Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Enviros get a pecking at final lame duck session in NJ

** Updated at 6:40 p.m. on January 10, 2012**

Back in the good old days, environmental activists in New Jersey could basically phone in their order and the state legislature would deliver.  Yesterday, in a state reeling from high unemployment, even higher taxes, and no easy fixes, the takeout window was closed.

Environmental organizations had a long list of bills they wanted passed and defeated on the final day of the State Legislature's 214th Session. In in the weeks leading up to the final showdown, they diligently pulled out all the stops to advance their cause--news conferences, editorial board contacts, mailings to their members urging phone calls to legislators, and, finally, one-on-one contacts with lawmakers yesterday in the State House.

When the final votes were cast, they counted up several victories, but significantly more painful defeats.

Among yesterday's environmental lobby victories

S-1954, a bill that the enviros opposed that would have permitted logging on state-owned lands, failed to be posted for a final vote in the Assembly.

, a bill that would have removed the authority of the DEP Commissioner to overrule the decisions of  administrative law judges in contested cases, failed to be posted for a final vote in the Senate.

Among yesterday's environmental lobby defeats

S-3156, which would delay implementation of tough new water quality rules aimed at preserving more than 300,000 acres of environmentally sensitive land, passed both houses and was sent to the governor.

S-2371, a bill designed to support the state's solar energy installation industry by requiring utilities to increase their purchases of energy produced from solar, failed to be posted for a vote in the Senate.  

A-3782, a bill restricting use of lawn care pesticides at child care centers, and certain schools, playgrounds, and recreational fields, failed to be considered in the Assembly.

A-4279, a bill revising renewable energy requirements under the "Electric Discount and Energy Competition Act" failed to be considered in the Assembly

In addition, the Legislature ignored SCR 164 that sought to override Governor Christie's decision to remove the state from the regional greenhouse gas compact, RGGI.

Also failing to pass was SCR 239, a resolution declaring the Department of Environmental Protection’s  Waiver Rule inconsistent with Legislative intent. The Sierra Club had called the waiver  "one of the most anti-environmental rules that have ever been proposed.

In a coup de grace, the Senate and Assembly agreed to implement Governor Christie's recommended changes to the fracking-ban bill, S-2576, making it a one-year instead of a permanent ban. The enviros had called for an total override of the governor's veto. (Will the NJ Senate override Christie's fracking ban veto?)

Recent blog posts:
Will the NJ Senate override Christie's fracking ban veto?
Natural gas fracking has new PR problem - Earthquakes

Federal court freezes EPA cross-state air pollution rules
Time runs out on Delaware's offshore wind project


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