Environmental groups unite to oppose changes in N.J. flood-hazard rules

At news conference on steps of the New Jersey Statehouse Environmental leaders urge lawmakers to block proposed rule changes (Phil Gregory/WHYY)

At news conference on steps of the New Jersey Statehouse Environmental leaders urge lawmakers to block proposed rule changes (Phil Gregory/WHYY)

Environmental groups are urging New Jersey lawmakers to block the Christie administration’s changes in flood-hazard rules.

Efforts to roll back clean-water regulations will create generations of dirty water problems, said Jennifer Coffey, executive director of the Association of New Jersey Environment Commissions.

“These proposed rollbacks must be stopped to protect people against additional flooding impacts and to ensure that we have enough clean water to meet all of New Jersey’s needs now and in the future,” she said during a news conference Tuesday on the steps of the New Jersey Statehouse in Trenton.

New Jersey Sierra Club director Jeff Tittel said the amended rules put people and property in harm’s way.

“They’re a major rollback in the protection of our drinking water, getting rid of stream buffers, allowing for development that’s inappropriate next to our most important trout steams and water supply streams, allowing for more development in flood-prone areas,” he said.

Doug O’Malley, the director of Environment New Jersey, said the rule changes could be halted if state lawmakers pass a resolution against them.

“We’re on the cusp of seeing history being made for the Legislature standing up for its own legislative intent,” O’Malley said. “It’s time for the Legislature and members of both parties not to be bullied by Chris Christie, to stand up for clean water.”

Builders and business groups support the amended rules they say will streamline the process for construction — and help boost the economy.

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