STATE—Although Gov. Jon Corzine is locked in a tough re-election campaign against former U.S. Attorney Christopher Christie, the incumbent has done nothing to please environmentalists that have refused to endorse the Democrat and are instead encouraging voters to cast their ballot for independent Christopher Daggett, a former Environmental Protection Agency official with virtually no chance of winning.
On the contrary, Corzine remains hostile to environmental protection.
Environmental protection, the rights of citizens, and even local government authority over land use planning could be swept aside by a package of 12 development bills being rushed through the Legislature, of which five have already been signed into law by Corzine.
A group of developer special interests behind the Corzine agenda is working to steamroll bills to undermine environmental protections and planning across the state during the post-election lame duck session.
Corzine’s dismal record has not been strongly challenged in the Legislature, prompting the Sierra Club to endorse only 32 Assembly candidates from among the 160 seats that will be filled by voters on Nov. 3. Twenty-eight incumbents and four challengers are among the 24 Democrats and 8 Republicans backed by the group.
Last year, Corzine signed legislation sponsored by Assemblyman Joseph Cryan known as the Permit Extension Act.
“Disguised as a fix to a short-term problem, the Permit Extension Act is a long-term giveaway to New Jersey’s developer lobby,” said Sierra Club of New Jersey Director Jeff Tittel. “In essence, this would mean that the Bush Administration, with its atrocious environmental record, would be more protective of the environment than the New Jersey legislature.”
Cryan, a top Corzine ally whose campaign funds have received large donations from developers and polluters, defended the measure saying, “Without this relief, it could cost business tens of millions of dollars for re-permitting.”
“Developers and their cronies will have the power to stop environmental protections, to force towns to accept development, and to stop the preservation of open space – all without any meaningful public input,” said Sierra Club of New Jersey Director Jeff Tittel. “This bill is the COAH (state Council on Affordable Housing) on steroids and will create a developer dictatorship.”
Another bill supported by Corzine will replace state Department of Environmental Protection professionals who clean up toxic sites with licensed contractors employed by polluters.
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