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Environmental Bills Up in Committee Thursday

The following environmental bills will be up in the Assembly Appropriations Committee tomorrow, December 12th.

A4267 (McKeon): concerns the regulations of solid waste, hazardous waste, and soil and debris recycling industries. This bill amends the existing law to expand the requirements for NEW JERSEY POLITICS 2background checks to a broader range of persons involved in the solid waste industry, such as salespersons, consultants, and brokers.

“This bill is important because it addresses New Jersey’s ongoing problems with illegal dumping of contaminated materials. The Special Commission of Investigation’s first “Dirty Dirt” report in 2016 exposed the rampant problem of soil brokers and dirty dirt. Since that report the illegal dumping is still happening, risking the environment and public health. That’s because there hasn’t been any action by DEP and the Legislature to stop it. The industry has ties to the mob, and there are serious pollution and health impacts,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “These unscrupulous dirt brokers are dumping contaminated soil all over the environment. There are loopholes in the law that gives them less scrutiny that need to be closed.”

In June, the Special Commission of Investigation released their latest “Dirty Dirt” report detailing illegal dumping in Marlboro. SCI reported that New Jersey currently “lacks the authority to properly oversee elements of its recycling program”. Illegal dumping in New Jersey has the potential to impact the environment but also cause public health problems, like in Kearny where New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority illegally dumped liquid sewage sludge.

“This bill is an important step forward; however, we need to go further. New Jersey needs tighter regulations and restrictions on how our waste is handled. We have a long history of contaminated materials coming into our state, in part because DEP chooses not to regulate these chemicals. DEP needs to set and enforce standards for toxic materials to prevent any more possible dumping,” said Jeff Tittel. “The Assembly needs to act quickly and get this bill to the governor’s desk before the end of the year.”

A5854 (Pintor Marin): Allows municipalities to adopt an ordinance permitting lead service line replacements in residential properties with at least 24-hour notice to residents.

“This legislation will help us replace lead service lines. This legislation is needed because lead in drinking water has become an ongoing issue in New Jersey. In order to find out if people are being exposed to lead or to get rid of existing lead service lines, you need to have access to the properties. Many times, landlords or property owners will not allow access to municipalities to check for lead. Our water is at risk and we need to be able to replace old lead pipes. This legislation will help municipalities protect residents from being exposed to lead in their water,” said Jeff Tittel.

A5518 (Benson): establishes “Alternative Fuel Vehicle Transportation Financing Commission” to examine the manner in which alternative fuel vehicles may be taxed to contribute to the cost of maintaining State transportation system.

“We oppose this legislation. This legislation would undercut the progress of any movement in accelerating EV use. The committee would investigate studies to put fees on electric vehicles even before we get any on the road. Right now, New Jersey only has about 25,000 electric vehicles on the road, it is too premature to be taxing these vehicles,” said Jeff Tittel. “We need to encourage EV use to get to the state’s goal of 330,000 EVs by 2025. In order to find funding for road improvements and mass transit projects, we should be putting fees on gas guzzlers and massive dino SUV’s instead.”

A5583 (Pinkin): Prohibits sale, lease, rent or installation of certain equipment or products containing hydrofluorocarbons or other greenhouse gases.

“This bill is a step in the right direction when it comes to reducing GHG’s from the products we use every day. Hydrofluorocarbons represent around 1% of total greenhouse gases but their impact on global warming can be hundreds to thousands of times greater than that of carbon dioxide. They can be found in cooling products like refrigerators, air conditioning for our homes and cars, aerosols, and more,” said Jeff Tittel. “It is important that we prohibit and phase out all products containing HCF’s and greenhouse gases so that we can mitigate our impact on global warming.”

A6014 (Vainieri Huttle/Pinkin): Appropriates $500,000 to establish NJ Climate Change Resource Center at Rutgers University.

“Establishing a Climate Change Resource Center is a good step forward when it comes to being prepared and stronger than the next storm, but $500,000 is not enough money to get the job done. Rutgers is spending $4 million a year on a new football coach, but we can only spend $500,000 for climate change research. They need to get their priorities straight. This is a fumble when it comes to climate change. A recent study found that much of New Jersey, including inland counties, are more vulnerable to climate impacts now than before Sandy. We must start taking real actions to fight climate change now. We are in a climate crisis, and New Jersey is the only state on the east coast that does not have any kind of sea level rise climate adaptation plan,” said Jeff Tittel. “This Resource Center will help use the latest science to put climate and sea level rise in DEP rules and state legislation, but more money needs to go toward this center for it to be effective.”

A5970 (Lopez): Amends list of environmental infrastructure projects approved for long-term funding for FY2020 to include new projects, remove certain projects, and modify estimated loan amounts for certain projects.

A5971 (Mukherji): Authorizes NJ Infrastructure Bank to expend additional sums to make loans for environmental projects for FY2020.

“We need to step it up when it comes to funding critical environmental programs for New Jersey.  We have major problems with lead including $8.2 billion worth of pipes that need to be fixed, $4.6 billion for getting lead out of our water and a $6 billion combined sewer overflow fix. Overall, we need at least $46 billion to fix New Jersey’s environmental problems. We also need to tie fixing our infrastructure to energy efficiency and renewable energy as well as green building including blue and green roofs to reduce flooding. If we don’t consider climate change, we could end up wasting billions of dollars of taxpayer money,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club.