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Governor Murphy Urged To Veto Pinelands Logging Scheme

DEP’s Logging Plan Would Cut And Remove 2.4 Million Trees

Logging Pinelands Forests Makes A Mockery Of Gov. Murphy’s Climate Policies¬†

An Open Letter To Gov Murphy – VETO THE MINUTES!

The ecological and climate values of those forests must not be sacrificed by narrow minded plans or the negligence and neglect of NJ State government agencies under your watch.

Dear Gov. Murphy:

I support the stated intent of your Executive Orders with respect to addressing the climate crisis and steeply and rapidly reducing greenhouse gas emissions to achieve the goals of the Global Warming Response Act in light of the most recent science.

Sadly, I must bring to your attention the fact that these goals and policies have been ignored by State agencies that are bound by these Executive Orders.

Specifically, I am writing to you regarding a recent approval by the Pinelands Commission of a DEP “forest management” plan that would effectively clearcut (90 – 96% tree removal) 1,300 acres of Pinelands forest and literally clearcut an additional 78 acres for 13 miles of 50 foot wide “firebreaks”.

Over 2.4 million trees would be cut and removed.

There was no analysis conducted by the DEP or the Pinelands Commission with respect to the climate implications of this massive logging, in terms of carbon storage, carbon sequestration, and greenhouse gas emissions.

The DEP’s forest management and the Pinelands Comprehensive Management Plan do not include any standards or review requirements that consider climate issues or the science of forest management for carbon storage and sequestration.

The DEP’s “Forest Management Plan” and the Pinelands Commission’s approval of it make a mockery of the intent of your Executive Orders on climate, as well as conflict with the carbon storage and sequestration science and data of DEP’s own “80 X 50 Climate Report”.

The Pinelands Protection Act provides authority to the Governor to block decisions of the Pinelands Commission by vetoing the minutes of the Commission. The Act delegated this power to the Governor to block parochial, short sighted or flawed actions of the Commission that conflict with Statewide objectives or the Governor’s policy agenda.

As Governor, you also have Constitutional Executive authority and basic management obligations to assure that your policies, Orders and goals are implemented by State agencies.

The Pinelands Commission is scheduled to approve the minutes at their next meeting on November 10 and submit them to you. A 10 day clock would then run before the Commission’s decision takes effect (in the absence of your veto).

I strongly urge you to veto the minutes and block implementation of this DEP Forest Management Plan.

In addition to blocking this decision, you should also direct DEP and the Pinelands Commission to revise the Plan in light climate science and the goals of the Global Warming Response Act and your Executive Orders. Ideally, both Agencies should revise their policies and regulations to reflect these objectives as well.

The Pinelands forests are a unique ecosystem that have been recognized by the UN as a World Biosphere Reserve and by Congress and the nation’s first National Reserve. Recently deceased NJ Congressman and former Governor Florio was the sponsor of that Legislation.

The ecological and climate values of those forests must not be sacrificed by narrow minded plans or the negligence and neglect of NJ State government agencies under your watch.

The whole world is watching.

Respectfully,

*Bill Wolfe

* Retired DEP planner and former Policy Director of Sierra Club, NJ Chapter and Director of the NJ Chapter of Public Employees For Environmental Responsibility (PEER).

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