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Archive for March, 2010

“I am so tired of hearing that you have to choose between a clean environment and a healthy economy”

As someone who grew up in Louisiana and spent much of her working life in New Jersey, it’s no surprise that Lisa Jackson truly understands the necessary balance between business growth and the health and safety of the public.

It’s never either or. Building and running a business has costs. Those costs should never be dumped on the public because it’s cheaper to externalize the costs then account for them on the books.

The state’s role is to work with the public and businesses and determine what our true competitive advantages are and how they relate to our core values. We then create strategies and collaborative mechanisms to build NJ’s competitive advantage while protecting the public’s health and safety. It’s never either or.

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Bill Wolfe, the Director of NJ Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) has a great post on the legislative and gubernatorial assault on NJ environmental standards. (H/T to Blue Jersey)

Wolfe does a great job highlighting the historic rollback of environmental regulations that the governor and compliant legislators are proposing in the name of business efficiency and competitiveness. It’s well worth a read simply for his explanation of the ways in which these proposals are nothing less than an assault on the New Deal itself. We usually think of attacks on the New Deal as assaults on the social safety net and labor law, however Wolfe writes that this proposed legislation guts the ability of our state government to utilize experts in making laws to protect our public health and safety.

This bill (A2486) essentially Palinizes decades of efforts to protect NJ citizens from the worst abuses of polluters who routinely externalize their costs into New Jersey’s air and water.

The meat of Wolfe’s post is his written testimony which very clearly lays out the case for why stricter environmental standards are so critical for NJ. We have the highest population density out of all 50 states and we are a major transportation corridor. Our needs are very distinct from other states and have in fact served as a model for new federal standards as national conditions change and the science improves. Our density alone and the close proximity of our industrial corridors with our residential towns calls for strict controls and effective enforcement.

Since the Chemical Control Fire in Elizabeth in 1980 NJ has made great strides in cleaning up our air, our waterways and abandoned factory and warehouse sites. We’ve also done a great job in preserving what little is left of our open spaces and green corridors. Using the Great Recession as an excuse to roll back progress and jeopardize our health and safety is simply inexcusable.

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