In honor of Earth Month, the USA TODAY NETWORK is highlighting the environmentally important locations and
wildlife throughout the nation in an effort to guard, protect and have fun the setting.
April 22 marked my eighth Earth Day as commissioner of the New Jersey Division of Environmental Safety. Though there may be nonetheless loads of work to be achieved at DEP within the remaining months of the Christie administration, Earth Week gives a wonderful alternative to assessment a few of this administration’s environmental achievements.
After I was named DEP commissioner, I had two fundamental targets:
The primary was to depart New Jersey’s air, water and land cleaner than we discovered it and to make sure that our state’s pure and historic sources continued to be protected, maintained and expanded for the good thing about the general public.
The second was to remodel DEP right into a division that understood that environmental safety and financial prosperity usually are not mutually unique targets and that was dedicated to offering actual customer support – not simply lip service – to everybody with whom we work together.
So how have we achieved?
EDITORIAL:Planet Earth wants a little bit respect
EARTH DAY:Find out how to have fun in North Jersey
WILDLIFE:NJ has bobcats? Yep, here is a strategy to save them
With respect to our first objective, I’m happy to have the ability to report that at the moment, our air, water and land are cleaner than they had been seven and a half years in the past, and our pure and historic sources are higher protected.
New Jersey’s air high quality has continued to enhance. On account of our dedication to cleaner energy crops, now we have dramatically diminished greenhouse fuel emissions. New Jersey ranks 47th-lowest within the nation for sulfur dioxide emissions, 46th-lowest for nitrogen oxide emissions, and 43rd-lowest for carbon dioxide emissions.
And to make sure that the air that comes into New Jersey on the prevailing winds from states to our west can also be cleaner, we pressured the closure of a unclean energy plant throughout the Delaware River in Pennsylvania and sued one other energy plant in that state, forcing them to improve their air pollution controls.
Our state’s water high quality continues to enhance. This administration has maintained unwavering opposition to offshore drilling or liquefied pure fuel amenities in New Jersey, and off the coast of different states that might negatively influence New Jersey’s waters and seashores. We have now diminished discharges into the ocean from soiled storm water, holding our ocean waters among the many cleanest within the nation. This previous summer season, our ocean seashores had been open 99.9 p.c of the time.
We developed and applied a complete 10-point technique to revive and defend Barnegat Bay, fulfilling a dedication to handle short- and long-term wants of this ecological gem – additionally a significant driver of New Jersey’s $42 billion tourism trade.
In collaboration with different federal, state and native companies, we investigated and efficiently tracked down the sources of contamination within the coastal Wreck Pond and within the Shark River, and stopped it. We additionally initiated and accomplished a flood management and ecological enhancement undertaking to alleviate the decades-long drawback of Wreck Pond flooding the group, impacting the coastal setting and inflicting seashore closures.
Our public consuming water provides are intently monitored to make sure that New Jerseyans are getting secure, clear water. And we’re making important progress in addressing the historic drawback of mixed sewer overflows (CSOs). CSOs degrade water high quality by combining, in instances of heavy rains, storm water and wastewater and discharging that untreated water instantly into our waterways. We’ve issued the permits wanted to start eliminating the final of New Jersey’s CSOs.
New Jersey’s land can also be cleaner. We have now slashed the stock of 20,000 recognized contaminated websites by 30 p.c. Right now, extra contaminated websites are actively being labored on – and they’re being cleaned up quicker – than ever earlier than. By addressing the contamination on these websites, once-polluted land is being returned to productive financial use.
As well as, a further 44,000 acres have been added to the state’s open area stock over the previous seven and a half years. We have now expanded our roster of state parks by opening the primary state park in Gloucester County, New Jersey’s 40th, and now we have improved the facilities obtainable in our parks. On the identical time, we’re utilizing Inexperienced Acres funds to enhance native and county parks.
None of those accomplishments would have been doable if we had not achieved my second objective – the transformation of DEP. With out weakening a single environmental customary, now we have restored widespread sense to scores of rules, making them simpler to know and adjust to, whereas guaranteeing that their focus is on successfully defending the setting with out enlarging the forms.
We have now additionally made it simpler to work with DEP by enhancing customer support and leveraging know-how. After I arrived at DEP, we put all 2,800 staff by way of customer support coaching, and all new staff obtain coaching. Greater than 90 permits can now be utilized for on-line, and other people can now purchase a fishing license, make a tenting reservation or buy a searching license from their pc, pill or cell system.
DEP additionally performed a essential position in serving to New Jersey get better from the devastating results of Superstorm Sandy. Not solely did DEP assist with restoration within the quick aftermath, we additionally proceed to work to make New Jersey extra resilient within the face of future storms. We’re simply months away from finishing probably the most complete coastal safety system of seashores, dunes and flood management buildings now we have ever had, which can defend numerous lives and property from future storms.
Right now, New Jersey’s air, water and land are cleaner and higher protected than they had been in January 2010, and that progress continues. As well as, DEP’s transformation implies that our division is healthier in a position than ever earlier than to fulfill the wants of these now we have the honour to serve – the current and future generations of our nice state.
All of that is value celebrating as we, as soon as once more, mark Earth Week.
Bob Martin has served as commissioner of the New Jersey Division of Environmental Safety since his appointment by Governor Christie in January 2010.