Dirty Dupont Deals Done Dirt Cheap: Democracy For Sale in Linden, NJ
[Update: YouTube videos of the testimony (click on]
Tonight, the Linden City Council voted to approve a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with Dupont.
The deal is designed to promote development of a new $5 billion 750 megawatt coal power plant at Dupont’s toxic waste site in Tremley Point on the Arthur Kill, known as “PurGen” (George Orwell couldn’t have thought up a better name: “pure” for dirty coal).
In extraordinarily transparent and corrupt fashion, the Dupont MOA requires that the Linden City Council shall support:
all resolutions or ordinances, approvals, permits, and agreements reasonably necessary to carry out the … development of the [PurGen] Power Plant;
The City will actively support the development of the [Dupont] property for the Power Plant by joining in applications for financing or other government assistance, and by endorsing permit applications….The City will request the Linden Planning Board to promptly schedule and hold all necessary hearings to implement the foregoing, as well as the requisite site plan approvals.
It could not be a clearer case of corruptly selling democratic power and responsibilities – and the Council did so for chump change. It was also a huge missed opportunity to take a renewable energy path and invest in sustainble jobs.
While PurGen has managed to secure BILLIONS of dollars in federal subsidies, including up to $90 per ton of carbon they capture and sequester in the energy/global warming legislation now pending before Congress (see the American Clean Energy and Security Act (H.R. 2454) (subsidies City negotiators seemed ignorant of), the City of Linden gave away the store and got jack shit for it.
Having fought exactly his kind of corporate ripoff by the garbage incineration industry in the 1980′s and early 1990 – and fought Dupont just last night in Pompton Lakes where hundreds of working families were poisoned by Dupont – to me, it was a painful and ironic defeat. Ironies – no, they were tragedies – abounded:
1. For 20 years, Dupont has failed to cleanup their 109 acre toxic site in Linden, and now has successfully used that criminal failure as blackmail against a City desperate for jobs and investment. Even worse, the thought of one of the world’s largest toxic polluters joining the coal industry that is killing the planet is almost too much of an outrage to consider;
2. former DEP Commissioner Brad Campbell, the man who hired me and I worked for, is the lead negotiator for the PurGen coal power plant. While DEP Commissioner, he cut a sweetheart “natural resource damage” deal with Dupont;
3. A retired General Motors Manager spoke in support of the deal. His testimony went unchallenged. Yet GM sued the City of Linden to reduce their tax assessment and GM has destroyed more American jobs than just about any other corporation;
4. Union workers rallied to politically support the deal – yet they were grossly manipulated by the big money players and will see no jobs from this project in any reasonable time frame, if at all;.
5. City Council thinks they negotiated a MOA that is in the economic interests of the City. Yet while the MOA requires concrete commitments by the City to support and approve the coal plant, the MOA only provides vague and unenforceable “benefits” and “protections” that will be ignored AFTER the City surrenders it’s leverage provided by the legal power to block the project. The MOA is a total giveaway. It fails to include a bottom line minimum on host community economic benefits, yet the agreement requires that the City support all land use approvals and environmental permits for the project. By making this concession up front, the City has lost all its leverage to extract economic fair share revenues. But, the agreement not only requires that City surrender its democratic rights to block the project, it require that the City provide tax breaks (PILOTs), tax exemptions, secrecy, and other economic concessions to Dupont and PurGen.
6. Perhaps most ironic and worst of all, the NJ Environmental Federation (NJEF), NJ’s largest “grassroots” environmental group that repeatedly publicly claims to have an understanding with Governor Christie to oppose the Linden PurGen coal project failed to testify. Dave Pringle, who lives right next door in Cranford – as usual – showed up over an hour late and said nothing, while his colleagues bravely stood up and took on hundreds of heckling union thugs.
[Update 1/29 – Apologies, I should not have used the term “thugs”. The union guys were civil, only a small number heckled. I support unions and labor activism. This was written in anger for having been called an “extremist”]. Where was Dave? I guess Dave was preserving all that political capital he thinks he has with Governor Christie, who promised the following during the campaign (but has yet to be heard of since):
Saying No to Coal
Coal plants are another significant source of this nitrogen and that is among the many reasons I oppose the proposed coal plant in Linden. The $5 billion to build this plant would be better focused on renewable and efficiency efforts, like those outlined in my energy plan. Due to global warming and for our own security, we need to reduce not increase our reliance on fossil and foreign fuels
I guess Linden is just like Oyster Creek cooling towers – keep quiet and the Governor will deliver.
[Update 1/28/10: here is the Star Ledger’s version: Linden officials approve $2.5 million deal for PurGen coal-fueled power plant