Archive for December, 2009

EPA Proposed Global Warming Rule Would Protect Polluters by Locking in Loopholes

December 21st, 2009 No comments

EPA recently proposed a new rule, known in beltway policy wonk circles as the “Greenhouse Gas Tailoring Rule” (Proposed Rule (PDF) purportedly to regulate major green house gas polluters, like coal power plants, refineries, and cement manufacturing.

The EPA proposal is opposed by industry, supported by national environmental groups, and has won media praise.

But instead of tough new regulations needed to steeply reduce current emissions, the rule actually would lock EPA into huge loopholes that protect existing polluters from regulation and pollution emission fees.

The loopholes were created by Congress, acting at the behest of polluters, in the 1970 Clean Air Act. The Act grandfathered existing coal power plants from strict new pollution control technology requirements. They apply only to new sources or major modifications that significantly increase emissions at existing sources. see: THE CLEAN AIR ACT LOOPHOLE

The Clinton Administration EPA tried to limit the damage caused by this loophole under the so called “New Source Review” enforcement program. EPA has tried to enforce NSR requirements on maintenance and upgrades at aging power plants that would create “significant” new emissions. But this EPA enforcement program has severe inherent weaknesses. It has spawned litigation and was abandoned by the Bush Administration. Eric Schaeffer, head of EPA air enforcement then resigned in protest.

While NSR enforcement has been extremely controversial, there is almost a consensus among environmental groups, industry, and the legal community that the NSR enforcement program as it is applied to existing sources is – at best – troubling and ineffective.There are more effective regulatory approaches to directly impose more stringent emission reduction requirements on existing sources.

But virtually everyone agrees that the original 1970 grandfathering loophole for existing coal power plants was a huge mistake and, if we could do it all over again, would not be repeated.

So, 39 years later, why is EPA taking the initiative to replicate this massive historical mistake in their new green house gas regulations at hundreds of existing dirty coal power plants?

According to EPA’s own rule summary:

Under the Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) portion of NSR – which is a permit program designed to minimize emissions from new sources and existing sources making major modifications – EPA is proposing a:

  1. Major stationary source threshold of 25,000 tpy CO2e. This threshold level would be used to determine if a new facility or a major modification at an existing facility would trigger PSD permitting requirements.
  2. Significance level between 10,000 and 25,000 tpy CO2e. Existing major sources making modifications that result in an increase of emissions above the significance level would be required to obtain a PSD permit. EPA is requesting comment on a range of values in this proposal, with the intent of selecting a single value for the GHG significance level.

One other current regulatory means to effectively close this loophole is via the so called Title V Operating Permit program. Under that program, major pollution sources are required to install the “best available control technology” or BACT to control pollution emissions.

While EPA is silent about NSR loopholes and lack of enforceability, in the fine print at the end, EPA does openly acknowledges the lack of any substance to the program created under the proposal:

Although EPA has not yet identified specific source categories, the Agency plans to develop sector- and source-specific guidance that would help permitting authorities and affected sources better understand GHG emissions for the selected source categories, methods for estimating those emissions, control strategies for GHG emissions, and available GHG measurement and monitoring techniques.

…. It is important to remember that a title V permit does not add new requirements for pollution control itself, but rather collects all of a facility’s applicable requirements under the CAA in one permit. Therefore, the compliance benefits above are less when title V permits contains few or no CAA applicable requirements.

EPA’s proposed Title V approach can not work because:

1. there are no national ambient air quality standards for GHGs that can be enforced during the Title V permit review process;

2. there is no BACT for GHG to be imposed in Title V permits. This virtually guarantees that existing sources will continue to emit GHG at current levels;

3. EPA’s proposed approach relies on EPA guidance and even delays the development of such guidance for at least 6 years;

4. EPA’s proposal failed to use market forces to reduce emissions via imposition of stiff pollution emissions fees. When polluters are forced to pay, emission fees have been shown to dramatically reduce emissions of other pollutants;

5. contrary to the 1990 “cap and trade” acid rain program approach that has worked to cost effectively reduce emissions of SOX from coal power plants, EPA does not propose mandatory, source specific, emissions reductions and an enforceable timetable to meet those emission reductions.

The EPA proposal seems to anticipate the “market based” approach of current legislation pending before Congress (Waxman-Markey) – which is supported by EPA Administrator Jackson and President Obama.

The Waxman-Markey bill would repeal EPA’s existing authority to regulate GHG emissions, while the EPA rule proposal would surrender regulatory authority even BEFORE a market based program is authorized by Congress. At a minimum, EPA regulatory authority is required to back stop a market based cap and trade program, such that EPA can step in when that program fails. Regulatory authority also can provide the leverage – or incentives – for polluters to participate in a market program. The US Climate Network, a coalition of national environmental groups, has recognized the problem, especially at dirty old coal power plants that emit about 1/3 of US GHG pollution:

… the climate bill should preserve Clean Air Act authorities or create equivalent provisions to control global warming pollution from coal plants.  Right now, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has the tools to help clean up our electric sector in time to meet the ACES’  mid-term reduction goals.  But the ACES strips EPA of its Clean Air Act authority to set basic performance standards and require emissions reductions that are currently achievable.  The bill does not require our existing fleet of dirty coal plants to meet reasonable emissions standards.  With the benefit of low carbon costs and offsets, these coal plants will be able to keep on running, even ramping up carbon dioxide emissions, for the foreseeable future.  As a result, we will depend on the same fleet for nearly half of our power in 2030.  At that point, it will be difficult, if not impossible, to achieve the steep emissions cuts we must have to avoid the worst expected effects of global warming. (see:


The only reason I can discern to explain all these loopholes is a covert attempt by EPA to protect the polluters, while creating the misleading public impression that they are being stringently regulated. The proposal could have been written by the coal industry to guarantee continued operation at status quo levels.

This proposed rule is a major strategic mistake. It would lock in regulations that would shield major polluters from enforcement of new regulations mandating emissions reductions.

The comment period expires on December 28, 2009.


  • EPA will accept comment on the proposal for 60 days after publication in the Federal Register.  Comments, identified by Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2009-0517, may be submitted by one of the following methods:
    • Follow the online instructions for submitting comments.
    • E-mail: Comments may be sent by electronic mail (e-mail) to
    • Fax: Fax your comments to:  (202) 566-9744.
    • Mail: Send your comments to: EPA Docket Center, EPA West (Air Docket), Attention Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2009-0517, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Mailcode: 2822T, 1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20460.
    • Hand Delivery or Courier: Deliver your comments to: .S. Environmental Protection Agency, EPA West (Air Docket), 1301 Constitution Avenue, Northwest, Room 3334, Washington, DC 20004, Attention Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2009-0517.  Such deliveries are only accepted during the Docket’s normal hours of operation, and special arrangements should be made for deliveries of boxed information

I urge folks to comment and ask EPA to withdraw this proposal. Contact your Congressional representative as well.

And ask those beltway environmental groups why on earth they support this tragic failure that repeats mistakes of the past.

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EPA Releases “First Ever” National Lake Study – NJ Lakes Far Worse Off

December 18th, 2009 No comments
this is what eutrophication looks like

this is what eutrophication looks like

In an attempt to generate a focus on the poor and declining ecological health of NJ’s lakes and the failure of DEP to use existing regulatory tools to protect and restore lake water quality, back in September, we wrote: Our Lakes are Dying – Ten Years After Critical EPA Audit, DEP Fails to Act.

We wrote:

Ten YEARS ago, an EPA Inspector General Audit Report found major deficiencies in DEP Lakes Management Programs, as well as failed EPA oversight of NJDEP’s compliance with Clean Water Act requirements. An entire Chapter of that EPA IG Report was titled Lakes Need More Attention. The EPA IG Audit made scathingly negative criticisms of DEP and found:

“New Jersey has inadequate monitoring and assessment of lake conditions in the State.

More than two-thirds of the public lakes have not been tested and more than 97 percent of those tested were found to be eutrophic. The limited attention to lakes has occurred for several reasons: (1) the State has concentrated many of its monitoring and assessment resources on coastal waters and rivers; (2) EPA has provided less funds; and (3) EPA guidance has been less intensive for lakes. As a result, New Jersey lakes were found to be in poor condition and there was no assurance that lake water quality issues will be adequately addressed.

NJDEP needs to develop and implement a plan to assess and report the status and trends of all publicly owned lakes.

[EPA] Region (2) needs to periodically review and monitor the State’s 10-year total maximum daily load schedule to assure that planned actions are being met and commitments are being achieved.

While the State’s shell fishing and beach monitoring activities improved, other water bodies including lakes and ponds, have suffered. Chapter 4 provides more detail on how the assignment of a lower priority has affected the State’s lakes.”

Ten years later, NONE of those EPA and DEP problems have been fully corrected.

Today, according to an EPA press release, we learn that US EPA has released the “First Ever Baseline Study of US Lakes” (released just in time for ice fishing!)

Unfortunately, the EPA Report does not provide state specific lists of lakes – so it is not possible to find out how specific NJ lakes are doing.

However, a quick review of the findings reveals that the Nation’s lakes are not doing so well. But NJ’s lakes are doing far worse than national conditions (see: DEP “NJ Ambient Lake Monitoring Network”.

Greenwood Lake, NY/NJ border

While this new EPA Report documents troubling water quality and ecological conditions of the nation’s lakes, it deviates from the regulatory assessment and national reporting formats required under Section 303 and 305 of the Clean Water Act. Those provisions are designed to hold EPA accountable, empower citizens, inform Congress of the conditions of the nation’s waters, and document if states are meeting the goals of the Clean Water Act. By decoupling science from regulation, EPA frustrates efforts to restore lake resources and enforce the Clean Water Act, exactly the opposite of Congressional intent.

EPA’s analysis aggregates and formats the data in a way to make it impossible to identify local lakes. The Report  presents findings in a way that simplifies water quality and ecological  indicators to stress the good news (e.g. by reporting good versus poor conditions). These indicators are not linked to regulatory standards and criteria for legal “impairment” under the Clean Water Act, thus the report fails to identify the mechanisms to protect and restore the water quality and health of our lakes.

The Report fails to provide regulatory information, yet it makes conclusions regarding regulatory performance. By failing to provide the regulatory status (ie. “impairment”) of the nation’s lakes, the Report frustrates accountability and undermines true transparency and accountability.

According to EPA, the key findings are:

Biological Quality – 56% of the nation’s lakes are in good biological condition.

Lake Physical Habitat – Of the stressors included in the NLA, poor lakeshore habitat is the biggest problem in the nation’s lakes; over one-third exhibit poor shoreline condition. Poor biological health is three times more likely in lakes with poor lakeshore habitat

Nutrients – About 20% of lakes in the U.S. have high levels of phosphorus and nitrogen. High nutrient levels are the second biggest problem in lakes. Lakes with excess nutrients are two-and-a half-times more likely to have poor biological health

Algal Toxins – The NLA conducted the first-ever national study of algal toxins in lakes. Microcystin – a toxin that can harm humans, pets, and wildlife – was found to be present in about one-third of lakes and at levels of concern in 1% of lakes.

Fish Tissue Contaminants – A parallel study on fish tissue shows that mercury concentrations in game fish exceed health based limits in about half of lakes (49%); polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) at potential levels of concern are found in 17% of the lakes.

Trophic Condition – The NLA establishes the first nationally consistent baseline of trophic status. Over 36% of the nation’s lakes are mesotrophic, based on chlorophyll-a concentrations.

Changes in Trophic Condition – When compared to a subset of wastewater-impacted lakes 35 years ago, trophic status improved in one-quarter (26%) of those lakes (Figure ES-3). This indicates that investments in wastewater pollution control are working

We will be looking more closely at this EPA Report and comparing it to NJ lake data. More to follow.

Closing note: EPA put the big CYA caveat right up front:

This document contains information relating to water quality assessment. It does not substitute for the Clean Water Act or EPA regulations, nor is it a regulation itself. Thus, it cannot impose legally binding requirements on EPA, States, authorized Tribes or the regulated community, and it may not apply to a particular situation or circumstance.

Obviously not NJ - guess location for 50 points

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Dupont & DEP Hammered by Angry Residents for Failure to Cleanup Toxic Nightmare Linked to Cancer Cluster

December 16th, 2009 8 comments
cancer survivoir demands action on cleanup and community-wide health investigation

cancer survivor demands action on cleanup and community-wide health investigation

[Update below]

About 500 concerned – and rightfully angry – residents turned out at a public meeting last night to demand that their community be cleaned up; that multi-billion dollar corporate polluter Dupont be held accountable; and that the NJ Department of Environmental Protection be fired for their incompetent – at best – years of failure to enforce cleanup by Dupont.

The meeting was held to present recent findings by the NJ Department of Health and Senior Services. DHSS found statistically significant elevated rates of bladder cancers in women and lymphoma in men that live on top of the toxic groundwater plume caused by Dupont’s chemical dumping. See: ANALYSIS OF CANCER INCIDENCE IN THE POMPTON LAKES

this man's wife has cancer. He lives on top oif the plume and questioned the results of vapor intrusion sampling

this man’s wife has cancer. He lives on top of the toxic plume and questioned the results of vapor intrusion sampling

Dupont dumped toxic chemicals in the Pompton Lakes community for almost 100 years, causing massive damage not only to the resident’s health, but to natural resources.

Tragically, even the Town’s namesake, Pompton Lake, is poisoned by Dupont’s chemicals; fish are not safe to eat; and natural resources and wildlife are poisoned. Yet 5 years ago, former DEP Commisioner Brad Campbell cut a sweetheart deal with Dupont for “Natural Resource Damages” at 8 Dupont toxic sites in NJ – including Pompton Lakes, who received NOTHING from this paltry settlement. Curiously, Campbell is now involved with a $5 billion deal to build a new coal powerplant plant on Dupont’s 108 acre toxic site in Linden, NJ. (see “Pigs in Linden“)

Back in July of 2008, at the invitation of Councilman Ed Meakem, I testified to the Council about how NJ’s cleanup laws put Dupont in charge and how DEP’s failure to enforce cleanup laws put their community at risk. I recommended that residents of the Town form a citizen’s group to hold Dupont and DEP accountable and hire their own independent expert to represent their interests. (see: “On a Night Like This” – and “It’s All Your Fault” which talks about Dupont’s attempt to dodge liability and blame the victims – homeowners – for Dupont’s toxic pollution:

For many years, Dupont has known – but not revealed – that toxic chemicals have seeped below the residential neighborhood surrounding the Dupont plant. But those facts now have outed and Dupont is scrambling in response to community outrage, and has promised to clean up their mess and install “vapor intrusion mitigation” systems in homes to prevent further exposure to these toxic volatile organic chemicals.

But, in reading the fine print buried on page 17 of the Dupont plan, one comes across what appears to be a benign statement:
A building survey and chemical inventory will be completed during sample collection. The presence of consumer/household products and materials and building characteristics will be documented on a Building Survey Form (see Appendix G), adapted from Appendix B of NJDEP’s Vapor Intrusion Guidance.

You see, Dupont is suggesting It’s all your fault!

Those toxic chemicals poisoning you in your home are coming NOT from the soil and groundwater polluted by Dupont, but from UNDER YOUR OWN SINK OR GARAGE!
You see, It’s all your fault!

Under the leadership of Councilman Ed Meakem and Councilwoman Lisa Riggiola and growing out of that meeting, the local activists group Citizens for a Clean Pompton Lakes (CCPL) was formed. Last night, working with Edison Wetlands Association experts and strong support from NJ Senators Lautenberg and Menendez and Congressman Pascrell, CCPL released a 10 point action plan.

this woman's husband died - she literally begged for help from someone in government after years of neglect by DEP

this woman’s husband died of cancer – she literally begged for help from someone in government after years of neglect by DEP

Despite being responsible for the cleanup and the focus of concern by the community, DEP did not even SHOW UP to the meeting. DEP’s absence outraged this woman, who said the meeting wasted her time:

where the hell is DEP? This is a wate of my time. You (DHSS) can't provide any answers or solutions!

where the hell is DEP? They should be HERE! This is a waste of my time. You (DHSS) can’t provide any answers or solutions!

Federal Agency fort Toxic Subsstances and Disease Registry reponds to Senatoor Lauitenberg's staff questions. Bog Spiegel, (L) head of Edison Wetlands Association and Jeff Winkler Chairman of CCPL don't look like they're buying it.

Federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry representative responds to Senator Lautenberg’s staff questions. Bob Spiegel, (L, rear) head of Edison Wetlands Association and Jeff Winkler Chairman of CCPL (R, rear) don’t look like they’re buying it.

standing room only at Pompton lakes High School auditorium last night

standing room only at Pompton Lakes High School auditorium last night

[Update: some cynical bastard in DHSS is trying hard to make it APPEAR that they are listening, but we are not fooled. Right click on this document “Vapor Intrusion Health Consultation” scroll down and click on “document properties” and note that the expanded area of investigation was in a document that was created 6 hours BEFORE the public meeting last night. DHSS knew their study was flawed and prepared a “expansion” BEFORE the hearing. DHSS are now trying to make that look like a concession. Just look at today’s press release:  DHSS Will Expand Analysis of Cancer, Other Health Issues in Pompton Lakes – they think we are stupid. ~~~ end update]

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Sarlo Shills for Banks and Builders (again)

December 14th, 2009 No comments

We have an economic emergency in the housing sector – homeowners desperately need a moratorium on foreclosure; middle class people need affordable housing and access to credit; renters need relief; and the poor and homeless need basic public housing.

Senator Paul Sarlo (D-Bergen)

Senator Paul Sarlo (D-Bergen)

But, instead of protecting homeowners and people, Senator Sarlo again shills for the economic interests of the banks and builders (see also where he attacked DEP clean water rules).

He is sponsoring S3137 which would extend the expiration date of certain permits pursuant to controversial “Permit Extension Act of 2008.” Passage of that Act was strongly opposed by the environmental community and local governments.

We described the initiative as a “cruel hoax” and urged Governor Corzine to veto the bill.

The bill would exempt an unknown number of development projects from new DEP clean water rules and necessary restrictions to assure that there is an adequate supply of drinking water to support the project. By extending old approvals, the bill also would exempt new development from necessary standards and mitigation/offset requirements to meet energy efficiency and green house gas reduction goals, water conservation, and other innovative “sustainable development“, “green design” and “low impact development” approaches that are in high demand by housing consumers.

The bill would lock the development community into antiquated designs that don’t meet current market or environmental conditions. This would be like locking GM into building SUV’s just as the market is transitioning to electric cars.

Changes in local zoning and Master Plans would be over-ridden as well.

The lame duck bill is an attack on the environment and local land use planning. It is up today in the Senate Economic Growth Committee at 1 pm

STATEMENTUnder this bill, the “extension period,” as defined
in the “Permit Extension Act of 2008,” P.L.2008, c.78
(C.40:55D-136.1 et seq.), would be extended until December
31, 2012, rather than July 1, 2010 as provided in current

Thus, under this bill, government approvals, as defined
and extended by the “Permit Extension Act of 2008,”
would continue to be valid until December 31, 2012.  In
accordance with the tolling provision provided in the
“Permit Extension Act of 2008,” no approval would be
extended beyond six months after the conclusion of the
extension period, or until June 30, 2013 under this bill.

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New Obama EPA Regional Administrator Plants a Flag in NJ

December 11th, 2009 No comments
Judith Enck, EPA Region II REgional Administrator shows fish consumption advosry warning of PCB toxic contamination of fish in Bound Brook.

Judith Enck, EPA Region II Regional Administrator shows fish consumption warning of PCB toxic contamination of fish in Bound Brook.

Enck’s high profile visit provides an early pushback to Christie’s campaign statements regarding EPA oversight.

[Updates below]

In her first week on the job, new Obama EPA Region II Administrator Judith Enck traveled to New Jersey. Enck visited the Cornell Dubilier Superfund site in South Plainfield, NJ where $30 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds were allocated to cleanup the site and benefit the community.

According to EPA:

IMG_5133Cornell Dubilier Electronics, Inc. operated at the site from 1936 to 1962, manufacturing electronic parts and components, including capacitors. The company dumped material contaminated with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and other hazardous substances directly onto site soils during its operations. EPA has detected PCBs in the, ground water, soil and in building interiors at the industrial park and at nearby residential, commercial and municipal properties.

EPA also has detected PCBs in the surface water and sediments of the Bound Brook, which crosses the site’s southeast corner. A pre-1991 investigation conducted by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection in the vicinity of the former CDE facility revealed significant ground water contamination consisting mainly of the volatile organic compounds, trichloroethylene and tetrachloroethylene. Due to widespread contamination, residential wells in the area were closed and residents hooked up to a city water supply. In 1998, EPA began cleaning the interior of homes near the site that contained PCBs in household dust and potentially responsible parties at the site removed PCB-contaminated soil from homes.

Bound Brook, a tributary to the Raritan, has been poised by PCBs adn otehr chemcials migrating off the site. Fish have some of the highest PCB levels in NJ and are unsafe to eat.

Bound Brook, a tributary to the Raritan, has been poisoned by PCBs and other chemicals migrating off the site. Fish have some of the highest PCB levels in NJ and are unsafe to eat.

Enck spoke about progress being made in cleaning up the site. Chemical pollutants have migrated off site into nearby homes and Bound Brook, a tributary to the Raritan River. As a result, fish are highly contaminated with unsafe levels of PCBs and should not be eaten.

The event, while designed to highlight the Obama Administration’s environmental and economic revitalization efforts, also sent a strong message to the incoming Administration of Governor elect Chris Christie, who has already challenged EPA oversight and threatened a moratorium on regulations.

That message is: EPA will not only be investing significant funds in environmental cleanup in NJ, but will be overseeing federal environmental laws and holding the State accountable to implement federally delegated and/or funded programs.

EPA provides millions of dollars to NJ DEP to administer federally delegated clean air, clean water, safe drinking water, toxic site cleanup, and hazardous waste management programs. That funding, in addition to federal law mandates, provides EPA Region II with tremendous leverage over NJ DEP.

In August 2009, EPA issued a scathingly critical audit of NJ DEP’s performance (See: EPA AUDIT RIPS NEW JERSEY DEP PERFORMANCE – Corrective Actions Never Implemented for Toxic, Wetlands and Other Programs.

In June 2008, the EPA Inspector General issued a highly critical report of NJ DEP that prompted EPA Region II to take over cases that had been mismanged by NJDEP. (See: EPA REPORT BLASTS NEW JERSEY TOXIC CLEAN-UPS  -State Failures to Enforce Law Lead to Worst Delays in the Country

IMG_5217NJ recently privatized its state toxic site cleanup program, so Enck’s early focus on the Superfund program is a clear indication that EPA will be looking closely at how NJ implements the privatization scheme.

Enck’s high profile visit provides an early pushback to Christie’s campaign statements regarding EPA oversight. In October, Christie laid down the gauntlet:

“I’ve got a feeling that you will see, come January 2010, a lot of battles between the Christie administration DEP and the Obama administration EPA.” (watch YouTube)

Just days after his election, Christie promised to impose a moratorium on regulations, to make it “easier for business”, an act which is certain to raise issues regarding compliance with federal EPA requirements. Recently, EPA used federal power to block implementation of Governor McGreevey’s so calledFast Track environmental permit law and to scale back the scope of Corzine’s “Permit Extension Act”.

EPA Region II oversees the states of NY and NJ and the territory of Puerto Rico. Enck’s is the first EPA Region II Administrator in recent memory that is not from NJ, so she is not beholden to any NJ players which gives her a stronger degree of political independence. Enck was a member of former NY Governor Elliot Spitzer’s team and was with Spitzer when he served two terms as NY Attorney General. Enck helped make environmental enforcement a priority for Spitzer and comes highly praised by both NY and NJ environmental communities.

Enck’s boss, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson was previously NJDEP Commissioner and Chief of Staff to Governor John Corzine. Jackson is recused and can not participate in EPA decisions in NJ. This provides Enck more autonomy and control in NJ within the EPA chain of command, yet it also requires that she avoid any appearance of favoritism in NJ.

Lisa Plevin, Senator Frank Lautenberg's office

Lisa Plevin, Senator Frank Lautenberg’s office

The site visit was coordinated with remarks by South Plainfield Mayor Charles Butrico and Senator Frank Lautenberg’s Office. Importantly, there was a significant presence of members of State and local environmental groups and media. So, overall, this was a very well planned, well executed, and successful event for the new EPA RA.

Enck will face challenges in holding NJ DEP’s feet to the fire. It is clear that she is up to that task, and has made oversight of NJ a priority.

We have written about and will be closely following these development. (some fishy history here)

[Update #1: I was very disappointed to read this quote from Enck – recall that even Lisa Jackson- in a reply to a question from Chairwoman Boxer – explicitly repudiated privatization of toxic site cleanup during her EPA confirmation hearing. Let’s hope she made it before being adequately briefed:

Enck was non-committal about New Jersey’s decision to license private consultants to perform investigations and remediations for clean-up projects, saying she has not seen the details. But she said the economy could force some practical concessions.

“We may have to do some things differently than in the past because of the budget crisis that’s facing our states,” she said.

Here is my briefing note to Enck in response:

Hi – I was disturbed by a quote reported by Newsroom NJ story regarding EPA oversight of NJ LSP and other programs in light of the current economic crisis:

So I thought I’d take this opportunity to give you a little background on this set of issues:

1. During January 2009 US Senate Confirmation hearings for US EPA Administrator, Lisa Jackson was asked point blank whether she would bring to EPA the LSP or privatization program she supported in NJ.

Jackson repudiated privatization – here’s an excerpt of Jackson’s testimony regarding NJ’s privatized “Licensed Site Professional” (LSP) toxic site program:

Question by Committee Chair Senator Barbara Boxer:

Q: Please provide “your views on polluters self certifying that property is clean (@ time 3:26:45)

A: Lisa Jackson:

“I don’t believe that process [i.e. private certification, as in LSP] has merit at the federal level” (@ time 3:42:43)

Chairman Boxer confirms that Jackson has rejected privatization at EPA and removes any ambiguity at time 3:43:03 by saying:

Q: Boxer: “you don’t anticipate and you do not expect to allow private consultants to certify sites as clean?”

A: Lisa Jackson: “NO”

Watch CSPAN video of Jackson testimony here:

2. The EPA Inspector General has analyzed the claim that lack of staff resources at DEP was cause of backlogs and lack of progress in site remediation. Here is relevant EPA IG finding:.

Claims about New Jersey’s overwhelming workload were brought to our attention during the evaluation. At that time, we requested documentation from NJDEP to support this workload challenge. We specified that we would need evidence that spanned the 20 year period since these sites were listed on the NPL. NJDEP did not provide this information.”(@ page 11)

Read the EPA IG Report here:
Improved Controls Would Reduce Superfund Backlogs

We are very concerned that some are using the economic crisis to justify environmental rollbacks. I urge you not to legitimize or be influenced by this political manipulation.

Bill Wolfe

[Update #2 – click for NJN News coverage – starts at minute 17. RA Enck is asked key questions about NJ LSP program & Christie moratorium

Courier/Home News TribuneSouth Plainfield gets $30 million to clean up former industrial site

Bob Spiegel (L) Edison Wetland Assc. has done lots of work on the COIrnell Dubilinier site. Bill Wolfe (R) Directort of NJ PEER, has a history on the fish consumption adfvoisry issue.

Bob Spiegel (L) Edison Wetlands Assc. has done lots of work on the Cornell Dubilier site. Bill Wolfe (R) Director of NJ PEER, has a history on the fish consumption advisory issue.

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