Chris Christie’s Parting Shot at the Pinelands: Lloyd OUT, McGlinchey IN… A Lame-Duck Scheme to Subvert The Comprehensive Management Plan
by Heather Warburton
With Chris Christie’s time as Governor drawing to an end, I am sure our Governor is reflecting on his tenure. As he pondered and reminisced yesterday, he must have determined to himself, “Time is ticking away, and I have not done enough to damage the Pinelands Region yet!”
In an attempt to remedy that, Governor Christie has now seen fit to replace the long-serving Pinelands Commissioner Edward Lloyd with a political machine climbing, pro-development enthusiast by the name of Edward McGlinchey, who was previously the Camden County appointed commissioner.
This lame duck appointment in Christie’s final few weeks as Governor will serve to undermine the integrity of the Pinelands Commission for years to come. Where Commissioner Lloyd is highly qualified and has served with integrity since his appointment in 2002, Commissioner McGlinchey has proven himself as unable or unwilling to enforce the one document that commissioners agree to uphold, The Comprehensive Management Plan (CMP).
The Comprehensive Management Plan explicitly outlines how this unparallelled ecosystem must be managed, and in the rare chance development is needed it defines the rules for how that development must be handled. The number one rule of the CMP is that development is only permitted if it is “Primarily to serve the needs of the residents of the Pinelands Region.”
Commissioner McGlinchey has repeatedly voted in violation of that plan in his tenure representing Camden County, and without a doubt he will continue to ignore this governing document. That is unacceptable; it cannot be tolerated and an eleventh hour slap-in-the-face appointment by the outgoing governor designed to further undermine the effectiveness of the CMP must be fought.
As a UNESCO heritage site because of its status as a one-of-a-kind ecosystem, the Pinelands Region contains endangered flora and fauna found nowhere else on the planet. This region also contains an ancient aquifer that provides fresh and clean drinking water to almost 1 million people. Unfortunately, due to its shallow depth, the Kirkwood Cohansey Aquifer is highly subject to over-draining, and it is already showing signs of stress.
We need Pinelands commissioners in complete alignment with their duty to protect the multitude of ecological assets contained in this valuable region. Those who simply seek to turn the Pinelands Commission into a rubber stamp agency for developers have no place being on that governing body.
Chris Christie has been stacking the Pinelands Commission with pro-pipeline “yes men” since the original defeat of a highly controversial natural gas pipeline back in 2014. This appointment of McGlinchey would further undermine the independence and integrity of this board. Governor Christie and his accomplices Steve Sweeney and Jeff Van Drew even went so far as to hold a vote on the appointment of political social climber Commissioner Bob Barr in the Senate Judiciary Committee when a known opposition vote, Senator Raymond Lesniak, was out of town. Senate President Sweeney replaced Lesniak with Senator Van Drew who, as predicted, voted to approve the highly underqualified Commissioner Barr.
There is still time to stop this latest procedural power play before it becomes yet another environmental travesty in the closing chapters of the Chris Christie legacy. The Senate Judiciary Committee will be meeting this Thursday, December 7th at 9:30 a.m. and we all must be there in force to demand this appointment gets shut down. Keep Commissioner Lloyd where he is because we need environmental champions in our corner and firmly installed on the Pinelands Commission. If you are unable to join us on Thursday, please make calls to the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, particularly if any of them represent your county or legislative district.
We will see you on Thursday, and wear something Green.
Heather Warburton is a State Co-Chair of the Green Party of New Jersey and a Hammonton resident