Trenton – Environment New Jersey called on Gov. Christie to take stronger steps to protect the Jersey Shore today at the State House. After experiencing a summer filled with beach closings, algae blooms, and jellyfish invasions, New Jersey residents were eager to echo the group’s call to action.
“Pollution at the Jersey Shore is getting bad again. Just this summer alone, we saw 119 beach closings,” said Megan Fitzpatrick, Clean Water Associate with Environment New Jersey. “Barnegat Bay had a particularly rough summer. All the problems we saw Shore-wide were worse in the Bay. It’s the canary in the coal mine.”
At the event, Environment New Jersey delivered close to 8,000 signed petitions from citizens all over the state – from Westfield to Haddonfield, Morristown to Highland Park, and everywhere in between – urging Gov. Christie to act now to protect the Shore. Environment New Jersey outreach staff, including Eric Gauvin, joined the event to help deliver the petitions they had helped gather from citizens.
“People in New Jersey remember how disgusted they were in the 1980s when medical waste threatened to spoil the Shore. Back then, citizens demanded their leaders adopt solutions, and leaders acted with strong solutions,” said Eric Gauvin. “This past summer, citizens once again took a stand, demanding the Governor provide strong solutions that will protect the Shore.”
This summer, Environment New Jersey went door-to-door educating New Jerseyans about the issues threatening the Shore. The citizen-based environmental advocacy organization talked to over 100,000 citizens in more than 85 New Jersey towns.
The group says Governor Christie must do much more than he has to date to protect water quality at the Shore, especially Barnegat Bay, which is in dire condition. The group called on the Governor to adopt strict limits on nitrogen pollution plaguing Barnegat Bay by the end of next year. They also called for protections for open spaces that are needed to protect water quality at the Shore.
Other groups echoed Environment New Jersey’s call. “We do not need any more studies. We need action or Barnegat Bay will die. We have turned Barnegat Bay into New Jersey’s largest storm water basin and the Bay has become polluted from all that run off. Instead of photo ops and walking along the boardwalk we need real policies that will protect the Bay from overdevelopment and pollution,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of New Jersey Sierra Club. “If New Jersey does not move forward to implement; a strict nutrient standard, a TMDL, clean up storm water and protect our waterways, we will risk the $4 billion that the bay contributes to our economy through tourism. Even more importantly we will lose one of the Jersey Shore's special places,” Tittel concluded.
“The NJ DEP has started gathering information necessary for making an impairment determination for Barnegat Bay,” said Jaclyn Rhoads from the Pinelands Preservation Alliance. “PPA and other groups urge the Department to expedite this work to ensure an impairment determination is made by this summer, so that work can begin immediately for setting nutrient limits essential for reversing the degradation in Barnegat Bay.”
“We’re here today to let the Governor know that New Jerseyans are deeply concerned about the problems facing the beloved Jersey Shore. The future of one of our state’s most treasured places is in the Governor’s hands and he must act swiftly and strongly,” concluded Gauvin.
Environment New Jersey is a statewide, citizen-based advocacy organization dedicated to clean air, clean water, and open space. For more information, please visit www.environmentnewjersey.org