FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE/ 06/16/11
Trenton– Facing an unprecedented number of environmental rollbacks in the state, a broad coalition of environmental, union and faith-based organizations and their members have called a large lobby day at the New Jersey State House and noon rally on the State House steps for this Monday, June 20. The organizations will be joined by legislative champions, including Senate Majority Leader Barbara Buono, Sen. Bob Smith, Sen. Bob Gordon, Asm. John McKeon, and Asm. Upendra Chivukula. Group leaders today are calling on New Jerseyans who want a clean and healthy future to join them for the day.
“This is a united show of support for the environment from union, faith, and environmental leaders, bolstered by our champs in the legislature and citizens from across the state. We want to send a clear message to Governor Christie and others who would undo more than a decade of protections for our air, land and water that New Jerseyans want to move forward for a cleaner and healthier future, not backward,” said Dena Mottola Jaborska, Executive Director for Environment New Jersey.
"This is the moment for New Jersey's legislators to take a stand -- above private interests, above cutting corners for a fast buck, above settling for less for short term gains. We all have to get back to the basic values of public health and clean water to protect our State,"said Tracy Carluccio, Deputy Director, Delaware Riverkeeper Network.
“Core environmental and public health protections are under attack. Political leaders need to stand up and be counted. The people will support them, the question is will they support the people,” said David Pringle, Campaign Director for the New Jersey Environmental Federation.
The organizations, which represent hundreds of thousands of New Jerseyans across the state, have unified around jointly held priorities which will be the focus of the Action Day. They include fighting rollbacks to environmental laws proposed by Governor Christie, including his decision to take New Jersey out of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection's (NJDEP) proposed environmental loophole rule, known as the waiver rule.
"Stronger environmental and worker protections and clean energy will help create the jobs we so desperately need in New Jersey and across our nation. We're not going to allow our safeguards to be rolled back on behalf of big corporations and Wall Street, whether by Governor Christie or some Democrats, like Assemblyman John Burzichelli (D-3), whose legislation to block New Jersey from exceeding weak federal standards triggers a race to the bottom and endangers our safety, health, and environment," stated Rick Engler, Director, NJ Work Environment Council.
"The American Jewish Committee was proud when New Jersey joined RGGI and passed the Global Warming Response Act. For the sake of our national security and our environment, we must reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. Don't turn back the clock!" said Allyson Gall, New Jersey Area Director, American Jewish Committee.
"The Association of New Jersey Environmental Commissions is gravely concerned about the Governors plans to pullout from RGGI. Municipal environmental commissions have been working to reduce their communities’ output of greenhouse gases, but they have no way to reduce of carbon dioxide from power plants outside town borders. State and regional action is absolutely necessary if we are to combat climate change," said Sandy Batty, Association of New Jersey Environmental Commissions (ANJEC).
“RGGI is part of New Jersey's comprehensive solution to reducing greenhouse gases, which also includes reducing emissions from transportation related sources as transportation is the biggest contributor of greenhouse gas in NJ. The Governor’s decision to pull New Jersey out of RGGI will cost taxpayers more money, pollution, and health impacts in the long term,” stated Janna Chernetz, New Jersey Advocate for Tri-State Transportation Campaign.
"The proposed new waiver rule would provide blanket approval to waive nearly 100 existing environmental programs and rules, essentially granting the Department of Environmental Protection the power to void state environmental rules on a case-by-case basis," said Alison Mitchell, Policy Director at New Jersey Conservation Foundation. "Were rules meant to be broken?"
"DEP's proposed waiver rule can be used to devastate the resources of the Highlands and other environmentally sensitive regions of the State,” said Julia Somers, Executive Director of the NJ Highlands Coalition.
The organizations are also working to pass a statewide ban on fracking, to stop attempts by the Legislature and the Governor to weaken New Jersey’s strong environmental standards by capping pollution standards at weaker federally set levels, and to stop the ongoing delays and threats to a NJDEP rule that protects over 300,000 acres of the state's most environmentally rich open space – the last remaining large swaths of forests, wetland, and water supply areas.
"Now is the time to dedicate our resources to protect our few remaining natural areas so future generations can have the opportunity to experience the outdoors in our very own Garden State,"stated Dana Patterson with Edison Wetlands Association. "These open spaces provide natural flood control, produce clean oxygen, and are home to thousands of species of wildlife including many threatened and endangered like the bald eagle, peregrine falcon and osprey."
“New Jersey has a strong history of environmental leadership and now is the time for New Jersey to lead again by standing up to the gas industry and other polluters who would jeopardize public health, the environment and our drinking water for personal profit,” said Jim Walsh, NJ Director of Food & Water Watch.
The groups participating in the Action Day are diverse, working all over the state – at the municipal, county, regional and state level – to protect environmental resources. The sponsoring groups include faith-based groups which promote clean energy at houses of worship, and policy shifts toward energy independence, as well as unions which rely on state environmental standards for their own workplace protection. The groups hold varying organizational interests and expertise, with some working to primarily protect New Jersey’s waters, others open space and parks, while others prioritize clean energy and global warming solutions.
"New Jersey Audubon and its 23,000 members are proud to join with other environmental and conservation groups to show strong and committed support to protecting the very things that make our state great- from the beaches to fields, the parks to the mountains"said Kelly Mooij, Director of Government Relations for the New Jersey Audubon Society. "We look to the Legislature and Administration to be good stewards and ensure continued protection of our natural resources for the benefit of the citizens of the State, both now and in the future."
"We are standing together to protect New Jersey's environment. Attacks on the environment by the Christie administration and some legislators have united the environmental community to defend public health and safety and the environment from corporate polluters and special interests. We are working together to protect our air, water, and open space from overdevelopment, fracking, and rollbacks of environmental protections. Together we are fighting the weakening of the Energy Master Plan and the withdrawal from RGGI to support clean energy and green jobs," said Jeff Tittel, Director, NJ Sierra Club.