Tittel Salutes Senate Judiciary Committee Following Sign Off on McCabe to Lead DEP


The Senate Judiciary Committee today affirmed Catherine McCabe’s nomination for DEP Commissioner and sent it to the Senate Floor.

New Jersey Sierra Club Director Jeff Tittel released the following statement:

“Given all the delays that have happened, it’s important that Commissioner McCabe’s nomination is

Catherine McCabe

moving forward. New Jersey needs to get to work and move the environment forward. The Sierra Club supports this nomination and believe she will bring with her professionalism and integrity. She has a strong background of enforcement and EPA policy. After eight years under Bob Martin we’re excited to see change within the DEP. She touched on many different issues during here hearing. However, we still have some questions and concerns regarding the DEP, including how she will restore morale in the department, deal with budget cuts, and move the them forward in a new direction.

“During the hearing, McCabe has come across as competent environmental regulator with a strong history and background and we see her as an asset to the department. She mentioned targeting pollution-reduction programs at environmental justice communities, especially concerning air quality. She spoke about reducing diesel and NOx emissions to help these communities, and the entire state. McCabe also mentioned the threat of lead to our communities. She answered a question about the Highlands Septic Density Rules by promising to re-run the model and create new Rules using proper data. We believe we should reinstate the original Highlands Rule, rather than create a compromise. According to McCabe, the DEP is working with the Governor’s office on how to spend funds from the Volkswagen settlement.

“She defended the Highlands against verbal attacks and was strong on upgrading drinking water standards. McCabe also answered questions about implementing the Public Trust Doctrine and settlements for Natural Resource Damages. They have yet to file any new NRD suits. The Senators urged her to use funds from the Exxon settlement for environmental purposes rather than the General Fund. She also expressed support for sustainable efforts including a possible plastic bag ban in New Jersey and promised that the state is moving forward on water contaminants, specifically PFOAs. When discussing Bakken oil trains, McCabe committed to continued vigilance yet erroneously mentioned Pilgrim Pipeline as an alternative.

“There were some questions that weren’t asked that we’d like to know more about regarding the new direction of the DEP. This includes the department’s plans for pipelines, power plants such as in the Meadowlands and BL England in New Jersey. We had concerns with calling regulated entities ‘customers’ that became a habit under the previous Administration. The Commission’s primary job is to protect the environment while working for the public. We’d like to see the DEP take steps to combat climate change and sea level rise as well. We’re also wondering if they will uphold commitments to stopping the bear hunt and restore funding to getting lead out of schools. We’re also looking forward to seeing what policies and programs she puts in place to deal with climate change and move New Jersey forward environmentally.

“There are important issues facing New Jersey and the DEP, especially when it comes to the environment. We’re also looking forward to learning more information on the department’s plans to replace the many rules and regulations that were rolled back under Christie such as the Flood Hazard and Wetlands Rules. New Jersey needs to fix our parks and protect our communities from things such as against Bakken oil trains and other fossil fuel pollution. We’d like to see the DEP increase its budget and bring in more staff to bring the department into the 21st century.

“We need the new Commissioner to move us forward and we’re looking forward to working with Catherine McCabe is doing just that. New Jersey is in the middle of an environmental crisis; we see the impacts of sea level rise, drinking water threats and contaminated sites. What the next Commissioner does will be critical for the future of our state. We will work with the Commissioner will meet these challenges and move us forward. We need the Senate to approve McCabe’s nomination to move the DEP’s agenda forward.”

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