Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, after meeting with Rep. Jeff Van Drew and New Jersey mayors last week, bypassed the Fish and Wildlife Service ban on using federal money to take dredge spoils out of Hereford Inlet to supplant beaches in North Wildwood, Avalon and Stone Harbor.
The ban added $6 million to the bill locals like Avalon Mayor Marty Pagliughi couldn’t afford.
"These three communities are not going to be rolled anymore by low level management from U.S. Fish and Wildlife that make decisions on ego instead of science,” Pagliughi told KYW Newsradio.
Colleague Patrick Rosenello, the Mayor of North Wildwood, echoed that sentiment.
"You would think that an agency with the name Fish and Wildlife would actually be in the business of preserving fish and wildlife,” he said. “This interpretation did the exact opposite”
Van Drew explained that the Fish and Wildlife policy didn’t make economic nor environmental sense.
"We’re utilizing what used to be called dredge spoils for fill in order to save money and protect the area around us,” Van Drew said, “and also create a conducive environment for the piping plovers and the birds that are here."
Fish and Wildlife was bypassed in 2012 in the Obama administration over the same issue. If there’s a court challenge, local officials insist they’re ready to fight.
But some suggest the timing of the change is ironic, given Van Drew’s vote in the House against an impeachment inquiry.
He was one of only two Democrats to do that.
"To think that I would actually vote a certain way on an issue that is as serious as this and quite frankly go through the process that I did to make that decision for some sand is just absurd,” he added.
Van Drew insisted the process is a waste of time and money, given Republicans who control the Senate are not likely to convict President Donald Trump on any articles of impeachment the house may approve.