The Courier-News from Bridgewater, New Jersey on May 11, 1997 · Page 6
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The Courier-News from Bridgewater, New Jersey · Page 6

Bridgewater, New Jersey
Issue Date:
Sunday, May 11, 1997
Page 6
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A-6 SUNDAY, MAY 11, 1997 THE COURIER-NEWS N.J. environment by the numbers , Statistics on environmental enforcement and pollution indicators. j . Penalties assessed by DEP Air inlatinno Governor gives her policies : green thum!bs-up SgMJj III il WssH1 RECORD . . 5. Associated Press photo DEP Commissioner Robert Shinn and Gov. Christie Whitman paddle along the Rancocas River in Pemberton as demonstrators protest her clean-water proposals in April 1996. Whitman backed off ; her ideas, and now contends that shows her flexibility on environmental issues. w Whitman bows to criticism but is it a re-election ploy? 1994: $3.9 million 1995: $3.6 million 1996: $1.6 million nil V ivikiliwi if 1 Solid Waste Violations 1 1994: $8.6 million 1995: $2.8 million 1996: $3.3 million Hazardous Waste Violations 1994: $2 million , 1995: $1.2 million 1996: $423,750- Water Violations 1994: $10.8 million 1995: $21.1 million; 1996: $4 million , , Land Use Violations 1994: $376,111 , 1995: $276,326 . 1996: $65,750 , ' Administrative orders; enforce ment actions with densities "' ' Air Violatior 19941151 ' 1995 960 1996 215 : v : Solid Waste Violations 1994 687. : . 1995487 .1, 1996 89 ; ' , ' Hazardous Waste Violations 1994124 - . , 5 1995149 1996 38 - v " Water Violations - 1994 297 1995 215 V 1996128 Coastal and Land UseJViolations 1994 80 199515 1996 5 - Air pollution warning? days 1983 60 1984 26 1985 31 1986 22 1987 32 1988 45 1989 18 1990 2$ 1991 2b. 1992 '"" 1993 18 1994 1995 1 1996 The Department of Environmen tal Protection warns children, the elderly and people with respirato ry problems to avoid exertion and stay indoors on days when ozone levels exceed federal standards. Ozone is created when pollutants, mostly from car exhaust, combine with sunlight and heat, so such pollution warnings are largely controlled by the weather. Source: Department of Environmental Protection i Environmentalists praise Whitman for backing away from troublesome, regulations, but they wonder if the governor is merely avoiding issues that might be political problems in an election year, or whether she had a change of heart. The criticism caused the state to "take another look," said Whitman -spokesman Robert Friant. Instead of adopting the controver- . sial proposal, Whitman agreed to file a waiver extending the old wetlands rules for another year. , Environmentalists . praise Whitman for backing away from troublesome regulations, but they wonder if the governor is merely avoiding issues that might be political prob- ' lems in an election year, or whether she's had a true change of heart. They praise her policies in some areas, such as watershed management, where she developed a master plan that favors holistic approaches to protecting sources of drinking water. The state plans to craft a pollution control plan for each of its watershed areas to substantially reduce the amount of pollutants that are too hard to track from their sources such as engine oil or lawn chemicals that wash from the ground during storms. The plan recently won praise from the Trust For Public Land, a nation-, al land preservation group. TRENTON (AP) - Gov. Christie Whitman traveled to Dover Township last summer to allay fears among res-' idents grappling with reports of high cancer rates among area children. - The governor brought data showing high levels of radioactive materials in water samples from the area. She told residents and local officials that she shared their concerns, but there was no reason to panic. Environmentalists roundly criticized the governor because, at the time, she was proposing an overhaul of the state's pollution discharge reg-, ulations that would allow industry to dump more cancer-causing chemicals into state waterways. Whitman reacted strongly to those criticisms. "To say that we are going to allow cancer-causing chemicals to be dumped in the river is without substance," she said. "I can tell you that (DEP) is not in the business of trying to jeopardize people's health." However, Bob Oberthaler, head of DEP's water quality standards, confirmed that the proposed changes to the New Jersey Pollutant Discharge Elimination Systems regulations would allow more carcinogens to be dumped in state waterways. The federal Environmental Protection Agency later directed Whitman's administration to revamp those regulations. Whitman dropped the entire proposal last fall. Environmentalists say the proposed regulations reflect the prob- - .- -. uJ-ij iJ ''s ' the third lnan OCCa siohai series looking at Gov. Christie Whitman retord since she took office in 1994.- ; to exercise a lot of oversight of business," said Tim Dillingham, director of the New Jersey chapter of the Sierra Club. "And scale back the enforcement program to force the department into a position where it has-to negotiate with the business community." - ;' v ; Fewer penalties Regardless of the budget numbers, DEP records show that under Whitman the number of fines, penalties and violations assessed against businesses has dropped. -- r Penalties assessed to polluters in the five major environmental categories. air, solid waste, hazardous waste, water and land use, declined from $25.7 million in the 1994 budget year to $9.4 million in the 1996. i-v Department officials say those numbers are not necessarily good indicators of how tough an enforcement job they're doing. They say that in any given year, a particularly large fine could throw the numbers out of whack. ; The number of orders and enforce- ment actions als6 declined from 2,339 cases in 1994 to 475 last year. The DEP says the reason for the decline is that many violations are now corrected or resolved within the depart-; ment before formal action is taken. It also says increased compliance is to account for the drop in environmental prosecutions, But Ed Lloyd, director of the Environmental Law Clinic at Rutgers University, said he's not convinced. He said he's asked for hard evidence that compliance is up, but the depart-. ment has not provided it. "We don't have the data to say here's the glowing success," Lloyd said. "We have no information to evaluate whether its better or worse or the same." In the absence of such data, Lloyd said the concern is that the message sent to polluters is "you don't have to worry about compliance." Whitman's counter to those who say enforcement is lax: Show me the pollution. "The fact is our air is clean now, we've done better under clean air," Whitman said. "Our water is cleaner, we're constantly opening new watersheds, new mollusk beds. We've acquired more land under our Green Acres program than ever before. ... Those are all good and positive." Environmentalists counter that Whitman has done nothing to make New Jersey's chronic pollution problems any better. ' ? " They cite reports showing that four of New Jersey's waterways ranked among the 50 most toxic rivers in the country, and that the number of contaminated sites in the state has grown from 6,106 in 1994 to 8,187 last year. "I am very comfortable with what our track record has been on the environment," Whitman said. "I understand that there are many who were used to a certain way of approaching environmental issues, particularly relative to economic development, and thought that any change in that confrontational 'command and control' approach meant a retreat from the environment. "It has never meant a retreat from the environment. It never was a retreat from the environment. It was simply a different way of doing things." The Time Friday, Saturday Environmentalists - ' disagree that she has' . ' done enough to clean up. ; New Jersey. . TRENTON (AP) - When Christie HfV : a i t i i i niuunan sioou aenanuy oy me snore last winter and vilified New York's " plan to temporarily dump sewage 5 into the East River, it made for a good picture of a governor tough on the environment. ' '; " The reality was that . New Jersey could be just as guilty and Whitman knew it. ; , ," Antiquated and overburdened sewer systems in northern New Jersey routinely pour raw sewage into waterways and bays. The 'problem is so bad that New York, formally complained about it twQj months before: ; Whitman made her. anti-dumping stand. ". ' ' y,' - - Records show that months before she decried New York's temporary dumping proposal as "utterly medieval," her administration diverted'-$18.6 million from fund set up to help repair and replace old, polluting sewer systems. The money was put in,, a surplus account to help balance the state's budget. , . . Critics say actions like that sum up ' Whitman's environmental record . that she's more interested in winning ' political points than solving tough environmental problems. - t "It was a very easy call for her," said David Pringle, campaign direc-tor for the New Jersey Environment 4 tal Federation. "It was easy for her to tell New York what they shouldn't, do." XiJr, Environmental advocates criticize Whitman for cutting the Department of Environment Protection and giv- ' ing businesses too much say when it j-comes to their own regulation .-".;. ' Critics also say that a loss of state revenue from Whitman's income-tax cuts has prevented needed environ- : mental investments, such as improv- ing sewage systems and acquiring more open space. ' "'i Whitman, seeking re-election this fall, insists her record on the environ- ment is an honorable one and that she , rarely gets credit for what's she's' done. ': Whitman has taken pro-environment stances on issues such as tougher clean air rules and opposing the dumping of toxin-laden dredge spoils into the ocean. She has also pushed ahead with a plan to impose stronger automobile emissions tests, despite criticisms by some lawmakers that the enhanced inspections are a waste of time and money for the benefits they might yield. From a legislative standpoint, Whitman's environmental record is less tangible than her Democratic predecessor Jim Florio, who shepherded such landmark laws as the Pollution Prevention Act and the Clean Water Enforcement Act. The Whitman legacy will be a philosophical change, from confrontation to cooperation, in the state's approach to protecting the environment. Slash and burn policy? Whitman has not made it easy for environmentalists to like her. From the start, she made it clear her approach to environmental regulation was going to be different. First she proclaimed New Jersey "open for business." Then she fired the environmental prosecutor. Her first executive order as governor created an Economic Master Plan Commission that eventually found "overregulation" had posed the single biggest barrier to economic prosperity in New Jersey. "Excessive paperwork never cleaned up a factory or a stream," Whitman said in her 1995 State of the State address. "So we have begun to clean up excessive paperwork." Whitman began slashing the size of the DEP to such a degree that last year seven senators from her own party warned her publicly to ease up. "The budget cuts are of such depth and magnitude that they will severely undermine the DEP's ability to effectively safeguard the environment and protect the public health," Senate Majority Leader John Bennett said at the time. The Legislature eventually restored about $7 million of the $17.4 million Whitman wanted to cut. "I do think her strategy at the onset of her administration was ... to cut the budgets at the DEP so that it's unable We'll BUY Your Call For Quotes (908) wo mm LP ooou , . ; ; " . EOS. WGWE lems that can occur when industry has too great a voice at the table as new regulations are being drafted. But Whitman and DEP Commissioner Bob Shinn said the abandonment of the proposed regulations confirms that "we have shown, and will continue to demonstrate, a great deal of flexibility on this issue." It was not the only time that the governor backed away from a controversial proposals, it-Earlier this year, the state abandoned draft regulations that environmentalists said weakened wetland enforcement. The proposed changes would have made it easier for developers to seek permits to develop sections of wetlands for things such as drainage pipe construction and minor road crossings. JOSEPH WEINSTEIN, M.D. MICHAEL AMENDOLARA, M.D. FAMILY PHYSICIANS DIANE SCHWARTZ, PA-C m m a I YOUR DOCTORS CARE JOSEPH SMITH, M.D. GLEN LANDESMAN, M.D. BOARD CERTIFIED ELIZABETH BARTOLETTI, PA-C WITHOUT BOARD CERTIFIED PHYSICIAN ASSISTANTS ARE PLEASED TO ANNOUNCE CHRISTINE P. MAND, D.O. BOARD CERTIFIED PEDIATRICIAN BOARD CERTIFIED INTERNAL MEDICINE HAS JOINED OUR FAMILY PRACTICE AT 71 ROUTE 206 HILLSBOROUGH TOWNSHIP SOMERV1LLE. NJ 08876 938-4S5-1S37 l'l'l:J.l,'li to Buy a Spa is Now! 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