A proposed constitutional amendment on New Jersey’s ballot next month would limit how the money from environmental damage lawsuits is used.
The current state budget puts a $50 million cap on the amount of money from environmental contamination lawsuits that’s used for restoration projects at sites near where the pollution damaged the land or water. The rest is diverted into the state’s general fund.
Debbie Mans with the Baykeeper clean-water advocacy organization says the proposed constitutional amendment would change that.
“The litigation was brought for a specific injury to the public and to the environment. The money should go back into address that specific injury and do the restoration and compensate for the lost use of those natural resources.”
Ed Potosnak with New Jersey League of Conservation voters says approval of the ballot question would ensure those funds benefit the environment.
“With New Jersey taxes already among the highest in the country, the question makes sure that communities have the resources they need to restore the environment without having to raise property taxes. For many communities this is a one-time opportunity to restore the environment.”
The money involved is separate from the cleanup polluters might have to do and could be invested in projects to restore wetlands, build waterfront parks and marina, and improve water quality.