Monday, August 03, 2009
NJ Environmental Groups Call for DEP Investigation Following Corruption Arrests
"New Jersey's air, land and water are major victims of political corruption in this state. If we want our state to be green, we need to make politics clean," stated Dena Mottola Jaborska, the Executive Director of Environment New Jersey. "These reforms will help to ensure that government leaders make environmental policy decisions based on science and the law, not money and influence."
The reform agenda was developed by "CleanGreenNJ," a new consortium of environmental and public interest organizations which includes Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), Environment NJ, NJ Environmental Federation, NJ Environmental Lobby, NJ Sierra Club, Surfrider Foundation and others.
"We can never have clean air or clean water without clean government," said Jeff Tittel, NJ Sierra Club Director. "Just like we have to clean up toxic waste sites, we have to clean up government and that is why we are forming this coalition. In New Jersey, development has become part of enterprise corruption: you take a worthless piece of property, use pay to play to change the zoning and get permits and then make millions. We have to stop this cycle of corruption that leads to sprawl and overdevelopment"
CleanGreenNJ's platform calls on Governor Corzine and the NJ State legislature to:
Investigate DEP operations and enforce ethics rules
Empower DEP whistleblowers
Bring transparency for citizen watchdogs
Fix the campaign finance system
and prohibit legislators from receiving outside sources of income Rein in recent developer initiatives
"DEP conducts public business behind closed doors, and provides routine daily access to political players and corporate lobbyists," said Bill Wolfe, Director of New Jersey PEER. "This access is used to influence science and regulatory decisions and weaken protections. DEP then conceals these liaisons from the public by refusing to publish visitor logs, honor OPRA requests, or disclose meeting schedules. In fact, they even retaliate against conscientious employees who disclose corrupt practices."
"This is not just a few bad apples," added David Pringle, Campaign Director for the New Jersey Environmental Federation. "This is systemic corruption."
More points of view on the problem can be found at nj.com.