Clean Water Action: Let’s Not Change The Garden State Into The Warehouse State

Clean Water Action supports NJ Senate Bill 3688 and thanks Senators Stephen Sweeney (D-Camden) and Troy Singleton (D-Burlington) for introducing this legislation to stop warehouse sprawl and protect open space in the Garden State.

SB 3688 would give a voice to neighboring communities impacted by rampant warehouse development. Urban, suburban and rural neighborhoods alike are being overwhelmed with warehouse proposals that are destroying our quality of life, bringing health harms, and devouring New Jersey’s last remaining open space.

“We do have tools available to curb runaway warehouse development,” said Janet Tauro, NJ Board Chair, Clean Water Action. “What we need is clear mandates, strong enforcement, and good planning to achieve zero carbon emissions as fast as possible. If Budapest can electrify trucks and warehouses, so can New Jersey.”

While Clean Water Action supports the bill, the organization has developed a list of ways to make it better. Here’s how:

  • As a first option, repurpose existing vacant structures such as empty warehouses, office buildings, retail buildings, malls, department stores, and other empty structures.
  • Mandate that the structures be 100 percent emissions-free and energy self-sustaining. Think: solar, mini turbines, geothermal.
  • Establish emission free-zones and corridors; areas where diesel spewing trucks are not allowed. Reroute all trucks to keep them out of our neighborhoods.
  • Trucks traveling to and from must be electrified and the facility must have electric charging stations. It can happen and it is happening in Europe where cities and large corporations are working to make their distribution centers emissions free.
  • Enforce stormwater rules and policies already on the books.. Demand that the state Department of Environmental Protection strongly enforce the Clean Water Act, which would challenge warehouse development affecting wetlands and aquifers, and protect drinking water supplies.

“Internet shopping is unlikely to end, and new fulfillment centers are a likely addition to the landscape, but they must be done in a manner with the least impact on the environment and surrounding communities,” said Amy Goldsmith, NJ State Director, Clean Water Action.

“We are in a climate emergency,” added Tauro. “There’s no time to procrastinate. We have to stop clear cutting mature forests, degrading wetlands, and eliminate diesel emissions from the ports to our front doors.”

Everyday about 20,000 trucks travel in and out of Ports of Newark and Elizabeth. It is the third largest port in the nation (largest on the East Coast), transporting over a billion ton of goods and growing 7-8% annually. These trucks tend to be some of the oldest, dirtiest and travel the shortest distance (70 miles or less). They spew dirty diesel emissions into neighboring communities, choking residents, and are inhaled by truck drivers and the workforce.

Diesel emissions, which contain the fine particulate known as black carbon, have been linked to asthma, cancer, heart disease, stroke and neurological disorders. It is estimated they cause 21,000 premature deaths each year in the United States.

“Diesel emissions are heavy, low to the ground and easily breathed. We are suffocating ourselves, and particularly the elderly, those with pre-existing health conditions, and children,” said Goldsmith. “We can and must do better. With the climate emergency, the last thing we need is to change the Garden State into the warehouse state.”

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