Welcome to Clean Water on the Move, your monthly update from Clean Water Action and Clean Water Fund in New Jersey. Take a look at what our amazing staff has been up to and what is coming in the month ahead. Thanks for your ongoing support for our work towards a healthy environment for all.
Polluters Settle, but Will We?
For over 70 years, CIBA GEIGY Corporation and now Superfund Site in Toms River, NJ has brought harm to people, communities, workers, and the environment.
Since the 1950’s, Ciba-Geigy buried more than 100,000 drums of hazardous waste on the northern edge of the Pine Barrens contaminating potable ground water. It has generated and discharged 5-7 million gallons of chemical liquid wastes a day into the Atlantic less than a half-mile off Ortley Beach.
In 2002, Union Carbide, Ciba Specialty Chemicals, and United Water Toms River agreed to a $13.2 million dollar settlement with 69 families whose children were diagnosed with cancer. Others pursued a class-action suit. Fifteen children have died, and new cases of childhood cancer are being diagnosed each year due to polluted well water.
Now the BASF, current property owner, and NJDEP want to make another settlement – turning much of the land into a park. Our New Jersey Board Chair and Ocean County resident Janet Tauro’s response was quoted in Insider NJ, “A more tragic story of the poisoning of a community would be hard to find. The damage done can never be wholly undone. Nothing will bring back the children who died or alleviate the pain endured by those stricken with cancer, their families, and the community, but we must do better.”
Within hours of the DEP’s announcement, Clean Water Action called for a public hearing on the proposed settlement. The agency subsequently held a public hearing on March 13th at Toms River High School.
Advocating in a Place Close to Home
Brick Township and Ocean County agreed to jointly finance the purchase of Bretton Woods, the last remaining patch (31 acres) of untouched woods in the Township. This was a multi-year effort to protect the woods from being axed down in order to construct 59 four and five bedroom homes.
Clean Water Action's NJ Board Chair and Brick Resident, Janet Tauro and Save Barnegat Bay worked together to publicize and advocate the need to protect this parcel of woods. Watch the TV video here: CBS News.
Getting Out of Harm’s Way with Inland Flood Protection Rules
In December, the long-awaited Inland Flood Protection Rule (IFP) was proposed for comment by the NJDEP. It was supposed to be adopted as an “emergency” rule in June 2022 in order to protect families, businesses, and communities from future Ida’s by moving them to higher ground and/or not building in flood zones.
Unfortunately, the governor not only delayed final rule adoption (no sooner than April 2023, he also gave the NJDOT a pass on the more protective rules.
On January 11, we held a joint press conference at the State House with elected officials, flood victims, emergency responders, affordable housing advocates, and environmental justice leaders, including Clean Water Action’s own National Environmental Justice Director Kim Gaddy. Together, we urged Governor Murphy to adopt the DEP’s long overdue Inland Flood Protection Rule as well as follow up on other climate promises.
Kim Gaddy is featured on this YouTube video (0:51-1:30): “Many victimized families, survivors of Sandy, Ida and worse, are still suffering. We have to do more, better, faster… NJ DOT has to be held to the same standard as everyone else [and] must apply new, better science to existing projects yet to receive critical permits."
TAKE ACTION: While the public comment period is closed, you can still have your voice heard in your local newspaper or local electronic media (your town’s Patch). Submit a letter to the editor sharing your personal flood story and why it is important for the Governor to adopt this rule as fast as possible.
Governor Murphy’s Lack of Urgency is Affecting New Jerseyans
Gov. Murphy’s proposed budget reveals a shocking lack of urgency in addressing the climate crisis despite repeated commitments to the contrary and a historic $10 billion surplus.
In a Gothamist article, Clean Water Action's State Director Amy Goldsmith criticized the state’s ongoing reliance on drawing from its Clean Energy Fund to support other programs, most significantly NJ Transit, which the governor boasted would see a sixth year without fare increases: “The governor has been talking a big clean energy game, but the continued raids to the Clean Energy Fund mean that programs to make clean energy accessible to lower-income residents continue to be out of reach or delayed for those most in need."
Governor Murphy has also delayed NJ’s Environmental Justice rule countless times. Murphy signed the EJ law in September 2020 and advocates accepted a delay in implementing the law when the Murphy Administration committed to adopting the needed rule by November 2021. Governor Murphy in a speech in mid-February said the rule could be further delayed until April 2023 or later.
TAKE ACTION: Urge your legislators to stop the continuing raids on the Clean Energy Fund and NJ Transit. We can fund these critical programs by not sunsetting the existing Corporate Business Tax. Find your New Jersey legislators here and submit a comment.
Welcoming Fresh New Faces and Saying Goodbye to Others
Since December 2022, Clean Water Action has added three new staff members to the New Jersey team! Welcome Cassie Kaba, our new Finance and Development Assistant; Tolani Taylor is our new Zero Emissions and Warehouse Organizer; and Marta Young is our new Zero Waste Specialist.
At our annual board-staff retreat, National CEO and President Bob Wendelgass came to share his thoughts about the future of Clean Water Action and NJ’s campaigns as he moves toward retirement. Thank you, Bob, for your excellent work and congratulations on your retirement!
We are also excited to announce three new additions to our NJ Board, Nancy Facey-Blackwood, Red Bank Environmental Commission Chair; Shaneka Boucher, Social Responsibility Through Me, Camden, President and Bill Nierstedt, Garwood Green Team and Licensed/Retired Planner
IN THE NEWS
- Diverse advocates urge Murphy to strengthen/expedite flood and other climate rules as DEP hearing looms
- NJ announces possible settlement over Toms River’s former Ciba-Geigy chemical site
- Governor Murphy Sets New State Targets to Reduce Fossil Fuel Reliance
- Advocates Urge Tougher Rules to Stem Climate Change
- NJ Budget: Who likes Murphy’s spending plan? Who’s less keen?