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Poll: Is the DEP Protecting or Imperiling New Jersey’s Water Quality?

The department argues that attempts to eliminate red tape are behind its ‘streamlined’ regulations. Do you buy it?

The state Department of Environmental Protection came out with a new proposal this week to overhaul a program used to help local governments decide where to allow new sewer connections. Critics say the proposal could open up environmentally sensitive areas, including parts of the Highlands, to development. Today, the Senate is considering a resolution that would stop a DEP proposal to streamline water regulations, which some environmentalists and others say, rolls back some key safeguards in protecting water quality.

Those proposals are just the latest efforts in what the department and the Christie administration say will streamline and simplify the regulatory process. But critics suggest it reflects a concerted effort to relax some of the nation’s toughest environmental laws in its most densely populated state.

What do you think of these moves?

  • If anything, New Jersey needs to strengthen some of its laws, particularly those aimed at protecting waterways and supplies of drinking water, given that few streams and rivers in the state fail to meet at least one federal water-quality standard. We need to make a 180-degree turn and start considering stricter standards.

  • They’re part of a disturbing trend to roll back regulations and turn our backs on our state’s pro-environmental agenda. They threaten the progress New Jersey has made in recent decades in dealing with pollution problems, preserving vanishing open space, and curbing sprawl and we must do everything we can to put a stop to it.

  • These rollbacks are too drastic. It is all part of the Christie plan to help developers. But many businesses complain that the state is too difficult to deal with and we need to cut through some of our red tape. Once Christie leaves office, the state is likely to be more measured in its decisions. In the meantime, the Legislature must step in and prevent any real weakening of the state’s environmental program.

  • The proposed changes do not lessen protections of the state’s environmental regulations. The professionals in the department have not abandoned their principles. As the DEP has argued, these moves are a common sense approach to achieving real environmental goals.

  • It is way past time to look at the myriad regulations adopted to address these problems and to eliminate duplicative and confusing rules that thwart economic growth in a state that still has not fully recovered from the recession. We have to solve this problem if we want to grow our economy.

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