Letters and Commentary

June 14, 2013
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Thank You and Farewell to an Environmental Champion


By Michele S. Byers

Many folks view politicians with a jaundiced eye, and there’s plenty of evidence to justify their cynicism. But that just was not the case with U.S. Senator Frank Lautenberg, who passed away last week.

Frank Lautenberg was a steadfast champion of the environment. During his 30 years in the Senate, he was at the forefront of cleaning up Superfund sites, promoting clean energy, advocating for green jobs, preventing offshore drilling on the Atlantic coast, and keeping our air clean.

His roots were in working class Paterson, and he never forgot them. He was known for looking out for the “little guy,” especially in public health. And to Lautenberg, protecting the environment was fundamental to protecting human health.

Lautenberg created the Wallkill National Wildlife Refuge, and was instrumental in getting Paterson’s Great Falls designated as a National Historic Park and the Delaware River designated as a Wild & Scenic River.

The naming of the Frank Lautenberg Visitor Center in New York’s Sterling Forest State Park recognized his pivotal role in preserving a critical 22,000-acre Highlands property that protects drinking water supplies in New Jersey and New York. Without Lautenberg’s leadership, the pristine forest spanning the border between Orange County in New Jersey and Passaic County in New York would today be a new town of 35,000 people.

Lautenberg was a leading advocate in protecting the Highlands region, a source of water to 5.4 million New Jersey residents. He co-sponsored the federal Highlands Conserva­tion Act, which sets aside funds to preserve land in a four-state region.

But there’s more!

If you love the Jersey Shore, you can thank Lautenberg for fighting for clean beaches and waters. He wrote the BEACH Act, a law to improve water quality monitoring standards and make sure the public is informed of problems. He worked to ban ocean dumping, and changed federal laws to fortify the hulls of oil tankers.

His landmark law that banned smoking on commercial airline flights led to other anti-smoking measures, all vastly improving public health. He wrote the Toxic Right to Know Law, giving local communities information about harmful toxins released into the air by chemical plants.

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Frank Lautenberg received a lifetime score of 95 percent from the National League of Conservation Voters! In contrast, the Senate average last year was 56 percent, and the House average only 42 percent.

Naturally, Lautenberg’s efforts were much appreciated by New Jersey’s conservation community. In 2001 he received a lifetime achievement award from the New Jersey Sierra Club. A few years ago, New Jersey Conservation Foundation presented him an award on behalf of the national Land Trust Alliance.

New Jersey will miss Frank Lautenberg, our state’s longtime environmental champion. We hope his successor will continue Frank’s legacy of fighting for the essential elements our state needs to survive – clean water, clean air, wild places and public health.

For more information about conserving New Jersey’s land and natural resources, visit the New Jersey Conservation Foundation website at www.njconservation.org or contact me at info@njconservation.org.


Michele S. Byers is the executive director of the New Jersey Conservation Foundation.



Deadline Approaching to Change Party Affiliation for Special Senatorial Primary

By The League of Women Voters of New Jersey 

The League of Women Voters of New Jersey reminds all citizens that New Jersey’s special primary election for office of U.S. Senate will take place on Tuesday, Aug. 13 and that means the deadline to file a change of party affiliation is Wednesday, June 19.

“This is an unusual election and the league is committed to combating voter confusion and bolstering participation,” said Kerry Butch, executive director of the League of Women Voters of New Jersey. “Deadlines are quickly approaching and the league is stepping up our efforts to ensure voters are prepared to participate in all three upcoming elections.”

Only the Democratic and Republican parties will be on the ballot for the primary. New Jersey holds closed primaries, meaning voters select from candidates within their declared party. Any voter who declared a party when registering to vote or who previously declared a party during a primary is affiliated with that party and will only be allowed to vote in that party’s primary – unless he or she files a change of party affiliation by the deadline.

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If an already affiliated voter wishes to change their party, he or she must mail or deliver a Political Party Affiliation Declaration Form to their county commissioner of registration or their municipal clerk. These forms can be found on the League of Women Voters of New Jersey web site, www.lwvnj.org.

Registered unaffiliated voters – those who have not declared a party affiliation on either their registration form or during a previous primary – may declare at any time up to and including primary election day at the polls and vote in that party’s primary.

Additionally, the deadline to register to vote in the special primary election is Tuesday, July 23. The deadline to apply by mail for a vote by mail ballot is Tuesday, Aug. 6. County clerks must receive the application by that date. The deadline to apply in-person for a vote by mail ballot is Monday, Aug. 12 by 3 p.m. at your county clerk’s office. Vote by mail applications are available at www.lwvnj.org.

“If voters know they will be away in August, it is crucial for them to take care of applying for their vote by mail ballot now,” Butch said. “You do not need to provide a reason to vote by mail in New Jersey. That option is available to everyone.”

For answers to questions about the special primary election or declaring a party affiliation, call the League of Women Voters of New Jersey at 1-800-792-VOTE (8683).


The League of Women Voters of New Jersey is a nonpartisan political organization, founded in April 1920 as a successor to the New Jersey Woman Suffrage Association. Today the league encourages informed and active participation in government and influences public policy through education and advocacy.



Two River Moment


Back in the day, long before Esso gas stations were renamed Exxon, this service station was located during the 1940s on River Road in Rumson.

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