Home > Uncategorized > Christie DEP Nominee Bob “I’m No Greenie” Martin Speaks

Christie DEP Nominee Bob “I’m No Greenie” Martin Speaks

Martin Brags: “I’m No Greenie” – Retired corporate executive has zero environmental experience but supports cost/benefit analysis, “regulatory relief“, and “customer friendly” “culture” change at DEP

For the handful of political/media junkies and environmental zealots out there who would rather read the news than party on Superbowl Sunday, the Star Ledger reports today that Christie’s nominee to head DEP, Bob Martin, has spoken. (See: N.J. Department of Environmental Protection nominee outlines plans for embattled agency

Exactly one week ago, the Bergen Record reported that Mr. Martin explicitly refused interviews until after his Senate confirmation – to his credit, I guess Martin realized his mistake:

The man who will carry out Christie’s vision, acting DEP Commissioner Bob Martin, is declining all interview requests until after his appointment is confirmed by the legislature.

The Star Ledger interview wasn’t groundbreaking Katie Couric/Sarah Palin kind of stuff  – although, like Palin, who confused her proximity to the Russian border with foreign policy experience, Bob Martin seemed to confuse seeing a pond and a stream near his home with protecting water quality (e.g. the Christie DEP Transition Report calls for slashing stream buffers). But overall, Mr. Martin presented a more sophisticated form of cluelessness and he did a better job masking his policy agenda.

Because I’ve been harshly critical of his refusal – thus far – to talk to the press (see: “Christie DEP Nomine Fails First Test“) I figured I’d clarify the situation and thank him for finally talking to press, while providing an assessment of his remarks.

It is far from clear what Martin means when he says that he is “committed to environmental protection and “very conscientious,” if equally pragmatic, about protecting New Jersey’s natural resources.”

But gosh, he recycles and his lawn care serfs (ahem, I meant contractors) don’t use pesticides at his McMansion, so he must be a moderate, right?

“At the stately Hopewell Township home he shares with his wife, Brenda, and three children, ages 12, 21 and 24, Martin said energy use is carefully monitored, recycling is a daily practice and lawn pesticides are prohibited.”

Right out of the box, Bob, who has no environmental training or experience, admits he’s sort of baffled by how he wound up at DEP:

“I never anticipated being at the DEP. … I thought I’d probably end up at the BPU (Board of Public Utilities) since I had dealt with utilities at Accenture,” Martin said.

Perhaps by the term “dealt with“, Martin means “privatized” the public utilities? Maybe the Senate will ask for clarification.

Bob plows right on and lowers expectations by obliviously trumpeting his lack of qualifications. It is disturbing that Martin conflates his lack of professional environmental qualifications with a disparaging label: “greenie”:

“Bob Martin will be the first to say he’s “not a big greenie.

No kidding. But hey, cut him a break. I bet some of Bob’s best friends are “greenies”

So now that we know who Bob is and how “committed” he is, let’s look at the issues and assess Bob’s response to Star Ledger questions (I left out the Bear hunt question):

Q. What will be the DEP’s priorities under your watch?

I appreciated Martin’s support of more transparency at DEP, which is something we have been working hard on for some time (see this and “This is Why we Need Transparency at DEP“).  But I don’t know what “fixing the regulatory process” and “changing the DEP culture” mean. I’ve written about the Christie Executive Orders, so if that’s what Bob means about “fixing the regulatory process,” we’re in for a long fight. I strongly disagree with Martin’s premise that DEP culture should reflect free market transactional values and treat people and the regulated community (AKA polluters)  as “customers”. The remainder of Martin’s response is so vague and non-committal as to be worthless.

Q. Will you use the transition team report as a blueprint?

The DEP Transition Report is an all out assault on both DEP as an institution and environmental regulatory protections. The Report has come under harsh criticism. The fact that Martin chose not to distance himself from its recommendations is a very bad sign.

Q. Gov. Christie wants to make the DEP more business-friendly, which environmental groups claim is “code” for setting back clean water and land use regulations. How will you balance the two?

I like Martin’s emphasis on transparency and science, and his pledge to have an open door policy (I will take him up on that offer and see if I can get a meeting!). But his emphasis on the “customer” ethic and cost benefit analysis are bad policy. There was no need to talk about any “code”. This was the time to ask Martin about the Christie Executive Orders which are designed to rollback regulations. Why wasn’t that question asked?

Q. The Corzine administration ordered the Oyster Creek Nuclear Generating Station to install eco-friendly cooling towers rather than cool its operations with water pumped from Barnegat Bay. Oyster Creek said the order will force the plant to close because of the cost. What will you do?

Context (see: “Christie Backpedaling on commitment to Oyster Creek cooling towers“): The US Supreme Court in April issued a huge decision that requires that EPA cooling tower regulations consider cost/benefit analysis. Oyster Creek owner Exelon claims towers are not justified by cost/benefit analysis. Martin supports cost/benefit analysis. Christie Executive Order #2 mandates cost/benefit analysis and requires that NJ State regulatory polices be consistent with minimum federal rules. In December, DEP issued a draft permit mandating cooling towers, a decision that is more stringent than EPA federal requirements and did not consider cost/benefit analysis. The final decision is in Martin’s hands. Connect the dots.

Christie “promised” during the campaign to support cooling towers at Oyster Creek. This was one of the primary reason Christie was endorsed by the NJ Environmental Federation. Martin’s failure to support this commitment constitutes a retreat and betrayal. Martin’s claim that other causes of Barnegat Bay decline must be considered as part of the cooling tower decision contradicts the Clean Water Act and parrots the testimony of plant operator Exelon. Martin’s remarks about jobs are cover for Exelon’s profits, because far more jobs and lower cost energy are provided by energy efficiency and renewable energy (solar and wind). Here’s what I wrote on Nov. 27,2009 this issue:

“BEFORE the election, I received the below “Vote Christie”  statement from the NJ Environmental Federation.

Note the deceptively parsed language alleging a contrast with Corzine on installation of cooling towers at Oyster Creek nuclear power plant to protect Barnegat Bay:

On Election Day Vote Environment-Vote Chris Christie

Contrary to Corzine, Christie has committed to the following as you already know:
• Increasing protections for our most vulnerable and important waterways through the state’s Category 1 program;
• Replenishing the state’s bankrupt open space program;
• Requiring the state’s nuclear plants to stop their destruction in and around Barnegat Bay and the Delaware River;
• Opposing the proposed coal plant in Linden; and
• Issuing an executive order to reduce killer diesel soot pollution.

Noting a lot of ambiguity and unsure of what NJEF meant by the weasel words “stop their destruction“, I went over to the Christie web page and – curiously – found a much clearer commitment with respect to the Oyster Creek cooling tower issue. Christie strongly implied a promise to install cooling towers, although the word smithing still gave him an out on the basis of “putting the taxpayers on the hook”. Regardless, one still must ask: why would a candidate – a person expected to hedge on controversial issues – express a clearer commitment than an environmental group?

Here’s what Christie promised on cooling towers:

Restoring the Delaware and Barnegat BayI will make it a priority to identify and implement strategies for better cooling systems at Oyster Creek and Salem. We cannot ignore this issue. I will not. There has to be a better way to cool Oyster Creek and Salem without putting – New Jersey taxpayers on the hook, and we will do it.

Q. Corzine left office before confirming the appointment of a dozen scientists, from academia and private industry, to a new Science Advisory Board created to offer the DEP some outside expertise. Critics claim it will second-guess staff scientists on pollution standards. What are your plans?

I am deeply troubled that Martin supports scientists that work for Dupont and other private sector environmental consultants as members of the newly created Science Advisory Board. They are DEP regulated entities, have clear scientific bias, and economic conflicts of interest that will undermine the objectivity and independence of the SAB (see: “Today, DEP Appoints New Science Board Stacked with NJ’s Most Polluting Industry Representatives”

We hope Martin faces tougher questions during Senate confirmation hearings, that he provides more detailed fact based answers, and that he makes formal commitments to specific policy.

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  1. Doris Perry
    February 8th, 2010 at 14:51 | #1

    Read that interview. Thought its lack of depth and content was rather stunning. Thanks for keeping on top of all this. You seem to be the only one paying attention.

  2. Bill Wolfe
    February 8th, 2010 at 15:00 | #2

    Thanks Doris – I too was disappointed but not surprised by the lack of content – but I doubt Mr. Martin knows anything about DEP at this point. He has no experience professionally in the environmental field, or in NJ policy circles.

    I hope that the rest of the NJ ENGO community wakes up, but I am not optimistic.

  3. G.W. Heyduke
    February 8th, 2010 at 16:34 | #3

    “Slash and Burn Bob”, from outsourcing standout Accenture, formerly Author Anderson. If you were making a horror film about carving up DEP – that would be a good start. I doubt the legislature has the stones to deny the appointment, (Sweeney is a construction guy). I hate to be all doom and gloom about this but the up side evades me.

    I thought NJEF were going to be the administrations apologists, but I think even Dave Pringle is in full retreat on this. How can you run a department where everyone there is more qualified then you are? If Bob Martian had to apply for a civil service title at DEP he’d be turned away for a lack educational credentials.

    Martin might be a straw man – he’ll come in, clean house and be replaced in 18 months or so. This is a “restructuring” specialist, nothing in the press suggest he’s looking to spend 3-8(God help us) years there. This is not about policy or environmental protection – this is about breaking DEP’s power, so that special interests can make a buck.


  1. February 14th, 2010 at 14:24 | #1
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