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Environmental Bills Up in Committee Monday

gloucestercitynews.net | March 9, 2019

The following environmental bills will be up in committee on Monday, March 11th.

Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources (1:00pm, Committee Room 15) New jersey politics 2

A2028 (Coughlin): Allows State-owned, municipally-managed Blue Acres lands to be used for freshwater wetlands mitigation projects.

 “There are some things about this bill that would help restore wetlands. However there needs to be a restoration wetland and flood plan on land that is purchased by Blue Acres. If a private developer is allowed to use public land for mitigation, they should have to pay the market value to acquire the rights to do the mitigation,” said Tittel. “First we should try avoiding filling in wetlands. Right now, they have to buy the land to do it. It makes it cheaper and easier for developers and others to fill in wetlands. The bill should require mitigation banks and companies filling in wetland should help buy additional land to help fund blue acres, similar to what we do on Green Acres.”

A2534 (Space) Exempts governmental entities acquiring lands for open space located in a deed-authorized common interest community from paying community fees if, at time of acquisition, community has never been formed or has been dissolved or discontinued.

“We support this bill that will help save taxpayers money after acquiring open space,” said Tittel.

A4903 (Mukherji): The "Liberty State Park Protection Act"; establishes Liberty State Park Advisory Committee and requirements concerning DEP actions related to Liberty State Park.

“For over thirty years, the New Jersey Sierra Club has had a long history fighting to prevent privatization and development of Liberty State Park from projects such as golf courses, shopping malls, a 25,000 seat amphitheater, water parks, a private marina, and more. We support A4903 by Assemblyman Mukherji because it will help protect Liberty State Park from inappropriate privatization. There can still be leases or concessions that could take place at the park but there will be public oversight and public process and they will have to go to a committee for approval. This will help protect the park from abuse and projects that would hurt, rather than compliment it,” said Tittel.

There is an effort to privatize our state’s parks gaining momentum as the Murphy administration evaluates how public assets could generate more revenue for the state’s pension system.

“This legislation will help prevent harmful privatization proposals to be built at LSP by restricting large-scale concessions and setting up an oversight board to instill the parks restoration.  We believe that having some concessions and uses in parks that benefit the visitors can be a good thing. However, there are four conditions. One, it doesn’t interfere with the park use, it’s affordable, it doesn’t hurt or damage natural resources like historic or scenic views, and it furthers the goals of the park,”said Tittel. “They cannot lose sight of the parks’ mission. But when public land is commercialized, we lose a part of our legacy. Corporate naming rights could leave us with Jeep Liberty State Park.”  

The Park, which is the terminal to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty has more than 7 million visitors a year, is one of the most visited state parks in the country.

“LSP is the symbol of both liberty and a gateway to our country. We have been fighting to save Liberty State Park for over 30 years from privatization and this bill will help that fight. This legislation will ensure that Liberty State Park remains a place for the people of New Jersey to recreate and enjoy the outdoors,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “We thank Assembly Mukherji for his leadership on this bill and protecting land that belongs to all of us.”  

Assembly Environment and Solid Waste (2:00pm, Committee Room 12)

A3770 (Pinkin): Requires State entities to recycle certain materials and provide recycling bins in State buildings.

“The state of New Jersey needs to do a better job or requiring people to recycle so we are not throwing it away in our garbage. It costs tipping fees to have recycled items in garbage so making sure we recycle will help save tax payer money and the environment,” said Tittel.

A4221 (Pinkin): Provides for protection of public's rights under public trust doctrine.

“We hope the amendments of the bill further the Public Trust Doctrine and does what its supposed to do. We also want to make sure that the DEP amendments that gutted the bill and that we opposed were taken out. We look forward to supporting the new version of A4221 (Pinkin). Beaches and tidal areas of New Jersey belong to all of us and this bill will put the Trust back into the Public Trust Doctrine. Too many times people give restricted access to these areas that we all own. We need to codify the Public Trust Doctrine to help ensure access. Many towns and businesses try to restrict access to these waterways but this bill will prevent that from happening. As taxpayers are paying hundreds of millions of dollars for restoring our beaches, it is even more important for the public to have access to them,” said Tittel. The New Jersey Supreme Court has ruled in favor of the Public Trust Doctrine that all tidal waters belong to the people of New Jersey.

In New Jersey, under the Public Trust Doctrine, the people have a right to access our state and coastal waters, including our bays, rivers, and oceans. The problem is getting the public access with these rules. In 2011, we opposed the new beach access rules that rolled back the original rules from 2007. These rules were challenged in court and struck down in Court. The Superior Court decided the DEP did not have the legislative authority to do so, but since the legislature changed the law. The DEP’s new rules are basically the same rules that still weaken public access. They also go against the current beach access bill in the legislature that is based on the Public Trust Doctrine.

“We support this bill, if amended, that will uphold beach and waterway access for all citizens of New Jersey. Some towns are trying to privatize our parks and turn our beaches over to wealthy property owners, beach clubs, land speculators, developers and municipalities. For most of the inland bays and waterways in New Jersey, there is access required except for the Hudson River, which was required by a Supreme Court case. That means urban areas have no access for walkways or access, which will undermine re-development and block access to waterways that belong to them,” said Tittel.

A4772 (Schaer): Requires public water systems to provide customers with certain information regarding lead in drinking water.

“It’s important for the public to know what’s happening when it comes to lead in their drinking water systems. People can then make informed choices to help protect their children from lead. This legislation will also  put pressure on water companies and officials if lead in their drinking water systems is found,” said Tittel

A5011 (Conaway): Prohibits manufacture, sale, or promotion of consumer products containing microbeads. This bill would prohibit the manufacture, sale, and promotion of consumer products containing plastic microbeads.

“This legislation is a good step towards curbing our plastic waste problem in our state. Many of our consumer products contain around 350,000 of these tiny plastic beads. Tens of millions of these tiny plastic beads are being found polluting our lakes, rivers, and Oceans. These beads not only pose risks to our waterways and environment, but also our health. Microbeads have been found to absorb toxins already in our waterways such as DDT and other cancer-causing chemicals. They are then ingested by fish or other marine animals, which are then eaten by humans. This allows this plastic bead to make its way up the food chain potentially impacting public health.

Microbeads are small plastic particles commonly used to exfoliate or cleanse.  Although microbeads are effective abrasive agents, they end up in fresh waters and the ocean, where they are eaten by fish and other wildlife and enter the food chain.  Some studies indicate that microbeads may absorb contaminants from the surrounding environment, such as harmful bacteria found in wastewater treatment plants.  Microbeads also may contain chemicals left over from the manufacturing process.

 “In New Jersey where two thirds of our drinking water come out of rivers and streams microbeads are ending up in our water supply and drinking water. We are concerned it is not just about fish, but also about people. Microbeads are a major problem in our environment and water. These microbeads end up in our water supply therefore ending up in us. We support A5011 and urge the Assembly to pass this legislation to protect our waterways by banning the use of the microbeads,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. 

 

A5033 (Pinkin): Authorizes DEP rulemaking to prevent backsliding of certain State environmental regulations due to changes in federal law or regulation. Specifically, this bill would amend “The Endangered and Nongame Species Conservation Act,” “Air Pollution Control Act (1954),” the “Water Pollution Control Act,” and the “Safe Drinking Water Act” to authorize the DEP to take certain rulemaking actions to ensure that New Jersey’s rules and regulations aren’t weakened due to changes in the related federal statutes.

“The Trump Administration has continuously rolled back critical rules and regulations that protect our clean water, clean air, open space, endangered animals and more. We need to build a green wall around our state to make sure the New Jersey will not succumb to those weakened rollbacks. This legislation is important because it will help keep our state’s standards protected,” said Tittel. “New Jersey must prevent the federal government from weakening and rolling back environmental regulations that public health. New Jersey must stand up to Trump by making sure to keep strict standards in place,”

AR42  (Wimberly): Urges Congress to pass "Community Parks Revitalization Act."

“This resolution is important step forward towards protecting and promoting our parks in New Jersey. New Jersey is the most densely developed state in the nation, it’s critical that we balance that with the need for parks and recreation,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club.

 

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