Trenton, NJ: via Sierra Club. National Park Service Anniversary AJR101 (Prieto) passed by 78-0-0  and recognizes the 100th anniversary of National Park Service on August 25, 2016. In New Jersey, our chapter has over 80,000 members and supporters who enjoy outdoor recreation, including the hikes and trails. Our members participate in over 200 hikes per year in many of these national parks, federally owned preserves and historic sites. John Muir, the Sierra Club’s founder, helped establish this service alongside President Roosevelt.

“We’re celebrating the 100th year of the National Parks Service: one of the most important governmental programs ever. John Muir and the Sierra Club came up with the idea of National Parks and were instrumental in getting this law passed. For us, this is also part of Sierra Club’s history. Muir first pushed the idea of national parks with Teddy Roosevelt when he took him to Yosemite. We feel special about this celebration because it’s part of our legacy. We can celebrate our National Parks from Anwar to the Everglades and Arcadia in Maine all the way to Guam. Here in New Jersey we have own parks including Morristown National Historic Park, Sandy Hook, which is part of the Gateway National Park Area, the Delaware River Water Gap, the Pinelands National Reserve, as well as many national wildlife refuges and historic sites. The Wild and Scenic designation along the Delaware River is also a part of the Park Service. These areas are environmentally sensitive and are enjoyed by thousands across the state. Nationwide, we must remember the legislators from the East Coast were the ones who helped preserve our biggest national treasures,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “We’re celebrating this great concept that our national treasures and natural wonders belong to all of us.”

Wildlife Violator Compact A2763 (Mazzeo) passed by 78-0-0. It enters NJ in Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact. The Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact (IWVC) is an agreement among participating states to provide reciprocal sharing of information regarding hunting, fishing, and trapping violations. This means that people who participate in illegal activities in one state can receive a license suspension in another state. New Jersey is one of the few remaining states that have not yet joined this compact.

“We support this legislation because managing recreation, including hunting, trapping and fishing, is important in keeping balance in our ecosystems. We have set rules and regulations for these activities for a reason and no one should be able to get away with violating them, no matter what state they’re in,” said Jeff Tittel. “If someone violates a law in one state they shouldn’t be allowed to get a hunting or fishing permit in another state.”

Resilient Building A2080 (Mukherj) passed by a vote of 63-11-3. It authorizes municipalities to finance water conservation, storm shelter construction, and flood and hurricane resistance projects. This legislation called PACE, which stands for property assessment for clean energy, changed the “clean energy special assessment” into the “clean energy and storm resistance special assessment.” This bill made a significant amendment to allow municipalities to finance clean energy projects and now resiliency projects. The bill with amendments added allows conservation projects, flood resistant and hurricane resistant construction projects, storm shelter projects, and clean energy to be eligible for funding.  The bill still allows for solar and energy efficiency projects and added other resilient features. It also simplifies the bill and makes it easier to do all the difference projects. We believe this bill is a step in the right direction by allowing new funding mechanism for people and property impacted by storms to rebuild and providing a funding mechanism to increase solar on homes.

“This is an important legislation to help people get funding for projects to allow them to build in a more resilient way. This legislation puts in place a funding mechanism to allow homeowners to finance projects such as solar and renewable energy, stormwater and to make their homes more flood resistant. This allows people to use green building techniques, energy efficiency, and cleaning up stormwater, and it makes our communities more resilient and sustainable,” said Jeff Tittel. “This allows homeowners to get low cost loans and repay them with a small assessment on their property.”

Voter Registration Updates A1944 (Coughlin)/ S1228 (Vitale) automatically registers or updates voter registration as part of driver’s license application or renewal. This bill passed by 54-25  and is now on its way to the Governor’s desk.

“This bill will encourage more public participation in the Democratic process. Voting is the birthright of the American people and not being registered is a hindrance to democracy. This bill will increase registration, increase voter turnout and get more people involved. Many other states do this as well. The Sierra Club has always believed that the more people who can vote and be involved in the Democratic process, the better it is for our country,” said Jeff Tittel.

 

Flood Advisory Task Force S166 (Bateman)/A3901 (Singleton) establishes the Hunterdon-Somerset Flood Advisory Task Force. The Task force would evaluate past flooding events in Hunterdon and Somerset counties from the Delaware River and the Raritan River or their tributaries. The Task Force would also be in charge of recommending measures to reduce future flooding impacts in the Delaware River and Raritan River basins. This bill has already passed the Senate and passed the Assembly today by a vote of 78-0-0.

“We support the idea of a Flood Advisory Task Force but this one is lacking. It fails to mention climate change or sea level rise. It also does not address buy-outs or non-structural ways to reduce flooding such as blue and green roofs,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club.

Jamie Zaccaria