Archive for January, 2009

Dow Jones Jumps on Jackson Confirmation

January 13th, 2009 10 comments

Significant new angles on Jackson’s record coming out

“Her commitment to developing cleanup standards based on science and not politics turned out to be empty… She’s exceeded even the irresponsibility of some of her predecessors” ~~~ Joe Morris, Interfaith Community Organization, Jersey City, the group that successfully sued Honeywell

In a money story that missed the money quote, today’s Dow Jones reports on the Lisa Jackson EPA confirmation story:

Faulted By Environmentalists, EPA Nominee Has Fans In US Senate
Dow Jones
January 13, 2009: 08:15 AM ET
WASHINGTON -(Dow Jones)-
New Jersey environmentalists are divided over Lisa Jackson, a chemical engineer and former EPA employee who went on to lead the state’s Department of Environmental Protection. New Jersey has more long-festering hazardous-waste sites than any other state. To some people, Jackson failed to rise to that challenge, by delaying and through steps that favored companies.

There are at least three significant new angles in the Dow Jones story, but surprisingly, Dow missed the real money behind the chromium controversy they reported on:

First, one of Jackson’s “friends” in the Senate is Republican Senator Inhofe, who is known as one of the worst globbal warming deniers. Here’s just one of many Inhofe attacks:
Yesterday, Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) attacked Al Gore and global warming science, claiming that Gore was “full of crap” on global warming.”

Second, Senate Democrats now defend Jackson as merely an improvement on the Bush EPA hack, Stephen Johnson, who has presided over some of the worst times in EPA’s history. This is a pathetically low performance benchmark and a far cry from all the hyper spun praise Jackson has won from some NJ environmental lobbyists.

“Democrats say that she will surely be an improvement on the Bush administration’s top environmental regulator, Stephen Johnson.”

Third, to their credit, Dow is the first national media outlet to cover Jackson’s record on toxic chromium, but the they missed the huge money and scientific fraud story that Jackson has swept under the rug. Dow correctly reported:

“One controversy involves Jackson’s handling of chromium, a carcinogen that built up in the state as factories began to give away the waste to use as construction fill. By the time Jackson became the top environmental regulator in 2006, a community group had successfully sued Honeywell International Inc. (HON) over one such contaminated site. The company was forced to do a thorough cleanup of the soil rather than simply capping it.

Toughening, then Loosening a Standard

Jackson in early 2007 responded in two ways. She reinstated a practice of giving final approval to cleanups, the type of certainty that polluters seek. But she also issued a tough new standard for removing chromium from sites to be developed for homes or schools. Under the new standard, hexavalent chromium could make up no more than 20 parts per million of soil. That cheered environmentalists — temporarily.

In September 2008, as she was leaving the agency, Jackson reversed course and reaffirmed the old standard of 240 parts per million of hexavalent chromium. She acted even after a long-awaited National Toxicology Program report found that the waste was more damaging than previously thought.

“Her commitment to developing cleanup standards based on science and not politics turned out to be empty,” said Joe Morris, an organizer with the Interfaith Community Organization, the group that sued Honeywell. “She’s exceeded even the irresponsibility of some of her predecessors here.

What the Dow left out of the chromium story was how the chromium standard was relaxed and who benefitted economically from that.

The Wall Street Journal broke the story of scientific fraud in the science of chromium. The WSJ article appeared on page 1 and was titled:

  • “Study tied pollutant to cancer; then consultant got a hold of it” (December 23, 2005, page 1) by P. Waldman. (sorry, no link, subscription service)

Scientific fraud on chromium had been covered in NJ by the Star Ledger:

  • Weakened rules a boon to 3 polluters: Work of scientists paid by the firms viewed skeptically by other experts” (March 7, 2004) by Alex Lane. (sorry link is stale).

The chromium fraud story is discussed in the recent outstanding book:

  • Doubt is their Product – How Industry’s Assault on Science Threatens Your Health” by David Michaels, a scientists, current professor at George Washington University and a former Assistant Administrator in the Clinton Department of Energy.

The perpetrator of the scientific fraud, a Dr. Paustenbach and his colleagues at a firm called ChemRisk, openly bragged in the WSJ article about saving polluters hundreds of millions of dollars in cleanup costs in NJ.

All this was craftily swept under the rug – worse, Jackson has proposed to privatize the DEP cleanup program, allowing such fraud and corporate consultants to drive the NJ toxic site cleanup program.

Now that is a record that should be probed in a Senate confirmation hearing.

Let’s hope that some bold Senator steps up to the plate. But don’t count on it.

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Soldier for Obama? Or Environmental Regulator?

January 11th, 2009 6 comments

“We needed someone who was going to fight for environmental policies based on sound science. What we got was a soldier for Corzine.
~~~ Bob Spiegel, Edison Wetlands Association, in today’s Star Ledger
Does Lisa Jackson have the strength to stand up to political and economic pressure? To defend the independence of EPA and the integrity of science? To fight for strong policies and enforce environmental laws? Or will her first loyalty be a personal one to President Obama, as it was to Governor Corzine?
Today’s Star Ledger weighs in with a telling focus –

Sierra Club applauds Governor Corzine’s signing of the Global Warming Response Act, July 2007

Read more…

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Living on Earth covers Lisa Jackson debate

January 10th, 2009 6 comments

Public radio’s highly respected environmental news program “Living on Earth“, this week featured the debate over Lisa Jackson’s NJ record:
“Jackson’s Job in Jersey” Listen to the radio show here:
mp3 is here:

Read more…

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Ten Questions the Senate Should Ask Lisa Jackson

January 8th, 2009 4 comments
Lisa Jackson, former Commissioner of the NJ Department of Environmental Protection.

The US Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will hold a confirmation hearing on Lisa Jackson as US EPA Administrator next week.

Below are 10 questions Senators should ask about Jackson’s record in NJ, prepared by our Washington DC friends at Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). Full documentation to support the facts in the questions can be found as links to this press release – scroll down to read the questions. PEER is making the named DEP employee sources available to media for interviews):

TEN QUESTIONS THE SENATE SHOULD ASK LISA JACKSON — Committee Urged to Scrutinize Jackson’s Actions and Decisions in New Jersey

Read more…

Why Lisa Jackson Should Not Run EPA

January 7th, 2009 No comments


Lisa Jackson testifies at Senate confirmation hearing

Lisa Jackson testifies at her Senate confirmation hearing 


Disastrous Record in New Jersey Bodes Ill for Reforming EPA

Washington, DC –

The track record compiled by Lisa P. Jackson as Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection should disqualify her from serving as the next head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, says Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). In many instances, Jackson embraced policies at DEP echoing the very practices at the Bush EPA which Senator Barack Obama condemned during the presidential campaign.

DEP employees describe Ms. Jackson as employing a highly politicized approach to decision-making that resulted in suppression of scientific information, issuance of gag orders and threats against professional staff members who dared to voice concerns. These reports raise troubling questions about her fitness to run an agency of much greater size and complexity. Among concerns PEER points to are:

  • Cases in which public health was endangered due to DEP malfeasance, including one case involving a day-care center in a former thermometer factory in which DEP failed to warn parents or workers for months about mercury contamination;
  • Rising levels of water pollution, contamination of drinking water supplies and poisoning of wildlife with no cogent state response; and
  • The state hazardous waste clean-up program under Ms. Jackson was so mismanaged that the Bush EPA had to step in and assume control of several Superfund sites.

“While Ms. Jackson has a compelling biography, little of what occurred during her 31-month tenure commends her for promotion,” stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch. “Under her watch, New Jersey’s environment only got dirtier, incredible as that may seem.”

In one of her first acts, Jackson appointed the lobbyist for the New Jersey Builders Association as her Assistant Commissioner to oversee critical water quality and land use permits. Jackson later convened an industry-dominated task force to rewrite DEP policies and relaxed pollution enforcement through policies more business-friendly than those under Gov. Christie Whitman. Relying on closed-door deal-making with regulated industry executives and lobbyists, Ms. Jackson produced decisions, such as:

  • Invoking executive privilege to block a request filed by PEER under the state Open Public Records Act for a copy of her schedule and sign-in logs;
  • Pushing to privatize pollution control through outsourcing of toxic clean-ups to industry;
  • Abolishing the DEP Division of Science & Research after it produced damning reports on continuing contamination following state-supervised clean-ups.

“In our experience, Lisa Jackson is cut out of the same professional cloth as the current administrator, Stephen Johnson, a pliant technocrat who will follow orders,” Ruch added. “If past is prologue, one cannot reasonably expect meaningful change if she is appointed to lead EPA.”
The one area where Ms. Jackson claims national leadership is the state climate change program but PEER contends that examination of her record yields paltry results:

  • DEP failed to meet its first major statutory milestone in implementing the emission reduction goals of the highly touted Global Warming Response Act. A June 30th legal deadline for producing a plan identifying the legislative and regulatory measures necessary to reduce greenhouse gas emissions still has not been met. At the same time, Ms. Jackson supported and Gov. Jon Corzine signed “The Permit Extension Act”which exempts thousands of projects from any new energy conservation, efficiency or requirements for solar heating or renewable energy;
  • New Jersey missed the historic first auction of greenhouse gas pollution allowances under the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, or RGGI, this September because DEP was unable to adopt regulations to implement the pollution trading program that underpinned the auction; and
  • Jackson proposed a cap-and-trade program to reduce carbon dioxide emissions that will do little to combat global warming because it sets emissions caps above current levels and contains numerous complex offsets and loopholes that undercut its effectiveness.

“Given what actually transpired in New Jersey, putting Ms. Jackson in a key position for guiding a national global warming effort would be imprudent,” Ruch concluded. “The Obama transition should take a little more time to find the right choice for this critical job.”


Read the PEER letter to President-elect Obama opposing Jackson

Look at a menu of eco-fiascos under Ms. Jackson