Thursday, April 30, 2009

Bringing the Bush Administration to New Jersey

In New Jersey this year we have a race for governor. Like New York City, the state of Virginia, and a few other jurisdictions, we do our local races in odd-numbered years. The current incumbent has been uninspiring but about as effective as one might expect under the economic and fiscal circumstances. Arrayed against him are several Republican challengers.

Apparently one of the challengers decided to distinguish himself from the pack by launching an attack on the Department of Environmental Protection. Now there are various reasons why one might criticize that agency. Many environmentalists in the state feel that it has been ineffective in fulfilling its duties, especially in protecting waterways and cleaning up toxic waste sites. Staff at the DEP has dropped by 12% over the past four years, reducing its ability to enforce environmental regulations. A plan to reduce costs and speed remediation by privatizing toxic waste cleanup has also sparked controversy.

But no, our candidate objects to none of those things. He objects to the DEP doing its job.

Layoffs of state workers, beginning with those in the Department of Environmental Protection, would be among the first cost-saving measures to reduce government's size, Republican gubernatorial candidate Chris Christie said Tuesday.

Christie said the DEP takes too long to process permits and levies indiscriminate fines only to negotiate them down, a strong-arm tactic he said one business owner he spoke with likened to dealing with organized crime.

"We have people at the DEP who have forgotten the basic tenet of public service, and that is they work for the public, not the other way around. They're too big, and they're too unfriendly, and they're killing business in this state," Christie said, following a State House news conference where he criticized Gov. Jon S. Corzine's record on taxes.
Thank goodness we do not need the DEP for anything, like cleaning up the state! After all, we already have clean air, right?
New Jersey's air was given failing grades for a 10th consecutive year by the American Lung Association in its annual "State of the Air" report, which again found that people in rural corners of the state suffer as badly as they do in the grittiest urban areas....

South Jersey was ranked 16th with the Philadelphia region in general on a list of "25 Most Ozone-Polluted" cities, and North Jersey was ranked 17th on the same list with the New York City area.

North Jersey was additionally grouped with the New York City area to rank 22nd among the "25 U.S. Cities Most Polluted by Year-Round Particle Pollution."

On the list of "25 U.S. Cities Most Polluted by Short-term Particle Pollution," North Jersey was again lumped with the New York City area for a 16th ranking, and South Jersey was linked with Philadelphia for a 20th ranking on the same list....

The lung association also issued an F grade to every county measured for the health hazard called "ozone" pollution, which involves oxides of nitrogen and volatile organic compounds being heated up by sunlight.
Alright, maybe we do need a functional DEP for something.