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An Open Letter To Gov. Murphy’s Environmental Lapdogs

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This is a deplorable record that you should be denouncing, not praising.

You are a corrupt and cowardly crowd that should be ashamed of yourselves.

My letter below is a reply to an Open Letter from “environmental” groups thanking and praising NJ Gov. Murphy. It has all the signs and smells of a political sham led by Ed Potasnak of NJ LCV, Gov. Murphy’s biggest “green” cheerleader, see:

Former Friends and Colleagues:

I was appalled – but not surprised – by your most recent effort to praise Gov. Murphy and DEP Commissioner LaTourette, and again mislead the public about numerous State Parks related issues.

Let’s begin with some context and important facts you left out of your letter:

1. According to DEP Commissioner LaTourette’s testimony to the legislature on DEP’s budget, there is a $720 million unfunded deficit in State Parks maintenance.

2. The Murphy administration’s non-response to this deficit is privatization via EXACTLY the SAME private Parks Foundation institution and non-transparent process that has been deployed in the Liberty State Park “debate”, an initiative you absurdly praise.

3. This deficit was greatly exacerbated by your own “Keep It Green” campaign, which stripped the CBT Constitutional dedication of $32 million per year to Parks (approximately $250 million since passage) and greatly reduced historic annual Green Acres funding (some of which funds parks). Since 2016, that deficit has grown from $400 million to $720 million – a HUGE backlog.


4. Gov. Murphy killed the CBT surcharge, which reduced Open Space (and parks) funding by over $60 million so far and will continue to do so.

5. The Murphy DEP’s failure to enforce current land use and water resource regulatory authority to reduce development and land conversion has led to the loss of thousands of acres of farms and forests and wetlands and an explosion of hundreds of millions of square feet of new warehouse development.

Instead of enforcing existing law and regulation to slow that development, the administration now supports expensive buyouts, see the most recent $27 million deal:


6. The Murphy Administration supported the siting of solar on farmlands, thus leading to hundreds of acres more losses.

7. The Murphy administration blocked the Highlands Council from pursuing more stringent forest protections, leading to the loss of more forest resources.

8. The Murphy DEP continues to pursue scientifically sham forestry management projects and has failed to close current regulatory and statutory loopholes, thereby needlessly logging and burning hundreds of acres of forests.

9. The Murphy administration has been abysmally slow and lax in addressing the destruction of Pinelands forests and wetlands by off road vehicles.

10. The Murphy administration has interfered with and undermined the independence and strength of the Pinelands Commission, just as bad as Gov. Christie did.

11. The Murphy DEP denied a petition for rulemaking to strengthen policies to reduce risks from development in high wildfire hazard locations. Yet DEP logs Pinelands forests allegedly to reduce these risks.

12. The proposed DEP “REAL” coastal sea level rise flooding regulatory initiative is based on the failed engineering approach of the past (e.g. elevated buildings and structural remedies, including beach replenishment). The proposal rejects a DEP role in saying “NO” to development proposals and it ignores real solutions like “strategic retreat’. The Murphy administration has failed to request legislative amendment to eliminate the “right to rebuild” storm damaged properties, which is a major source of the problem and driver of NJ’s nation leading repetitive flooding FEMA claims.

13. The DEP’s inland Flood hazard regulations are deeply flawed and are based on a scientifically obsolete and unreliable 100 year storm frequency statistic.

14. The DEP has not kept pace with proposal of Category One waters designation, which is allowing sensitive stream buffers to be destroyed and water quality to degrade.

15. The Murphy DEP has failed to repeal and strengthen several land use and water resource regulatory rollbacks by the Whitman and Christie DEPs.

16. There were numerous stealth efforts by the Murphy administration to privatize Liberty State Park. The examples are too detailed to mention here, but Sam Pesin is fully aware of them and can brief you. The Gov. did not support legislation to block privatization.

17. The final plans for “redevelopment” of Liberty State Park will be made in Trenton by the Legislature, not DEP. So, DEP is not in control of the final disposition of their plans at this point in time.

18. The Murphy administration has turned the State Plan from a land use plan to an economic development and business promotion platform (worse than Gov. Christie’s “Red Tape” Commission).

19. Finally, the Murphy Administration is the first Democratic administration in my career horizon (40 years) that I recall has no land use protection or environmental legacy.

And this list is just off the top of my head – I missed several others.

This is a deplorable record that you should be denouncing, not praising.

You are a corrupt and cowardly crowd that should be ashamed of yourselves.

[PS – instead of kissing the Gov.’s ass, right now you should be conducting a full court press to demand a veto of the bill to gut the Open Public Records Act. DEP already abuses that law to suppress science and operate in secrecy.] 

Bill Wolfe

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