New Administration Backs Legacy Battle to Block Channel Plan

Gov. Christie joined two prominent democrats to present a united front opposing the Army Corps of Engineers plan to dredge and deepen the Delaware River

The change in the Governor’s office in New Jersey is not affecting the state’s opposition to a plan to deepen a channel in the Delaware River.

In a bipartisan show of support, Gov. Chris Christie today was joined by two prominent Democrats at Red Bank Battlefield in National Park on the river. Participants proclaimed they will continue to fight the project, timing the event to the day the Army Corps of Engineers was scheduled to begin the deepening.

The plan to deepen a 102-mile stretch of the river from 40 feet to 45 feet is touted by proponents as a way to bring more economic activity to ports along the Pennsylvania and New Jersey. But the project has been delayed by litigation in federal courts for more than a decade.

“We don’t have to win every battle, but we have to win this war,’’ Christie told a small gathering of people, including members of the New Jersey Environmental Federation, which had endorsed the Republican in the fall race for Governor. “The plan makes no sense, no sense economically and it is environmentally damaging.’’

Environmentalists oppose the project because they fear toxins buried in the sediments will spread throughout the river. They also do not want the dredge spoils dumped here in New Jersey.

“This project threatens our river and region with lost river jobs, pollution, contaminated drinking water, damaged wetlands and harmed species,’’ said Maya van Rossum, the Delaware Riverkeeper.

Rep. Rob Andrews, the Democrat congressman from the 1st District, said New Jersey would fight the project on three fronts: in federal court, in Congress to withhold funding for the project and in Pennsylvania, convincing officials to honor previous commitments not to begin the project until all necessary state environmental permits have been secured, which had yet to happen.

New Jersey should not allow itself to be the dumping ground for the region’s problems, according to state Senate President Stephen Sweeney.

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