Sierra Club
New Jersey Chapter

Tell Your Assemblyperson to Block Unethical Pinelands Bill

We need you to help block a bill that would allow Governor Christie to stack the Pinelands Commission with special interests! There is an unethical and dangerous bill called A4849 (Andrzejczak) that is currently being brought back in the legislature that would threatens the future of the Pinelands! This bill that would allow the Pinelands Commission to become a walking conflict of interest. This would mean that the Commission could be stacked with developers, realtors, contractors and others who could vote on projects for more development in the Pinelands. This could undo the Comprehensive Management Plan that is in place to protect the Pinelands. We could see representatives from pipeline companies approving pipelines, road pavers allowing unnecessary roads in the Pinelands and realtors approving zone changes to increase density in environmentally sensitive areas.

Help us block this unconscionable bill from moving forward by contacting your Assemblyperson today. Under this bill, you only have to have a direct financial benefit for it to be considered a conflict. This changes it from the current law which says that even an appearance of a conflict is considered a conflict that you should recluse yourself from. This bill would change ethical standards to allow Commissioners who indirectly benefit from a project like a pipeline or development will no longer be required to recuse themselves from a vote. For example, if you are a realtor that votes to allow for a pipeline or more development in the Pinelands, it wouldn’t be considered a conflict of interest even though the property values of your listings would increase. It could mean that a developer or contractor on the Commission could vote for a new development project, even if they would benefit from the construction.

Last week, when the bad Pinelands bill was up for a floor vote, we were able to talk to over 30 Assemblymen and women and explain to them why this bill should not be passed. Over 100 people came to our lobby day to speak out against this bill and the proliferation of pipelines in the state. Our lobby day worked and we got the bill held. Now we need to continue the public outcry because the Assembly is trying to push through this bad bill all over again!

Please call your Assemblyperson and e-mail them today. To find your legislator’s phone number you can search here: http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/districts/municipalities.asp.

You can tell them:

Instead of expanding the ethical standards for members of the Pinelands Commission, this bill actually narrows them. We believe that it will make it easier for people with conflicts of interests to vote on issues in front of the Commission. This will set a dangerous precedent for the Pinelands Commission and other independent boards like the Highlands Council by allowing damaging projects to be approved through environmentally sensitive areas. We are concerned that the court case they are using to change ethical standards has no bearing on the Pinelands and it’s just an excuse for this bill that would create an ethical lapse and will actually cause more conflicts of interest.

The bill would allow for many more bias individuals to vote for personal gain rather than for protecting the Pinelands. This means we could have someone from a gas company voting on a pipeline approval or someone from a motorcycle dealership voting to open up trails for motorcycles through the Pines. It is unconscionable that a realtor could vote to increase development in the Pinelands, but it would not be considered a conflict of interest even though the value of listed properties would increase. With this bill, a developer or contractor could even be allowed to vote to change zoning for development, but it would not be considered a conflict even though they could gain financially.

We are concerned that this legislation will allow for Governor Christie and others to stack the Pinelands Commission with people who are out to protect their own interests over the Pinelands. Please stand up for the Pinelands and the environment by blocking A4849 (Andrzejczak) from moving forward.

Thank you for taking action,

New Jersey Sierra Club

Recipients

  • Your State Representative or Representatives

Contact

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Message

Dear [Decision Maker],

We are urging you to help block a bill that would allow Governor Christie to stack the Pinelands Commission with special interests. Instead of expanding the ethical standards for members of the Pinelands Commission, this bill actually narrows them. We believe that it will make it easier for people with conflicts of interests to vote on issues in front of the Commission. This will set a dangerous precedent for the Pinelands Commission and other independent boards like the Highlands Council by allowing damaging projects to be approved through environmentally sensitive areas.



With this bill, a developer or contractor could even be allowed to vote to change zoning for development, but it would not be considered a conflict even though they could gain financially.

Please stand up for the Pinelands and the environment by blocking A4849 (Andrzejczak) from moving forward.

Sincerely,
[Your Name]
[Your Address]
[City, State ZIP]
[Your Email]