editorial is pretty consistent with what we’ve written for some time on both the Flood Hazard rules and the Highlands Septic Density rules, most recently, see:

I want to again praise the Highlands Coalition for their smart move on holding their own public hearing at Montclair University and their emphasis on the urban benefits of the DEP’s regulatory protections of Highlands water.

That tactic and urban focus encouraged Newark Mayor Baraka and Jersey City Mayor Fulop to join the battle.

I also want to praise those who recently walked out of the sham DEP Stakeholder process on the Flood Hazard rules.

As I argued at the outset of the Christie Administration – repeated over the course of the last 7 years –  that sham process should have been boycotted a long time ago, see:

Unfortunately, my recommendation to boycott the DEP “By invitation only” Stakeholder process was rejected by environmental groups who were working with the Christie Administration –

I still feel the knives in my back and smell the blood on the floor at that April 28, 2010 meeting at the Columbia Environmental Law Clinic’s Office in Newark, where we put my recommendation to a vote. As I recall the groups working with the Christie DEP included the NJ Environmental Federation (now Clean Water Action), the American Littoral Society, Clean Ocean Action and some of the watershed groups.

How’s that decision looking now folks?

The take home message to the Highlands Coalition and environmental activists here is that building real bridges to urban interests and providing real benefits – not selfishly manipulating them to support your open space program – is good policy and politics.

Aggressive tactics and advocacy work!

You have nothing to fear but fear itself!

Yet there are still some who fear or refuse to criticize the Governor and still want to work the inside game with the Christie DEP.

I heard that argument just last week coming from the Rethink Energy NJ crowd on the question of whether and how to pressure the DEP on the Clean Water Act Section 401 Water Quality Certificate for pipelines.

“Don’t mention Gov. Christie or criticize the DEP – He’ll get mad and punish us”

Sad, but true.

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