Abolishing slavery, women's right to vote, desegregation, creation of public schools, clean cars, and the Spill Act to reduce toxic contaminants all have one thing in common. These issues all were first addressed by the state of New Jersey before the federal government. Only after New Jersey led and pushed did these issues gain federal prominence.

The Christie administration and certain legislators have proposed to make it more difficult for New Jersey to be a leader. They don't think New Jersey should have any laws or regulations stricter than the federal government.

Federal rules are widely considered to be the floor, and the federal government allows the states to adopt rules and standards that are stricter. Does New Jersey want an education system like Mississippi's or an environment like West Virginias? The Republican Party has always stood for federalism, where they believe the government closest to the people does best. But when it comes it to developers and polluters it appears the opposite is now true.

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As the most densely populated state with a history of heavy industry and cultural diversity New Jersey has to push and lead on issues. More people in less space means we have much more at risk than other states.

Jeff Tittel is the Director of the NJ Sierra Club