❔ Questions raised after the DEP fines itself
❔ A proposed measure would prohibit such fines.
❔ One NJ lawmaker calls it “ridiculous gobbledygook”

Last month the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection issued a big fine against the Division of Fish and Wildlife, which is part of the DEP, for illegally cutting down trees in a protected wetlands area during a wildlife management project in Glassboro.

The $266,000 fine was an attention grabber but actually accomplished nothing, the money was simply transferred back and forth between DEP accounts, and now there’s a push to stop this kind of bizarre activity from ever taking place again.

New Jersey Assemblyman Greg McGuckin, R-Ocean has introduced a measure, A5563 that would prohibit state agencies from imposing or enforcing civil penalties on state agencies, bureaus, divisions, boards or offices.


This is ridiculous, he said

He said having one division fining another division within the same state department is the most ridiculous thing he’s ever heard of.

“There’s no benefit to the taxpayers. It’s a bureaucratic turf war, whose budget has more money and whose budget is going to have more money,” he said.

“It’s two different divisions within the DEP. There’s only one commissioner, he needs to step in and fix this. This is ridiculous. It’s just so typical of what’s wrong with Trenton," he said. “In any other world, you would find out who did something improper, you would discipline the employees then you move on, why in the world would one state agency fine another.”

McGuckin said there were legitimate concerns voiced by environmentalists upset when a wetlands area was disturbed, and the DEP tried to make itself “look good” by issuing a fine against itself.

He stressed the measure, which is co-sponsored by Assemblyman John Catalano, R-Ocean, was introduced to make a statement “but unfortunately I think we need it.”

“It’s just such bureaucratic gobbledygook and the residents of this state are sick of this nonsense,” he said.

The proposed legislation has not been assigned to a committee yet for consideration.

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