Governor Chris Christie might be a very lame duck at this point, with only a little more than a month to go, but as he heads toward the door, he has taken a parting shot at Edward Lloyd, the environmental lawyer who is one of the longest serving members of the Pinelands Commission.
On Dec. 4, Christie nominated Edward McGlinchey for the Commission seat Lloyd has occupied since 2002, when he was appointed to the body by Governor James McGreevy.
It is Christie’s second attempt to replace Lloyd. A previous attempt in 2011 fell short when it was never put to a confirmation vote in the Senate and there is good cause to hope the same thing will happen this time.
The McGlinchey nomination was one of 29 made by Christie the same day to a variety of boards, commissions and judgeships and 26 of them ended up on the agenda when the Senate Judiciary Committee met December 7. McGlinchey, however, was one of the three nominees who did not get a hearing that day. But that does not mean the nomination won’t be considered if the committee meets again before the end of the legislative session next month.
McGlinchey, who used to live in Winslow, is already a member of the Commission, appointed by the Camden County Freeholders in 2010 to represent that County. The panel has 15 seats: one for each of the seven Pinelands counties, seven appointed by the governor—who require Senate approval—and one named by the U.S. Secretary of the Interior.
Recently, however, McGlinchey, moved to Atlantic County and Camden will be selecting a new representative if it has not already done so. Christie might want to keep McGlinchey on the Commission and get rid of Lloyd in one swoop because McGlinchey voted in favor of two controversial pipeline projects through the Pinelands, while Lloyd opposed them.
Lloyd is a professor at Columbia University Law School’s Environmental Law Clinic and before his appointment to the Commission in 2002, he was Director of the Rutgers University Environmental Law Clinic for 15 years. He is also General Counsel and past Executive Director of the New Jersey Public Interest Research Group and has served on the New Jersey Supreme Court Committee on Environmental Litigation.
Lloyd’s expertise and experience with environmental law make him uniquely qualified for the Commission, an independent state agency created in 1979 whose mission is to “preserve, protect, and enhance the natural and cultural resources of the Pinelands National Reserve, and to encourage compatible economic and other human activities consistent with that purpose.
The Pinelands, also referred to as the Pine Barrens, is a heavily forested area of 1.1 million acres in the southern half of the state that comprises 22 percent of the state’s land area and is the largest body of open space on the Mid-Atlantic seaboard between Richmond and Boston. Established By Congress as the nation’s first National Reserve in 1978 and designated by the United Nations as an International Biosphere Reserve, it is a treasure worth protecting.
A few years back, Lloyd famously clashed with the Christie administration when it demanded that he recuse himself from a vote on a proposed pipeline, claiming he had a conflict of interest because he was chairman of the board for the Eastern Environmental Law Center in Newark, which had requested another public hearing on the matter.
Lloyd sat out the January 2014 vote but even without him, the pipeline failed to garner enough votes for approval though, after Christie replaced one of the “no” votes and demoted another, it subsequently did so, with McGlinchey’s support.
Note: New Jersey Appleseed represents the Pinelands Preservation Alliance and the New Jersey Sierra Club in litigation seeking to stop that pipeline.
Environmental advocates were out in force on Dec. 7 to oppose McGlinchey but the committee did not take up the nomination.
As reported by the Burlington County Times, Senate President Stephen Sweeney said that the committee just had too much else on its plate.
According to the article, Sweeney indicated that McGlinchey might still win approval if he did not displace Lloyd and committee member Paul Sarlo (D-Bergen) stated there was no support for replacing Lloyd and the nomination would not be considered.
Just to make sure of that, it might be a good idea to contact Sweeney and the Judiciary Committee members. They are Chairman Nicholas Scutari (D-Union), Vice-Chair Nia Gill (D-Essex), Christopher Bateman (R-Somerset), Gerald Cardinale (R-Bergen), Kristin Corrado (R-Passaic), Michael Doherty (R-Warren), Joseph Kyrillos (R-Monmouth), Raymond Lesniak (D-Union), Nellie Pou (D-Passaic), Bob Smith (D-Middlesex), Brian Stack (D-Hudson) and Loretta Weinberg (D-Bergen), along with Sarlo.
Photo at top by Jim Lukach, used under Creative Commons license via Flickr.