DEP RESPONDS TO SENATE
(03/89) TRENTON Calling a
budget proposal released on Monday evening by Senator Littell
and other members of the Senate Budget Committee "irresponsible,"
New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP)
Commissioner Bradley M. Campbell today said cuts in funding
will hurt shore protection, open space and toxic waste clean
"This budget proposal reflects the
wrong values for the people of New Jersey. They will be
weakening environmental protection under the guise of fiscal
prudence. Under the prior administration, DEP's budget was
slashed, programs and personnel cut, and standards in enforcement
weakened," DEP Commissioner Bradley M. Campbell said.
The Littell-led proposal for a $138 million
reduction in the capital construction project threatens
$75.2 million constitutionally dedicated for open space
preservation throughout the state, $25 million for shore
protection, $30.7 million for hazardous waste cleanups,
and $24.9 million for underground tank cleanup and brownfield
"The McGreevey administration has
identified clean air, clean drinking water, a healthier
environment and a better quality of life among its highest
priorities. The people of New Jersey share these values.
We are making real progress in our efforts to reverse the
mistakes of the past. Now that we have begun to turn the
corner, this budget undermines our progress and ignores
the will of the people," Campbell said.
The budget proposal targets programs that
protect the quality of New Jerseys 127 miles of Atlantic
Ocean coastline. Specifically, funding for shore protection
programs that would replenish beaches is vulnerable under
"The Jersey shore has made tourism
one of the states highest-ranking industries. Tourism
along our coastal communities contributes upwards of $16
billion to the state economy and employs hundreds of thousands
of people. In the face of those facts, the proposal to slash
shore funding is beyond all reason," Campbell said.
The DEP budget would fund some 40 shore
protection projects in coastal communities including Absecon
Island and Brigantine in Atlantic County; and the Belmar
to Manasquan beach fill in Monmouth County.
This year, the DEP received requests for
more than $400 million for open space preservation funding
from local governments and nonprofit organizations that
are working to combat sprawl, provide local parks and preserve
New Jerseys remaining precious, undeveloped land resources.
The proposed cuts would delay state support for many of
The additional proposal to divert $5 million
recovered in natural resource damage settlements will prevent
the state from undertaking restoration projects to compensate
New Jerseyans for economic and natural resource losses caused
by contamination of drinking water and fisheries. After
many years of neglect, the McGreevey Administration is stepping
up efforts to ensure that responsible parties for contamination
and for lost use of natural resources restore ecological
injuries and pay damage assessments. If the proposal is
adopted, communities that have already waited too long for
the state fulfill its role as the trustee and protector
of the peoples natural resources will have to wait
This proposal will also effect hazardous
waste cleanup funding for contaminated sites where responsible
parties either refuse or are unable to conduct remediation
work. Major projects include the Horseshoe Road, Roebling
Steel, and Higgins Disposal Superfund sites, which require
state funding to ensure federal trust fund monies are available
for these cleanups.
In addition, these cuts would reverse the
progress Governor James E. McGreevey has achieved -- with
bipartisan support in the Legislature -- to make underground
storage tank cleanup funds available to municipalities and
developers to restore brownfield sites to productive use.