Are NJ Environmental Leaders Just Isolated and Selfish, or Real Affirmative Assholes?

May 3rd, 2016 No comments

No Vision – No Moral Compass – No Ability To Reflect

Good neighbor policy - PRIL 5, 2016 DOWN THE SHORE Detonations at Naval Weapons Station Earle through Friday (Newsworks)

Good neighbor policy – APRIL 5, 2016 DOWN THE SHORE
Detonations at Naval Weapons Station Earle through Friday (Newsworks)

I had thought Mike Catania’s press release during the Pope’s visit illustrated how self centered, narrow-minded, insular, superficial, and tone deaf the so-called leaders of the NJ environmental community had become, and I blasted him for it, see:

But the email I just got from NY/NJ Baykeeper Deb Mans is far beyond Catania’s inadvertent mis-step, which was more of a missed opportunity and a coincidental and passive disrespect for the Pope than real active harm.

As the world mourns the loss of Father Daniel J. Berrigan – poet, scholar, agitator, and renowned anti-nuclear and peace activist who created the Plowshares Movement and connected the dots for peace, compassion, and social justice- Ms. Mans has gone far beyond Catania’s mild transgressions that sparked my ire.

Berrrigan died Saturday in New York at age 94 – right in Ms. Man’s backyard – and tributes to his legacy have been prominently featured in the news. One would have to live under a rock not to be aware of his passing and his legacy.

Despite this, Ms. Mans felt the need to giddily celebrate her organization’s “unique partnership” with the US Navy and to express thanks to the Earle Naval Weapons Station.

Ms. Mans wrote:

This spring we’ll be installing a 0.91 acre Living Shoreline adjacent to Ware Creek at Naval Weapons Station Earle (NWSE). We’ll be testing whether an artificial oyster reef installation parallel to the mouth of the creek will reduce soil erosion. We’ll be using oyster castles (concrete homes for the oysters) to construct the reef.

Other activities occurring at NWSE this summer include setting oysters at our aquaculture facility, monitoring the oysters and structures in the ¼ acre experimental plot to assess overwinter survival and growth, repeating our successful biodiversity study, and continuing to collect water quality data. We’re thankful for all the help the US Navy has provided over the years through our unique partnership! 

Wow! Unique partnership my ass.

A 0.91 acre “living shoreline” amidst what Berrigan would call “the charnel house of death”.

A 0.25 acre “experimental plot … to assess overwinter survival and growth, repeating our successful biodiversity”

Yes Deb, that is truly a “unique” – and warped – “partnership”.

Let’s take a brief look at the legacy of Earle Naval Weapons Station – a place designed to feed US warships with the bombs and missiles they drop around the world – and see how Baykeeper’s “oyster castles” and “unique partnership” stack up and whether they warrant such thanks and praise.

It appears Ms. Mans is either oblivious to all this or just couldn’t give a damn.

Role In Cuban Missile Crisis

During the so called 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, the US & The Soviet Union almost blew up the world.

So comforting to know that the good folks at Earle Naval Weapons Station were busy loading US ships:

As the Cuban Missile Crisis flared in October and November of 1962, NAD Earle operated two ten-hour shifts in support of ships during the increased tensions of the naval blockade of Cuba. Personnel from all departments, including Supply and Public Works, joined in ordnance operations. After the crisis, the base was commended by the Commander Service Forces, U.S. Atlantic Fleet for its assistance in the “. . rapid attainment of readiness by the United States Atlantic Fleet.”52 (Navy history, at page 15)

Role in Vietnam

The US invasion and carpet bombing of southeast asia killed millions of innocent men, women, and children and poisoned the landscape – and those heroes at Earle were busy again:

The mid- to late 1960s saw an increase in activity at NAD Earle, most likely associated with the increased American presence in Vietnam. The permanent complement of the base increased to 760 after ninety-four positions were added. The majority of the new personnel, fifty-nine positions, were assigned to the Naval Weapons Handling Laboratory. The workload also increased significantly in August 1967, when all six berths at the piers were simultaneously occupied for the first time since 1952. Another indicator of an increase in activity brought about by the war in Southeast Asia was the loan of 5 acres in the eastern portion of the Mainside to the Army for the training of noncommissioned officers from Fort Monmouth prior to their rotation to Vietnam. 53

Role in US Nuclear Weapons Program

But let us not be distracted by small matters – Earle played a role in the Cold War US nuclear profile.

The U.S. Nuclear Weapons Cost Study Project was completed in August 1998 and resulted in the book Atomic Audit: The Costs and Consequences of U.S. Nuclear Weapons Since 1940edited by Stephen I. Schwartz. These project pages should be considered historical.


Bases and Facilities with Significant Current or Historical U.S. Nuclear Weapons or Naval Nuclear Propulsion Missions

Role in Gulf Wars, Middle East & War on Terror

Not enough time in the day to research and document these charnel house activities.

War on the Environment – It’s a (Greenhouse) gas – Massive Toxic Pollution – Superfund & RCRA

The military is one of the largest emitters of greenhouse gases – so they risk either blowing up the planet or burning it up. How wonderful and deserving of Baykeeper’s praise, no?

But I don’t have time to run down Earle’s contribution to all that. And the site itself has massive toxic contamination – Superfund site – take a look

So, based on that thumbnail sketch, after reading Baykeeper’s praise, I feel so much better now.

Heckofajob, Ms. Mans!

There must be a future Dodge Foundation grant in the offing for that unique partnership!

[End Note: blown away by this Berrigan work:

“We have assumed the name of peacemakers, but we have been, by and large, unwilling to pay any significant price. And because we want the peace with half a heart and half a life and will, the war, of course, continues, because the waging of war, by its nature, is total — but the waging of peace, by our own cowardice, is partial…There is no peace because there are no peacemakers. There are no makers of peace because the making of peace is at least as costly as the making of war — at least as exigent, at least as disruptive, at least as liable to bring disgrace and prison and death in its wake.”

Taken from an obituary by John Dear here:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/…

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A Climate Lament

May 2nd, 2016 No comments

5:4 We have drunken our water for money; Our wood is sold unto us.

~~~ The Lamentations of Jeremiah

"Jeremiah Lamenting the Destruction of Jerusalem" (Rembrandt - 1630)

“Jeremiah Lamenting the Destruction of Jerusalem” (Rembrandt – 1630)

 

My brother and I stand like the fences
of abandoned farms, changed times
too loosely webbed against
deicide homicide
A really powerful blow
would bring us down like scarecrows.
Nature, knowing this, finding us mildly useful
indulging also
her backhanded love of freakishness
allows us to stand.    ~~~ Daniel J. Berrigan

Just saw this Obit and felt an update appropriate:

“Our apologies, good friends, for the fracture of good order, the burning of paper instead of children, the angering of the orderlies in the front parlor of the charnel house. We could not, so help us God, do otherwise.”

And Chris Hedges reads an extraordinary passage in this interview.

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DEP Scientists Document Ecological Health of Headwater Streams At Same Time Christie Hacks Rollback Their Protections

May 2nd, 2016 No comments

Science Exposes Reckless Category One and Highlands Rollbacks 

Never before has the DEP’s science so clearly contradicted the agency’s regulatory policy

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Brian Henning, a scientists with DEP’s Bureau of Freshwater & Biological Monitoring, recently presented a new methodology for assessing water quality and the ecological health of headwater streams (you can review the powerpoint here).

The new method, called the Headwaters Index of Biotic Integrity (HIBI), builds on other DEP biological water quality assessment methods, including those based on macro-invertebrates and fish.

The HIBI is based on research begun over a decade ago, as part of the McGreevey/Campbell DEP’s clean water protection initiatives, specifically to strengthen and expand the DEP’s “integrated ecological assessment”  developed for designation of individual Category One waters to a broader regional water quality monitoring program under the Clean Water Act.  HIBI3

Note the vulnerability of these sensitive headwater streams to human disturbances like:

According to DEP, the new HIBI can be used for the following:

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Note especially the fact that “high gradient headwater streams” are located predominantly in the Highlands, a region that the Christie Administration is seeking to rollback protections and promote more development.

Note also the use for Category One designations – an important wate resource protection program that the Christie DEP has killed, despite recommendations by DEP scientists that the C1 program be expanded.

In an incredible irony, the decade long effort to finalize and implement the HIBI comes when the Christie DEP is systematically rolling back protections for headwater streams and has killed the C1 stream designation program

Never before has the DEP’s science so clearly contradicted the agency’s regulatory policy.

And that is a totally unacceptable and remarkably sad story.

The above provides more than sufficient information and a basis to sustain the pending Legislative veto of the Flood Hazard/C1 rollback proposal, to prompt another veto of the proposed Highlands septic density rollbacks, and to trigger legislative oversight hearings to expose the insanity underway in the Christie DEP.

Is anyone in Trenton or the media paying attention?

[End Note: And where are all those Foundation, corporate, and DEP funded watershed groups and their “citizen science” programs and large “communications” staffs in making these arguments to the public, the media, and Legislative policymakers?

Their silence is deafening – which is precisely why they remain so well funded.]

This is an “exceptionally ecologically significant” Category One (C1) trout production (TP) headwater stream. Notice that it has no defined stream bed and bank. Current DEP “Special Water Resource Protection Areas” regulations provide a 300 foot wide buffer protection. The DEP proposed to repeal and eliminate those protections. The new DEP “riparian zone” rules do not apply to headwater streams with no defined bed and bank.

This is an “exceptionally ecologically significant” Category One (C1) trout production (TP) headwater stream. Notice that it has no defined stream bed and bank. Current DEP “Special Water Resource Protection Areas” regulations provide a 300 foot wide buffer protection. The DEP proposed to repeal and eliminate those protections. The new DEP “riparian zone” rules do not apply to headwater streams with no defined bed and bank.

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Support The NJ Weedman –

April 30th, 2016 No comments

Weedman’s Joint in Trenton Builds Community and is an Oasis in an urban sacrifice zone

weedman

I first became acquainted with Rob “Ed” Forchion, better known as “NJ Weedman”, through a group of friends who were outraged by the shameful death of a homeless man in the Burlington County jail, see:

I later met Ed personally last year and was treated to a tour upon opening of his Trenton restaurant, The Weedman’s Joint.

We stayed for a meal and discussion of his Trenton work  – at that time focused on providing healthy food at reasonable prices to an abandoned community living in a food desert, with limited access to fresh fruits and vegetables and good food.

The Weedman is a fine and principled man with a broad vision. He is a longtime savvy, learned, and articulate advocate and activist not only for the legalization of marijuana, but for people oriented community revitalization.

So, I was disgusted to read last week that the Trenton police  – in full military assault gear – raided The Weeedman’s Joint and arrested him and several others on possession and distribution of pot charges.

That outrageous abuse of police authority has garnered critical press coverage over the last few days, see this.

On Friday, I went to the Weedman’s Joint to attend an impromptu press conference Weedman held to explain what exactly went on. From the facts that are sure to come out, Weedman will show that the police were harassing him, filed false police reports, and retaliated for a lawsuit he filed against them.

Today, the NJ papers ran a profile, see:

Wedman shows how Trenton police officers pointed automatic weapons at his face

Weedman shows how Trenton police officers pointed automatic weapons at his face

But the news coverage and personal profile story whitewashed (pun intended) the real story and issues involved.

 This is not just a story about a lone individual activist seeking decriminalization of pot.

Weedman’s story fits the much larger story of how a racist criminal justice system persecutes black men, and the role of the failed War On Drugs, told by Michele Alexander in her groundbreaking 2010 book, The New Jim Crow – Mass Incarceration In the Age of Colorblindness:

The New Jim Crow is a stunning account of the rebirth of a caste-like system in the United States, one that has resulted in millions of African Americans locked behind bars and then relegated to a permanent second-class status—denied the very rights supposedly won in the Civil Rights Movement. …

As the United States celebrates its “triumph over race” with the election of Barack Obama, the majority of black men in major urban areas are under correctional control or saddled with criminal records for life. Jim Crow laws were wiped off the books decades ago, but today an extraordinary percentage of the African American community is warehoused in prisons or trapped in a parallel social universe, denied basic civil and human rights—including the right to vote; the right to serve on juries; and the right to be free of legal discrimination in employment, housing, access to education and public benefits. Today, it is no longer socially permissible to use race explicitly as a justification for discrimination, exclusion, and social contempt. Yet as civil-rights-lawyer-turned-legal-scholar Michelle Alexander demonstrates, it is perfectly legal to discriminate against convicted criminals in nearly all the ways in which it was once legal to discriminate against African Americans. Once labeled a felon, even for a minor drug crime, the old forms of discrimination are suddenly legal again. In her words, “we have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it.”

The Weedman’s story also illustrates the abuse of power related to the militarization of local police forces.

It seems like the Trenton police Department didn’t get the memo. The memo about the New Jim Crow repression and the one about the inappropriate militarized tactics.

One doesn’t need to follow the American Civil Liberties Union or the Black Live Matter Movement to understand the implications.

According to journalistic icon Bill Moyers:

The “war on terror” has come home — and it’s wreaking havoc on innocent American lives. The culprit is the militarization of the police.

The weapons that destroyed Afghanistan and Iraq have made their way to local law enforcement. While police forces across the country began a process of militarization — complete with SWAT teams and flash-bang grenades — when President Reagan intensified the “war on drugs,” the post-9/11 “war on terror” has added fuel to the fire.

Through laws and regulations like a provision in defense budgets that authorizes the Pentagon to transfer surplus military gear to police forces, local law enforcement agencies are using weapons found on the battlefields of South Asia and the Middle East.

But, in a larger sense, the most outrageous aspect of Weedman’s story relates to what Chris Hedges has called capitalism’s urban post-industrial “Sacrifice Zones”:

There are forgotten corners of this country where Americans are trapped in endless cycles of poverty, powerlessness, and despair as a direct result of capitalistic greed. Journalist Chris Hedges calls these places “sacrifice zones,” and joins Bill this week on Moyers & Company to explore how areas like Camden, New Jersey; Immokalee, Florida; and parts of West Virginia suffer while the corporations that plundered them thrive. WATCH

Weedman’s Joint is a community oasis – he brings healthy food, a safe place to hang, and a place for the community to engage in various vitally important cultural, artistic and political projects.

mural on the side of Weedman's Joint in Trenton, NJ

mural on the side of Weedman’s Joint in Trenton, NJ

During the brief time I was there, I met people engaged with community gardens, murals, music, art, food, immigration, and urban community revitalization, as well as decriminalization of pot and criminal justice reform.

The Weedman’s Joint is pioneering exactly the kind of community places we need to restore democracy, create space for the artistic community and alternative ways of life, to push back against neglect and abandonment by government and disinvestment, and to fight racist police practices and criminal justice policies.

All people of good faith need to rally around and support The Weedman and the project he has embarked upon in Trenton, NJ’s State Capital.

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Sparta Mountain – Take A Walk On The Wild Side

April 29th, 2016 No comments

Sparta Mt. illustrates several Christie DEP environmental crimes

Sparta Mt (Source: Sue Dorward)

Sparta Mt (Source: Sue Dorward,taken by John Paul Endress

The Christie DEP, NJ Audubon, and professional foresters are furiously engaged in a sophisticated multi-media PR campaign to convince the public that their Sparta Mountain plan is “Stewardship” – not logging – and that critics are ill informed (even the professors!)

Why such a strong reaction and aggressive and crazy pushback?

Their so called lush forest is nothing more than a green canopy with minimal undergrowth to attract and feed wildlife. Sunlight no longer penetrates. Browse is nonexistent. Many of the animals and birds no longer live there.

Many animals and birds no longer live there? Does NJA really believe that? Plants too? NJ Audubon is in bed with the crazies.

Given the attempt to obscure a public lands debate with claims about “science”, where are the evaluation Reports that show if all the prior “forest treatments” (Orwellian code for logging) worked?

Has NJ Audubon explained exactly why they de-designated Sparta Mt. as “High Conservation Value Forest” (HCVF)?

Has NJA CEO Eric Stiles explained his conservation U-Turn from minimize disturbance and maximize forest canopy cover to log core forest to create young forests?

I challenge anyone to take a walk on the Mountain – take a walk on the wild side! – and visit the sites that were previously logged and see for themselves whether this is “Stewardship” or clear cut logging. As you quietly approach these areas during your walk through the woods, consider whether this is an appropriate use of publicly owned Green Acres preserved land.

NJTV News did exactly just that and produced this excellent news story, including showing the aerial photos – watch it:

Here are some scenes of the crimes of the Christie DEP from the ground level, accompanied by an intro paragraph to explain the implications of the photo (shot on April 21, 2016):

1. Does this look like logging or “stewardship”?

The Christie DEP logging program is not limited to Sparta Mt. – it includes hundreds of additional acres in Weldon Brook WMA, Mahlon Dickerson Reservation, and Newark Watershed lands.

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2. Sensitive headwater streams will no longer be protected (c1 buffers)

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This is an “exceptionally ecologically significant” Category One (C1) trout production (TP) headwater stream. Notice that it has no defined stream bed and bank. Current DEP “Special Water Resource Protection Areas” regulations provide a 300 foot wide buffer protection. The DEP proposed to repeal and eliminate those protections. The new DEP “riparian zone” rules do not apply to headwater streams with no defined bed and bank.

3. Environmentally sensitive lands can be sewered and intensively developed (WQMP rollbacks)

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This is environmentally sensitive land that could not be provided sewer service under former DEP “Water Quality Management Planning” rules. But the Christie DEP eliminated those protections and now allow lands like these to be sewered.

4. Highlands forests can be more densely developed (Septic density standards rollbacks)

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These lands are protected by the Highlands Act and DEP’s septic density standards that strictly limit development in forests to 88 acre lot sizes. Christie DEP just proposed to rollback current septic density standards in forested lands in the Highlands Preservation area to just 23 acres.

5. Wildlife slaughtered (black bear hunt)

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Sparta Mountain is prime black bear habitat. We saw a young black bear in this area from about 100 feet. I didn’t get a chance to take a photo because I was trying to stop my dog from chasing him! The Christie DEP reversed prior policy and now promotes a bear hunt.

Hunters and the guns and ammo crowd are strongly supporting the logging plan because it is designed to increase the habitat and population of game species.

DEP serves their hunter clients because they depend on license fee revenue to support their salaries.

ammo

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