Home > Uncategorized > Murphy DEP Embraces Failed Christie DEP Plan For Barnegat Bay

Murphy DEP Embraces Failed Christie DEP Plan For Barnegat Bay

No New Day or New Era For The Barnegat Bay – Another Example of Continuity

This is what sycophancy looks like

Billboard outside DEP HQ on State Street

Billboard outside DEP HQ on State Street

As a coastal state, New Jersey is particularly exposed to many of the effects of global climate change, such as rising sea levels and more extreme storms.  Many of New Jersey’s most important commercial and tourism assets are located in coastal areas, and events like Superstorm Sandy have demonstrated the imminent and tangible threats that intense storms pose to New Jersey’s economy and environment.   ~~~ Nuke bailout bill just signed by Gov. Murphy

From the Highlands, to the Pinelands and now Barnegat Bay and the Jersey shore, instead of repudiating and reversing them, the Murphy DEP quietly is embracing Gov. Christie’s DEP failed policies and plans. Follow.

1. The NJ Highlands region is governed by a nationally recognized regional planning, regulation, and management plan. It was attacked by Gov. Christie. Christie fired the Executive Director, installed his own puppets, and rolled back regulatory protections.

In reversing that Christie rollback policy, Gov. Murphy could have announced a national search for a new Executive Director of the NJ Highlands Council  and a rejection of the Christie DEP rollbacks –

He didn’t. In fact, Gov. Christie’s Executive Director appointment is still there and Murphy’ DEP Commissioner McCabe defended the Christie DEP rollbacks..

2. The NJ Pinelands is the nation’s first National Reserve and a US Biosphere Reserve. It was attacked by Gov. Christie. Christie installed his own puppets on the Commission, blocked reforms, and rammed through gas pipelines.

In reversing that policy, Gov. Murphy could have announced a national search for a new Executive Director and blocked controversial gas pipelines.

He didn’t. In fact, Gov. Christie’s Executive Director appointment is still there. Gov. Murphy has been silent on the controversial pipeline issue.

On top of those political and policy failures, Gov. Murphy’s DEP Commissioner, in her confirmation hearing testimony, aside from completely ignoring the Pinelands, defended Gov. Christie’s DEP rollback of a core Highlands water protection known as the septic density standard.

That was a rollback in protections under one of the nation’s most stringent land use regimes that was rejected by a NJ legislative veto. DEP Commissioner McCabe claimed the whole debate was caused by a “failure to communicate good science” about a “minuscule” impact to the region (McCabe’s words, not mine).

So, why would the NJ Pinelands Preservation Alliance and the NJ Highlands Coalition – purported defenders of those regions – declaim a “new day” and praise Gov. Murphy and his DEP Commissioner Catherine McCabe?

Where is the “New Day” they see?

Why do the ignore what McCabe has actually said, done, and has failed to do?

3. Barnegat Bay has been described by a world renowned academic from Rutgers as suffering an “insidious ecological decline”, who criticized Gov. Christie’s Management Plan for the Bay and urged the need to “seriously ramp things up” and adopt a TMDL.

Now, in addition to those failures in the Highlands and Pinelands, the Murphy DEP and Commissioner McCabe have announced another continuity with the Christie DEP: on Barnegat Bay.

I have written many times about flaws in the Christie DEP Barnegat Bay Management Plan.

It is way past time to declare that Christie Plan a failure.

Gov. Murphy could have issued an Executive Order and press release that abandoned Christie’s failed plan and charted a new course, with science based enforceable standards, based on Clean Water Act TMDL requirements.

He did nothing (despite the fact that one of his 3  environmental campaign platform planks was to “protect the shore”).

Instead, in fact, a recent McCabe DEP press releaseDEP explicitly adopted the Christie’ DEP’s failed plan for the Bay.

The key to the debate was the Christie DEP’s failure to enforce the Clean Water Act’s TMDL requirements.

Remarkably, the failed Christie strategy for the Bay is specifically referenced and linked to the McCabe DEP press release:

The DEP will also consider funding any other project consistent with its DEP Barnegat Bay Restoration, Enhancement and Protection Strategy at www.nj.gov/dep/barnegatbay/docs/BarnBay-REPS.pdf

These grants fund voluntary local projects and project work that is not part of a TMDL and in fact undermine theTMDL program.

In a similar situation, when the Obama EPA discovered that similar local voluntary programs had failed in Chesapeake Bay, Obama issue an Executive Order directing EPA to enforce TMDL requirements.

For years, environmental groups, legislators (blocked by Christie DEP vetoes), and the media blasted the Christie DEP for failure to enforce the CWA TMDL requirements in favor of a flawed locally based voluntary plan.

Yet now they all are silent on the Murphy DEP’ embrace of that same failed plan.

4. Finally, in addition to adopting Christie’s Barnegat Bay plan, and directly contradicting Gov. Murphy’s pledge to make shore protection a priority – especially given the threats of climate change – in her first press release, Acting DEP Comm. McCabe continued Christie’s “engineering” approach to shore protection that ignores climate change risks.

Read DEP’s own press release, bragging about dredging and pumping sand on beaches: 

Continuity continues. McCabe embraces failed Christie policy.

We will keep you posted about continuing policy developments.

[End Note: McCabe more recently attempted to walk back her prior support for beach engineering, with this internally contradictory gibberish in a more recent press release:

Acting Commissioner McCabe also noted that beaches and dunes are in good shape despite an active winter storm season, in large part due to projects constructing them to U.S. Army Corps of Engineers design standards. She also committed the DEP to using the latest science to develop strong strategies to adapt coastal areas to sea-level rise resulting from climate change.

USACoE beach replenishment is not sustainable and therefore is not the “latest science”.

McCabe has done nothing, other than rhetoric, to implement her commitment to “develop strong strategies to adapt coastal areas to sea-level rise resulting from climate change.”

There is nothing in the DEP budget to fund that work.

There is no change in DEP management of organization to implement that work. In fact, McCabe has retained the same manager that implemented Christie’s climate denying engineering based shore policy.

There was nothing in McCabe’s recent testimony at her confirmation hearing and on DEP’s budget regarding that commitment.

Press release rhetoric is cheap.

In that press release, McCabe also showed a willingness – just like her predecessors – to be a cheerleader for shore tourism. McCabe has touted “science and law” as her guiding principles – she omitted the cheerleading role.

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:
You must be logged in to post a comment.