We’re All Busking In St. Martins Lane Now

January 28th, 2023 No comments

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Watch the classic movie (1938), featuring a young and gorgeous Vivien Leigh.

How prescient that film was, no?

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Clean Ocean Action – A Legacy Of Protecting Whales

January 28th, 2023 No comments

Cindy Zipf Does Her Thing

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Cindy also supported Christie Whitman’s EPA confirmation, after 8 years of her environmental budget cuts, deregulation, privatization, and regulatory rollbacks in NJ: (see page 154, Senate hearing transcript)

PS – Cindy was not asked to testify.

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Murphy DEP’s Scheme To Use Environmental Groups To Manipulate Media and Public Opinion Is Exposed By Toms River BASF Deal

January 28th, 2023 No comments

Sierra Club And NJ Audubon Were Quoted In Support Of Deal In DEP Press Release

The Toms River Community Was Not Fooled And Blasted The Deal

Murphy DEP Commissioner Shawn Latourette repeatedly has used environmental groups to provide green cover and politically support Gov. Murphy’s policies and DEP initiatives.

Because environmental laws, regulations, and science are complex, if a DEP Commissioner is willing to do it – and environmental groups are willing to let him get away with it – it’s very easy to manipulate the media and public opinion.

I recently ran into that cynical game in the Pinelands, where the PPA and NJCF supported DEP’s logging scheme.

That game has been used multiple times to dupe the press and the public, most recently when Doug O’Malley (Environment NJ) and Anjuli Matos (Sierra Club) supported Gov. Murphy’s abandonment of the Energy Master Plan.

But that cynical strategy was exposed and blown up in Toms River.

As we recently revealed, the Friday before the DEP BASF Toms River settlement deal was announced to the public, DEP held a secret meeting with environmental groups to brief them and seek their support, see:

That secret meeting resulted in a Monday DEP press release, where DEP quoted environmental leaders supporting the plan:

New Jersey Audubon enthusiastically supports this use of Natural Resources Damages to create forests and parks in Toms River. … NJDEP and BASF have worked together to clean up and restore a contaminated area for residents to enjoy. This project is particularly significant in that the funding is going directly back to the community that experienced the damages from contamination. said Alex Ireland, President and CEO of New Jersey Audubon.

“The Ciba Geigy historic settlement is great news for open space and preservation in Toms River,” said Taylor McFarland, Conservation Manager for the Sierra Club, New Jersey Chapter. “More importantly, it is a step in the right direction for the people who have been suffering from the contamination of The Ciba-Geigy Superfund Site for decades. ~~~ DEP Press Release 12/5/22

These people’s credibility is shot. (And Audubon has done no work on DEP’s toxic site cleanup program issues or at the Ciba Geigy site. Neither has Ms. McFarland of Sierra Club, who’s comments were a complete reversal in Sierra’s longtime real work there. The fact that Commissioner LaTourette used these people reveals his ignorance as well.)

And there is a huge crack in the facade of the DEP PR machine.

The people of Toms River and the Toms River Mayor and Council were not buying that DEP PR bullshit.

They were shut out of and blindsided by the DEP deal and – contrary to the spin of the Trenton environmental groups – they don’t think it’s remotely acceptable compensation or restoration of the harms from the Ciba Geigy site.

The Mayor and Council adopted a Resolution opposing the plan and the Toms River community vehemently opposed the deal at a public hearing last Thursday night.

Associated Press reporter Wayne Parry got the community opposition aspects of the story exactly right: (but he let DEP Commissioner LaTourette mislead again about NRD legal and economic issues. I’ve written about that previously so will not here. Hit the link and read the whole story)

So, let’s hope that the Toms River episode exposes the rancid schemes of Murphy DEP Commissioner LaTourette and his faux green sycophants.

Let’s hope the NJ media reporters now see what’s going on and stop taking DEP and green groups statements at face value and regurgitation DEP and green groups spin.

What’s left of their credibility is shot.

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Make No Mistake, LaTourette Is Lying (Again)

January 27th, 2023 No comments

Murphy DEP Commissioner Denies DEP’s Legal Covenant Not To Sue Chemical Giant BASF

Toms River Community Hammers Murphy DEP

8. The Department fully and forever releases, covenants not to sue, and not to otherwise take administrative action against BASF and its corporate officers, directors, employees, predecessors, parents, successors, and subsidiaries, for any and all of the Department’s causes of actions for Natural Resource Damages arising from discharges at or from the Site. ~~~  DEP – BASF Settlement Agreement

[Update – Letter to LaTourette Below]

As I predicted, the Murphy DEP got hammered by the people of Toms River last night, who blasted DEP for failure to consult with them before cutting a secret and dirty deal with corporate polluter BASF at the Ciba Geigy Superfund site.

We documented and explained the 10 biggest substantive flaws in the deal in this post:

We blasted the DEP’s failure to consult with the community:

We exposed DEP’s disgusting political campaign to sell it to the public and media:

And we blasted Commissioner LaTourette’s clueless lack of empathy for the community and victims of the childhood cancer cluster, and for his denial of the childhood cancer cluster (which the media continue to deny and fail to acknowledge actually occurred. For example, today’s NJ Spotlight story alludes to the childhood cancer cluster by reference to a prior $13 million legal settlement for cancer):

Read the NJ DoH Report:

“The study found that prenatal exposure to two environmental factors in the past were associated with increased risk of leukemia in female children. These exposures were: 1) access to drinking water from the Parkway well field after the time that the well field was most likely to be contaminated, and 2) air pollutant emissions from the Ciba-Geigy chemical manufacturing plant.”

[Update: 1/28/23 – Wayne Parry’s AP story get the cancer cluster.]

If LaTourette wants to brag about anything, he should brag about the DEP laboratory chemists who isolated and identified the unregulated chemicals that caused the cancer cluster. But he doesn’t want to talk about unregulated chemicals, because the public would be outraged to learn of that and his friends in the chemical industry and big Pharma would have his head on a platter.

So, of course, we were not surprised that the Toms River community was outraged.

Watch the NJ Spotlight video of some of the community’s testimony.

But I was appalled to hear Murphy DEP Commissioner LaTourette flat out lie – not spin, lie – when he said this: (starting at time 2:20)

Make no mistake, nobody’s off the hook.

If he said that to a judge in a Court of law, he could be disbarred.

BASF is legally off the hook

The DEP settlement includes a very broadly worded “release” and “covenant not to sue” – in perpetuity (as forever).

DEP would provide BASF with a release and covenant not to sue, in perpetuity (See also Appendix A):

8. The Department fully and forever releases, covenants not to sue, and not to otherwise take administrative action against BASF and its corporate officers, directors, employees, predecessors, parents, successors, and subsidiaries, for any and all of the Department’s causes of actions for Natural Resource Damages arising from discharges at or from the Site.

For a DEP Commissioner to look the media and the public straight in the eye and flat out lie is grounds for firing. Period.

We again call on Gov. Murphy to fire his ass.

[Update: I just sent the below letter to Commissioner LaTourette with copies to Legislative leaders and media:

Dear Commissioner LaTourette:

I just watched NJ Spotlight video of your remarks regarding the Department’s proposed Natural Resource Damage settlement with BASF at the former Ciba Geigy Toms River Superfund site.

You claimed that BSF was not “off the hook”. You said (about time 2:30):

“Make no mistake, nobody’s off the hook”.

As you know, the DEP settlement includes a very broadly worded “covenant not to sue” – in perpetuity (as “forever”). A CNS legally lets BASF “off the hook”.

DEP would provide BASF with a broad covenant not to sue, in perpetuity (See also Appendix A):

“8. The Department fully and forever releases, covenants not to sue, and not to otherwise take administrative action against BASF and its corporate officers, directors, employees, predecessors, parents, successors, and subsidiaries, for any and all of the Department’s causes of actions for Natural Resource Damages arising from discharges at or from the Site.”

For a DEP Commissioner to look the media and the public straight in the eye and flat out lie is grounds for firing. Period. If that false statement were made in a court of law, it could be grounds for disbarment

This is not some minor disagreement about political spin and media commentary. Th CNS is a core legal pillar of the settlement. You are a licensed lawyer.

I demand that you correct the public record for you false statements to NJ Spotlight, apologize to the people of Toms River, and resign,

Bill Wolfe

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There Is No Line Of Murphy DEP BS That Jon Hurdle And NJ Spotlight Won’t Print

January 24th, 2023 No comments

Public Duped (Again) About Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) Permits

DEP’s False Narrative Of “First Ever” Uncritically Parroted And Transcribed

“In an effort to prevent raw sewage from spilling into New Jersey’s waterways, the state is beginning to require sewer plants to plan for 500-year storms and to prepare for extended outages of up to 14 days.” (NJ Spotlight, 9/17/14)

DEP is actually going backwards on climate adaptation and protection of water resources.

As just one example, see the above quote, which illustrates that DEP was incorporating the 500 year climate driven storm and flood in permits almost a decade ago. Yet current DEP proposed inland flood rules and draft CSO permits do not mandate the 500 year storm.

Do NJ Spotlight reporters and editors read their own reporting?

Ignoring all that, NJ Spotlight today published another puff piece by Jon Hurdle on the public hearing for DEP’s recently proposed combined sewer overflow permits, see:

Of course the public welcomes that, but the public doesn’t know how to read draft DEP permits and regulations, so they are unaware that they have been duped, again.

They have not only been duped, they are parroting DEP talking points:

“It was so gross. I am so grateful that we have been granted the first opportunity … to fix our destitute sewer systems.”

This nonsense about “the first” is a false narrative manufactured by DEP to create the false appearance of leadership and it comes directly from DEP’s December 13, 2022 press release. I exposed that sham in this post:

And once again, NJ Future actively misleads the public (or they haven’t read or understood the draft permits, especially in light of DEP’s recent “variance” loophole proposal and the fatal flaws in DEP’s inland flood rule proposal: (NJ Spotlight)

“We are happy to see that the facility floodproofing plan is based on sea-level rise data,” said Patricia Dunkak of the nonprofit New Jersey Future, in one of a series of five-minute speeches.

But she asked: “How will DEP incorporate NJ PACT rules into this permit and future permits? Will future hydrologic modeling be updated based on precipitation data and modeling?”

By law, everything DEP does must be “based on data”. The critical issue is WHAT DATA?  And to meet WHAT STANDARD?

DEP did not use current rainfall data (or “design storm” statistics) or climate science based projected sea level rise, rainfall, or flooding data – not even the 500 year storm, which already has been exceeded multiple times.

How could Ms. Dunkak not know the answer to her question? Did she read the draft permit? Did she read the DEP’s proposed inland flood rules?

And once again, environmental groups – and NRDC does read permits and regulations, or at least they used to – pull punches and provide cover:

For low-income communities served by utilities that are facing the major costs of upgrading their infrastructure, the Environmental Protection Agency provides affordability guidelines that propose more time for those utilities to meet permit requirements. But it is unclear for now whether New Jersey will follow the federal guidelines, argued Larry Levine, Director of Urban Water Infrastructure at the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Note the mention of the US EPA and not NJ DEP – this is done for a dishonest reason.

It masks DEP’s recently proposed “variance” loophole. NRDC knows this and so does Jon Hurdle.

It is correct that the EPA Clean Water Act rules provide a “variance”, but this permit is issued by the NJDEP under State water pollution control rules, which historically have been far more stringent than federal minimums.

The Murphy DEP just weakened that historic policy in their “variance” loophole – this is the same as Christie Whitman’s “federal consistency” rollback policy initially adopted in Executive Order #27.

That Order not only sought to roll back more stringent NJ State environmental regulations to federal minimums, it also for the first time mandated “cost-benefit analysis” in rulemaking.

The DEP “variance” loophole implements both Whitman rollback policies: federal consistency and cost based considerations. The CSO permits combine and expose those rollback policies.

Here is how NRDC misleads the public about that:

“As these draft permits start to come out, we are going to see how the state is responding — whether they are going to propose permits that give these cities as long as they want, or whether the state says you can’t have 20 or 30 years,” Levine said. “You have got to do this faster, and we are putting the onus on you to figure that out. “

The DEP will have to balance its responsibility for ensuring sewage-free streets with an assessment of the ability of a community to pay within a certain time, Levine said.

What absolute bullshit.

Did Mr. Levine read the draft permit and the DEP’s proposed “variance” rule? Why is he asking questions instead of making fact based criticisms?

And I won’t even bother with the spin about environmental justice.

I sent reporter Jon Hurdle this note to expose this misleading reporting:

Jon – 4 points:

1. What’s going on here? Did you read prior NJ Spotlight stories, include one you recently wrote?

If you OPPOSE DEP, you get 2 minutes to comment:

“You can’t have any grandfathering, you can’t have any compromises with the fossil-fuel and transportation industries,” Riss said, in one of a series of two-minute speeches. “

https://www.njspotlightnews.org/2023/01/inland-flood-protection-rule-dep-njbia-tropical-storm-ida-richard-onderko-hurricane-floyd/

If you SUPPORT DEP, you get 5 minutes to comment:

“We are happy to see that the facility floodproofing plan is based on sea-level rise data,” said Patricia Dunkak of the nonprofit New Jersey Future, in one of a series of five-minute speeches.

https://www.njspotlightnews.org/2023/01/combined-sewer-overflow-cso-north-bergen-township-hudson-county-woodcliff-sewer-treatment-plant-north-bergen-municipal-utility-authority-nbmua-department-of-environmental-protection-natural-resource/

2. Ask NRDC for comments on DEP’s “variance” proposal and how it would apply to these CSO permits (and the DRBC water quality standards upgrade).

3. Ask NJ Future about the 500 year design storm – Tom Johnson wrote about that:

“In an effort to prevent raw sewage from spilling into New Jersey’s waterways, the state is beginning to require sewer plants to plan for 500-year storms and to prepare for extended outages of up to 14 days.”

https://www.njspotlightnews.org/2014/09/14-09-16-state-wants-sewer-plants-to-plan-for-500-year-storms-extended-outages/

The inland flood rules have the same fatal flaw which will result in under-designed and obsolete infrastructure systems.

The US army Corps of Engineers just admitted that failure and the waste of $14 billion in New Orleans.

4. There was no “first” here. As I wrote just yesterday, that’s a false narrative:

http://www.wolfenotes.com/2023/01/nj-climate-activists-have-zero-credibility-and-no-spine/

“DEP was again touting their program as “the first ever” (remember that CSO press release?), and trying to manufacture a false narrative of leadership and policy innovation.

But what DEP actually did here was to recycle and rebrand a 15 year old law and take credit for it!

There was no “first ever” and policy leadership in DEP’s press release/event in Trenton last week (and it was not a “ceremony”, the ridiculous term used by Jon Hurdle).

DEP merely repackaged and rebranded a carbon sequestration program created way back in 2007, under the Global Warming Solutions Fund Act, see P.L 2007, c.340:

“(4) Ten percent shall be allocated to the department to support programs that enhance the stewardship and restoration of the State’s forests and tidal marshes that provide important opportunities to sequester or reduce greenhouse gases.”

I’ve documented all this multiple times recently.

Do better.

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