Yesterday, April 2, 2019, Governor Murphy signed Executive Order 63 establishing new regulatory principles to foster economic growth and government efficiency and protect the environment, health, safety, and welfare of New Jersey’s residents and communities. The executive order acknowledges that “low-income communities are often subjected to further disadvantages by the lack of attention towards “Environmental Justice,” which includes, at a minimum, ensuring that residents of all communities receive fair and equitable treatment in decisionmaking that affects their environment, communities, homes, and health, and incorporating such considerations into the regulatory process”.
Ironically on this very same day lawyers working for the state of New Jersey’s Attorney General’s Office announced plans to take additional legal action against Baysave’s over our plan to remove boat docks and unpermitted structures. Again, like prior actions, they don’t object to the compliance and restoration plan itself but rather they are not happy with the pace of our progress or the delays in obtaining funding for the work. Meanwhile, specific unnamed individuals within the NJDEP have reportedly worked to block our efforts toward approval of projects that would achieve environmental compliance.
The pace of environmental compliance progress here at the bayshore is dependent on the availability of funding, suitable weather conditions, available contractors and appropriate equipment. We are moving as quickly as possible under the current circumstances. The constant legal attacks by the gang-ups of the NJDEP with the Attorney General’s office continue to erode the welfare of our community and undermine our efforts toward environmental compliance and sustainability.
Money Island and its working waterfront businesses are located among the lower working class income sections of New Jersey in rural Cumberland County. Watermen here typically do not have access to the economic, educational, or technological resources that people in other areas take for granted. Our local governments, community organizations and businesses are no match for the awesome powers and unlimited budgets of the out-of-sync state lawyers and disorganized policymakers in Trenton. The state has proven again and again to be unable to effectively address corruption and incompetence within its ranks. The result: those within the poorest communities become victims of government’s abuse of power.
Baysave representatives have called, written and emailed Governor Murphy’s office about the apparent mismatch in government actions and resulting injustice inflicted on the businesses at Money Island. Last month Baysave’s Tony Novak submitted public comment to Governor Murphy’s executive order on environmental justice to the NJDEP’s Office of Environmental Justice. No response has been received other than an acknowledgement of receipt of the comment. Yesterday we asked Baysave’s government relations liaison and proposed compliance project engineer to please step up their efforts to establish communications with state government on Money Island permitting and sustainability planning. Obviously there is a serious disconnect on the progress of what is theoretically possible and what is actually happening.
The Governor’s new executive order becomes effective June 1, We will likely be involved in communicating with the Attorney General’s office and the Commissioner of the NJDEP – two of the state officials charged with responsibility for carrying out this executive order – about the observed actions in violation of this state policy. Meanwhile we have asked our government liaison and civil engineer to step up efforts to communicate with government to curb the next round of proposed government abuse of power.
The executive order states “we should also strive to identify ways to maximize regulatory efficiency by simplifying and streamlining the public’s ease of access to the machinery of government and to enhance the ability of regulated communities to communicate and interact with the regulatory agencies that oversee their actions, professions, occupations, and endeavors”. Yes! That’s exactly what we’ve been talking about! The complete lack of communication and mismatch of planning between the state, county, local government and community groups like Baysave is a disaster for our community.
We must do better. Baysave remains committed to getting state government to work with our communities and not against us.