Home > Uncategorized > EPA $10.3 Million Grant To Restore Long Island Sound Raises An Important Question: Why No EPA Money For Cleanup Of Barnegat Bay?

EPA $10.3 Million Grant To Restore Long Island Sound Raises An Important Question: Why No EPA Money For Cleanup Of Barnegat Bay?

Murphy DEP Embraced Christie Administration’s Failed “10 Point Plan” For the Bay

EPA Grant Funds Tied To Clean Water Act Cleanup Program DEP Rejected

Barnegat Bay Goes From Crisis To Crickets

Rutgers Professor Mike Kennish testifies to joint Legislative hearing to warn of "insidious ecological decline" (8/13/12)

Rutgers Professor Mike Kennish testifies to joint Legislative hearing to warn of “insidious ecological decline” (8/13/12)

US EPA Region 2 recently announced the award of a $10.3 million grant to restore the health of Long Island Sound.

EPA Region 2 press releases announcing distribution of federal money typically come in duplicate or even triplicate – to highlight shared federal money for New York and New Jersey and sometimes Puerto Rico.

So I was intrigued: why was there no EPA money allocated to New Jersey to cleanup Barnegat Bay?

Well, it turns out that although the EPA Long Island money is part of a broad partnership, it is driven by and part of a comprehensive federal Clean Water Act based cleanup program for Long Island Sound known as a “Total Maximum Daily Load” (TMDL).

The Chesapeake Bay is undergoing a massive cleanup and receiving huge federal funds under the same Clean Water Act TMDL program.

A TMDL sets a science based enforceable numeric limit on pollution and mandates pollution reductions required to restore water quality. It is reviewed and approved by EPA and has real teeth.

So, of course, the anti-science, anti-regulatory, and anti-federal EPA oversight Christie DEP rejected the Clean Water Act’s TMDL program.

The Murphy DEP, in another example of continuity, embraced the failed Christie DEP plan (some “New Day” eh?)

Thus, here we are: No cleanup of Barnegat Bay and no federal EPA money.

The pollution problems and declining ecological health of the Barnegat Bay used to be a very high priority issue in NJ environmental circles. There was even talk of severe restrictions on future development in the watershed due to pollution problems.

The media covered it.

Coastal environmental groups were active.

Rutgers scientists warned of “insidious ecological decline”spoke out about the problems, and criticized the lack of DEP effort.

The public was outraged by symptoms like stinging jellyfish and toxic harmful algae blooms and was engaged.

And the Legislature passed bills and held oversight hearings to hold DEP’s feet to the fire.

Today, the Bay has gone from crisis to crickets. Where are the coastal groups on the failed Christie DEP plan and DEP refusal to enforce the Clean Water Act’s TMDL requirements?

But they all have very prominent and visible fund raising projects (and other lame voluntary feel good measures).

So, I wrote Senate Environment Committee Chairman Bob Smith, who once held oversight hearings on the declining health of the Bay, to ask him to rattle a few cages over at DEP and hold oversight hearings.

Maybe some intrepid journalist will ask a few questions, like: what is going on with the cleanup, why not TMDL, and why is DEP losing EPA federal funds, including to the coastal groups who have abandoned any real scientific and regulatory work and focus on accountability at DEP:

Dear Chairman Smith – Today, US EPA announced allocation of $10.3 million in EPA grants to restore Long Island Sound, see the EPA press release:

$10.3 Million in Grants Awarded to Improve the Health of Long Island Sound


This federal funding is part of implementation the Clean Water Act “Total maximum Daily Load” (TMDL) developed for Long Island Sound, see the EPA webpage:

TMDLs at Work: Long Island Sound


As you know, many have been calling for a TMDL to address severe water quality and ecological problems in Barnegat Bay.

Over a decade ago, on August 13, 2012, Rutgers Professor Mike Kennish testified to your Committee that Barnegat Bay was on the verge of ecological collapse and that DEP needed to seriously ramp up State efforts, including a TMDL, see:

Barnegat Bay Suffering “Insidious Ecological Decline”


However, the Christie DEP blocked a TMDL efforts for 8 years. The Murphy DEP has continued these negligent regulatory policies. 

As a result, the water quality and ecological health of the Bay has continued to deteriorate.

And now, it appears that NJ is missing opportunities for receipt of federal EPA grant funds due to the lack of a Clean Water Act TMDL restorative program framework.

I urge you to inquire with DEP Commissioner LaTourette about the health of the Bay, the status of DEP’s Barnegat Bay program, and why NJ is not eligible for or not receiving these EPA funds.


Bill Wolfe

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