News Article • 11/30/2017 • by Chris Daggett and Margaret Waldock at NJ Spotlight
Until recently, water infrastructure in New Jersey has remained largely out of sight, out of mind, lulling us into a false sense of security. However, we are now starting to see our lack of investment coming back to haunt us.
We cannot swim in the Passaic River because of pollution. Children in Camden walk through sewage that has backed up onto the streets because the pipes cannot handle the rain. Commuters sit in snarled traffic in Hoboken as crews repair water main breaks. And across the state, parents fear the danger of lead in water fountains at their children's schools.
Assessment surveys conducted in 2012 by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimate that New Jersey needs to spend a combined $25 billion over the next 20 years on its wastewater, stormwater, and drinking water infrastructure to ensure reliability and keep up with demand.
News Article • 11/12/2017 • by ADAM SAMUEL at Tap Into Passaic Valley
Voters provided permanent relief to communities harmed by industrial pollution on Election Day by approving an environmental coalition-led ballot question that prevents money earmarked for environmental restoration from being raided by Trenton lawmakers.
The measure was declared passed with 69 percent support.
“By approving Ballot Question 2, voters created a ‘lock box’ for these funds, ending the irresponsible budgeting practice of Trenton politicians stealing the money from polluted communities to plug holes in the state budget,” said Ed Potosnak, executive director of New Jersey League of Conservation Voters, which led the effort to get the question on the ballot.
News Article • 11/8/2017 • by Tom Johnson at NJ Spotlight
Voters yesterday easily approved ballot questions that will provide funding for libraries to undertake new capital projects and will ensure money collected from polluters is used to restore natural resources damaged from spills and other disasters.
Both ballot questions faced little opposition, as the vote reflected. With almost 99 percent of the vote tallied, the library bond issue passed by nearly 300,000 votes. By roughly a two-to-one margin, voters approved the constitutional amendment to prevent diversion of pollution settlement money to the general budget.
News Article • 11/7/2017 • by Daniel C. Vock at Governing
New Jersey is likely on the cusp of receiving hundreds of millions of dollars from companies settling pollution lawsuits. The largest of those is a proposed $225 million settlement with ExxonMobil for pollution near two refineries in the northern part of the state. Sunoco, BP and Shell have also settled with the state for pollution near gas stations. Together, those settlements could bring in another $165 million.
The state's voters decided by a 2-1 margin Tuesday that the bulk of that money -- and all future pollution payouts -- will be spent on environmental projects, not on general state operations.
Environmentalists successfully pushed a constitutional amendment that will now require the legal payouts to go toward projects like building parks, removing dams or adding bike trails. If voters had rejected the amendment, all but $50 million would have gone into the state’s main checking account to pay for things like health insurance, prisons or schools.
Ed Potosnak, executive director of the New Jersey League of Conservation Voters, one of the groups behind the ballot measure, says it will effectively create a “lockbox” for environmental uses.
News Article • 9/18/2017 • by Ed Potosnak at NJ.com
When the solar eclipse happened on Aug. 21, millions of people in the continental U.S. went outdoors to witness this once-in-a-lifetime phenomenon of nature. No one called it a hoax, denied it was happening, or asked what was the cause.
Climate change – and the human activity that causes it – is equally validated by scientists, but unfortunately some continue to deny the reality as the clock ticks and temperatures rise.
In a recent column, Paul Mulshine falsely concluded that voters don’t care that much about climate change because they elected a climate-denying president who promised to lead the resurgence of coal mining.
Hogwash! Voters in New Jersey care deeply about the environment. According to a recent poll by Washington, D.C.-based Global Strategies Group commissioned by the New Jersey League of Conservation Voters Education Fund, 62 percent want the government to do more to address climate change, and 57 percent oppose President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris agreement. Seventy-one percent want our next governor to be a leader in fighting climate change, and more than two-thirds support moving New Jersey to a 100 percent clean energy portfolio.
News Article • 8/28/2017 • by Angela Delli Santi at Insider NJ
Environmental groups from all corners of the state are teaming up with legislators of both political parties to press Republicans in Congress to reject President Trump’s proposed budget, which they agree would devastate New Jersey’s environment.
Trump’s first federal budget contains such severe cuts to environmental protection and conservation programs that every New Jersey resident and business would feel them. Folks who don’t always agree have no trouble seeing eye to eye when it comes to protecting precious natural resources like the Jersey Shore. Thus, the “Save the EPA” campaign was born.
News Article • 8/21/2017 • by Phil Gregory at WBGO.org
Environmental groups and New Jersey officials are urging Congress to reject President Donald Trump's proposed 30 percent cut in the Environmental Protection Agency's budget.
They expressed their opposition to Trump's plan in Brick Township at the base of a bridge that was wiped out by Superstorm Sandy nearly five years ago.
Ed Potosnak leads the New Jersey League of Conservation Voters. He says the budget cuts would put the state’s environment in grave danger.
"With more than 40 percent of New Jersey's Department of Environmental Protection dependent on federal funding, it's more important than ever that Congress gets together to push back against the draconian Trump budget proposal and ensure full funding for the agencies we count on to protect our health and the environment."
News Article • 8/18/2017 • by Tom Johnson at NJ Spotlight
The federal government yesterday awarded nearly $70 million to New Jersey to help fund projects to upgrade sewage-treatment plants and drinking-water systems.
The allocation should help finance more than a half-billion-dollars worth of projects through the state’s Environmental Infrastructure Trust, a vehicle set up to help communities fund clean-water projects.
The award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is part of an annual appropriation to help the state raise water quality by improving treatment at wastewater plants and public systems providing drinking water to residents.
The money will help put a dent into one of New Jersey’s most pressing infrastructure needs — upgrading aging sewage-treatment systems and drinking water facilities.
News Article • 6/16/2017 • by Christian Hetrick at Observer
The state could divert millions of dollars from environmental remediation this year before voters have a chance to decide whether to prohibit such budgetary raids, according to a state lawmaker and environmental advocacy groups.
Gov. Chris Christie’s proposed $35 billion budget for fiscal 2018 includes a provision that places a $50 million cap on how much money won from natural resource damage settlements can go into an environmental site cleanup fund. For settlements larger than $50 million, any amount above that threshold would go into the state’s general fund.
This is the third straight year the state budget has included such language. But the provision takes on special significance this year, because $225 million from a settlement with ExxonMobil is currently in escrow and could become subject to that budget language, said Assemblyman John McKeon (D-Essex).
News Article • 6/12/2017 • by Michele Byers at Daily Record
The Trump administration’s proposal to cut funding for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will directly impact federal safeguards for clean water, air and natural resources in this state we’re in. The proposal would roll back decades of progress in protecting public health and environmental quality.
Here in New Jersey, we too are debating the impact of cuts to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection proposed by Gov. Chris Christie’s administration. And since New Jersey’s Department of Environmental Protection gets significant funding from the EPA, the impacts to New Jersey would be magnified.
This one-two punch from the Christie and Trump administrations would worsen what is already a difficult situation. New Jersey is the nation’s most densely populated state, with a history of industrial pollution, including more Superfund cleanup sites than any other state. As a coastal state, New Jersey is also on the front lines of climate change and sea level rise.
To make matters worse, the Christie administration’s raiding of dedicated funds has depleted funding for clean energy and the cleanup of contaminated sites.