Environmental Group Charges That NJDEP Is Using Hurricane To Get Rid Of Key Protections

STATE – An environmental group has asked the federal Environmental Protection Agency to step in after the state Department of Environmental Protection issued a blanket waiver of regulations to allow local governments and state agencies to rebuild infrastructure more quickly following Hurricane Sandy.

“We need the EPA to step in and ensure that no federal environmental protections are violated as a result of the DEP’s actions,” said Jeff Tittel, director of the NJ Sierra Club. “We must do emergency repairs and start the process of rebuilding. But we must do it right, in a way that protects the environment because otherwise we are only going to make flooding worse and have more destruction the next time.”

Tittel expressed concerns that the state DEP is using the storm as an excuse to get rid of environmental protections.

“The flood which is a terrible disaster and tragedy for many is being used by the administration to deregulate and eliminate environmental protections in coastal areas leading to more flooding and more problems, not less,” Tittel said. With the waiver, “you could build a road through a wetland to fix a culvert or fill in a flood hazard area to fix a bridge, which will only create more problems,” he added.

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