Officials from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection went before the Assembly Budget Committee today, to discuss their proposed fiscal year 2013 spending plan.

Larry Ragonese, DEP Director of Communications, says the 366 million dollar budget being put forth is 9-point-4 percent larger than last year- and includes things like 2 million dollars more for parks capital projects, an additional 3-point-7 million for a site mediation program to do publically funded clean-ups, and an extra 3-point-3 million for Brownfield cleanups in towns and cities.

The budget also includes a 37 percent cut to one pollution prevention program,  and 35 percent less for a toxic chemical use, storage and release program – but Ragonese says these are small programs that will not be adversely affected, pointing out “in tough economic times we’re been able to streamline here to improve efficiencies…and better deal with some of the important issues we need to.”

Some Jersey environmental groups – including the Sierra Club –are criticizing the proposed budget- claiming cuts in DEP personnel will have a negative impact on water and air quality, and pollution clean-up projects.