New Jersey Environmental Lobby Newsletter - Mid-Winter 2015



New Jersey Environmental Lobby Newsletter

A Call To Action -
This supplement was in production when a serious threat to the Pinelands emerged.  Despite lobbying by environmental advocates ...
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Another Disappointment, With Remediation Promised -
The first attack on New Jersey’s natural and historic resources in 2015 was the quick enactment...
Read More ...

A WIN... For Now -
There was a heartening development in Washington when President Obama vetoed the “Keystone XL Pipeline Approval Act,”...
Read More ...

Another Exciting Collaboration For The Environmental Education Fund -
EEF’s is again collaborating with Encompass New Opera Theatre to produce the “Paradigm Shifts Music and Film Festival.”
Read More ...
A Call To Action -
This supplement was in production when a serious threat to the Pinelands emerged.  Despite lobbying by environmental advocates over the past few months, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted to forward Governor Christie’s current Pinelands Commission nominee to the full Senate for a confirmation vote.  The nominee, Robert Barr, is expected to support a waiver of Pinelands rules to allow construction of a South Jersey Gas pipeline in the Forest Management area.  Mr. Barr was one of two nominees after Governor Christie declined to reappoint two Commissioners who voted against the pipeline in previous Commission action.

Twice the Judiciary Committee declined to approve Barr’s nomination but on February 24, with a Committee member out of town, and Senator Bob Smith abstaining, the Committee voted to send the nomination to the Senate.  When the Committee’s agenda became known just two days before the hearing, organizations reacted quickly.  Within 24 hours, NJEL Executive Director Noemi de la Puente contacted members of the Judiciary Committee to urge them to vote “no,” but the nomination squeaked by.   Now, the word is that the Senate will vote on the nomination on March 5.  The leaders and staff of environmental organizations can continue to express opposition, but Senators need to hear from VOTERS.

Barr was proposed for the Commission by Senator Van Drew (D-1), a declared proponent of the pipeline. Approval of the pipeline will set a dangerous precedent for new construction in the Preservation area and will further entrench New Jersey’s reliance on fossil fuels.  The coal-fired plant that would be served by the pipeline was originally slated for closure, but the owner, Rockland Capital, now wants to convert it to natural gas.  While conversions to the cleaner fuel are generally applauded, in this case the plan would jeopardize the integrity of the Pinelands Comprehensive Management Plan.  The investment required to keep this plant operating would be better applied to renewable energy.

Mr. Barr has avoided giving a direct answer about his view of the pipeline and has demonstrated little knowledge of the Pinelands region or the law and rules that apply to it. It is hard to take his statements that he will be independent and objective seriously.  Perhaps worst of all, the Governor’s replacement of Commissioners who simply did not vote as he desired, opens the Commission up to political whims and pressure, something that the Commission is supposed to be above.  Sadly, the Governor’s pattern of politicizing independent bodies continues.  It began in the northwest of our state, with the Highlands Commission, continued with the Meadowlands Commission, and has finally come to rest in the Pinelands.

Even if you do not live in any of these regions, please help us stop this abuse of power.  Your area may be next! Please contact your State Senator and tell him/her to vote “No” on the Barr nomination.  A letter would be best, but this timetable has been deliberately set to leave little time for action.  Call or email your Senator.  You can find the Senator for your State District on www.njenvironment.org and link directly to his/her email.

Another Disappointment, With Remediation Promised -
The first attack on New Jersey’s natural and historic resources in 2015 was the quick enactment of the law that combined the Meadowlands Commission with the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority.  This bill was the subject of an email to those of you who are part of our action alert network.  Intended to modernize the 30-year old formula that allows Meadowlands municipalities to share in tax revenue, at the last moment the original bill was amended in a way that would endanger the status of Liberty State Park as a historic site accessible to all of the public.  Details will follow in the next print edition of the newsletter, but publicity and the ensuing outcry caused the bill’s sponsor to promise to introduce revisions.  The New York/New Jersey Baykeeper, the Friends of Liberty State Park, NJEL, and other organizations will follow the developments.

A WIN... For Now -
There was a heartening development in Washington when President Obama vetoed the “Keystone XL Pipeline Approval Act,” which would have authorized construction of the controversial pipeline prior to the completion of a review and recommendation by the State Department. Historically, the State Department has reviewed projects that cross U.S. borders.  Obama’s veto message stated that the bill was an attempt “to circumvent longstanding and proven processes for determining whether or not building and operating a cross-border pipeline serves the national interest.” The State Department’s review is expected to be completed soon.  As a result of the veto, the President retains the right to approve or disapprove the pipeline.  While pipeline opponents are gaining hope that Obama will reject the project, he has not given a firm indication of his intention.

Another Exciting Collaboration For The Environmental Education Fund -
EEF’s is again collaborating with Encompass New Opera Theatre to produce the “Paradigm Shifts Music and Film Festival.”  This year, the festival will cover eleven days, from March 19 to March 29, with environmental and cultural heritage documentaries, “Skype-ing” with film makers and Paul Watson of Sea Shepherd, and performances by well-known musicians.  Opening night will be celebrated with a special reception, previews of the festival offerings and a special guest host.  At a special family matinee, on Saturday, March 21, Broadway singer Adrianne Hick will lead us on a musical sea trip!  There is sure to be something of interest for everyone in this eleven day festival.

EEF President Lindsey Kayman and Encompass Artistic Director Nancy Rhodes have worked wonders this year, to enlarge the festival and move it to the Engelman Recital Hall of the beautiful Baruch Performing Arts Center at 55 Lexington Avenue (at 25th Street) in Manhattan.  This location is convenient for traveling by train from New Jersey.

Please join us to support EEF’s education mission.  Learn about current environmental and heritage issues and meet interesting people, while being entertained and inspired!

REMEMBER!

The New Jersey Environmental Lobby is your voice in Trenton. We are an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization focused on the preservation and protection of a healthy environment for all our citizens. We need your support! JOIN NJEL and help us change the laws!

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