NEW DEP SCIENCE ADVISORY BOARD STARTS WORK
(10/P90) TRENTON - The Department of Environmental Protection's new Science Advisory Board (SAB) met for the first time this week, and its scientists, educators and experts were immediately challenged with a 17-item priority list of key statewide environmental issues to consider.
Commissioner Bob Martin personally greeted the 16-member board at its inaugural meeting in Trenton, thanking them for volunteering to help guide the Department on a host of complex environmental issues facing the state. He challenged the board to be an independent, non-political voice to ensure accurate science is the guiding principal in DEP decisions.
"When I took this job, I vowed that actions taken by the Department would be based on science and facts,'' Commissioner Martin said. "Having some of New Jersey's best and brightest people on board, in science, academia and business, will equip us to do just that.''
"The magnitude of what we are dealing with at the DEP is expansive, from air and water quality and wildlife issues to beach erosion and dunes, and protection of open spaces and natural resources. We'll be able to tap the Science Advisory Board's expertise to help us address these issues, to let us know if what we are proposing makes sense based on facts and the latest scientific data.''
The new panel, chaired by Professor Judith Weis of Rutgers University, who is an expert on biological sciences, was presented with a host of initial topics, ranging from water quality, climate and atmosphere, ecological processes and environmental mitigation to soil remediation and public health.
The SAB will complement work already being done by a top group of dedicated DEP scientists, and provide peer review on scientific and technical matters, said Commissioner Martin. It will be supplemented by four new standing scientific committees, comprised of other highly qualified science, education and business volunteers. Those committees include Ecological Processes, Public Health, Water Quality and Quantity, and Climate and Atmospheric Sciences.
The Science Advisory Board and the four committees are comprised of science experts, with a high percentage coming from the academic community. Included are Rutgers University, Seton Hall University, Clarkson University, Drexel University, Kean University, Montclair State University, Monmouth University, New Jersey Institute of Technology, Rider University, Stevens Institute of Technology, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey and William Paterson University.
"Having people available with this extensive knowledge, skill and multidisciplinary backgrounds will certainly help the Science Advisory Board fulfill its mission to provide advice and peer review to the Commissioner,'' said Gary Buchanan, Manager of the DEP's Office of Science.
A list of the Science Advisory Board's initial priority topics, plus a complete list of members of the SAB and its four standing committees, and their qualifications, are available at: http://www.state.nj.us/dep/sab/