PRESS RELEASE

NEW JERSEY WILL MISS WEDNESDAY’S WATER QUALITY DEADLINE

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Trenton — After repeated postponements, the New Jersey Department of Environmental
Protection will still not issue promised rules to set standards to reduce the
discharge of mercury, PCBs and DDT into the state’s waterways, according
to documents released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility
(PEER). DEP will not act by this Wednesday’s legal deadline nor is a new
deadline set.

Internal DEP emails and memos reveal that Commissioner Bradley Campbell’s
personal off the record meeting with chemical industry lobbyists doomed the
standards initially proposed by the DEP in November 2002. That proposal was
allowed to expire. But instead or re-proposing the standards, DEP has been working
behind-the-scenes with the chemical industry on a “variance” loophole
that would shield polluters from the toxic standards in the event that the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency federally imposed the proposed standards on
New Jersey. The DEP’s original proposal did not include the variance loophole.

The standards are designed to protect the bald eagle, peregrine falcon and
other river-dependent species from the effects of toxic buildup. If re-proposed
and adopted, they would force hundreds of industrial facilities, sewage treatment
plants, and toxic waste sites to reduce ongoing discharges of mercury, PCBs
and the pesticide DDT into state waters. DEP missed the original 2003 target
date and, by all appearances, will also miss the new 2005 deadline set for this
Wednesday.

Ironically, federal agencies under the Bush administration are strongly recommending
the adoption of proposed toxic water quality standards but Commissioner Campbell
is resisting the standards as being too tough. Campbell personally met with
chemical industry representatives and discussed, among other things, his plans
to abandon the proposed water quality standards. The Director of Regulatory
Affairs at the Chemistry Council confirmed Campbell’s decision to drop
the proposal in a letter, stating that –

“[T]his news is encouraging. Now more than ever, it is important to
know and understand the impact these [wildlife] criteria will have on the
regulated community. As we highlighted at our meeting [with Campbell], the
costs for compliance with such low standards would be astronomical.”

“Campbell’s secret industry meeting looks like a page out of Vice-President
Cheney’s Energy Plan playbook,” stated New Jersey PEER Director
Bill Wolfe, a former long-time DEP employee, noting that the closed door meeting
occurred after the public comment period on the rule proposal had ended, thus
shutting the public out, and thereby destroying the fairness, transparency,
and credibility of the rulemaking process. “New Jersey’s water quality
standards will remain in limbo, presumably until Commissioner Campbell decides
to have another tête-à-tête with the Chemistry Council.”

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See
the official notice of August 17, 2005 water quality deadline

Look
at the Chemistry Council letter to DEP

View
the Chemistry Council DEP meeting PowerPoint presentation

Read
DEP email showing when Campbell killed proposal

Examine
the Chemistry Council DEP meeting/variance loophole proposal

Peruse
Campbell "Hot issues" memo recommending variance letter

Trace
the genesis of the now-abandoned water quality standards and see federal agencies’
endorsements

New Jersey PEER is a state chapter of a national alliance of
state and federal agency resource professionals working to ensure environmental
ethics and government accountability.