Reasonably Ascertainable Reality

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Location: South Jersey, United States

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Environmental Corruption in NJ

A really interesting article today in the Courier Post.

Of the seven streams that Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bradley Campbell has protected from developers by identifying them as "ecologically significant," at least four abut land owned by people with ties to the Democratic Party or to Campbell himself.
In one case, Campbell's department banned developers from a stream running through the valley shared by the circa 1730 Hunterdon County farm owned by former U.S. Sen. Robert G. Torricelli, a Democrat.
In another case, environmental protections went up along a stream below the home and farm pond owned by Carla Katz, president of Communications Workers of America Local 1034, which represents about 9,000 state workers, including 2,379 of the DEP's 3,450 employees. The DEP granted Katz an exemption from Highlands Act restrictions to expand and upgrade the 205-year-old farmhouse.
Katz has been in the news lately after it was disclosed that her former sweetheart, U.S. Sen. Jon Corzine, D-Hoboken, forgave a $470,000 loan to pay off a mortgage on her property. Corzine is running for governor against Republican Doug Forrester and eight third-party or independent candidates. Should the senator become governor, his administration would have to negotiate salaries and benefits with his former lover, among others.
A top aide to Katz is married to a deputy to Campbell at the Department of Environmental Protection. That couple, too, resides on a stream in Frenchtown that the department afforded protections against developers.
In a fourth case, an environmental activist who is a friend of Campbell's wife lives in Stockton. A nearby stream that babbles through a valley at the north end of town won state protections, helping preserve the calm that marks that community, which abuts a riffle-filled stretch of the Delaware River.


Some might be tempted to call this a 'victim-less crime'. After all, how could more stream protection against development be a bad thing. But it turns out, that there are other streams that don't maintain these C-1 protections against development that are more beneficial to NJ.

Tittel said there are stretches of the Ramapo and the Musconetcong that are more needy for C1 protections. "We asked for about 300 to be protected," Tittel said.

Political corruption and so-called 'pay to play' in NJ is about as old as dirt. I wouldn't be surprised in the least if these protections were given solely on the basis of who's property the streams abut.

Its a dangerous precedent though. New Jersey is a very unique state as far as its rivers, tributaries and creeks are concerned. Many areas of NJ are underlain completely by sand. This sand creates a filter through which huge amounts of contaminants and pollutants are able to be filtered out or at least decreased in concentration prior to reaching NJ's precious groundwater reserves. This is not an insignificant fact, especially in pollutant rich NJ.

Hunterdon County and areas northwest of Trenton generally are not underlain by this sand, as this part of NJ was either glaciated (i.e. covered by glacier during the last ice age) or is remnants of materials that the glacier pushed from farther north. These areas are underlain by large expanses of rock. It doesn't make these areas any less ecologically important, but one wonders how many of South Jerseys environmentally significant streams and tributaries and wetlands have not received these C1 protections from the NJDEP.

Taking a look around at the amount of development in South Jersey, and knowing the hundreds and creeks and streams that are down here, it would seem, not many. If I get a bug up my ass, I might check it out.

9 Comments:

Blogger scott said...

Hey K,

More corruption in NJ. We gots to get in on some of this.

http://environmentalrepublican.blogspot.com/2005/08/new-jersey-politics.html

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