NJ DEP Commissioner Misleads The Public About The DEP Role In Hackensack River Superfund Designation

July 27th, 2021 No comments

Legal and Fact Errors

Fact Free Speculative Partisan Propaganda

Cover For Fact That DEP Commissioner Was A Lawyer For Corporate Polluters Fighting Cleanup Requirements

NJ Spotlight’s story today on the proposed designation of the Hackensack River as a federal Superfund site contains egregious errors that completely mislead readers about the Superfund designation process and the State DEP’s role in that process.

The errors are not minor and are in the lead of the story:

Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Shawn LaTourette said Friday he will apply for Superfund status, which would, if granted, add federal money and expertise to the badly needed cleanup of a toxic stew of chemicals that lie in the riverbed as a result of more than a century of unregulated industrial discharges.

The river would be the first in New Jersey to be placed on the National Priorities List for cleanup of severely polluted sites even though some parts of the nearby Passaic River are being remediated under the program.

I)  First, a State environmental agency does not “apply for Superfund status.”

Superfund is a national program. The decision on whether to designate a site on the Superfund National Priorities List (NPL) is exclusively and solely EPA’s decision.

EPA has complete control (legally and technically) of every single step in the Superfund process.

The State role its purely advisory and has zero legal effect. EPA “consults” with States and seeks their “concurrence” in proposed Superfund NPL listing and cleanup decisions that are made exclusively by EPA. The State’s input is not binding on EPA in any way. EPA can act to list a site on the NPL with or without the State’s support.

The EPA NPL listing decision is supposed to be driven by science and risk to human health and the environment, as measured by a scoring system known as the “HRS”, for “Hazard Ranking System”. Sites with greater than an HRS of 28.5 qualify for listing. The Hackensack River scored an HRS of 50 (over 5 YEARS ago). EPA should have listed it on the NPL long ago.

Here is the EPA policy for consultation with States in the Superfund NPL listing process:

In an effort to maintain close coordination with the States in the NPL listing decision process, the Regions should determine the position of the State on sites that EPA is considering for NPL listing. The Regional Administrator should direct the written inquiry to the governor, with a copy to the State environmental commissioner. The inquiry should specify that a written response from the State is requested.

This is not a trivial issue, because exaggeration of the State role contradicts the fundamental Congressional structure of Superfund as a National program, it creates major problems in accountability, and it produces two very negative results:

1) the cowardly bureaucrats at EPA, including former EPA Region 2 Administrator Judy Enck and then head of R2 Superfund Mr. Walter Mudgan (now acting RA), hide behind a lack of “State concurrence” as an excuse not to make a decision to list a site on Superfund NPL. This gives knuckle dragging Gov.’s a veto power that was never authorized by Congress. We had enormous battles with EPA on this issue at the Dupont site in Pompton Lakes.

2) exaggeration of the State role allows State and local political influences to intervene at EPA on behalf of polluters to block Superfund NPL listing. EPA even has gutted Superfund cleanups based on local zoning. I wrote about exactly these political problems at the Troy Chemicals site in Newark (which subsequently was ultimately listed by EPA).

It also makes this appear to the public like the Murphy administration is doing some heavy lifting when in fact it means very little (despite EPA Mudgan’s claim that DEP support is “significant”. All it does is provide political cover for him and divert from his historical failures to act. Mudgan is engaged in pure political spin, not statements of law and policy).

II)  Second, despite what NJDEP falsely claims, the Hackensack River would NOT “be the first River in New Jersey to be placed on the National Priorities List”.

The EPA designated the Passaic River a Superfund site a long time ago. How can DEP Commissioner LaTourette and NJ Spotlight spin that?

[Update – a reader just sent me a curt note to indicate that the designation of a river as a Superfund site is really no big deal and has been done before across the country:

Willamette, Duwamish, Saginaw, Carson, St Louis, Hudson etc

III)  Third, Perhaps even worse, the partisan nature of the story is overt – not even disguised. And it too is factually in error and based on pure speculation, not facts.

Here it is:

Sheehan based his hopes on pro-environment policies by Democratic administrations in both Trenton and Washington, and on the long experience of Walter Mugdan, acting administrator of the EPA’s Region 2, who he said is well-placed to push for Superfund status for the river.

The Biden factor

“Now that Biden is in, and Mugdan is acting administrator, I wouldn’t be surprised if they accepted the petition and started working on the rulemaking,” Sheehan said in an interview with NJ Spotlight News. […]

Blocked by Christie

In 2016, EPA contractors took 400 samples from the riverbed, and found what Sheehan described as a “toxic stew” of contaminants. That should have prompted the DEP to seek Superfund designation at the time but that was blocked by Gov. Chris Christie who may not have wanted a new Superfund site in New Jersey during his presidential campaign, Sheehan said.

IV) Here are The Facts

Look, I was one of NJ Gov. Christie’s harshest, credible, and most visible environmental critics, if not the harshest. Ditto the Trump EPA.

But I can not let that obscure the facts of the matter or provide excuse for EPA inaction or DEP over the top spin. The facts are thus:

1. Regardless of what Gov. Christie did or didn’t do (and I do not doubt that he and DEP Commissioner Martin may have opposed Superfund designation, but I base my views on evidence, not speculation), it is flat out false to claim that DEP should have sought Superfund designation based on sediment sampling.

Again, this is a false statement of the State DEP’s role. Superfund designation is an EPA responsibility.

EPA should have pursued Superfund designation after they conducted a Preliminary Investigation (PA) and Site Assessment (SI) that yielded a “Hazard Ranking Score” (HRS) of 50, almost twice the listing score threshold of 28.5.

EPA completed the PA/SI over 5 YEARS ago and long BEFORE the sediment sampling documented that “toxic stew” of contaminants. The PA alone is an adequate basis for NPL listing, even without the confirmatory sediment sampling.

Walter Mugdan, US EPA Region 2 Actign Director

Walter Mugdan, US EPA Region 2 Acting Administrator

2. Walter Mudgan is no hero. I will note that Walter Mudgan, portrayed by NJ Spotlight as a hero, was the EPA R2 Manager in charge of this decision. He failed to act – he failed  do the right thing. That is not leadership, that is cowardice.

And Mr. Mugdan failed to do the right thing in Pompton Lakes. He failed the people of Ringwood too. And he’s dragging his feet on the Curtis Paper Site in Milford. We don’t forget.

3. There is no evidence that the Murphy NJ DEP is “pro-environment” in terms of aggressive cleanup of toxic sites. The NJ DEP toxic site cleanup program was privatized – by NJ Democrats in the Legislature and Gov.’s Office, supported by then DEP Commissioner Lisa Jackson. I see no evidence that Murphy wants to reverse that ultimate rollback.

In fact, available evidence points to exactly the opposite conclusion, because NJ DEP Commissioner LaTourette was a legal hired gun for major corporate polluters fighting DEP and EPA toxic site cleanup requirements. (Look at his former corporate clients here).

Commissioner LaTourette is using this issue very cynically to create a misleading impression and to provide cover for his prior corporate legal work on behalf of polluters.

He is a slippery, dangerous, and dishonest hack. This episode absolutely validates my prior assessments of the man.

[End Note: I also haven’t seen any evidence that Biden is pro-environment on cleanup requirements. Again, the available evidence suggests just the opposite: The Associated Press has documented that Biden is a fraud on climate. And his EPA Administrator is known as a consensus builder and compromiser and he won the support of industry during the confirmation process. (Washington Post):

As North Carolina’s top environmental official, he has generally won praise from members of both parties, as well as from many environmental groups and industry representatives, for his willingness to hear all sides of an issue. But even Republicans who have spoken highly of Regan personally remained skeptical about the Biden administration’s plans to aggressively limit emissions from the nation’s automotive and fossil fuel sectors, insisting that moving too fast could inflict further damage on the battered economy.

How could NJ Spotlight speculate with no facts and in such a blatantly partisan way?]

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The Forensics Of Regulatory Capture: Inside The NJ DEP Stakeholder And Rulemaking Process

July 26th, 2021 No comments

How The Game Is Rigged – Part 78

An unknown reader sent me an email this morning. He noted that he had read my prior post on the climate coalition’s petition for rulemaking, offered some technical criticisms of DEP’s greenhouse gas inventory, and asked me if I would be commenting on the DEP rule proposal and a related EPA rule.

Since he sent me such a thoughtful note, I thought I’d reply in kind and explain why I would not be wasting my time to submit comments to DEP.

Here is my reply, which examines the realities of the DEP “Stakeholder” and rule-making process:

Hi XXXXX – I will not be submitting comments to NJDEP. Let me explain why.

Comments to NJ DEP are largely a waste of time. Once a rule is proposed, it’s just about cast in stone. There are legal, political, and institutional barriers to making any changes in response to public comments.

I worked at DEP for 13 years and drafted and responded to public comments on many proposed regulations. I spent another 20+ years as an advocate involved with DEP rules and did a lot of academic work in the field, so consider myself an expert on rulemaking.

Under NJ law, any change DEP might make in response to public comments, if it is substantive, must be re-proposed as a new rule proposal and go through the entire rulemaking process again. This makes DEP very reluctant to make changes (the law was amended a few years ago  to allow certain previously prohibited “substantive changes on adoption” to be made, but DEP has not used this as far as I know and it has not been tested in NJ courts.)

Politically, the primary reason DEP holds a “stakeholder” process prior to rule proposal is to solicit and get an understanding of the positions of the various industries and environmental groups. The industry lawyers and lobbyists use the stakeholder process to extract information from DEP and to influence DEP staffers who draft the rules. The environmental groups, not so much.

Then, armed with this information gleaned from the Stakeholder process, behind the scenes, industry lobbyists meet off the record with DEP Managers (sometimes even the Commissioner and Gov.’s Office staff, depending on how significant the rule is in terms of triggering industry compliance costs) to “negotiate” various technical concessions, loopholes, exemptions, etc. – they call it “flexibility”. Any changes to a rule after the various “agreements” are reached would undermine or destroy those deals, so this doesn’t happen very often.

This renders the stakeholder process not only a waste of time for the environmental groups, but outright dangerous, because it provides a forum for undue industry access and influence.

Institutionally, the DEP as an institution and the staff as bureaucrats, are very reluctant to make changes, because changes imply errors on their part. They have a lot invested in a proposal. It takes a LOT of work and by the time it is proposed, has gone through months of multiple reviews by DEP management and the Gov. Office, including political reviews. Sometimes, DEP mangers or the Gov.’s office dictate changes to appease the regulated industries (rarely in response environmental groups lobbying). It is very frustrating.

Because DEP staffers have to respond to dictates from management, it generates a certain tension and resentment – so, the last people they are going to make changes in response to is “the public”, who DEP technocrats view as incompetent and political.

The time to pressure DEP for what a regulation should look like is BEFORE any rule is proposed. Once it’s proposed, it’s too late.

The best way to influence and pressure DEP along these lines is via a rule petition and very public campaign targeting the Gov..

The only value of public comments are:

1) to establish legal “standing” to sue DEP (you can’t sue DEP on a rule if you have not commented on it) – as well as the science, data and legal arguments you will assert (this often backfires, because DEP then uses public comments that flag defects to “fix” them, but not in rule text but in some explanation in the response to comments document. DEP does the same thing during the Stakeholder process: they use your criticism against you. This dynamic is kind of like showing your cards before betting);

2) to provide evidence to the press that a proposal is deeply unpopular (or supported by the public) in order to generate news coverage; and

3) to provide evidence to legislators that a rule is deeply unpopular (or  popular) and the technical reason why the rule is flawed (to embolden them to intervene and legislatively veto a rule as “inconsistent with legislative intent”).

To get a rule proposal killed or changed, you need to have:

a) overwhelming public opposition (many thousands of public comments, backed by a highly visible opposition campaign that generates tons of critical press coverage).

b) In addition to all that public opposition and critical press coverage, you also have to have very strong legal and scientific arguments that DEP really screwed up.

c) Support by and a receptive ear in the Gov.’s Office or the DEP Commissioner.

I see no evidence that the environmental groups have mounted the kind of campaign required to do this.

I see no evidence that the environmental groups have the legal and technical skills and capacity required to do this.

I see no evidence that the environmental groups have the political will, independence, and integrity required to do this.

I see no evidence that the press has the capacity or desire to generate this kind of reporting.

The DEP Commissioner is a former corporate lawyer who isn’t going to be burning any bridges with his corporate friends, who he will be working for after he leaves DEP (just as he did before he arrived).

Hope this helps,

Wolfe

[Update: 7/27/21 – Breaking news! (snark).

I now have evidence that NJ climate activists are actually doing something! Yea!

After their Trenton Zoom call with reporters last week (which I mistakenly assumed was an actual State House event), I just learned that Dave Pringle put out an “action alert” yesterday (7/26/21). Cart before horse, and too little too late, again. If I were an activist, I wouldn’t want to learn about this after the fact via reading NJ Spotlight or this blog. At least Pringle correctly targets the Gov., but the only “activism” I can see is a request to sign a petition in support of their petition. I see no campaign, no resources, and no real organizing or field mobilization of activists. Here’s Dave!

From: David Pringle < dpringle1988@gmail.com>

Per our call just now, here’s the info./action alert re: the 7 group Empower NJ Steering Committee with support from 58 additional groups filing a legal petition last week under the NJ Administrative Procedures Act w/ NJDEP calling for rulemaking to cut greenhouse gas emissions 50% by 2030:

     * a couple clips (NJ Spotlight / 101.5), 
     * the press release
     * the legal petition, and 
     *  the alert / sign on petition as a first step or one off in helping
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The (Largely Ignored And UnRegulated) Implications Of Warehouse Development

July 25th, 2021 No comments

Take A Look At What’s Really At Stake

The Entire Fabric Of A Community

Before I make my point, let me provide some context.

NJ Spotlight recently has written several stories on warehouse developments that are exploding across New Jersey.

Most of the coverage has focused on the land use and transportation implications, with some brief mention about loss of prime farmland.

I’ve posted a few notes critical of that coverage, see:

I have emailed NJ Spotlight reporter Jon Hurdle numerous times seeking to convince him to expand that coverage to include climate implications and the DEP’s regulatory role.

For example, aside from some window dressing crap about making new warehouses “solar ready” (a piecemeal toothless bill that failed), there has been no mention of all the greenhouse gas emissions impacts.

Millions of new truck miles, massive new power demands to serve millions of square feet of air conditioned warehouse facilities, and long single passenger commutes by workers to these facilities will create massive new GHG emissions that further undermine any possibility of meeting the emissions reduction goals of the toothless Global Warming Response Act and Gov. Murphy’s climate  commitments.

It is shocking that these contradictions have not even been mentioned, never mind quantified and subject to DEP regulation (and transportation related GHG emissions also are ignored in NJ DEP clean air and environmental justice plans as well) .

And while we are on the topic of DEP regulation, while the new warehouse developments expose huge gaps in DEP permit regulations, DEP does have important regulatory oversight under clean air and clean water laws that is being ignored as well. No one is holding DEP accountable for their role in approving these warehouse developments.

For example, as of June 21, 2021, there were 6  “Water Quality Management Plan” (WQMP) amendments pending before DEP for massive new warehouse developments (I don’t know how many DEP has already rubber stamped under the public radar).

Specifically, I emailed Jon Hurdle the following list and urged that he contact DEP and write the story (links and text from DEP Public Notice seeking public comment on the draft WQMP):

  • Mansfield Township, Burlington County. The proposed project consists of 587,574 square feet (SF) of warehouse space and 20,000 SF of office space.
  • Jackson Township, Ocean County. The proposed project consists of a 111,299 square foot (sq. ft.) retail and warehouse building. The entire proposed project also includes two separate office buildings;
  • Howell Township, Monmouth County. The proposed project consists of the construction of two warehouse buildings totaling 85,000 square feet (SF). One warehouse will contain a total of 42,500 SF of which 2,320 SF will be office space and the other warehouse will total 42,500 SF;
  • Carteret Borough, Middlesex County. The proposed project consists of three warehouse/office buildings;
  • Franklin Township, Somerset County. The proposed project site is 61.2 acres of which approximately 48.8 acres are currently designated as within the SSA of the MCUA STP. The expanded SSA would allow for the proposed development of a 425,250 square foot (sf) warehouse building with a 21,600 sf of office space and a 118,800 sf warehouse building;
  • Deptford Redevelopment Area-Proposed Warehouse

I also urged Hurdle to write about the DEP failures and hypocrisy of PSE&G’s sale of their Duck Island land to a major warehouse developerland that could have formed the anchor of a wonderful new urban State Park on the banks of the Delaware River in Trenton:

PSEG recently sold their closed power plant property on Duck Island to Hilco Redevelopment Partners, a development company. According to PSEG:

“HRP envisions redeveloping the sites as state-of-the-art industrial parks to serve the growing need for regional warehouse distribution hubs in central and northern New Jersey.”

Remarkably, still, NJ Spotlight continues to ignore the PSE&G Duck Island warehouse project and DEP’s role in their coverage. That gives DEP and “climate champion” Gov. Murphy a huge pass.

So, with that context established, now to my main point.

While the climate, land use, farmland and transportation impacts and lack of adequate DEP regulatory oversight are very important issues, I was blown away just now by by reading this article  about the social, educational, and labor impacts of warehouse developments, see:

I strongly encourage you to read the whole thing – I was appalled especially by this astonishing passage: is this what NJ’s wants for its rural school districts? (emphases mine)

Take the Inland Empire, a rural and exurban region in California saturated with warehouses because of its proximity to Los Angeles. At Cajon High School, a public high school in San Bernardino, students — many of whom have family members employed at Amazon — can take classes in the Amazon Logistics and Business Management Pathways career track.

Writer Erika Hayasaki visited Cajon High. Here’s what she found:

“A dozen students sat clustered at work tables inside an air-conditioned classroom, which was designed to emulate the inside of an Amazon facility. On one wall, Amazon’s giant logo grinned across a yellow and green banner. The words “CUSTOMER OBSESSION” and “DELIVER RESULTS” were painted against a corporate-style yellow backdrop. On a whiteboard, a teacher had written the words “Logistics Final Project,” and the lesson of the day was on Amazon’s “14 Leadership Principles.” Each teenager wore a company golf shirt emblazoned with the Amazon logo.

Students and staff members expressed pride in being associated with the company. Amazon partnered with the school as part of its five-year anniversary in the Inland Empire, donating $50,000 to start the pilot program, the giant sweepstakes-style Amazon check displayed prominently at the classroom entrance. The students had already taken field trips to tour the nearby Amazon warehouse.”

A public high-school classroom designed to resemble an Amazon facility, with students wearing Amazon logos on their clothing as they memorize Amazon’s leadership principles (which, it is worth noting, also include “Ownership” and “Think Big,” injunctions that hold merit for readers of this magazine when imagining how we might solve the problems exemplified by Amazon). Such a relationship between the company and public goods like a high school is part of what it means to consider Amazon as “the major working-class space of suburban and exurban socialization.”

Is this what NJ’s political leaders want for the future of the State?

Because this is the economic development model that is already well developed and will be made much worse by more warehouses in rural areas.

And Amazon is not the only corporate employer doing this kind of damage.

I sent this to NJ Spotlight reporter Jon Hurdle, but, just like the DEP story he’s failed to cover, I’m not holding my breath.

 

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After 4 Years Of Cheerleading And “Stakeholder” Diversions, NJ Climate Activists Finally Pull The Regulatory Trigger

July 22nd, 2021 No comments

Political Stunt Is Too Little And Far Too Late

DSC3852

A coalition of climate activists submitted a petition for rulemaking to the Murphy DEP yesterday. The petition seeks to accelerate greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals and block DEP approvals of new or expanded fossil infrastructure.

You can read the petition here. I want to limit my focus today on the political dimensions of this petition.

The petition is endorsed by 58 groups. Surprisingly included was Environment NJ, a group that has served as Gov. Murphy’s primary climate cheerleader. So, I was surprised that they got in Gov. Murphy’s face for a change. But, as we’ll see below, that move may end up being just the opposite of a political challenge to the Gov. and instead be the first step in an all too typical cynical Kabuki.

Notably missing in action is the Foundation, DEP, and corporate funded conservation community, including NJ Audubon Society, NJ Conservation Foundation, NJ League Of Conservation Voters, NJ Highlands Coalition, Pinelands Preservation Alliance, Rethink Energy NJ (the PennEast pipeline opposition group formed by NJCF), American Littoral Society, The StonyBrook Watershed Institute (and all the watershed groups), NY/NJ Baykeeper, Sustainable NJ, NJ Future, and the various other Mike Catania & Chris Daggett, Duke, Dodge, and Wm. Penn Foundation created astro-turf operations. Incredibly, this MIA faction also includes the environmental justice alliance.

Think about that they next time you see those groups quoted in the news about the urgency of climate threats, or appeals to FERC or DEP to deny approvals for pipelines  – or the need for more money to fund “resilience”, “smart growth” “sustainability” or “climate adaptation” or “environmental justice”.

For over a decade, I’ve been urging the environmental community to file regulatory petitions to DEP. For example, here’s one I filed back in 2007 and repeatedly circulated as a model.

The climate coalition’s petition was announced in Trenton and comes in the 4th year of the Murphy administration (and in the dead of summer, with the legislature in recess, and media and people focused on other important things).

During these 4 years, environmentalists have praised Gov. Murphy as a climate leader, and the press has portrayed Gov. Murphy as climate leader and champion of green energy. As a result, Gov. Murphy has a very strong – but false and undeserved – climate reputation.

This environmental group praise and favorable press occurred despite the facts that: 1) he has done absolutely nothing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, 2) his DEP has issued permits for massive new fossil infrastructure projects and logging NJ forests, 3) his BPU Energy Master Plan is woefully inadequate and promotes continued expansion and reliance on fossil fuels, 4) he signed legislation authorizing a multi-billion nuclear bailout, 5) he has made off-shore wind a Wall Street finance and corporate bonanza, 6) he installed a former corporate lawyer, including for a massive new LNG export plant, as DEP Commissioner (amazingly, Mr. LaTourette was installed at DEP just 2 weeks after he successfully lobbied and rammed through DEP final permits for the LNG plant below the public’s radar), and 7) he almost killed the solar industry by signing into law a “cost cap” (while leaving in place a “net metering” solar cap that undermines small scale solar), which he was forced to repeal by subsequent legislation, an embarrassing U-Turn that also promotes massive corporate scale solar on farms, while undermining distributed small scale and rooftop solar. (Since Murphy is a former Wall Street Goldman Sachs man, he knows that investors and corporations require regulatory stability and certainty, so his bungling of solar finance and regulation could not be an accident).

This coalition petition also comes 18 months after DEP began “Stakeholder meetings” to discuss development of a package of regulations DEP calls PACT, for “Protecting Against Climate Threats“.

About 2 years ago, shortly after DEP announced the PACT regulatory initiative, I again strongly urged climate activists to move aggressively in order to get out front of and set expectations for the DEP PACT regulations. I then wrote:

the Murphy DEP should be barraged with petitions for rulemaking from the NJ environmental community on numerous issues, especially to get out in front of and frame the upcoming climate regulations DEP has named “PACT”.

I specifically warned activists not to wait and get diverted by the DEP’s “Stakeholder” process. I wrote:

A rule petition is a far more effective way to influence DEP than to sit around the table and get played in the DEP’s informal “Stakeholder processes”. That’s just where DEP wants you to be – safely in the room, instead of forcing their hand legally and out in the streets targeting DEP regulations for public protest demands.

I’ve been urging NJ environmental leaders to file these petitions for years, so now I’ll rehash that as a template for citizens.

Well, just as I warned, instead of mounting a public campaign and filing a regulatory petition before the DEP began developing the PACT rules, they engaged that DEP Stakeholder process and not only wasted 2 years and allowed the false perception of Gov. Murphy’s climate record to solidify, but allowed DEP to develop totally inadequate climate regulations.

So, the petition is a classic example of too little too late.

And it will be perceived as exactly the non-serious political stunt that it is, as even Jeff Tittel (retired) of Sierra Club made clear: (NJ Spotlight)

If the department rejects the petition, there is not much recourse for the coalition. “It sets down a marker for the election,’’ said Jeff Tittel, the former director of the Sierra Club, referring to the November gubernatorial election.

Did you get that? Tittel just admitted that the whole thing is essentially a political stunt. This crap is what destroys the credibility of climate activists (and I wonder how much they paid the lawyer who drafted or at least formatted the petition).

If all they wanted was a political “marker for the election”, the petition should have been deployed 4 years ago as a condition of endorsement of Gov. Murphy during the 2017 gubernatorial election.

By waiting this long – at a time when DEP’s long delayed PACT and EJ rules will be delayed until after the upcoming election – they give Murphy a total pass.

Worse, they have provided a cynical opportunity for the Gov. to make some lame public response, announcing his support of the accelerated emission reduction aspirational goals in the petition (while remaining silent on DEP permits for all the pending new fossil infrastructure projects).

Then the coalition groups can declare victory and endorse Murphy for Governor again. They then use this “victory” for fundraising with Foundations and their members.

Meanwhile, nothing real gets done, DEP PACT rules are a joke, new fossil infrastructure is permitted by DEP, greenhouse gas emissions continue to increase, and climate catastrophe is accelerated.

This is a repeat of exactly how we got the toothless Global Warming Response Act.

Mark my words – expect the following events between now and October:

1). Gov. Murphy publicly announces support of the accelerated GHG emission reduction goals in petition. This could include another symbolic gesture in the form of a toothless and aspirational executive order. Of course, this generates huge applause from the green groups and tons of good press.

2) DEP issues a decision at the end of September that quietly supports the petition in principle, but technically does not grant the petition for rulemaking. DEP makes no specific commitments for regulatory changes. This formal regulatory determination (denial) on the petition gets no media coverage and the green groups ignore it. Or if it is covered, it gets spun a a “victory” in light of the Gov.’s announcement of support.

3) Green groups declare a major victory and endorse Murphy for Gov. at a Trenton press conference with the Gov.

In November, the Gov is re-elected and recognized as a national climate leader.

In January, DEP issue proposed Climate PACT rule that do not come close to mandating the emissions reductions or permit changes recommended by the petition.

Of course, the green groups and media ignore or misrepresent this reality.

I’ve seen this before. It’s the same Kabuki that gave us the toothless Global Warming Response Act.

(in a subsequent post, I will highlight some technical and policy flaws with the petition).

[Update: 7/27/21 – Breaking news! (snark).

I now have evidence that NJ climate activists are actually doing something! Yea!

After their Trenton Zoom call with reporters last week (which I mistakenly assumed was an actual State House event), I just learned that Dave Pringle put out an “action alert” yesterday (7/26/21). Cart before horse, and too little too late, again. If I were an activist, I wouldn’t want to learn about this after the fact via reading NJ Spotlight or this blog. At least Pringle correctly targets the Gov., but the only “activism” I can see is a request to sign a petition in support of their petition. I see no campaign, no resources, and no real organizing or field mobilization of activists. Here’s Dave!

From: David Pringle < dpringle1988@gmail.com>

Per our call just now, here’s the info./action alert re: the 7 group Empower NJ Steering Committee with support from 58 additional groups filing a legal petition last week under the NJ Administrative Procedures Act w/ NJDEP calling for rulemaking to cut greenhouse gas emissions 50% by 2030:

     * a couple clips (NJ Spotlight / 101.5), 
     * the press release
     * the legal petition, and 
     *  the alert / sign on petition as a first step or one off in helping
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“Lost Out There”

July 20th, 2021 No comments

8H1A1168

Mt. Baker, across Salish Sea, from bluffs at Fort Worden SP, Port Townsend, Wa.

Sometimes I feel like I might just fall off the edge of the continent and vanish into the Pacific ocean.

During one of these moments, I heard James McMurtry’s “Canola Fields” the other night and it struck a cord:

I was thinking ’bout you, crossing Southern Alberta
Canola fields on a July day
Are about the same chartreuse as that sixty-nine bug
You used to drive around San Jose

 More than 40 years ago, my Margaret drove a ’70? orange chevy, not a chartreuse 69 bug. (her favorite song “Angel From Montgomery”)

You never knew where my old white Lincoln might take you
Party on wheels with suicide doors

And I drove a huge old yellow Buick Lesabre (later a white Chevy Impala), a party on wheels – and just as large as a Lincoln. (my confused reply songs to Margaret were: “Amie” and Dave Mason’s “We just disagree” and everything from Neil Young and Joni Mitchell, and some stuff from Eric ClaptonJackson Brown, Van Morrison, and Moody Blues).

8H1A0882

Rockwood (Hudson River)

But these are technical diversions.

Here’s what was really going on at the time:

Til that white-knuckle ride back from Santa Cruz
Second-best surfer on the central coast
Had you wrapped up all the way back to Los Gatos
And I could’ve cut his throat 

And it wasn’t like we were an item to start with
It had no basis in fact
But the whiskey could push me to sudden extremes
I don’t want to think about that, I don’t want to think about that

Yup, the Tarrytown “surfers” were clearly “second best” and the whiskey sure did “push me to sudden extremes”.

But we just as surely don’t want to think about that.

Margaret and I – no doubt –  we were an item at the time.

And, I couldn’t cut my best friends’ (plural) throats – instead,  I almost cut off my own arm.

And I still live with the memories and scars.

And there’s not much moving on the romance radar
Not that I’m craving it all that much
But I still need to feel every once in a while
The warmth of a smile and a touch

So, wouldn’t it be great if Margaret could:

Take my hand Marie
Take a death grip on some part of me
Keep me from drifting far out to sea
Or I’ll be lost out there

Cause I’m definitely “lost out there”.

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[Update: I posted this today (7/20), just before 1 am, EST (around 10 pm, PST last night (7/19)).

In an either incredible coincidence, or a not so subtle dagger to the heart, my “Margaret” posted this photo to Facebook, which I received via email at 9:54 EST. Her text said something about a 5 year old Facebook photo from Paris just “popping up” (randomly? Like you didn’t search and find that photo on your own?):

11713834_10207381732811162_1405279524585140145_o

You just can’t make this stuff up.

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