Sierra Club: DEP Hearing on Christie’s Wetlands Rules

Contact Jeff Tittel, 609-558-9100

 

Thurs: DEP Hearing on Christie’s Wetlands Rules

 

On Thursday, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) will host a hearing regarding their new Freshwater Wetlands Rules. In 1988, New Jersey passed the Comprehensive Freshwater Wetlands Protection Act. With these rules, the Christie Administration is rolling back the protections from the Act. They’re aligning the Wetlands Rules with the Flood Hazard and Stream Encroachment Rules and by doing so, they are substantially weakening them. These rules clearly violate the Freshwater Wetlands Act in many areas and will lead to the destruction of critical wetlands. These rules will remove important protections and allow construction of pipelines and other projects through environmentally sensitive wetlands.

 

“These rules create open season on New Jersey’s wetlands. Wetlands are critical for the environment; they protect against flooding, improve water quality, recharge aquifers, and provide important habitat. We have lost more than half of our wetlands in the last 200 years and we can’t afford to lose more. Wetlands belong to all of us and we need to do better to protecting them. That’s why we are opposing these rules that will destroy wetlands,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “They say that they’re changing these rules to match the Flood Hazard Rules but in reality they’re rolling them back to weaken them just as they have the Flood Hazard Rules. These rules are part of Christie’s ongoing attacks on clean water.”

 

The Freshwater Wetlands Rules will destroy many of New Jersey’s wetlands because they weaken protections and allow for more destruction. The rules violate the Freshwater Wetlands Act in many different ways. The rules allow for permit-by-certification where a developer can certify that the project meets the standards or rules themselves. They can basically give themselves the permit without oversight. It allows for new general permits with conditions. General permits are supposed to have de minimus impact, and should not need conditions. Having conditions means they are trying to get around the law. These rules will make it easier for large projects like pipelines to be built and for them to have permits that last twice as long as they should.

 

“These rules put our wetlands at risk, rather than protect them. We need to make sure we are conserving these environmentally sensitive and important areas. New Jersey is one of only two states with delegation from the federal government for wetlands, meaning that our standards should be stronger than ever. Instead of updating the rules for enhanced protections, they’re opening them up big enough to drive bulldozer through,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “Governor Kean’s biggest environmental legacy was enacting the 1988 Freshwater Wetlands Act to protect these important areas and their services. Now Governor Christie wants to destroy that legacy and our wetlands.”

The DEP Hearing on the Freshwater Wetlands Rules will be held on Thursday, June 1st at 9:30 am at the DEP Public Hearing Room 401 East State Street Trenton, New Jersey.

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