The Answer Is Blowin’ In OWEDA

October 26th, 2016 No comments
Senator Sweeney (L) responds to Wolfe (R) - Earth Day 2005. Had he listened, things would have turned out differently.

Senator Sweeney (L) responds to Wolfe (R) – Earth Day 2005.  (no typo, 11 years ago) Had he listened, things would have turned out differently.

In celebration of Senator Sweeney’s declining the Governor’s race – which just so happened to coincide with Bob Dylan’s receipt of the Nobel Prize in Literature – we play on his words.

As I’ve previously written, the Off Shore Wind Energy Development Act (OWEDA) is based on flawed economics and contained a poison pill that allowed Gov. Christie’s appointed energy industry cronies at BPU to kill the development of off-shore wind.

This poison pill is known as the “cost test”.

Gov. Christie duped Senate President Sweeney by suggesting a false commitment to develop off shore wind and in state manufacturing jobs associated with making NJ the east coast home of windmill manufacturing. (Christie used the same lie to secure the endorsement of the NJ Environmental Federation).

Here’s how and DEP Commissioner Martin – a former energy industry consultant – and Gov. Christie sold OWEDA:

The bipartisan measure will spur economic growth in the Garden State through the development of renewable energy resources and the creation of green jobs.  The legislation will establish an offshore wind renewable energy certificate program (OREC) and will make available financial assistance and tax credits from existing programs for businesses that construct manufacturing, assemblage and water access facilities to support the development of qualified offshore wind projects.

“The Offshore Wind Economic Development Act will provide New Jersey with an opportunity to leverage our vast resources and innovative technologies to allow businesses to engage in new and emerging sectors of the energy industry,” said Governor Christie. “Developing New Jersey’s renewable energy resources and industry is critical to our state’s manufacturing and technology future.  My Administration will maintain a strong commitment to utilizing energy as industry in our efforts to make our State a home for growth, as well as a national leader in the windpower movement.”

“This is a terrific step for New Jersey,” said DEP Commissioner Bob Martin.”It makes us a leader environmentally, while at the same time providing New Jersey with a major economic boost from jobs that surely will be created by this green industry. Certainly, we would rather have wind turbines, and the environmental and economic benefits they offer, than oil rigs off the coast of New Jersey.”

“We are far ahead of most other states in developing a technology that is better for the environment and will help the state’s economy,” Commissioner Martin said.

Measure that spin in light of reality 6 years later.

Gov. Christie never had any intention of developing off shore wind – instead, we got the opposite of renewable energy: 5 new natural gas plants and a proliferation of gas pipelines.

Incredibly, the Gov.s climate change denying – anti-renewable and pro-gas policy agenda – was announced in plain sight – 3 months prior to passage of OWEDA – in the BPU Energy Master Plan.

The OWEDA deal is paradigmatic of Christie’s corrupt “transactional” deals with NJ’s Machine Democrats (Norcross in South Jersey and Joe D. in Essex County/North Jersey).

Senate President Sweeney was the puppet who implemented these corrupt deals.

Perhaps had he not been such a Norcross and Christie Puppet, Sweeney would still be a candidate for Governor.

Like I said, the answer to those questions in Blowin’ In OWEDA.

[End Note: As I said, OWEDA is paradigmatic of Sweeney – Christie dirty deals

I could cite many more, like the Pinelands pipeline, the sellout on the Legislative veto of DEP flood hazard rules, and the most recent and perhaps most egregious that has flown under the media radar: appointment of a chemical industry rep on the Drinking Water Quality Institute.]

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DEP Pipeline Hearing: Trump Has Not Cornered The Market On Deplorable

October 21st, 2016 No comments

NJ Natural Gas Uses Non-Profits To Promote Pipeline

ReThink Energy NJ Engaged In Equally Dirty Dealings

Wednesday night, the DEP held the third of 4 public hearings on various DEP permits and approvals required for NJ Natural Gas Co.’s Pinelands pipeline, with the Orwellian name “Southern Reliability Link” (SRL).

Not since the chemical industry used Catholic Nuns to try to rollback the Clean Water Enforcement Act back in the early 1990’s have I seen such shameful tactics and flat out lies.

NJ Natural Gas and Their Deplorables

Specifically, various non-profit groups appeared to testify in support of the pipeline – including advocates for the homeless, developmentally disabled, senior citizens, black business women, and faith groups. (I later urged the interfaith group’s liar to read  Pope Francis’ encyclical “Care for Our Common Home” – but by the time I testified (7:30 pm), he was long gone. I arrived early and signed in at 4:00 pm with just a small handful of people ahead of me on the list of speakers, but DEP buried me until over 3 hours had gone by. A little after 7 pm, when I approached the microphone to ask DEP why I had not been called, the State Police moved in – and I called them on that needless intimidation.)

They all parroted the same discredited talking points – i.e. “clean, safe, reliable natural gas will prevent the kind of damage done by Superstorm Sandy” – so it was obvious that they were reading from a script prepared by NJ Natural Gas Co. or their lobbyists.

I guess NJ Natural Gas’ PR mavens realized that deploying the Union Thugs and then the State Police had backfired.

Here’s how Burlington County Times reporter Dave Levinsky described the (ob)scene:

Supporters included union leaders, affordable housing developers and advocates, business groups and providers of services to seniors and disabled residents. They cited the extended loss of power and heat following Superstorm Sandy, while arguing that the pipeline was needed to provide resilient and reliable energy for Ocean and Monmouth County residents.

“Our families rely on public utilities like New Jersey Natural Gas no matter what the weather gods hold for them on any given day,” said Paul McEvily, associate executive director of Interfaith Neighbors, an Asbury Park nonprofit that provides social services to needy families.

“Our seniors need their gas service and are very dependent on this lifeline service,” said Pat Bohse, executive director of the Senior Citizens Activities Network.

NJ Natural Gas must have spread a lot of money around the non-profit communities in Monmouth and Ocean Counties in order to get good people to prostitute themselves like that.

ReThink Energy NJ and Tom Gilbert Are Equally Deplorable

But NJ Natural Gas and their non-profit whores were not the only deplorables to testify at the hearing.

To get a sense of that other group of deplorables, first, we must make a brief detour for context.

For over a year, I’ve been trying to get the pipeline opponents – particularly those like Rethink Energy NJ that have huge financial resources required to hire lawyers and technical consultants like Princeton Hydro – to focus on the DEP’s Clean Water Act Section 401 Water Quality Certificate issue: (one recent example specific to these hearings):

Between now and the first August 22 public hearing, the activists really need to organize and ramp up public pressure on the DEP and assure a huge turnout for those hearings.

At the same time, activists need to craft a regulatory strategy on how best to attack these permits – and collect data to support that attack. I will be writing more specifically on these issues in upcoming posts.

Unfortunately, the very late start of the activists campaign in targeting the DEP 401 WQC and permit issues makes this a huge challenge.

I again emphasized the importance in a more recent post: Advice for PennEast and All NJ Pipeline Opponents On Upcoming DEP Permit Hearings:

So, let’s hope that those groups who have refrained from making the various Clean Water Act Section 401 WQC and wetlands arguments publicly thus far show up and bring their A game.

I am referring specifically to PennEast opponents and Rethink Energy NJ, who have focused on FERC thus far, as well as groups like Delaware Riverkeeper who has raised and litigated the 401 WQC issue in other states.

Be there and bring your lawyers and consultant experts. Put your analysis in the record. If you fail to do so, it will come back to bite you.

But instead of mounting a campaign focused on DEP and the 401 WQC issue, the ReThink Energy NJ staff consistency diverted attention from the issue – frequently issuing diversionary press releases or holding events on the same day that 401 relevant issues should have gotten both the activists and the media’s attention. (Mutually Dodge Foundation funded NJ Spotlight consistently ran with the ReThink diversions – in fact, Spotlight did not even mention the 401 WQC issue until last week’s story by Jon Hurdle.)

(In today’s NY Times story about the Clinton campaign’s dirty tricks, I just learned that these kind of diversionary tactics are called “bracketing”.)

Now, with that background, let’s get back to Wednesday night’s hearing.

First of all, there was ZERO expert testimony on the DEP 401 Water Quality Certificate issue. None.

I had expected a technical Report by Princeton Hydro on the 401 WQC issues and strong legal testimony from competent pipeline lawyers, including those representing Bordentown and Chesterfield. That didn’t happen.

Tom Gilbert from Rethink Energy NJ attended and testified at the hearing. He failed to heed my warnings and advise about the need to bring his A game and put a scientific and legal rationale on the record.

Gilbert did not specifically mention the Section 401 WQC issue, but he did allude to the Clean Water Act.

But more significantly, Gilbert’s testimony used and emphasized two very distinct regulatory phrases. Both dealt very precisely to something about the public interest versus private gain. Both were beyond Gilbert’s training and expertise.

Portions of Gilbert’s testimony sounded just like the activists from People Over Pipeline who read text from the NY State DEC’s 401 WQC denial on the Constitution pipeline – it was obvious she was reading what experts had written.

Those phrases both sounded curious and they rang a bell with me, but it wasn’t until after the hearing that I recalled where I had read them and the significance. When I did realize the source, the pieces of the puzzle all fell together.

Long story short, it is worse than I imagined.

The source of the two phrases Gilbert parroted was the concurrent proposal of the Flood Hazard Rules regarding Category One (C1) stream buffers.

These are officially called “Improvements to riparian zone protections (N.J.A.C. 7:13)” –  more specifically, the Additional protections for the inner 150 feet of a 300-foot riparian zone (7:13-11.2(d)).

You can read the proposal in depth here (language starts on page 16), but this is the smoking gun language that Gilbert parroted:

Proposed N.J.A.C. 7:13-11.2(d)3 requires the applicant to demonstrate that the proposed regulated activity is in the public interest. The Department will determine if a proposed activity is in the public interest by considering the factors proposed at N.J.A.C. 7:13-11.2(d)3i-vi. These factors are similar to the factors considered by the Department in determining public interest in the context of individual freshwater wetlands and open water fill permits. …

Under proposed N.J.A.C. 7:13-11.2(d)3ii, the Department will also consider the relative extent of the public and private need for the proposed regulated activity in determining if a proposed activity is in the public interest. If the project serves primarily a private need, such as a development that services only the residents of a private residential development, the Department is less likely to determine that the activity is in the public interest.

What this means is that Gilbert and the ReThink Energy NJ crowd have ben duped by DEP political appointees into believing that the concurrent proposal language will provide an adequate basis for DEP to kill the PennEast pipeline.

In exchange for that, Gilbert and Company have muted criticism of DEP, diverted focus on DEP and the 401 WQC issue, and even praised DEP.

Most recently, this explains their silence on the DEP’s Permit By Rule decision on the SRL stream encroachment permits for 43 stream crossings. That horrible decision set precedent for ALL pipelines, including PennEast.

WORSE, as I previously wrote, the sham concurrent proposal was the political cover that derailed the Legislative Veto of the DEP’s Flood Hazard rule proposal.

So Gilbert has actually created THREE DISASTERS:

1) he is undermining activists opposing the PennEast pipeline because he has been co-opted by DEP and mistakenly thinks he has a deal to kill the pipeline;

2) he is undermining activists opposing the NJ Natural Gas SRL pipelines on the 401 WQC issue;

3) behind closed doors, he cut the deal on the concurrent proposal that killed the legislative veto (SCR 66) of DEP’s horrible Flood Hazard rules.

That, my dear reader, is DEPLORABLE.

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NJ Reservoirs Drained While The Christie DEP Diddled

October 20th, 2016 No comments

No Water Supply Plan –

No Demand Management and Conservation During Summer


[Update: 10/21/16 – This pretty much sums things up. Keep in mind that DEP Assistant Commissioner Dan Kennedy is a licensed professional planner – but just look at how he rejects the concept of and need for planning, just to serve his political hack boss Bob Martin: (Bergen Record):

At Thursday’s hearing, environmental advocates also urged the DEP to release an updated state water master plan. The plan was last updated in 1996 — 20 years ago — even though state law requires the agency to update it every five years.

Kennedy said an update is in the works but could not say when it might be ready. “We have all the data and tools we need to manage any water crisis regardless of the age of the master plan,” he said.

At some point, the professionals must start telling the truth or just resign. ~~~ end update.]

After months of sitting on the sidelines and ignoring scientists warnings while drought conditions worsened, today, the Christie DEP finally is holding a public hearing regarding declaring a drought warning.

While DEP diddled, the reservoirs were drained by high summer demand.

Declaring a drought warning in the fall is like declaring a snow emergency in July.

The opportunity to reduce demand and conserve water has been lost – summer is peak demand.

The Christie DEP has abdicated its legal responsibility to plan for and manage public water supply. It tacitly has delegated that responsibility to private water companies and local government.

The DEP focus is now on inter-basin transfers of an inadequate and depleted water storage system – as DEP itself admits:

 The DEP has already been consulting with major water suppliers to discuss cooperative transfers among systems.

NJ already has far too little reservoir storage capacity per capita, so allowing reservoirs to be depleted is a serious example of mismanagement by DEP.

High summer demand and low rainfall put extreme pressure of this already deficient reservoir system.

High pollution levels in rivers (and low flows) limited the ability of water purveyors to divert river flows to reservoir storage.

Given the Christie Administration’s privatization and anti-regulatory policies, I seriously would not be surprised if former private sector corporate consultant Bob “Customer Service” Martin entered into a private – public partnership with FedEx to manage the State’s water – after all, Commissioner Martin views water as a commodity.

So why not put the world’s private logistics expert in charge?


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NJ League Of Conservation Voters Gets Grant Funded To Fix Huge Blunder on Natural Resource Damages

October 19th, 2016 No comments

Yesterday, I ripped off a rant about the Environmental Endowment for NJ [EENJ].

I just updated that post, but now realize that the update needs to be a stand alone post.

This particular EENJ grant to NJ LCV really needs to be exposed – for it perfectly illustrates how incompetent, deceptive, and essentially corrupt these folks are:

17.   New Jersey League of Conservation Voters Education Fund  ($15,000) Trenton, New Jersey: to advance an agenda that protects and enhances the state’s water quality in key regions of the Garden State with three priority issues:  1) NRD Constitutional Amendment, 2) Releasing the Water Supply Master Plan (WSMP), and 3) Establishing Stormwater Utilities.

The EENJ funding for the Natural Resource Damage [NRD Constitutional Amendment] campaign is an outrageous deception and fraud.

Let me explain why. Bear with me, this is complicated and requires context and a brief historical excursion.

First of all, keep in mind that NJ LCV was one of the chief supporters and spokespersons for the Open Space Ballot Question.

As the public just learned, the open space ballot question diverted $32 million per year previously dedicated to State Parks maintenance.

Also keep in mind that the long ignored DEP Natural Resource Damage [NRD] program recently came to the attention of the media, public, Legislature, and environmental groups in response to the Christie DEP’s paltry $225 million sweetheart deal with Exxon.

Just like the State Parks diversion disaster, very few people understand that the open space issue is related to the NRD issue.

Specifically, the original draft of the open space legislation, Senator Smith’s bill, explicitly INCLUDED dedication of NRD money.

Amazingly, NJ LCV and the Keep It Green Coalition OPPOSED inclusion of NRD money in the Open Space bill. As a result, the NRD money was deleted from the open space bill that authorized the ballot question.

The idiots at NJ LCV and KIG made a huge mistake. As I wrote during the open space debate:

The KIG coalition does not want the public to know that – to know that in addition to stealing the entire State Parks capital budget, that they also stole the lease and concession money.

And they also don’t want the public to figure out what a HUGE mistake they made by opposing dedication of Natural Resource Damage (NRD) settlement funds and expanding that NRD dedication to ALL cost recovery and enforcement settlement agreement funds.

The original introduced version of SCR84 included the NRD funds dedication. That provision could have been expanded by a simple amendment. Instead of seeking that amendment, the KIG fools OPPOSED IT ALL!

As I again wrote:

Earlier in the day, the Assembly Judiciary Committee held a hearing on the $225 million Exxon Natural Resource Damage (NRD) settlement.

Jeff Tittel was the only person who connected the dots.

Tittel correctly reminded legislators that Natural Resource Damage (NRD) settlement revenues were dedicated in the original version of the open space initiative and that Keep It Green opposed that and had the NRD revenues deleted from the final version of the Resolution that authorized the November open space ballot dedication.

But it is even worse than a huge blunder – the real reason why the KIG and NJ LCV opposed dedication of NRD money was self serving: Mike Catania had long been involved in DEP NRD Settlements and had allocated tons of NRD money to various NJ conservation groups. As I wrote:

Even more aggressively, the “entrepreneurial conservation” model is defined and proudly laid out in excruciating detail by Mike Catania, who explains the “business model” of his creation: Conservation Resources, Inc. (see: ** “A Ten- Year Journey: Conservation Resources’ Final Report):

“We would also like to acknowledge the handful of farsighted regulators who were open to CRI’s role in matching those members of the regulated community who needed to fund a conservation project in order to satisfy a regulatory requirement with a non profit organization or local government seeking funding for an appropriate project. For their part, the regulated community and their legal advisors and consultants instinctively “got” CRI’s role and welcomed this new way to comply with New Jersey’s stringent environmental regulatory requirements.”

[**Note: To cover his tracks, Catania killed the link to his own self congratulatory Report:“A Ten- Year Journey: Conservation Resources’ Final Report) – just more evidence that these folks are corrupt.]

Dedication of that NRD money to the Open Space program would cut them out of this funding source. As I wrote:

Curious also that given Mr. Catania’s entrepreneurial experience with the DEP NRD program, that the KIG OPPOSED the initial version of the SCR84, which would have dedicated Natural Resource Damage recoveries to the new open space fund. That provision could have been amended to capture all cost recovery settlements and provided significant new funds. But the provision was stripped from the final version, SCR84 SCS.

For them now to fund themselves for a campaign to correct their huge blunder is ABSURD and CORRUPT.

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My Thoughts, Precisely

October 18th, 2016 No comments
Ken Ward, 59, of Corbette OR said, “There is no plan of action, policy or strategy being advanced now by any political leader or environmental organization playing by the rules that does anything but acquiesce to ruin. Our only hope is to step outside polite conversation and put our bodies in the way. We must shut it down, starting with the most immediate threats — oil sands fuels and coal.”
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