“Something surpassingly strange is at work here”

November 23rd, 2017 No comments

Happy Thanksgiving – don’t read this before the meal.

Read the whole thing – here’s the conclusion from the essay: The Great American Sex Panic of 2017

Something surpassingly strange is at work here—a wrong-headed authoritarian ire over the spasmodic misfires of the human comedy combined with some primal meltdown of a besieged and increasingly desperate ruling class and its longstanding winking sexual hypocrisies. It is a moral panic that is, ironically, immoral at its core: repressive and diversionary, an identity-politics orgy of misdirected moral energies that breeds a chilling conformity of word and deed and, in so doing, cripples the critical faculties and independence of spirit needed to challenge the status quo the PC monitors profess to abhor. In reality, their speech and conduct codes foster a spirit of regimentation rather than rebellion, thereby shoring up the power of the repressive elites that are leading the human race to social, economic, and ecological disaster.

So this is not just a moral panic—but a bizarre inversion of values in which Bill Clinton can murder 500,000 Iraqi children, throw millions of poor women and their children off welfare, and instigate the global rule of transnational corporations with NAFTA, but he is not impeached or stigmatized for any of those atrocities but rather for a workplace blowjob; in which Hillary Clinton can lead the charge for the destruction of Libya, reducing that country to primeval rubble, and is not only not fired or ostracized but is rewarded with the Democrats’ presidential nomination and lauded by corporate feminists as a champion of “inclusiveness”; in which Barack Obama pushed fraudulent health-care reform that leaves a barbaric 27 million people with zero coverage and millions more with crippling premiums and deductibles that render their “coverage” all but unusable, thus sentencing tens of thousands of people to death every year because they cannot afford timely medical care, and dropped 26,171 pounds of bombs in 2016 alone, and yet he is not only not reviled and abominated as a con artist but is worshipped as an icon of enlightened governance; in which the entire ruling elite and its associates in the corporate media are chronically underplaying—indeed, scarcely mentioning—the gravity of the climate change crisis, which would merely spell the end of the human species within a hundred years, yet no copycat 24/7 umbrage or five-alarm indignation on the part of anyone in those elite circles or their acolytes over this unprecedented planetary emergency.

Hence the long-buried, freshly unearthed ego bruises of the privileged identity-politics crowd eclipse mass murder and ecocide on the outrage meters of this country’s opinion shapers.  The same solemn cohort—mostly white and middle-class, many of them ardent McResistance DNC partisans (or, in the case of Leean Tweeden, Franken’s tongue-kiss accuser, a movement conservative who twice voted for George W. Bush)—is so easily roused to near-apoplexy about a naughty lunge of the hand or tongue yet discreetly ignores or openly cheers on unparalleled crimes against humanity: endless debilitating wars against nameless enemies abroad, the toxic mercenary corruption and annihilation of democracy, staggering political/social inequality (the top one percent of the world’s population now owns half of the world’s wealth), and ecocide everywhere—committed and abetted with impunity by the PC brigades’ culture heroes like the Clintons and Obama and their cohorts in the media and the corporate/political elites.

So yes—prosecute the rapists and pedophiles and let them suffer in jail. But you will excuse me if I stand aside from the stampede of outrage about Al Franken’s wayward tongue or even Donald Trump’s juvenile frat-house boasts while the world teeters on the brink. The scale of values of this country’s liberal elites, and the issues that fuel and exhaust their capacity for outrage, border on moral dementia. Their vaunted “values” lead us not to virtue and to spiritual renewal, but to the nauseating sanctimony of the custodians of a charnel house—to the abyss.

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Governor Christie Is Implementing The Failed “Newspaper Revenge Bill” In Regulations

November 22nd, 2017 No comments

DEP Just Eliminated Current Requirements To Publish Notices In The Newspaper

A quick note and a few sincere questions for my media and environmentalist friends.

Governor Christie sparked outrage when he proposed to eliminate current requirements that legal notices be published in the newspaper. That was widely perceived as revenge for critical coverage of Christie’s “Bridgegate” scandal and an attack on the media by depriving it of a major source of revenue.

Christie’s move generated favorable attention in national Republican and business circles, e.g. see Forbes story

But POLITICO (sic) reports today that Governor Christie has lost the “newspaper revenge bill” legislative battle – giving Senate President Sweeney credit.

I do not have a POLITICO subscription, so can only post their excerpt:

NEWSPAPER REVENGE BILL – “With Christie on the way out, newspapers appear to have won legal notice fight,” by POLITICO’s Matt Friedman: “New Jersey newspapers that have fended off attempts by Gov. Chris Christie and legislative leaders to cut them off from a vital source of revenue won’t have to fight that battle during Phil Murphy’s administration. Senate President Stephen Sweeney says the legislation, which would no longer require local governments to post legal notices in newspapers, isn’t going anywhere once Murphy takes office in January. ‘We are done with legal ads,”‘ Sweeney said in an email to POLITICO New Jersey. Asked if he was certain a bill wouldn’t resurface over the next four years, Sweeney, who’s all but secured another term as Senate president, said ‘I’m sure.’ Read the report ” Read the report

Christie lost the legislative battle, but he is using executive power to implement it anyway.

Specifically, just this past Monday November 20, 2017, the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) adopted new regulations that eliminate current requirements to publish public notice on air pollution control permits in the newspaper. Interestingly, the new rules were proposed on July 3, 2017 – an unusually fast 4 month adoption process.

This change effects thousands of air pollution control permits across the state and reduces not only media revenue, but the ability for the public to participate in DEP permit decisions that impact human health and air quality

I have no estimate of the revenue involved – DEP provided no economic impact or cost benefit analysis in the proposal – but it could be significant.

Here is how DEP justified the proposed elimination of newspaper publication in the July 3, 2017 proposal:

The Department proposes to amend N.J.A.C. 7:27-22.11(e) to replace newspaper publication of a notice of a draft operating permit with posting on the Department’s website. The Department’s continued use of a mailing list of interested parties to supplement the e-notice is consistent with the requirements of the EPA’s final rule. (81 Fed. Reg. at 71617). The Department’s website currently provides an opportunity to sign up for e-mail notices regarding air quality regulation activities, including draft operating permits. The Department will update the list, as people request to be included on or removed from the mailing list. The Department will continue to publish the notice for each draft general operating permit in the New Jersey Register, as required under existing N.J.A.C. 7:27-22.11(e) and 22.14(a), and may also provide additional notice by using any other means the Department finds appropriate for assuring adequate notice to the public of the opportunity for public comment. (proposal at page 12)

In adopting the proposal, DEP summarily wrote:

Other amendments provide that the Department will publish notice of a draft operating permit by posting the notice on its website, rather than by publishing the notice in a newspaper, in accordance with a recent EPA rulemaking (October 2016). (see adoption at page 4).

[…]

The adopted amendments to the draft permit public notice requirements at N.J.A.C. 7:27-22.11 are consistent with Federal regulations allowing permitting authorities to substitute e-notice and e-access for newspaper legal ads. No further analysis is required. (adoption at page 33)

I am not familiar with the “recent EPA rule making (October 2016)” that DEP is referring to, but NJ DEP is not legally bound by EPA rules regarding eliminating requirements for publication of public notices and has legal authority under both the NJ State Air Pollution Control Act and the federal Clean Air Act to be more stringent than minimum EPA requirements.

As such, the Christie DEP is choosing to reduce public notice and newspaper publication requirements that weaken the public’s ability to understand and comment on DEP air permits. There is no EPA gun to their heads.

So, here are some questions for the intrepid journalists out there:

How many other times have NJ State agencies eliminated current newspaper publishing requirements?

Is DEP alone in doing this? I’ve never seen DEP do this before.

Politico favorably quotes Senator Sweeney and effectively credits him with killing the “newspaper revenge” bill.

But will Sweeney block the new DEP rules as inconsistent with legislative intent?

Will Sweeney conduct oversight of DEP over why they eliminated current requirement to publish in paper?

Will the Murphy administration amend these rules and reinstate former requirements to publish in the newspaper?

How much revenue does NJ newspaper generate from DEP and State agency publication regulatory requirements?

Perhaps media may want to call Sweeney and ask and do some digging in the NJ Register to see if the DEP is a unique aberration or part of a wider Christie scheme.

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Documents Show That NJ Audubon Wrote DEP Commissioner Martin’s Remarks to Corporate Council

November 21st, 2017 No comments

Corporate Event Arranged By Commissioner’s Office – DEP Experts Had No Role

US Fish and Wildlife Service Was Invited But Did Not Show

William Penn Foundation Involved In Poorly Attended Event

DEP Commissioner Bob Martin - Gov. Christie's attack dog is shown to be a puppet of NJ Audubon!

DEP Commissioner Bob Martin – Gov. Christie’s attack dog is shown to be a puppet of NJ Audubon!

I recently filed an Open Public Records Act (OPRA) request for documents related to the NJ Audubon’s Corporate Stewardship Council meeting at DEP headquarters (see this post for background on that meeting).

DEP requested an extension of the 7 day OPRA response deadline. When I asked for the justification for the extension request, as I suspected, DEP basically confirmed the pure political nature of the meeting.

Check this out, DEP experts had no role and the event was arranged by DEP Commissioner Martin’s office (source: 11/16/17 email from Matt Coefer, DEP Chief Records Custodian):

Bill:

The request was originally assigned to the NJDEP’s Natural & Historic Resources (NHR) Program as the interests seem in line with their activities. However, they investigated and responded that they had no involvement with the meeting.  It was later identified that the meeting was coordinated by the Commissioner’s Office. 

But even worse, the documents DEP provided today show that not only were DEP experts cut out of the Commissioner’s political meeting with corporate cronies, but that DEP Commissioner Martin’s remarks at the meeting were written by John Parke of NJ Audubon.

Take a look at this September 27, 2016 email from Jim Schissias of PSEG to Parke, asking him to draft Commissioner Martin’s remarks:
Screen Shot 2017-11-21 at 11.16.42 AMGet that?

First, DEP Commissioner Martin ignores his own staff; Second, he meets with corporate cronies behind closed doors; Third his DEP professional staff do not attend the event; and Fourth, his remarks are written by NJ Audubon.

That is pathetic – the DEP Commissioner a puppet of NJ Audubon, speaking to a group of corporate cronies.

But it is even worse than that.

NJ Audubon – basically working for Jim Shissias of PSEG and corporate cronies – was sure to invite a deep pocketed Foundation to the event – Andrew W. Johnson of the William Penn Foundation.

Presumably, this was part of a funding pitch, a manipulative set up of Wm Penn’s Johnson, as he listens as NJ Audubon basks in DEP Commissioner Martin’s praise – which they wrote – of the wonders of their sham corporate greenwash program.

Totally corrupt. Totally.

Significantly, the US Fish and Wildlife Service was invited to attend the meeting but did not show up.

NJ Audubon has stressed the involvement of US FWS, in a transparent attempt to: 1) mislead the public that this is a bona fide conservation program and 2) to deflect their role in forming a partnership with Donald Trump and the other so called “corporate stewards”.

US FWS had the good sense to stay away and did not attend the event.

Actually, the event was a bust, as the 11 NJ Audubon staff in attendance outnumbered the corporate “stewards” who showed up.

OPRA documents show that 34 corporate representatives were invited to the meeting and “expected” to attend.

But the meeting sign in sheets show that just a small fraction of that showed up – just 11:

PSEG sent 3 people; Waste Management 1; Suez 1; Mannington Mills 1; JCP&L 1; J&J 1; Verizon 1; Chemours (Dupont) 1; South Jersey Gas 1; Crystal Springs 1.

As I previously wrote, all those corporations had regulatory matters pending before DEP and had significant economic interests in maintaining a good relationship with DEP Commissioner Martin.

But the OPRA documents show what really went down: A self serving and poorly attended political stunt with little conservation value or scientific basis – but lavishly funded by government and private foundations.

Meet your NJ Audubon, Christie DEP Commissioner, and “corporate stewards!

(all DEP documents will be provided on request to validate the above).

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Voluntary NJ “Green Building” Incentive Bill Will Not Work and Would Miss Huge Opportunity

November 15th, 2017 No comments

Bill would preclude more aggressive mandates required to avoid climate chaos

The NJ Senate Environment Committee, on Monday November 20, 2017, will hear proposed legislation (S3129 -Smith, Greenstein) that would provide incentives to “green buildings”, specifically the bill:

“Provides for priority consideration, by DCA, DEP, DOT, and municipalities, of permit applications for green building projects”

The building sector is a huge source of greenhouse gas emissions.

If we are to meet the aggressive science based goals of the NJ Global Warming Response Act, the Paris Accords, and avoid catastrophic climate change, we need to get deep and swift reductions in emissions from this sector.

The DEP’s 2009 Global Warming Response Act implementation recommendations Report includes this set of recommendations on the building sector: (Table ES-1, p.5)

Require adherence to green building guidelines for new construction ..

Require water-related infrastructure retrofits

Through a combination of energy efficiency requirements and renewable energy sources, all new buildings constructed after 2030 will have a net zero energy consumption. (p.7)

Coordinate with the Legislature to authorize new codes resulting in new construction which is 30% more energy efficient by 2009, and a longer term goal of achieving net zero carbon emitting buildings (p.26)

Once the guidelines are established, the NJDCA will seek appropriate statutory authorization to incorporate them during its periodic building codes and standards revision process, thus requiring adherence to the State’s green building guidelines for all new construction. (p.35)

Therefore, it is critical to focus not only on “green” design for new construction, but also on ways to retrofit existing construction to be more environmentally-friendly and less energy intensive. (p.16)]

Note especially the recommendations that compliance with standards be required and the existing buildings be retrofit.

In contrast  the Voluntary measures and regulatory review “incentives” in the bill are woefully inadequate policy tools to achieve these necessary emissions reductions. 

I just wrote the below letter to the sponsors of the bill – Chairman Smith and Senator Greenstein – to urge that they rethink the overall voluntary incentive based approach in favor of an enforceable science based model. I urge readers to do the same:

Dear Chairman Smith and Senator Greenstein:

I’ve read your bill, S3129, which “Provides for priority consideration, by DCA, DEP, DOT, and municipalities, of permit applications for green building projects”

While I appreciate your efforts to promote more environmentally friendly building practices, unfortunately I must strongly differ with the overall approach of the proposed legislation and encourage you to revise and amend the bill:

1) to establish enforceable regulatory requirements in terms of local and state building codes and DEP permit requirements, and;

2) to link the standards to a science based DEP plan or legislative policy goals (e.g. the greenhouse emissions reductions from the building sector necessary to attain the goals of the Global Warming Response Act or water conservation measures of the Water Supply Master Plan, etc)

It is my understanding that the proposed voluntary incentive based private standards in the bill (LEED, ASHRAE, et al) are not tied in any way to attainment of science based public policies or numeric planning goals or regulatory standards – nor has there been any assessment or demonstration of whether implementation of the standards in the bill would make progress towards various NJ legislative goals and regulatory standards.

Additionally, it appears that the bill would grandfather existing development and thereby miss huge opportunities to retrofit the existing built environment.

Furthermore, all new development should be zero net emissions and leverage investments in renewable energy infrastructure, much like off-site impact fees are designed to finance necessary upgrades in infrastructure.

In contrast, as drafted, the bill would actually provide a perverse preemptive shield against real enforceable standards and codes and impact fees necessary to meet urgent policy objectives, like GHG emissions, water quality and water conservation and renewable energy infrastructure.

I urge you to table this bill pending reconsideration of a more aggressive and enforceable approach.

Sincerely,

Bill Wolfe

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Greetings From The James River At Horseshoe Bend

November 12th, 2017 No comments

After A Spectacular Fall in the Northeast, We’re Headed South for the Winter

James River at Horseshoe Bend (Virginia)

James River at Horseshoe Bend (Virginia)

I’ve been getting emails and questions from friends and readers about how I’m doing, so I thought I’d update the status of our epic tour.

Last I posted, we were along the Maine coast enjoying the fall in the northeast- after about a month in Vermont’s Green Mountains & New Hampshire’s White Mountains (see “Atlantic Northeast”).

We then headed west into NY Adirondacks, then south to the Catskills, and southeast to my home turf, the Hudson Valley. I spent over a week in Port Ewen, NY (a Hudson River hamlet just south of Kingston). Here’s a view of the Hudson from lovely Hasbrouck Park, looking southeast:

_DSC4442

Here’a a view of the Hudson looking north towards Kingston, from Scenic Hudson’s spectacular Esopus Meadows Preserve (don’t miss the Phenology Trail there, which should be a model for NJ!)

_DSC4447

Kingston has great parks and a lively historic harbor district. I loved the place, home of Sojourner Truth, described as the “Daughter of Esopus”:

statue in center of Port Ewen, NY celebrates history of Sojourner Truth

statue in center of Port Ewen, NY celebrates history of Sojourner Truth

Looking to settle in the Kingston area, exhausted and just about broke, I thought the tour was over and I was offered and actually accepted a job at Green Mountain Energy. But I couldn’t find affordable housing so the whole thing broke down, and, as temperatures dipped into the 20’s at night, I decided to head south for the winter.

I’m in the Deep South now (at Horseshoe bend 2 weeks ago), but before I write about some of the ugly things I’ve seen here recently, I thought I’d explain how I got here.

Protest against Steve Bannon's speech at The Citadel (Charleston, SC) (11/10/17)

Protest against Steve Bannon’s speech at The Citadel (Charleston, SC) (11/10/17)

I didn’t follow the NJ Governor’s race, but have posted and tweeted extensively about the dirty deeds of NJ Audubon and their friends in Keep It Green Coalition and NJ League of Conservation Voters – as a warning to the incoming Murphy Administration and my fellow activists.

As I was praised recently by a friend and reader for being:

the “corporate/institutional” memory of environmental things [in NJ]

I feel a certain responsibility and obligation.

So, I will be writing about the Murphy Transition process, the appointment of a new DEP Commissioner, and overall strategy & a progressive policy agenda in the next days and weeks, so stay tuned.

Peace out!

Protest on Bannon's speech at The Citadel (11/10/17)

Protest on Bannon’s speech at The Citadel (11/10/17)

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