Senate committee seeks emergency powers for DEP to deal with southern pine beetle

TRENTON – The members of the Senate Environment and Energy Committee today signed on to a letter to Gov. Christie asking he grant the Department of Environmental Protection emergency powers to deal quickly with the southern pine beetle infestation in southern New Jersey.

Chairman Sen. Bob Smith read the letter that asks the state to give DEP powers to circumvent time-consuming red tape in order to deal with the accelerating problem of the beetle infestation that threatens the forests of the Pinelands as well as Agriculture throughout the region.

Smith said that more than $1.5 billion in damage has been done to more than 1 million acres from 1999 to 2003 in southern states.

In New Jersey the problem was first spotted in  Cumberland County but has been spreading rapidly throughout Southeastern New Jersey.

Previous coverage:

Red tape hinders attempts to battle pine beetle