by New Jersey Sierra Club
(NJ Sierra Club)(September 19, 2018)--Tomorrow the Assembly Telecommunications and Utilities will vote on a bill called the Vegetation Management Response Act. The bill, A2242 (DeAngelo), authorizes electric public utilities to clear, destroy and remove vegetation however they wish. We oppose this bill that gives utility companies the ability to destroy vegetation.
“We oppose this bill that gives utility companies too much leeway. They could end up clearing important vegetation and harming environmentally sensitive areas. We need to protect power lines from trees but not allow for power companies to just clear-cut whatever they want. This bill also exempts utilities from local tree ordinances and shade tree commissions. This gives them a blanket to clear-cut anything they want. We need protective and selective cutting, not just open discretion,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “Vegetation removal can result in increased erosion and sedimentation, increased flooding and pollution in our waterways, and destruction of wildlife habitat.”
These companies may end up clearing vegetation that is critical to the habitat. It is important to preserve vegetation near environmentally sensitive areas such as streams. These vegetative corridors perform important functions by filtering pollution before it reaches the stream and preventing flooding by absorbing more waters. Because many trees will be cut to make way for the lines, there will be less vegetation to offset the pollution. This allows runoff to rush into the waters carrying pollutants from roads and fields and increases downstream flooding.
“This bill would allow utility companies to destroy natural vegetation however they want. Natural systems are used to reduce the impacts of flooding Removing vegetation will decrease the environment’s capability for water storage and create more flooding and pollution. We should be burying power lines in areas where we won’t have to worry as much about tree removal. This bill would mean that utilities can end up cutting down trees without any real plan and causing more harm,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “The utility companies make money fixing the damage on utility poles that get knocked down by storms. It would be better to bury lines in these areas but then the companies wouldn’t make as much money that way.”