PSE&G Is Desperately Trying To Avoid Ohio Nuclear Bailout Scandal From Derailing Renewal of Pending Round II NJ Nuke Bailout

August 3rd, 2020 No comments

NJ Spotlight And ENGO’s Are Helping Them

Will all those who have taken PSE&G money please raise your hand?

PSE&G’s “Money Talks” In NJ

Perhaps you missed it, but yesterday, the NY Times published a hugely important Op-Ed – written by a former NY Times reporter – aptly titled: “When Utility Money Talks” (please read the whole thing. The courage and integrity to write a piece like this just might explain why the writer is a “former” NY Times reporter).

The focus of the Op-Ed was on the Ohio nuclear bailout scandal and the tactics that allow utility “money to talk”, which has parallels to NJ’s own billion dollar nuclear bailout.

Those cases are only the most recent examples in a wave of utility wrongdoing that has come to light in recent years across the nation. […]

Taken together, these and other cases demonstrate that too many power and gas companies have sought to exercise undue influence over the governments that nominally control them. Utilities spend lavishly on campaign contributions, dinners, hunting trips for politicians and more. They set up fake citizens’ groups to support their undertakings. And they have been known to ply nonprofit community organizations with “donations” to take public stances that favor the utility — and against the real interests of the people these organizations ostensibly represent. …

For citizens elsewhere, the big message from all these scandals is that you cannot assume your state government is working in the public interest as it oversees the energy transition. …

… citizens are getting a clearer picture of what they are up against. They are not just fighting dirty energy — they are also fighting the dirty money in politics that keeps it alive.

It is instructive to compare the NY Times’ critical description of the Ohio scandal with NJ Spotlight’s cursory coverage of that scandal.

NJ utility giant PSE&G is desperately seeking to avoid that Ohio scandal story getting attention and investigation in NJ, because if it did, not only would PSE&G face possible criminal sanctions, the public outrage that would ensue very likely would derail renewal of PSE&G’s nuke bailout, which is currently pending before the NJ Board of Public Utilities.

NJ legislators who supported and rammed the NJ nuke bailout through the legislature and Gov. Murphy who signed it into law face the same criminal and political vulnerability.

NJ environmental groups who supported the deal also face embarrassing disclosures of how PSE&G “money talked” in influencing their support.

So, how did NJ’s premier media outlet, who focuses on energy policy, report the Ohio story?

Did NJ Spotlight explain in detail what happened in Ohio and raise potential similarities with NJ’s nuke bailout?

Did NJ Spotlight report on how PSE&G’s money talks in NJ? (even at their own publication).

No, they didn’t.

After the July 28 superficial coverage, today NJ Spotlight printed PSE&G propaganda, which was designed to create a bright shiny object to divert the attention from the Ohio scandal and put PSE&G in a positive light and influence the BPU’s upcoming nuke bailout renewal decision.

This is not the first time NJ Spotlight has reported PSE&G diversionary propaganda news management.

PSE&G pulled exactly the same propaganda stunt back when PG&E announced closing of Diablo Canyon nuke plant and California regulators announced that they were phasing out nuclear power.

The California regulatory phase out decision was made just at the time that PSE&G was seeking a bailout – not a phase out – of its nuke plants.

While PG&E Diablo Canyon closure and California were phasing out nukes, NJ DEP was subsidizing and deregulating them: DEP Says Salem Nuclear Good to Go Without Cooling Towers. (I testified in opposition to that permit – another example of how PSE&G money talks to conservation groups and regulators – and wrote about it here).

Instead of reporting on California’s phase out – a policy option never even on the table in NJ – the discussion in NJ was limited to assuring the economic viability of nukes as a “zero carbon” emission source, see: Will NJ Consumers Be Hit with Zero-Emissions Surcharge for Nuclear?

And later, at precisely the time while California regulators were phasing out nukes – a major policy of national significance that NJ Spotlight never reported on –NJ Spotlight provided a platform for PSE&G sponsored content, provided former Gov. Florio a platform to support PSE&G, provided the business community a platform to support PSE&G, gave PSE&G another platform.

In a remarkably corrupt move – not reported by NJ Spotlight – NJ’s US Senator Booker and NJ Senate President Sweeney kicked off the nuke subsidy campaign in support of PSE&G, see:

Even before bailout legislation was introduced, back in January 2017, Spotlight, gave PSE&G a platform to make their case,

In a move to tamp down opposition, in August 2016, Spotlight even reported this “fake news”: New Jersey Unlikely to Follow New York’s Subsidies of Nuclear Industry

While the Ohio scandal was downplayed and the California nuke phase out story was ignored completely, NJ focused NJ Spotlight did manage to report an out out of State story from Illinois: favorable to the nuke industry, see: Federal Court Upholds Illinois Decision to Subsidize Nuclear Plants.

And from Pennsylvania, see: Without Subsidies, Three Mile Island Could Go Dark, Operator Asserts

And before all that, back in February 2017, Spotlight reported PSE&G line: PSEG Still Looking for Subsidies to Help Keep Nuclear Fleet Afloat

Of course – just like the Ohio nuke bailout scandal – the California nuke phase out story had to be squashed because it was an existential threat to PSE&G – and NJ Spotlight played right along with PSE&G’s news management diversion.

Yes, PSE&G’s “money talks” in NJ – at NJ Spotlight, in the Legislature, in the Gov.’s Office, and even in certain environmental circles.

Paraphrasing recently deceased writer William Greider, Who will tell the people about all that?

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

NJ Democratic Legislators Refuse To Consider Even A Weak Environmental Justice Bill – A Clusterfuck In Advocacy, Lobbying, And Bill Drafting

July 31st, 2020 No comments

Assembly Leader Fails To Post Bill For A Vote, Despite Prior Assembly Committee Amendments That Further Gutted An Already Weakened Bill

Both Business And EJ Lobbyists Exaggerate The Impacts Of The Bill

Yesterday, Gov. Murphy’s “environmental justice” bill – strongly backed by EJ advocates – failed to receive consideration after Assembly Speaker Coughlin (D-Middlesex) refused to post it for legislative deliberation and vote.

Today we provide a brief note with inconvenient facts and critical analysis that the EJ leadership is not telling their own communities and is not being reported by NJ Spotlight.

Let me attempt to 1) illustrate confusion and major conflicts between Senate and Assembly version of the bill; 2) explain how the bill is even weaker than I knew, because it was amended in an Assembly Committee on July 20; and 3) recap the strategic disaster that just occurred.

I)  Conflicts Between Senate and Assembly Versions On Critical Issues

This is a very big deal that is being ignored.

The Senate and Assembly versions are different in very fundamental ways.

The Assembly version includes a mandate that DEP “shall” deny a permit upon a certain finding, while the Senate version provides discretion that DEP “may” deny a permit on a scientifically and legally different finding.

These are huge differences and it is shocking and embarrassing that, after committee hearings in both Houses, that legislators and advocates are on 2 completely different pages.

The Senate version merely authorizes DEP to deny a new or expanded facility permit (my emphasis):

the department may, after review of the environmental justice impact statement, … deny a permit application for a new or expanded facility located in whole or in part in an overburdened community, upon a finding that approval of the permit application would, together with the  cumulative environmental or public health stressors posed by existing conditions located in or affecting the overburdened community, result in a disproportionate impact to the overburdened community when compared to the impact and risk born by other communities in the State….

But the Assembly version, while making the key finding subject to DEP discretion,  mandates that DEP deny a permit if they find:

the department shall, after review of the environmental justice impact statement, […] deny a permit for a new facility  … upon a finding that approval of the permit as proposed, would, together with other environment public health stressors affecting the overburdened community, cause or contribute to adverse cumulative environmental or public health stressors in the overburdened community that are higher than those borne by other communities within the State…

The Assembly version makes the key finding by DEP discretionary, which essentially makes the mandatory permit denial decision discretionary. That’s because when DEP scientists – and their politically appointed bosses and timid lawyers – know that their findings will result in a mandatory permit denial, they will be much more cautious, rigorous, conservative, and reluctant to make that finding.

This mandatory permit denial hammer creates a similar legal/scientific/institutional dynamic as that under the mandatory penalties of the Clean Water Enforcement Act. The mandatory penalty hammer led DEP to create all kinds of “flexibility” loopholes in the permits to avoid the issuance of mandatory penalties.

This is how a captured and corrupt bureaucracy behaves when they are subject to a bill with no legislative standards, lax legislative oversight, no media accountability, rigged rulemaking policies and procedures, little public engagement, no policy leadership by the DEP Commissioner or Governor, and in consideration of revolving door career opportunities (ask Mr. Cantor, Mr. Hart, Mr. Berkowitz, Mr. Valeri & other former DEP officials about that) and under undue influence by polluters – while all of this corruption is rewarded by green cheerleading by paid, incompetent, and co-opted EJ sycophants (Pringle, Gaddy, Goldsmith et al) and a depleted, stenographic, and foundation funded faux progressive press corps. (If the shoes fit …. Do I need to name more names?)

Still, regardless of how DEP actually behaves and implements legislation, the Assembly bill reflects large and untenable legal and scientific conflicts with the Senate version.

Similarly, the Assembly version include a “cause or contribute to” standard, while the Senate version does not. Again, the Assembly version is far more stringent than the Senate’s.

How did we get to the point where the public was led to believe that the bill was ready for final passage by both houses when these basic conflicts were unresolved ?

(Note: I Tweeted and called Ray Cantor a “liar” about the “shall” issue, based on my review of the Senate version. I now stand corrected and apologize, given the July 20 Assembly version which I just today read.)

II)  Substantively, the Bill Is MUCH Weaker Than I Knew

On July 20, I wrote about serious flaws in the proposed legislation (Senate version) and explained why it would not protect overburdened EJ communities because:

1) it exempted all current pollution permits that are creating unjust and harmful pollution burdens;

2) it eliminated local power to block DEP permits in the original version of the bill, stripping people and local governments of real power and forcing exclusive reliance on DEP decisions; and

3) it relied on a vague, standard less “environmental justice impact statement” review process and decision by the DEP (an agency that for decades has lacked the spine, expertise, and resources to enforce EJ policy).

Given DEP’s history on EJ regulation, a standard less legislative delegation of power to DEP – which amounts to a “just trust us” posture – in legislation is absurd.

And it is just not serious to write blank slate legislation on a legally and scientifically complex topic, e.g. like what is an “environmental justice impact statement”? What is a disproportionate burden? What is an unacceptable risk? What does “cause or contribute to” mean, etc.

(for those who do not understand what I mean when I say this EJ legislation is not “serious” and follow my criticism of a “lack of legislative standards” and use of the wonky phrase: a “vague and standardless delegation to DEP” and why there needs to be strict deadlines for DEP regulations, please read Sections 33-34 of the Highlands Act. That law is a well thought out and serious piece of legislation. I drafted these sections.)

But I just now learned that on that same day I wrote that post (July 20), the already weakened version of the bill was further gutted by several terrible Assembly Committee amendments that:

1. exempted medical waste incinerators, regardless of pollution impacts;

2. exempted all small air polluters (and an unlimited amount of pollution) by including a huge 100 ton per year emission threshold;

3. exempted toxic site cleanup risks; (e.g. Troy Chemical, Passaic River cleanup)

4. created a giant loophole to allow DEP to issue a permit – regardless of unjust or disproportionate impacts, and/or unacceptable public health risks – for an undefined “compelling public purpose“; and

5. extended the effective date of the law from 180 days after passage until after DEP adopts regulations.

This effectively eliminates any deadline for DEP regulations. Let me explain this wonky but critical issue.

The would bill require DEP to adopt regulations, but does not include a deadline. Legally, DEP must have regulations in place before they can make binding permit decisions.

The original version of the bill became effective 180 days after passage and was to be implemented via DEP permit processes.

Because DEP legally must have regulations in place before making EJ permit decisions, this effectively meant that DEP was required to adopt regulations in 180 days, a very tight timeframe given DEP’s traditional lengthy multi-year period for adopting new regulations and the complexity of EJ science and policies.

By eliminating the 180 day effect date and failure to include a deadline for DEP to adopt regulations, the amended bill would allow polluters to receive DEP permits with NO EJ reviews until DEP adopts regulations, which regulations likely will be tied up for many, many years (at least 5 years) by the lack of legislative standards in the bill, scientific complexity, business lobbying, and then polluter lawsuits. And 5 years is optimistic – more like 10 might be realistic.

Failure by EJ advocates who worked on this bill to demand a deadline for DEP to adopt rules is a monumental and unforgivable fuckup.

 III)  Recapping a Political Disaster – Five Factors That Drove This Clusterfuck

1. As I’ve written, environmental justice advocates have been totally ineffective, compromised, co-opted, and been politically played by Democrats for many years.

After many years of failure, for political and self-serving reasons, those advocates grossly exaggerated the strength of the current version of a 6 year old bill, which was developed YEARS BEFORE THE CURRENT PRESSURE CREATED BY STREET PROTESTS.

That original 2014 version of the legislation was gutted 2 years ago, again before the current Movement arose.

Gov. Murphy revived this old compromise. The EJ advocates falsely praised Gov. Murphy for his support of the compromise 2014 gutted bill.

2. The business community, taking advantage of the exaggerated and false claims of EJ advocates, also exaggerated the impacts of the bill. This stoked fears and provided political cover.

3. NJ Spotlight uncritically reported the exaggerations of the EJ advocates and the business community. This further stoked the fears that led to further weakening and the demise of an even weaker bill.

4. Based on Spotlight reported EJ exaggerations and corporate lobbyist, the unions who always fall for the “jobs versus environment” Neoliberal corporate lies were used to provide cover for Democrats.

5. The Democrats now had cover to further amend and weaken the bill and then abandon it.

And just think – a weakened compromise bill didn’t even address the climate catastrophe.

We’re doomed – and the current “leadership” the brought us this disaster needs to step down.

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

Murphy DEP Commissioner McCabe Uses Industry Dominated Clean Air Council To Divert From Major DEP Failures to Regulate Air Pollution

July 29th, 2020 No comments

A Sickening Tale of Capture, Cooptation, and Diversion

WHEREAS, the cumulative impact of multiple sources of exposure to environmental hazards in low-income and people of color communities, and the roles of multiple agencies in addressing the causes and factors that compromise environmental health and quality of life in these communities require an interagency response; ~~~ Executive Order #96, Gov. McGreevey, 2/18/04

There is still much more to be done, and especially focusing on injustices to a lot of the communities that are overburdened by air pollution. ~~~ Christie DEP Commissioner Bob Martin, testimony to the Clean Air Council, 4/3/11 (Chaired by Nicky Sheats)

I just got a Google heads up from “Planet Princeton” that tomorrow – the same day that advocates are urging the Assembly to pass a controversial and seriously flawed environmental justice bill –  the DEP Commissioner McCabe will speak at a public hearing of the Clean Air Council on “strategies to improve air quality near ports and airports.”

The Clean Air Council meets annually to make recommendations to DEP. Typically, their annual public hearing is focused on a discrete topic.

Given the increasing urgency of the climate crisis and Gov. Murphy’s Executive Order directing DEP to adopt regulations to address greenhouse gas emissions (known as PACT), one would expect that the Clean Air Council would focus on strategies to regulate and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

One would be wrong – instead, just another diversion.

DEP has long neglected enforcing clean air requirements at Port Newark, so it might be interesting to monitor what’s said at that hearing (in fact, the Council held a public hearing way back in 2008 on that same topic!)

I’ve been away for awhile, but I was shocked by the fact that DEP has actually published a document of the “etiquette tips” the public should follow for the meeting.

Are you kidding me? DEP prescribed Etiquette for a public hearing? One just must be civil to the exalted ones from the Chamber of Commerce, Petroleum Council, and Chemical and Gas Industry – and elite DEP Commissioner McCabe! FUCK THAT!

Substantively, I note that the Agenda includes presentations by 3 environmental justice advocates – the same folks who constantly falsely praise the Murphy administration’s EJ and climate initiatives and are supporting a seriously flawed compromise EJ bill.

Maybe if those environmental justice warriors really believed that the EJ legislation was critical, they’d be over on the other side of State Street, lobbying legislators in the Assembly to pass their shitty bill, instead of serving as tokens at another DEP – industry sponsored diversion.

This is how co-optation works – it’s how the game is played. It”s how “advocates” are bought off and settle for symbolic gestures like being invited to speak at DEP events. Ego Uber Alles!

It’s disgusting.

Just take a look at the Council.

John Valeri- a lawyer and key advisor to Gov. Whitman in rolling back DEP regulations and on convincing the Christie administration to ram a gas pipeline through the Pinelands- is Chair of the Clean Air Council and is making an introductory statement on behalf of the Council.

The Vice Chair has a degree in economics.

One “public” member – “representing the public” – is lobbyist for major polluter South Jersey Industries (aka South Jersey Gas, the folks who build gas pipelines through the Pinelands, whose CEO has gross ethics violations as a result of his wife’s role in the Christie Gov.’s Office,  and get DEP permits and Pinelands Commission approvals expedited).

The other “public member” – “representing the public” – is a lawyer who represents the NJ Petroleum Council. Yup, petroleum, as in fossil fuel.

Mike Egenton, of the Chamber of Commerce is the Co-Chair of the Clean Air Council.

The only person with technical expertise on air pollution control regulatory matters represents industrial polluters and makes big money as a consultant to major polluters.

There are no environmental groups or “Mom’s for Clean Air” representatives on the Council.

You really can’t make this shit up.

I sent this note to the folks over at Planet Princeton:

Hi there – just read your public notice on tomorrow’s Clean Air Council hearing.

DEP Commissioner McCabe and that group, dominated by industry and their consultants, does NOT want to talk about controversial air quality issues (especially as an “environmental justice bill is up in the legislature tomorrow), including:

Murphy DEP Updates Air Pollution Cancer Risk Levels, Ignores Cumulative Impacts And Environmental Justice Considerations

Murphy DEP Urged To Close Regulatory Loopholes On Climate Change, Risk Assessment and Hazardous Air Pollutants

Murphy DEP Fails To Consider Climate Or Public Health Risks Of Multiple Toxic Air Emissions From Paulsboro Refinery

As He Touts Climate & Environmental Justice Policies, NJ Gov. Murphy’s DEP Proposes Renewal of Newark Garbage Incinerator Air Permit

18 Years After Scathing Criticism By Federal Judge For Ignoring “Environmental InJustice”, NOTHING HAS CHANGED AT NJ DEP

Just a few of the major air quality issues these guys get paid to divert the press and public and environmental groups from focusing on.

Perhaps you might want to cover these issues?

Bill Wolfe

  • former DEP policy analyst (13 years)
  • former Policy Director NJ Sierra Club (7 years)
  • former Director NJ Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (10 years)

End Note on Etiquette:

According to the DEP “etiquette tips”, the public is limited and may not ask questions of presenters:

Can I ask questions of the scheduled presenters?

No. Consistent with prior public hearings, presenters are selected by the Council to provide information and clarifying perspectives about the hearing topic. That information, as well as written comments submitted to the Council, form the basis of the Council’s hearing recommendations report, which is presented to the Department of Environmental Protection’s Commissioner for her consideration and use. While the Council members can ask questions of the presenters to better educate themselves before developing those recommendations, time constraints don’t allow for audience members to also question the presenters.

This is totally unacceptable and inconsistent with prior Clean Air Council hearings.

I’ve engaged in detailed questions and answers with presenters at Clean Air Council meetings.

There was never this prohibition on public questions. Shame on Murphy DEP.

And while I’m on the topic of the history of the Council, here is a real environmental justice advocate testifying to the Council, 22 years ago in 1998:

JOSEPH PARRISH – RECTOR ST. JOHN’S CHURCH, ELIZABETH

We are very involved in clean air issues because Elizabeth is the smoke shade capital of New Jersey. When the air in Elizabeth is filtered through a piece of filter paper and weighed, it weighs more that air anywhere else in New Jersey as measured by the NJDEP. Elizabeth has the highest concentration of airborne particulates in the state.

Since 1990 five incinerators have been installed within a radius of six miles or less of our church and the New Jersey Turnpike has been widened to 14 lanes. The Bayway Texaco refinery immediately upwind has had three life threatening incidents since 1990. Fishing has been banned at the Elizabeth Marina and in Newark Bay due to the toxicity of the waters.

The results of all this environmental degradation are staggering. Since 1990 forty percent of our Sunday School children have been hospitalized for asthma, eight times the national average. Asthma deaths in Elizabeth are 25 times the national average.

The State of New Jersey needs immediate and thorough remediation to stop the air, water and land pollution. Controls on cars and buses are essential. The development of rail links should be the highest priority. Waste incineration should be ended. Technologies for composting should be used. Refineries should be closed and fishing in polluted waters prohibited. Medical treatment should be made available to all community members suffering from the effects of pollution. New projects should be suspended until these environmental measures are undertaken.

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

NJ Environmental Justice Advocates Are Missing The Moment And Getting Played By Democrats – Again!

July 29th, 2020 No comments

This post surely won’t make me any friends, but once something false and harmful comes to my attention, I feel a responsibility to respond and try to avoid the harm and focus on a better path.

Last night, I got an “Action Alert” (sic) urging me to act in support of an “important letter“, from over 200 NJ organizations, in support of the pending environmental justice legislation, a bill that I have harshly criticized recently (i.e. see this and this).

The letter was titled – in large font boldface:  

“Stop Environmental Racism, Pass S232/A2212 – July 30, 2020″

How does a person of good faith oppose an effort to “stop environmental racism“?

Let me start by being blunt: obviously, the bill won’t “stop environmental racism”, as the demagogic authors claim.

In fact, the bill would do just the opposite: passage will create a false expectation among poor and communities of color that their legitimate grievances are being addressed, while locking in the racist regulatory status quo – via tools we know won’t work – and rewarding politicians for doing virtually nothing to improve the disproportionate burdens that already overburdened EJ communities now bear.

(for a preview of what EJ communities will be assaulted with under the “environmental justice impact statements” required under the bill, check out this Covanta (Newark incinerator) propaganda.)

The letter suggested:

To discuss this further please contact: Dr. Ana Baptista, 973-342-6056, baptista@newschool.edu; Kim Gaddy, 973-420-7925, kgaddy@cleanwater.org; Maria Lopez-Nunez, 201-978-6660, mlopeznunez@ironboundcc.org; and/or Dr. Nicky Sheats, 609-558-4987, newbian8@verizon.net.

So, I immediately sent an email to the contacts – not surprisingly, I haven’t heard back yet and I don’t expect to. Here it is:

Greetings – I was forwarded your letter in support of the pending EJ bill. You all know I’ve been an advocate for EJ for many years, so I hope my motives are not in question and we can focus on the substance.

I strongly disagree that the bill would do what you claim, specifically:

“expanding the rights of residents to weigh in on decisions, reducing disproportionate pollution burdens, promoting clean businesses over toxic industries, and making New Jersey a leader in the fight for environmental justice.”

1. The current version of the bill eliminated the local veto provision of the introduced version, so claims of “expanding the rights” is absurd and cynical.

Community comment to DEP, backed up with no teeth, on an EJ impact statement hardly “expands the rights of citizens“, especially in light of the deleted provision that would have given local governments effective veto power.

2. You use the term “rights”, when the legislation fails to address NJ’s federal case law in the Camden case regarding civil rights law and DEP permitting. So, using that word is highly misleading.

3. The bill WOULD NOT reduce current “disproportionate pollution burdens” because it grandfathers existing DEP permits and only applies to “new or expanded” permits, not the current pollution or current pollution permits. This amounts to a deeply misleading claim.

4. I have no idea how you reached the conclusion that the bill would:

“promoting clean businesses over toxic industries,”

And I question  whether promoting business is a legitimate objective of the EJ activist community.

5. Similar issue regarding claim of:

“making New Jersey a leader in the fight for environmental justice”

6. What is the status of DEP’s proposed renewal of the Newark Covanta permit? Ditto Camden and Union. Why are you not demanding the shutdown down of these toxic climate polluters?

Given the current political situation related to the Black Live Matter Movement and street protests, your support for this bill, introduced in 2014 and weakened several times since then, is political malpractice and a sellout.

I was wondering how you respond to criticism of flaws the bill, where I document all these criticisms with citations to the text of the bill, see:

Gov. Murphy’s “Environmental Justice” Legislation Would Do Nothing To Reduce Current Pollution or Unjust Disproportionate Burdens In Minority Communities

For questions on political strategy, see:

Now Is the Time To Make Real Demands On Environmental Justice Legislation

18 Years After Scathing Criticism By Federal Judge For Ignoring “Environmental InJustice”, NOTHING HAS CHANGED AT NJ DEP

Looking forward to your reply.

PS – I was fighting the Newark and proposed Trenton incinerators (and the work of the NJ Hazardous Waste Siting Commission) from inside DEP – and putting my career and family on the line in the late 1980’s on the grounds of injustice to impacted black communities, so please don’t try to question my motives.

The small group of people that lead NJ’s environmental justice community are nice people, but they have gotten played for many years by cynical and manipulative Democrats, who have talked the talk, but done virtually nothing to put in place enforceable legal protections and very little to improve actual conditions in EJ communities.

It’s too long and ugly a history to rehash in detail here, but let me mention a few milestones and malefactors.

For almost 30 years, there have been several Executive Orders, DEP Administrative Orders, and many self congratulatory press releases from Governors and DEP Commissioners on “environmental equity” (Whitman), which morphed into “Environmental Justice”.

There have been DEP Reports, Advisory Councils, scores of “Stakeholder” meetings, and several conferences, roundtables, symposia, workshops, and events. Lots of talk, no walk. All process, no substance.

There have been all sorts of funding opportunities for various “environmental justice” organizations and their “campaigns” – provided by “liberal” Foundations (Dodge, Fund for NJ, Wm. Penn, et al), polluting corporations (Covanta, PSE&G, et al), cities, counties, US EPA and NJ DEP.

Those funding deals assure that EJ groups don’t step outside the acceptable political limits set in Trenton, or threaten any politician, agency, or corporation. They marginalize the “radicals”. They severely limit the scope of real reforms. They reward the inside game and undermine grassroots activism and local groups.

The EJ groups even hired a retired DEP expert on air pollution – a woman who had no interest in advocating for meaningful regulatory recommendations, which would reveal the fact that she managed the DEP program that, as federal District Court Judge explained in detail, completely ignored environmental justice considerations.

Retired DEP officials who become consultants never air DEP’s dirty laundry.

They were played by DEP Commissioner Brad Campbell in Camden and on regulations.

They were played by DEP Commissioner Lisa Jackson, a black woman, who used native Americans as props at her EPA Senate confirmation hearing.

They were played by Assemblywoman Grace Spencer, another black woman, who worked the Essex County Democratic Machine line (and was rewarded for her loyalty by a judicial appointment).

They were played by Newark Mayor Cory Booker, a black man and now US Senator.

All of theses people made self serving and manipulative promises that never arrived.

This shabby history repeats itself in the current pending legislation.

So, feel free to “cancel” me if you can’t deal with accepting the facts about this terrible compromise legislation and the compromised groups and individuals that are manipulating well meaning people and organizations across the state to support their misguided compromise.

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

Trump, Into The Wild

July 26th, 2020 No comments

From Bauhaus To Bird House

NJ Audubon praised Trump’s “conservation ethic”

Screen-Shot-2017-03-23-at-1.21.58-PM

I got a rise out of this description of Trump in today’s NY Times:

Is there another American president whom it is harder to imagine in the wild? It was important to George W. Bush, a man of Houston and Yale, to forge a political identity that had him connected to the land, so he would chop wood at his ranch in Crawford, Tex., in the 100-degree heat, for reporters to observe. Mountain biking was also a passion. His father liked to fish off the coast of Kennebunkport in Maine on his boat, The Fidelity. Some of the most enduring images of John F. Kennedy are those of him at the helm of a sailboat off Hyannis.

Alternatively, the current president spends his leisure hours either in Palm Beach or a golf club that bears his name, 40 miles west of Manhattan, in Bedminster, N.J.

“Hard to imagine [Trump] in the wild”. What a great line.

But, not so fast.

In a very different view from that same Bedminster NJ golf course, Eric Stiles, the CEO of NJ Audubon Society, once saw things quite differently.

Stiles felt so strongly, he formed a “Partnership” with Trump.

In a colloqui with Trump in a NJ Audubon “Stewardship” publication, Stiles said this about Mr. Trump’s love of wild nature.

Trump expressed pride in his efforts to “expand habitat”:

“I take great pride that the US Fish and Wildlife Service and NJ Audubon recognizes and validates the environmental contribution we have made with the original design of our two world class golf courses in Bedminster. They currently provide for over 200 acres of habitat for indigenous and migratory grassland birds. With this partnership we look forward to their professional guidance in further improving and expanding the habitat at this wonderful property.” said course owner Donald J Trump.

In like fashion, Eric Stiles of NJ Audubon praised Trump’s “outstanding commitment to sustaining native wildlife populations” and “conservation ethic”:

“Trump National is demonstrating an outstanding commitment to sustaining native wildlife populations.” said Eric Stiles, President for New Jersey Audubon. “They are solidifying a symbiotic relationship with the surrounding community to foster environmental awareness and a conservation ethic while enhancing wildlife and natural systems in New Jersey.”

Imagine that!

Trump has an “outstanding commitment to sustaining native wildlife populations”.

Who knew?

We’re not making this up. It’s not Fake News. Here is Documentation. Here is more links to documentation.

Stiles’s organization took a lot of money from Mr. Trump (in the six figures) – very likely significantly more than Trump paid in whore hush money.

So, what does that make Mr. Stiles and NJ Audubon?

Should we just call him “Stormy Stiles”?

We’re still waiting for a public repudiation of  and published apology for this fraudulent “partnership” (which we were told is no longer in effect, but we have no way to document that).

“Stormy” Stiles needs to come clean.

[End Note: My subtitle (Bauhaus…) was an alliterative allusion to Tom Wolfe’s book on modern architecture, which I enjoyed. It was not intended to suggest a serious or coherent policy argument.

But, for the design/architectural folks out there, Trump is engaged in a real debate about design and architecture. Coincidentally, my Wolfe allusion turns out to be an apt depiction of that much larger debate, in that Wolfe criticized elites and modernist architecture, an aesthetic and politics that Trump seems to be echoing.

Ironically, I’m with the Trump imposed classical style.]

Categories: Uncategorized Tags: