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For Immediate Release: Jun 15, 2005
Contact: Kirsten Stade (202) 265-7337

NEW WATCHDOG GROUP FOR NEW JERSEY ENVIRONMENTAL EMPLOYEES

Former DEP Employee Heads New Chapter; Confidential Hotline for Employees


Trenton —Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), a national alliance of state and federal agency resource professionals working to ensure environmental ethics and governmental accountability, today opened a New Jersey field office near Trenton. Heading the New Jersey PEER operation is Bill Wolfe, former policy advisor to the Commissioner of the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).

PEER assists public employees around the country in exposing and redressing environmental dangers or when their agencies bow to political pressure in lax enforcement or fail to act. New Jersey PEER will provide the same kind of services to environmental professionals throughout the state. Through PEER, employees will also be able to get the real story into the public domain and penetrate the official spin.

Wolfe worked for DEP from 2002 to 2004. He earlier served in DEP for a decade from 1985 to 1995. In between his two stints at DEP, Wolfe was the Policy Director for the New Jersey Sierra Club.

“The role of New Jersey PEER is to empower public servants so that they can safely expose abuses and, where necessary, pursue environmental protections that their agency has neglected,” said Wolfe, noting that he is already working on cases involving government officials secretly putting the chemical industry in charge of managing catastrophic toxic risks, polluters writing their own hazardous site cleanup plans and pollution permits, industry manipulating the science on chromium cleanup standards and political pressure that reversed plans to preserve Petty’s Island in favor of more condominiums and golf courses. “It is obvious that protection of public health and environment has been compromised in New Jersey and I look forward to working with dedicated public servants to reverse these troubling trends.”

“New Jersey is ripe for organized employee activism in the public interest,” stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch, pointing out that PEER’s work often provides internal validation for concerns raised by other environmental organizations. “Bill Wolfe is superbly suited to tear the lid off of environmental malfeasance in the Garden State.”

All communications with PEER are confidential and New Jersey PEER has set up a telephone hotline to handle employee calls. “It is vital to keep good staff working within the system,” said Wolfe. “PEER is not about creating martyrs; it is about giving employees a completely safe channel to communicate with their real employers, the public – at PEER, we call it anonymous activism.”

The New Jersey PEER 24-hour confidential hotline number is (609) 397-8213.
Mailing address is
PO Box 1
Ringoes, NJ 08551
E-mail address is njpeer@peer.org

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Founded in 1992, PEER is a national, nonprofit alliance of state and federal employees working in pollution control, land management and wildlife protection agencies. PEER has ten field offices nationwide and is currently operating in more than a dozen federal agencies.

Visit the PEER web site at www.peer.org