McKeon says Barnegat Bay will suffer as a result of veto

TRENTON – A sponsor of a Barnegat Bay cleanup measure that was vetoed Friday by the governor lamented the consequences for that watershed.

“Malfunctioning storm basins meant to retain rain water are a major factor in the pollution run-off into the 660-mile Barnegat Bay watershed,” Assemblyman John McKeon, (D-27), West Orange said in a release.

The measures Gov. Chris Christie vetoed – A2577/S1815 – would have set up a stormwater management system pilot project to reduce runoff into the watershed and restore hundreds of malfunctioning basins in Ocean County.

But in his veto, Christie cited the money involved.

“I cannot support new fees imposed in addition to what are already the nation’s highest property taxes,’’ he said in rejecting the bills.

The bills would have given counties and towns authority to set up stormwater utilities, a mechanism to deal with the pollution from malfunctioning systems, but Christie cited the fees that would be required by such utilities.

Christie stated in his veto that he fully supports the cause of a clean bay, and recently signed into law three bills authorizing $16 million to help rehabilitate Barnegat Bay.

“Moreover, I have also ensured that $3 million has been allocated to protect the islands, wetlands and uplands in the Barnegat Bay watershed with the Green Acres legislation that I recently signed,’’ Christie stated in his veto message.

But McKeon said Christie is inconsistent in his messages.

“Gov. Christie’s rejection of the Ocean County Stormwater pilot demonstration measure makes it the third piece of legislation he has vetoed this year that was intended to help restore and revitalize Barnegat Bay, an ecological treasure and an important economic driver for our state, which contributes $3.3 billion to the region’s economy,” McKeon said.

“The Jersey shore is the lifeblood of the state’s tourism industry and the Barnegat Bay Little Arbor estuary one of our most unique waterways,” McKeon said.

“Improving stormwater management would help us restore the beauty and health of the watershed which is vital to our state’s economy.”

Christie pointed out and McKeon acknowledged that earlier this year, the Legislature passed and the governor signed the nation’s strongest fertilizer law to reduce nutrient pollution in the bay.

Christie signed and/or vetoed several pieces of legislation Friday.

McKeon says Barnegat Bay will suffer as a result of veto