"Even though I’m a democrat I don’t wake up everyday saying “how can I tax people.”

The joke got a laugh, and for Democratic Senator Bob Smith speaking of the importance of environmental legislation at a Monmouth Ocean Development Council Luncheon, very needed.

The 17th district senator is the chair of the environment and energy committee and the speech given at Friday's luncheon at the Jumping Brook Country Club had an important message, a clean and healthy Barnegat Bay is good for businesses.

Though the room, which was filled with various members of the business community of Ocean and Monmouth County, is one that a stranger would not expect to be in favor of "environmentalism", Smith's message is one that did have a lot of weight with the audience.

Namely, when you have a 3 billion dollar revenue stream coming from the Barnegat Bay, it's good businesses sense to protect it.

"In the case of Barnegat Bay businesses entities who are not necessarily the enemy on these issues have to realize that if we don’t work to make the bay healthier we’re going to lose that three billion dollars per year."

Listen to the entire speech:



One of the biggest contention points was the idea for a small tax on property owned by businesses that contained compacted soil. Ocean County Planning Board Director Dave McKeon was in attendance at the meeting and he said the problem with the idea isn't just that it's a tax, but that it leaves a lot of room for interpretation.

"It’s the whole question of how you would set up the authority to review stormwater to asses charges on private property owners and once you asses charges that say I think your 20 covered with impervious coverage, you’re immediately going to get appeals. People are going to say I’m not 20 percent, I’m 14 percent. You’re going to open up a whole new beurocracy."

McKeon adds that for the most part Ocean County is in agreement with Senator Smith's suggestions.

"There is some disagreement on a utility but that’s not to say there’s other things that are happening, there’s other approaches that we’re approving right now with a lot of state officials, with a lot of the scientist, and so on."

While the Bay's importance is unquestionable, he believes it doesn't have to go through Trenton.

"You don’t need new laws to do some laws that need to be done and are being done."