I realize that I have been treading on environmental issues in recent blogs, and that isn’t an accident. I keep remembering that World Earth Day was April 22 (the most significant ecological movement in the world) and recognize that for a safe environment to have real success it needs more than a single day or even a single approach.
That’s the broader canvas, but a smaller and critically important component is safe drinking water. Sometimes, I suspect we take water — a staple for life — for granted because it seems so ubiquitous. Having plentiful water is vital, but so is the need for safe, drinking water.
In my legislative quest for a safe, healthy and enjoyable environment for New Jersey residents, I have re-introduced Senate Bill No. 74. This proposal would require the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to establish a maximum contaminant level for 1,2, 3,-trichloropropane (TCP) in drinking water. TCP is the enemy. It is a man-made chemical often found at industrial or hazardous waste sites. It is a persistent pollutant in groundwater, and the federal Environmental Protection Agency classifies it as “likely to be carcinogenic” to humans. You can understand why this legislation is essential, and by understanding what levels are harmful, we can move forward to mitigate its spread.
Another proposal is Senate Bill No. 1888, which would establish a two-year innovation drinking water supply and wastewater infrastructure grant in the DEP. The goal is to improve the quality and functioning of the state’s publicly owned drinking water supply and wastewater systems. I have referred to this proposal as a “call to action” because this grant money — some might call it seed or encouragement money — would bolster public-private partnership to engage, experiment, discover or develop more effective, safer and workable options to provide safe drinking water. Candidates for these grants could be individuals, businesses, business incubation facilities, not-for-profits corporations and public and private institutions of higher learning. Surely, we can look to these groups for innovation and improvement for our statewide water supply system.
Remaining with this theme of safe water, is Senate Bill No. 3437. It requires institutions of higher learning to test for lead in drinking water and to disclose those results in a timely fashion.
My legislative efforts on this topic are not subtle. I don’t intend for residents to someday become ill because of unhealthy water, and then we hear the question: How could we let this happen? I’m doing something about it now. Whenever you turn on the tap for water, you shouldn’t have to wonder whether it’s safe.
While clean water legislation is absolutely vital, there is an even broader issue that we must confront for ourselves and our future generations: climate change. Let’s not delude ourselves. It’s real, and each day that we hesitate decreases our ability to reverse any damage we have already inflicted on planet Earth.
I have proposed Senate Bill No. 3215, which would require New Jersey to use a 20-year time horizon to calculate the global warming potential used to measure the global warming impact of greenhouse gases. The recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Assessment Report recommends this shorter time frame when calculating these measurements in an effort to address the impacts of global climate change immediately, due to concerns about how short terms changes in climate may create runaway impacts on temperatures in the future. The United States primarily uses a 100-year timeline. That is a completely unrealistic estimate and time frame. Serious scientists who study this issue with care recommend a 20-year time frame to provide for better calculations and responses.
Additionally, I have proposed Senate Bill No. 3398, which would create a “Coastal Climate Change Commission.” This proposal would create a 15-member commission (not under the Department of Environmental Protection) to:
- Study climate change issues and challenges facing municipalities.
- Develop statewide policies.
- Report these recommendations to the governor and the legislature no later than 18 months after its first meeting.
These ideas might seem like a preoccupation with environmental issues. They are. I do not intend to sit idle on the sidelines pontificating for change, as threats to our planet continue to grow. I believe that I have a responsibility to be clear, forthright and pragmatic on environmental issues that involve safe drinking water and climate change. These legislative initiatives follow those guidelines and move us forward towards a safer environment that we all deserve.
That’s my take. What’s yours?
- Drinking Water Helps Maintain the Balance of Body Fluids.
- Water Can Help Control Calories.
- Water Helps Energize Muscles.
- Water Helps Keep Skin Looking Good.
- Water Helps Your Kidneys.
- Water Helps Maintain Normal Bowel Function.