Clean Ocean Action

Clean Ocean Advocate, July 2004


The Blue Frontier Campaign ( and marine conservation organizations are sponsoring a ‘Blue Vision’ Conference, July 11-13, 2004, in Washington D.C.  Organizers say it is time to build a "seaweed" (marine grassroots) rebellion, capable of producing solutions to restore the ocean.  Hundreds of marine activists from throughout the US will gather for three exciting days of meetings and lobbying Congress for the enactment of a new Oceans Policy Act.  Participants will have opportunities for discussions with local, regional, and national leaders of "blue" citizen groups,  members of the Pew and US Ocean Policy Commissions, and ocean champions from the US House and Senate.  Visit to register, or contact David Helvarg at Blue Frontier (, 202-387-8030).




On June 10, the Highlands Water Protection and Planning Act was approved by the NJ Legislature with overwhelming bipartisan support.  The Act stops reckless over-development, protects drinking water for 4.5 million residents, and preserves an ecologically rich region of northwest NJ, known as the Highlands Region.


However, celebration for this landmark legislation ended as swift "payback" legislative action undercut current existing environmental protection. Lawmakers unveiled a proposal that would significantly speed development on more than a third of the state’s vacant land and weaken important protections in coastal areas, freshwater wetlands, and endangered species habitat.  Also, the bill would remove any state oversight of proposals to site the landfall of utilities originating in coastal areas, including petroleum, natural gas, water, and sewer pipes and electric, television, telecommunications, and fiber optic cables.


In a flash, S-1368 (sponsors Senators Sweeney and Codey) and A-3008 (sponsors Assemblymen Sires and McKeon) were moved on June 14 and approved by the entire legislature on June 17.  The bills streamlines or "fast tracks" the building-permit process in much of the state by granting developers automatic  approval of zoning or environmental applications that are still undecided by NJDEP after 45 days.  The bills also appoint a special ombudsman who could veto or override environmental policy and agency decisions. The bill was strongly cheered by NJ Governor McGreevey and significant pressure was imposed on elected officials to support this devastating legislation.  Voting against the legislation were Senators Connors (R-9), Ciesla* (R-10), Palaia (R-11), and Karcher (D-12), and Assemblymen Gibson (R-1), Connors (R-9), Rumpf (R-9), Holzapfel (R-10), Wolfe (R-10), Corodemus (R-11), Kean (R-11), Morgan (D-12), Panter (D-12), Azzolina (R-13), and Singer** (R-30).  Check or call COA for contact information for your elected officials.


The bill, which has not been signed into law by the Governor yet, will reduce citizens’ quality of life and will further exacerbate and pollute the state’s already overburdened water supplies.  Though the Governor supports the bill now, he has 45 days to reconsider before signing the bill.  No date for signing has been set.  Citizens should call the Governor (609-292-6000) and urge him to veto the bill. 


*Senator Ciesla voted for the bill in committee releasing it to the Senate floor, but voted against the bill.


**Assemblyman Singer changed his vote to "no" after the fact.


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