Followup on Gov. Christie’s Pinelands Fiasco

October 20th, 2014 No comments

The Koch Brothers and Big Oil & Gas are watching

David Reilly wrote a followup story in today’s Philadelphia Inquirer on the Christie Pinelands retaliation scheme, see:

I am glad to see the press stay engaged with this issue, so will make a few observations on Reilly’s story.

First of all, Reilly relies on political pollster Patrick Murray to explain the politics. But Murray muddies the water for two reasons.

First, Murray must not be closely following this issue because he filters this dispute through 2 traditional lenses:

1) National: Gov. Christie is running for President and cares only about right wing primary voters who do not support the environment; 2) In state/NJ:  how the environment stacks up as an issue compared to other priority issues (code for jobs and economic growth).

From the national perspective, Murray ignores the fact that the pipeline is a test of Christie’s ability to deliver on major fossil energy infrastructure projects –  the Koch Brothers and Big Oil & Gas are watching.

Crushing environmental and democratic (small “d”) opposition to energy infrastructure is a key test to attract the Big energy money required to fuel a 2016 campaign, especially if it can be done on a “bi-partisan” basis (note: with the support of Democrats Van Drew & Sweeney and a Democratically controlled Senate and mobilized trade unions).

Does Murray not recognize the national significance of pipeline and energy infrastructure debates, given the exploding Climate Movement?

Murray is simply dead wrong when he says:

“there’s no political pressure for him [Christie] to pay,” said Murray,

From the NJ instate perspective, first, this is not a traditional “jobs versus environment” issue.

Murray ignores the bi-partisan letter from 4 former Governor’s that elevate this issue way beyond that stale debate.

This is about the integrity of the Pinelands Commission and whether Gov.’s will be  allowed to get away with abuses of power that compromise their independence as a regulatory body.

Evidence of the importance of the issue can be seen by the fact that Chairman Scutari used Republican Senator Bateman as the initial attack dog in questioning the nominee on the pipeline. In his questions, Bateman cited Gov. Brendan Byrne’s [D] legacy and asked the nominees whether we should go backward and weaken regulations that protect the Pines.

Similarly, Democrats on the Committee cited the Gov.’s letter.

It also explains why Gov. Christie’ strongest backers on the Judiciary Committee, Kyrillos and O’Toole, did not lift a finger to defend the Gov.’s nominees and let them twist in the wind.

Second on the in-state political issues is the fact that the fate of the nominees is in the hands of Senate Democrats.

So, from Gov. Christie’s perspective, this is a test of his machine alliances -

George Norcross is all over South Jersey infrastructure and economic development decisions. The pipeline has been justified as a major south jersey economic development project. That means Norcross/Sweeney are involved.

Accordingly, there very likely were prior political commitments and agreements made that now test Christie’s ability to honor deals he may have made with Senate President Sweeney and the South Jersey wing, represented by Van Drew.

Keep in mind that Van Drew has publicly stated on the record that he has the support of Sweeeney and the Gov.’s Office in backing the pipeline.

From the Senate Democrats’ perspective, the NJ political issue is the South v. North intra-Democratic party split and the degree to which South Jersey machine deals with Christie will be allowed to continue.

Which takes us to our next point – how and why were these nominees selected?

The Gov.’s motives are obvious – just like the Mob enforcing discipline, he is retaliating for 2 Commissioners voting their conscience, particularly Ms. Rohan Greene who is a republican and Christie nominee.

The nominees were handled the way they were to give the Governor and the Gov.’s office a plausible deniability of direct involvement.

The deals likely were made by political surrogates.

The Gov.’s office low level staffers were just the waterboys.

Evidence suggesting this was brought out by Sen. Gill, who asked a key question that nominee Roohr failed to respond to.

Gill asked if anyone mentioned the Gov.’s position on the pipeline – that conversation would go something like this:

Q: “Are you a loyal team player”  A: Yes, of course.

Q: “Gov. Christie supports the pipeline and BL England plant as critical to south jersey’s economic development and believes it can be built with no harm to the Pinelands.

“Are you willing to accept the nomination? – A: Yes

See how political understandings are reached? The quid pro quo remains unsaid.

But the nominees know EXACTLY what is expected of them in return for the nomination.

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Senate Stalls Gov. Christie’s Pinelands Pipeline Retribution Scheme

October 16th, 2014 1 comment

Unqualified & Evasive Christie Nominees Humiliated in Transparent Political Payback Scheme

Scheme Was Too Corrupt Even For Trenton Standards

Egg on face of Gov. and Senator Van Drew – Perhaps Sweeney Too

This farce just further shows that the Gov.’s Office lashes out at opponents with no strategy and without thinking through the consequences. It also shows that Christie is still suffering from the Bridgegate scandal.

Jacyln Rhoads, Pinelands Preservation Alliance, speaks at rally on State House steps (10/16/14)

Jacyln Rhoads, Pinelands Preservation Alliance, speaks at rally on State House steps (10/16/14)

[Updates below - news coverage]

Something very unusual happened today in Trenton, amounting to an epic political embarrassment for whomever signed off on the scheme, a stunt that unravelled before the very eyes of members of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Follow me.

At the conclusion of extensive grilling of Gov. Christie’s two replacement nominees for the Pinelands Commission, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Scutari abruptly adjourned the hearing, taking no testimony from dozens of opponents who had signed up to testify and avoiding a likely deeply embarrassing vote to kill the nominees.

As I wrote last May:

This is a test of the integrity of Senate Democrats, particularly those on the Judiciary Committee who must vote to confirm the Gov.’s nominations.

I hope they do not roll over like they did on confirming Gov. Christie’s Highlands nominations (including Christie’s firing of the Executive Director).

Dozens of opponents, all defenders of the Pinelands, were unified in opposition – the entire NJ environmental community, plus local activists, fracktivists, climate change activist, and good government types – all rapidly organized to oppose the nominees. They held a rally on the Statehouse steps before the hearing and blitzed Committee members with emails.


Both nominees made extremely short perfunctory opening statements that did not even attempt to establish any reason for the Committee to approve their nominations.

It was as if they thought the deal was in and all they had to do was show up and not vomit or fart out loud.

The collapse began very soon into the hearing – in the non-response to the Chairman’s opening softball question that seemed designed to elicit a response that could allow the nominee to plausibly rebut the opponents (paraphrase): “How do you respond to the critics who say you’re just a puppet of Christie installed to approve the pipeline?”

The Chairman seemed to beg for a “just give me one – just one – reason to vote for you” – but quickly it became obvious, by their own testimony, that both nominees clearly were unqualified and totally unprepared for critical questions from the Committee.

[Update: the immediate incredulity and scorn was bipartisan. Republican Kip Bateman [R-Somerset] was uncharacteristically blunt, critical, and harsh – right out of the box, as the first questioner, he set the tone. Bateman asked the nominee’s opinion on the pipeline. The nominee dodged, said he had no opinion, and knew nothing about the issue:

Sir, to come here and not have an opinion on that, I find that very disturbing that you have no opinion on the issue. And I’ve got to be honest with you, without a straight answer, I could not support your nomination.

Both had no witnesses in support and dozens of witnesses signed up to testify in opposition, a fact noted by the Chairman at the outset. The only defender on the Committee was Senator Cardinale – Gov. Christie’s supporters Senators O’Toole and Kyrillos demurred.

Frankly, I have never seen anything even remotely this incompetently managed.

Both had never attended a Pinelands Commission meeting or had any other experience with the Pinelands.

Both said they intentionally did not make any inquiry about Pinelands issues – both pleaded no knowledge of the pipeline.

[Update with Orwell, 1984:

“Crimestop means the faculty of stopping short, as though by instinct, at the threshold of any dangerous thought. It includes the power of not grasping analogies, of failing to perceive logical errors, of misunderstanding the simplest arguments if they are inimical to Ingsoc, and of being bored or repelled by any train of thought which is capable of leading in a heretical direction. Crimestop, in short, means protective stupidity.”

Both had no credibility in response to detailed questions about the origin of the nominations and interactions with Gov. Christie's Office.

Both confirmed nomination timelines (i.e. they were asked to serve by Gov.'s Office in "January or February", which follows the Commissioner Jan 10 vote) that were consistent with claims that Gov. Christie nominated them to replace two Commissioners who voted against his wishes to oppose the South Jersey Gas pipeline.

Senators Weinberg and Gill were particularly effective in their lines of questioning. At one point, Weinberg ridiculed a nominee: "Do they have newspapers where you live?" - and then even forced him to name the papers!

Senator Smith asked a nominee if, as a Mayor, he supported new ratables. The Mayor said NO. Incredulous, Smith replied "You are the only Mayor I've ever met that opposed new ratables".

The whole thing was an epic farce.

By the end of the hearing, I actually felt embarrassed for both men. Listen for yourself here.

I must admit that I assumed that the deal was in on these nominations. I'm pleased to eat crow on that.

Typically, a decision by the Judiciary Chairman to post a Gov.'s candidate for full Senate Judiciary Committee consideration (after interview) for a high profile post like the Pinelands Commission is highly significant and only done carefully and with the express approval of Senate leadership (i.e. Sweeney).

Given the pipeline controversy, the nominees would be expected to receive heightened scrutiny.

Senate leadership does not green light Gubernatorial candidates for Committee consideration without having done personal candidate vetting and a political calculus that the candidate is OK.

Once a candidate's name is posted for hearing by the Judiciary Committee, it is highly unusual that the candidate is rejected - that would make the Chairman look very stupid as well as leadership and the members of the Committee that conducted the interview.

But it seemed like today we entered a twilight zone - where the regular rules and typical protocols were suspended.

Democrats on the Committee seemed to smell blood in the water at the outset.

They were well prepared and grilled the candidates with questions that echoed the hearings on Bridgegate.

The nominees were like lambs before the slaughter.

As the hearing progressed, it became more and more obvious that the nominees lacked the votes for approval by the Committee.

So, instead of a humiliating rejection, my sense is the chairman Scutari simply pulled the plug.

van drew1In my mind, the key political questions are:

  • who persuaded Chairman Scutari to put these clowns up?
  • why did Scutari post the nominees for consideration - as a favor to Van Drew or did Sweeney twist his arm?
  • by abruptly adjourning before testimony or vote, who was Scutari seeking to avoid embarrassing: the hapless nominees? Senator Van Drew? Senate President Sweeney? Members of his Committee?
  • I'm fairly certain, but who will confirm that these nominees are dead?

The supreme irony is that this was a needless embarrassment. An un-forced error.

There already are sufficient pro-pipeline votes on the Commission right now, as a result of the  County replacements.

Gov. Christie didn't even have to do this to get his damn pipeline. He just wanted to retaliate against Commissioners who defied him and voted their conscience.

The smoking gun is that, according to the testimony of his own nominees, they are approached by the Gov.'s Office in February 2014. Not only is that just after the Commissioner's Jan. 10, 2014 vote to kill the pipeline, but is was 4 MONTHS BEFORE the Commissioner's who voted NO terms expired. 

Those terms expired in June 2014 - most Commissioners serve months or years on expired terms - it is unheard of to replace someone BEFORE the terms is expired.

Just further shows that the Gov.'s Office lashes out at opponents with no strategy and without thinking through the consequences.

[Cautionary end note: In similar circumstances, I was dead wrong about Christie's replacements to the D&R Canal Commission who were excellent and rejected DEP's Bulls Island clearcut plan.]

Kate Millsaps, Sierra CLub (R), Mago Pellegrino (C) unknown  (L)

Kate Millsaps, Sierra CLub (R), Mago Pellegrino (C) unknown (L)

[Update – Here is the Burlington County Times story:

Philadelphia Inquirer:

Press of Atlantic City:

NJ Spotlight

Asbury Park Press – I can’t believe APP ran a crappy AP story when they just let Kirk Moore go!

The AP story is by far the worst, and gives the Gov.’s Office a platform to flat out lie about the lack of qualifications of both candidates. Disgusting! 

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EPA Announces New Region 2 Deputy Administrator & New Independent Scientific Review

October 16th, 2014 No comments

We shift gears today, from inchoate catastrophic climate chaos to more mundane matters of management of the bureaucracy.

We thought we’d write about two recent noteworthy announcements by US EPA that caught our eye.

Both have implications for and provide strong contrasts to NJ’s efforts in enforcing environmental laws and in protecting public health and the environment.

  • New Deputy Regional Administrator

The first is the announcement of a new Deputy Regional Administrator in the EPA Region 2 NY City Office. EPA region 2 has oversight of NY, NJ and Puerto Rico.

Enforcement specialist to become Region 2′s new No. 2

Robin Bravender, E&E reporter

Published: Tuesday, October 14, 2014

A new second in command with enforcement chops will soon be arriving at U.S. EPA’s regional office in New York.

Catherine McCabe, a veteran of EPA and the Justice Department, will be leaving her post at EPA’s headquarters in Washington, D.C., next month to become deputy chief in Region 2, Regional Administrator Judith Enck told staffers last month in an email obtained by Greenwire. McCabe will take over for George Pavlou, who plans to retire after more than 40 years at EPA.

McCabe is currently a judge on EPA’s environmental appeals board; she was previously principal deputy assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance during both the George W. Bush and Obama administrations. She also spent 22 years in the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the Justice Department and was an assistant attorney general in New York before she joined the federal workforce.

Since November 2011, McCabe has been one of four judges on the EPA appeals board — an impartial panel that’s charged with resolving some of the disputes that arise from the application of environmental laws. The board primarily decides cases that involve challenges to environmental permits and challenges to EPA’s assessments of fines for those who violate environmental laws.

We note that Dupont successfully filed a challenge of EPA Region 2′s RCRA permit to the Environmental Appeals Board during Ms. McCabe’s tenure – so we assume that she will recuse herself from Dupont matters – at least in Pompton lakes –  and her enforcement experience will be useless where it is most needed. EPA really screwed that RCRA permit up.

NJ PEER issued this statement:

We are pleased that the new EPA Region 2 Deputy Administrator has an enforcement background. Catherine McCabe is a veteran of EPA and the Justice Department.

We hope that Deputy McCabe can beef up Region 2′s oversight of the Christie DEP, particularly with respect to regulatory rollbacks and enforcement of federally delegated and funded clean air, clean water, and hazardous waste management programs.

McCabe’s leadership also may have implications for the Dupont Pompton Lakes RCRA site, that begs for EPA enforcement, as well as for NJ violators who have evaded lax NJDEP enforcement efforts.

Perhaps McCabe can stiffen the spine of her boss, Regional Administrator Enck.

At the outset, we had high hopes for Enck, and looked to her for a strong federal oversight backstop against the Christie Administration’s regulatory and enforcement rollbacks. But she has been a disappointment.

Instead of playing that aggressive watchdog role – from enforcement of the Clean Water Act in Barnegat Bay; to blocking rollbacks in State water quality management and surface water quality standards; to water quality assessment and TMDL requirements; to RCRA in Pompton Lakes; to oversight on a privatized state toxic site cleanup program; to abandonment of drinking water standards; to failure to properly monitor air quality; to blocking extension of the BL England coal plant closure; to putting the brakes on the Christie DEP’s “regulatory relief” and “customer service” policies that have turned DEP enforcement staff into industry consultants – EPA has largely stood down, with a few exceptions where EPA symbolically saber rattled but never really cracked down.

Worse, EPA has folded on some big federal decisions – the Superfund cleanup decision in Ringwood alone is enough to tarnish Enck’s legacy. We can sense a similar cave coming in the Passaic River Superfund cleanup.

To her credit, Enck resisted strong political pressure and did the right thing in listing the Troy Chemical Superfund site in Newark.

We wish McCabe best of luck – she will need it.

  • Independent Scientific Review? 

The second EPA announcement is about expanding independent scientific expertise in EPA’s assessment of chemical risks:

Today, EPA announced that the Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) Program’s Bimonthly Public Science meetings will be supplemented with independent scientific experts identified by the National Academies’ National Research Council (NRC). These independent experts will contribute to the scientific discussion of issues amongst EPA and public commenters. The input provided by individuals identified by the NRC will ensure that a range of scientific perspectives are represented in IRIS public science meetings. [...]

These experts, who will be reviewed by the NRC for conflicts of interest and bias, will provide valuable, independent scientific input to these meetings.  The involvement of NRC experts will significantly contribute to broadening the range of perspectives represented at our public meetings.

Science and scientific integrity are the backbone of every decision, policy, and action at EPA.  The supplementation of our ongoing public meetings with independent experts identified by the NRC will help assure that overall a full and impartial representation of the science will serve as the foundation for the IRIS Program’s assessments to protect human health.

These reforms seem to be well intentioned and originate from a critical NRC Report.

But we’ve heard all this kind of rhetoric before and remain skeptical.

We’ve seen – repeatedly – how industry always seems to hijack reform efforts and end up using them to promote their own economic interests.

Let’s hope that the EPA IRIS review process works out better than NJ DEP’s Science Advisory Board (SAB).

Here in NJ, our DEP Science Advisory Board includes such eminent “independent” “non-biased” scientists as representatives of the Dupont Corporation .

The NJ DEP SAB was created by former Obama EPA Administrator and then NJ DEP Commissioner Lisa Jackson.

We recently reported that Dupont’s representative on the SAB, John Gannon, according to a Rutgers scientist, provided “significant input” into the SAB’s most recent report on unregulated emergent contaminants.

Amazingly, that SAB Report recommended the use of a Dupont developed chemical hazard assessment methodology – no kidding, Gannon touted a Dupont method to screen the safety of hundreds of chemicals in your drinking water! see:

Yet amazingly, that breach of scientific ethics and sell out of  the public interest got no press coverage whatsoever.

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Climate Crisis Demands Rapid and Deep Emissions Cuts To Avoid Climate Chaos

October 15th, 2014 No comments

A Profile of Failure: The Moderates Are Part of the Problem

Real Leadership Yet To Emerge in NJ

One way or another, it’s going to be revolutionary change, not evolutionary change

In the face of an absolutely unprecedented emergency, society has no choice but to take dramatic action to avert a collapse of civilization. Either we will change our ways and build an entirely new kind of global society, or they will be changed for us.  ~~~ Environment and Development Challenges: The Imperative To Act (2012)

The collapse of civilization.

Got that?

These are harsh truths that we are not hearing from our so called “environmental leaders”.

Instead, as Naomi Klein observes, they were responsible for this blunder: [my bracketed inserts noted]

A different kind if climate movement would have tried to challenge the extreme ideology that was blocking so much sensible action, joining with other sectors to show how unfettered corporate power posed a grave threat to the habitability of the planet. Instead, large parts of the climate movement wasted precious decades attempting to make the square peg of the climate crisis fit into the round hole of deregulated capitalism, forever touting ways for the problem to be solved by the market itself [Wolfe: think Corporate Partnerships, voluntary consumer behavior, sustainability, RGGI]. (Though it was only years into this project that I discovered the depth of collusion between big polluters and Big Green.)


For a quarter of a century, we have tried the approach of polite incremental change, attempting to bend the physical needs of the planet to our economic model’s need for constant growth and new profit making opportunities. The results have been disastrous, leaving us all in a great deal more danger than when the experiment began.

So, in light of today’s NJ Spotlight story - which ignores all the above and even praises the epitome of failed “leadership” and “polite incremental change“  -  I need to followup on my post about the pending renewable energy bill, which would mandate that 80% of NJ’s electric power come from renewable sources by 2050.

Both the 80% rate and the 2050 date track the 2007 NJ Global Warming Response Act aspirational goals.

Frankly, scientists are warning that we don’t have that long to wait to act aggressively if we are to avoid catastrophic climate impacts, and exceed tipping points, triggering potentially runaway warming that would render the planet inhospitable to agriculture and human civilization.

During last week’s Senate Environment Committee hearing on the bill, Chairman and prime sponsor Smith made a critically important distinction in the fundamental approach.

Smith grouped the various lobbyists into two camps: those who supported what he called an evolutionary approach (incrementalism) versus a revolutionary approach.

Smith put himself in the evolutionary camp. I didn’t hear anyone from the revolutionary camp.

But the science is clearly in the revolutionary camp.

I think this quote by climate scientist Kevin Anderson, Deputy Director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, from Naomi’ Klein’s book “This changes everything”  frames the rate of reduction issue very well:

Perhaps at the time of the 1992 Earth Summit, or even at the turn of the millennium, 2 degrees Celsius levels of mitigation could have been achieved through significant evolutionary changes within the political and economic hegemony. But climate change is a cumulative issue! Now, in 2013, we in high-emitting (post) industrial nations face a very different prospect. Our ongoing and collective carbon profligacy has squandered any opportunity for the “evolutionary change” afforded by our earlier (and larger) 2 degree Celsius carbon budget. Today, after two decades of bluff and lies, the remaining 2 degree Celsius budget demands revolutionary change to the political and economic hegemony.  (emphasis mine, @ p. 56)

Yet remarkably, NJ environmental activists are not even focused on climate change in the emerging debate on the renewable energy bill.

That lack of focus is what has allowed even quality journalistic outlets like NJ Spotlight to totally ignore the climate issue.

That’s right – NJ Spotlight wrote a story today on the wind energy mandates of the renewable energy bill that failed to even mention climate change! Read it yourself to confirm that.

The best the environmentalists could muster up were metaphors that reinforce the greed and economic logic that is causing climate chaos:

Doug O’Malley, executive director of Environment New Jersey, agreed. “New Jersey is sitting on a gold mind (sic) of potential for offshore wind,’’ he said, referring to studies that cite the tremendous wind resources off the Jersey coast.

And Dave Pringle seems to not understand the urgency of the issue and the need to make dramatic emission cuts in the next decade:

“We are talking about policy over the next 36 years,’’ said David Pringle, campaign director of New Jersey Clean Water Action.

We don’t have 36 years, Dave.

Ironically, the Spotlight story was published the same day that they did a profile on Mike Catania, a so called “leader of NJ’s environmental movement”. Catania said:

Biggest challenge New Jersey faces: “The biggest issue is climate change; it really dwarfs everything else. If a great meteor is heading to the Earth, people would put aside their differences to confront the problem. The choices we make now are going to have a great impact (on climate change) in the future. It is difficult to understand why our elected officials are not responding to that.’’

Difficult to understand? Corporate power and greed are difficult to understand? Government deregulation is difficult to understand?

The abject failure of the “polite” “third way” model of pro-corporate advocacy you have championed is difficult to understand?

Mike is exactly the kind of “polite moderate” that Naomi Klein absolutely skewers in her book as a big part of the Big Green problem.

But there are even more deeply cynical forces operating.

Take for example, The Godfather of NJ Toxics, Hal Bozarth, head of the NJ Chemistry Council.

The corporate polluters he represents have been poisoning people for decades, with disportionate impacts on poor, urban and black people – while waging war on government’s attempts to regulate his chemical polluters to protect those people.

Yet after all that, Hal has the balls to say something outrageous and disgusting like this: (NJ Spotlight)

“I’m sure the poor people in the urban centers will be ready to subsidize the excesses of offshore wind,’’ said Hal Bozarth, executive director of the Chemistry Industry Council of New Jersey, an organization that has often railed about the high costs of electricity and gas in the state.

And Hal was not alone in that disgusting and racist cynicism – virtually all the corporate lobbyists cried crocodile tears for the urban poor, including the BPU Ratepayer advocate.

Funny, we never heard squat from these people as Gov. Christie diverted over $1 billion of Clean Energy Fund money that would have helped these poor urban folks weatherize their homes, install energy efficient appliances, and reduce electric and gas bills.

And in closing, the entire thrust of the NJ Spotlight piece was to create a lame and false narrative –  i.e. that the renewable energy bill is not politically viable and the environmental community’s failure thus far to organize support for it was somehow OK because it was laying the groundwork for the next Governor:

The proposal is part of a bill that would require 80 percent of New Jersey’s electricity to come from renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar, by 2050. But even its advocates acknowledge the legislation stands little chance of being approved anytime soon, although they hope to lay the groundwork for passage in the next administration.

That’s just an excuse for failure.

Put the bill on the floor of both houses of the legislature.

Make legislators vote – make Christie veto the bill. Use that failure to hold people accountable ad build public support.

As a wise man wrote:

“The artist and the revolutionary function as they function,” Baldwin wrote, “and pay whatever dues they must pay behind it because they are both possessed by a vision, and they do not so much follow this vision as find themselves driven by it. Otherwise, they could never endure, much less embrace, the lives they are compelled to lead.” [...]

“My starting point is always a feeling of partisanship, a sense of injustice,” Orwell wrote. “When I sit down to write a book, I do not say to myself, ‘I am going to produce a work of art.’ I write it because there is some lie that I want to expose, some fact to which I want to draw attention, and my initial concern is to get a hearing.” [...]

[Cornel West said] But in the end, Samuel Beckett is right. Try again. Fail again. Fail better. When they put us in the grave, even following the charge, we are still a relative failure, because we fell on our faces. But most importantly we bounced back because we wanted to be part of that love train, that quest for the Kingdom of God, that humility that our dear brother professor James Cone was talking about at the center of the Gospel, which is inseparable from memory and inseparable from tenacity.

Got all that, Mike Catania and Tom Johnson?


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This Is What DEP Approved Gas Pipeline Restoration Looks Like

October 14th, 2014 No comments

Before going to last week’s Pompton Lakes Real Community Advisory Group (CAG) meeting on the Dupont cleanup, I decided to go early, take a hike, and take a look at NJ reservoir levels, which DEP data show are below average for this time of year.

During that tour, I came across one of the crime scenes created by the Tennessee Gas Pipeline project around Lake Lookover (you remember what that looked like, if not see: This is What Gas Pipeline Construction Looks Like (Part 1 of 2) for photos taken during construction.)

I’m still working on a post about rather shocking developments at the PL CAG meeting, so for today, I thought I’d just post a few photos of Tennessee Gas Pipeline’s DEP approved “restoration”.

What kind of habitat value is this? Can Audubon tell me what bird species this supports?

[Note: a clever reader responds that this supports critical habitat for the PVC Piping Plover! hahahaha!]

Compacted soils and exposed rock not likely to support native vegetation, and will worsen runoff, erosion, and water quality. How does this not permanently impair hiking & recreational use?

looking east - only narrow portion of ROW reforested

looking east – only narrow portion of ROW *replanted. Reminds me of a cemetery (10/6/14)

looking west across Lake Lookover

same deal looking west across Lake Lookover  (10/6/14)

new pump station - lots of new hard packed surface, new trees not native and dead and dying

new pump station – lots of new hard packed surface, new trees not native and dead and dying (10/6/14)

scrawny new trees, not watered or maintained, dead and dying

scrawny new trees, not watered or maintained, dead and dying (10/6/14)

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