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ANJEC Whitewashed Christie Whitman’s Record

Shameless Revisionism In An Effort To Rehabilitate Whitman

I was not aware, when I wrote last week to criticize Christie Whitman’s Op-Ed, that the Association of NJ Environmental Commissions (ANJEC) had named Whitman the keynote speaker for their “Annual Environmental Congress” held on Friday.

Giving Whitman a platform is bad enough.

But, in doing so, ANJEC engaged in outrageous lies and revisionism to whitewash Whitman’s record.

Despite the fact that during Christie Whitman’s first term ANJEC joined a broad coalition of virtually all NJ environmental and conservation groups to oppose the Whitman radical rollback attack on environmental regulations and DEP as an institution, here’s how ANJEC ignored that history and lavishly praised Whitman 23 years later:

Christine Todd Whitman, is the President of The Whitman Strategy Group (WSG), a consulting firm that specializes in energy and environmental issues. WSG offers a comprehensive set of solutions to problems facing businesses, organizations, and governments; they have been at the forefront of helping leading companies find innovative solutions to environmental challenges.

Governor Whitman served in the cabinet of President George W. Bush as Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency from January of 2001 until June of 2003. She was the 50th Governor of the State of New Jersey, serving as its first woman governor from 1994 until 2001.

As Governor, Christie Whitman earned praise from both Republicans and Democrats for her commitment to preserve a record amount of New Jersey land as permanent green space. She was also recognized by the Natural Resources Defense Council as having instituted the most comprehensive beach monitoring system in the nation. As EPA Administrator, she promoted common-sense environmental improvements such as watershed-based water protection policies. She championed regulations requiring non-road diesel engines to reduce sulfur emissions by more than 95 percent. During her tenure, the Agency was successful in passing and implementing landmark brownfields legislation to promote the redevelopment and reuse of “brownfields,” previously contaminated industrial sites.

I smell the fingerprints of Candy Ashmun, longtime leader of the ANJEC weenie conservation faction and fellow elitist blue blood Whitman friend.

Ashmun also was involved in the creation of ANJEC and the State legislation that authorized the formation of local environmental commissions.

She opposed any attempt by that legislation to give environmental commissions teeth, in the form of regulatory power to impact local planning board Master Plan, zoning, and development decisions.

Instead, Ashmun restricted local environmental commission powers to an advisory role, thereby diverting local conservation and land use planning efforts to totally ineffective voluntary measures and technocratic distractions like natural resource inventories.

It’s a double irony that Ashmun has served on the regulatory Pinelands Commission for decades, a regulatory regional planning body that contradicts her legacy as champion of toothless local environmental commissions she effectively created.

Ironically, back in 1994, Ashmun led the “Environmental Summit”, a coalition which was formed to provide a united front to oppose Whitman’s radical regulatory policies, attacks, and budget cuts on DEP.

The rest is history – just look at the land use – land cover data and landscape – as NJ sprawled in the 1980’s and 1990’s and made a mockery of local environmental commissions’s efforts to inventory sensitive natural resources that should be protected from development.

Ashmun also was a champion the toothless and ineffective State Plan, a project my friend Bill Neil called the greatest fraud ever perpetrated on NJ citizens.

Based on my personal experience, Ashmun, acting as a Sierra Club Board member, blocked my efforts as Sierra Club Policy Director, to oppose the massive controversial proposed Merrill Lynch development scheme in my home town off Hopewell. Tim Dillingham, then Sierra Club Executive Director, can confirm this.

That controversy became a test case and exposed of the failed State Plan that Ashmun held so dear. In fact, I was told that Ashmun personally agreed to the Merrill Lynch development in a deal to preserve the “west side” of Scotch Road.

Ashmun also opposed efforts to create a “Pinelands in the Highlands”, which, despite her fears, bore fruit as the Highlands Act.

Someone should get a hold of longtime ANJEC advocate Abbie Fair to confirm all this.

How far ANJEC has fallen.

And I’ll bet that Ed Lloyd, an ANJEC award winner this year, will not be so uncouth as to mention this history in his remarks. Ed filed the lawsuits against Whitman’s “mega rule”, that was designed to systematically rollback clean water protections in NJ.

Again ironically, the Whitman “mega rule” was derailed when a leaked memo from Dennis Hart – then Director of the DEP Division of Water Resources and now the Executive Director of the NJ Chemistry Council – wrote that the rollbacks would “increase the discharge of carcinogens to public water supplies.” Hart now defends those discharges!

Can’t make this stuff up.

Those were the days, my friend.

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