By David Cruz
The Senate Legislative Oversight Committee chose Earth Day to raise the issue of the long-awaited update to the state’s water supply plan, which is supposed to take stock of the state of our current water stock and find ways to protect and preserve it. In so doing, maybe they could take a shot or two at the governor, who most environmentalists feel has not been a good steward of the state’s natural resources.
“The water plan was last updated in 1996, almost 20 years ago,” noted chairman Sen. Robert Gordon. “The committee extended an invitation to the commissioner of the Department of Environmental Protection or appropriate staff to testify on this subject. … On Monday I received a call from Commissioner [Bob] Martin’s office informing me that the commissioner declined to attend.”
Sierra Club Director Jeff Tittel, the most frequent critic of state environmental policies, testified that New Jersey faced a water crisis if it didn’t address its growing pollution problems and sprawling development. He said the Christie administration is just the latest to ignore this legislatively-mandated update and wondered aloud as to its motivations.
“The failure for that to come out is shameful and is part of an administration whose attack on science and planning is worse than anything I’ve ever seen,” he said.
In a room stacked with environmentalists, Republican Sen. Tom Kean had had enough Christie bashing. He called out Tittel for what he thought were highly-partisan remarks.
“The Kean administration put out a statewide water plan. The Florio administration did not. The Whitman administration put out a water plan. The McGreevey, Codey, Corzine administration have not,” he said to Tittel. “Would you call the Florio, McGreevey, Codey, Corzine administrations shameful?”
“I’m not shy about criticizing every administration,” replied Tittel.
A DEP spokesperson told NJTV News, “We’re continuing to work on final revisions to the plan, but at this point we do not have a firm release date.”
In the end, committee members agreed that they would all sign on to a letter asking the DEP to get the lead out — so to speak — and present a final revision of the plan. Only then, they say, will anyone really have an idea of whether or not the state’s water supply is really in jeopardy or if the environmentalists here are simply all wet.