Momentum rising against Big Oil

Ed Potosnak is right (“More NJ cities should follow Hoboken’s lead, sue Big Oil”). ExxonMobil and other Big Oil companies deserve to be held accountable for misleading the public for decades about the climate change damages they knew their products would cause.

However, he understated the growing nationwide level of support for such efforts. To date, more than 20 municipalities across the country have filed lawsuits against Exxon and other fossil fuel companies over their climate change deception. These include not just city and county leaders but also the attorneys general of many of New Jersey’s coastal neighbor states: Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

While Mr. Potosnak is right that other New Jersey communities should join Hoboken in this fight, so, too, should Gov. Murphy and Attorney General Grewal take action on behalf of all New Jerseyeans to make the companies that earned billions through destroying our climate and then lying about it pay their fair share of the billions that more intense and frequent storms, floods, sea-level rise and other climate change disasters are now costing our state.

Lauren O’Brien, Scotch Plains

Protect LSP from privatization

The state Department of Environmental Protection is now moving forward with a plan to clean up and restore the center of Liberty State Park. This has been long overdue.

This plan will not only clean up the park for passive recreation but will also restore wetlands and remove contaminated materials. Restoring wetlands in Liberty State Park will also help filter water and deal with flooding and storm surges.

This cleanup plan is a major step in that direction, but we still need to protect the park from privatization.

A front group is pushing for full cleanup of the park; however where have they been in the last 30 years? These private interest groups are only doing it because they want a private millionaires’ golf course.

It is more important now for the DEP to move forward with this plan. Even though we don’t trust their plan to cap contamination, we believe that people who are pushing for a full cleanup are doing so because they want to privatize the park.

We have fought against luxury hotels, private marinas, shopping centers, golf courses, Grand Prix races, a cricket stadium, a waterpark, and many more at LSP. A cleanup for the park is good; however we need to take it one step further.

The DEP needs to sign an order to keep Liberty State Park off-limits to privatization and Gov. Murphy needs to pass legislation to permanently protect LSP. We must make sure that the park that is named after the Statue of Liberty belongs to all of us and stays open to all of us.

Note that the public comment period on NJDEP’s Liberty State Park Interior Restoration 30% Design Concept is open until Nov. 6. Take the survey to comment on the design concept at or email your comments to [email protected].

Jeff Tittel, Director, New Jersey Sierra Club

Council right on housing ordinance

Jersey City council members made the right call in rejecting Rolando Lavarro’s proposed affordable housing ordinance and amendments. The proposal hit on a few good points, like banning the ability to reduce an affordable unit obligation in exchange for building a parking deck, but also contained fatal flaws.

Many projects in Jersey City can already be built by right, requiring no zoning amendments or affordable units. An ideal policy is allowing changes that increase a project’s profitability (such as increasing density, or removing parking requirements) in exchange for requiring that a certain percentage of units be reserved for income-restricted residents. This is already common practice in Jersey City, which the passed ordinance was merely codifying.

The problem for Lavarro was that his one-size-fits-all approach was too broad. For smaller construction projects outside of Downtown Jersey City, a 20% affordability requirement could make the difference for a building’s financial viability. Preventing these projects from being built would have a disastrous effect on Jersey City’s housing affordability over the long term, mirroring the drastic housing shortage in Greater New York City.

Jersey City should get the benefit of the doubt here. It is hard to find anywhere else in the region with a better record of creating affordable housing recently. There are a few needed changes, though. Affordability requirements make the most sense in affluent areas. Currently, Jersey City’s zoning severely restricts building affordable housing in its wealthiest neighborhoods with the best access to transit. Fixing this unfair carve out is by far the most important option on the table for improving Jersey City’s housing affordability moving forward.

Jonathan Schwedel, Harrison

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