Sierra Club: New Jersey Held Hostage: Day 3

New Jersey Held Hostage: Day 3

 

Today is the third day of New Jersey’s shutdown of the state government caused by Governor Christie. This shutdown is a result of the inability of the Legislature to stand up to the Governor and pass a budget. The Governor wants to rob the Horizon Blue Cross/Blue Shield Fund and is holding up the budget to get his way. Horizon has nothing to do with the budget. A clean budget bill is up for a vote in the Assembly Board still and shamefully most Legislators are siding with Christie and blocking a vote. Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club, released the following statement:

 

“The Governor holding New Jersey hostage to his personal agenda is having serious consequences to the people, environment, and economy. It is outrageous that as we are in day three of the government shutdown because the Christie-crats in the legislature failed to stand up to the Governor’s political games. The Democrats are clearly enabling the Governor which has shutdown essential government services, while closing our state parks and beaches. We should close the Governor’s office and the Statehouse since they are non-essential services if they cannot come up with a deal.”

 

“While state parks are closed for millions of New Jerseyans, Governor Christie is enjoying a state park on the July 4th weekend. Instead of coming to Trenton and making sure the budget is passed, it seems he has a vendetta against our state. This is not only wrong, it’s cruel and dangerous. In a modern version of Nero fiddling while Rome is burning, Governor Christie is sitting on a beach at taxpayers’ expense.”

 

“There are hundreds of thousands of people who would normally be swimming, picnicking, barbequing and hiking in these parks will now be looking for other places for recreation. People will be looking for other places to swim such other rivers, bays, and ponds and closed state parks, but there won’t be lifeguards. This means the chance of drownings and accidents will go up. If there’s a bear walking through a neighborhood, we won’t have any conservation officers to deal with it. There also may not be staff to rescue lost hikers and protect against poaching.”

 

“This shutdown means we’ll lose dozens of swimming areas, campgrounds, and picnic areas for people to enjoy the holiday. Instead of having a BBQ in Cheesequake, you may end up having a BBQ in a Wal-Mart parking lot. Instead of swimming in Shepard’s Pond you could be looking for a puddle behind a mall. Families who want to go camping at places such as Belleplain, Worthington and Brendan Byrne campgrounds will end up camping in their backyard. The closing of these parks is especially serious because New Jersey has a shortage of recreation space already.”

 

“Without the state government running, we don’t have people monitoring the beaches to make sure there are no sewage spills or testing to see if the water is clean enough to swim in. The Governor is clearly creating a Polluter’s holiday at the expense of our public health and safety. If there’s a chemical spill or pipeline explosion, emergency responders on call may not have enough backup or support staff to help clean it up. If there’s more than one spill, it could lead to a disaster.”

 

“It is shameful that historic sites will be closed on the day we celebrate our country’s history. With parks and historic sites closed, the chance for vandalism will increase. A few years ago when closed, there were break-ins at Washington’s Crossing and Ringwood State parks. We still haven’t found the Revolutionary War artifacts that were stolen. We may also see more illegal dumping of tires, refrigerators and even toxic chemicals in our parks since they are closed and without enforcement. We could see more poaching, illegal ATV activity, and damage to our parks and natural areas. People may fill in wetlands or allow from more pollution since there’s no one watching. There will be chances for more problems on Barnegat Bay and other places.”

 

“The Assembly board is open and there are those who voted for a clean budget not being tied to Christie’s games. Then there’s others who have enabled Christie’s holding the state hostage and this government shutdown. The Christie-crats in the Legislature that have gone along with him have enabled him to roll back environmental protections all along and now they are doing this. They deserve almost as much blame for what’s happening in New Jersey this weekend.”

 

“Our state parks are some of the most heavily used in the country. The most used state park in the country is Liberty State Park. Now its closed and people won’t be able to enjoy the fireworks. More importantly, people who wanted to go swimming at places like Island Beach State Park, Round Valley Reservoir or Atco Lake won’t be able to. On regular summer weekends, most swimming and picnic areas are closed by 10 am because they’re already filled. This shutdown will create a tremendous amount of additional pressure on county and local parks that can’t handle it. This will cost the state tens of millions of dollars in lost economic activity and revenue.”

 

“While Governor Christie has the lowest governor approval of anyone in the country, he’s bullying his way through and trying to force the legislature to do what he wants. He has a history of stealing from the Clean Energy Fund and this year’s budget continues this with another $235 million. It has become the Cleaned-Out Fund. He’s also taking money from important programs such as the Spill Fund, Recycling Fund, and Hazardous Waste Clean-Up Fund. There is also still language that allows him to take money from environmental settlements such as Exxon. This budget gives tax breaks to millionaires while cutting core environmental programs and robbing funds. This isn’t even a good budget and he’s blocking it anyway. Instead of fighting back, many of the Legislature are going along with him.”

 

“Christie’s government shutdown is part of his war on parks. While our parks are falling apart and we have $250 million backlog in emergency parks capital repairs, the Governor wants to spend $300 million on renovating the Statehouse. At the same time, DEP staff is down by 40 percent, the budget has been slashed by a third, and we haven’t opened up a new swimming area since 1981. We need to stand up and tell the Governor: “Get the Hell Off Our Beach and Do Your Job!”

 

Contact: Jeff Tittel, NJ Sierra Club, 609-558-9100

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