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Montclair State Professor Grades New Jersey Environment on Earth Day


Greg Pope, chairman of the department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, says pollutants from decades ago remain in the soil and groundwater.

It’s Earth Day! What kind of grades does New Jersey get for protecting the environment?

Greg Pope is chairman of the department of earth and environmental studies at Montclair State. He said old problems still haunt us.

“We still have our legacy pollutions that just reside in the soil and the groundwater and things like that from decades ago,” said Pope. “People just ... they weren’t necessarily malicious about polluting, they just didn’t know.”

He praised New Jersey for preserving its open spaces.

As it has on just about everything else, the pandemic has taken a toll on the environment, Pope said.

“Things as stupid as people just throwing away masks, huge use of plastics and things like that, that we don’t need to be doing,” he said. “Dispose of things properly. We can still recycle things rather than throw away stuff all the time. That’s been kind of ignored in the last year.”

Climate change is obviously the biggest environmental concern. Pope said it could affect the state’s water quality.

“Are we gonna have possibilities of droughts or floods or just really variable water supply?” he asked. “That’s gonna be an issue that New Jersey hasn’t had to worry about much, water, but that could be a thing if the supply becomes less dependable.”

Janice Kirkel is a lifelong award-winning journalist who has done everything from network newscasts to national and local sports reports to business newscasts to specialized reporting and editing in technical areas of business and finance such as bankruptcy, capital structure changes and reporting on the business of the investment business.