Archive for April, 2010

“Immoral Failure To Act” To Protect Mothers and Infants

April 25th, 2010 4 comments

Jim O’Neill of the Bergen Record wrote a killer story in today’s Record – the story shines a bright spotlight on the ill advised Christie Administration’s environmental policies which require a cost benefit analysis justification and seek consistency with minimum federal standards:

Water Tests Too Costly NJ Says – Puts Perchlorate Rules on Hold
Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Christie administration has backed off plans to require testing and treatment of drinking water for a chemical ingredient of fertilizer and rocket fuel that has been found in some private and public wells in North Jersey and which poses health risks for pregnant women and infants even with short-term exposure.

Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin angered some environmentalists when he chose not to sign a proposed statewide rule that would have set a limit on how much perchlorate can remain in drinking water.

The rule would have required public water systems to test for perchlorate and treat the water if levels exceeded 5 parts per billion. The rule would also have required property owners with private wells to test for perchlorate during real estate transactions.

The New Jersey Realtors Association and the New Jersey Builders Association had opposed the rule, citing the potential financial costs to homeowners with private wells.

Martin said he discussed the issue with scientists at the DEP and the federal Environmental Protection Agency before deciding against the rule that had been proposed by the prior DEP commissioner, Mark Mauriello. “I carefully weighed all the scientific evidence and potential economic impacts,” Martin said in a statement. “I simply was not convinced that we had the most complete data on what the appropriate levels should be.”

He said the EPA is now deciding whether to regulate perchlorate nationwide and that “once we have all the data, a decision will be made.”

But some environmentalists said that waiting for the EPA to issue its own rule means a dangerous delay of up to four years.

“Best case is that if the EPA decides later this year to regulate perchlorate, it will be another two years before they come out with the rule,” said Bill Wolfe, New Jersey director of the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility. “In the meantime New Jersey homeowners could be drinking contaminated water and not know it. Three years is the key development life of a child.”


Support for rule

Duncan Carpenter, president of the Saddle River Board of Health, wrote to the DEP last month supporting the proposed perchlorate rule. He called it “an important public health protection that should be provided not only to the affected residents in our area, but also to residents in the rest of the state who may not be aware that their water supply is affected by this contaminant.”

In 2008, the EPA recommended that water suppliers treat for perchlorate if levels are above 15 parts per billion, but it didn’t make it a requirement. During her confirmation hearing to become EPA administrator, Lisa Jackson – the former head of New Jersey’s DEP – was questioned closely by Sen. Barbara Boxer, chairwoman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, on perchlorate. Boxer described the EPA’s failure to act on the perchlorate issue as “immoral.”

We agree with US Senator Boxer and condemn DEP Commissioner Martin’s decision to kill the proposed perchlorate rule.

What Martin did is far worse than EPA’s failure to act – Martin blocked DEP from acting.

And in doing so, he elevated the economic profits of the Builders, Realtors, and polluters above public health concerns.

We believe that consideration of economic costs in setting drinking water standards is both immoral and violates the NJ Safe Drinking Water Act.

The federal Safe Drinking Water Act does authorize EPA to consider costs in setting minimum national drinking water standards. But the NJ law is stricter and does not – which is a very good reason why the Christie cost benefit analysis justification and federal consistency policy are so flawed. DEP very clearly distinguished the role of economic factors in EPA setting minimum national standards from the stricter NJ SDWA, which does not allow costs to be considered as a factor in setting drinking water standards. Quoting DEP’s rule proposal, as we wrote on March 12:

The [NJ Drinking Water Quality] Institute considers three factors when recommending MCLs: health effects, technological ability to measure the contaminant level, and ability of existing treatment technologies to meet the MCL. For chemicals causing effects other than cancer (noncarcinogens), the goal is the elimination of all adverse health effects resulting from ingestion, within the limits of practicability and feasibility. The Federal standard-setting process considers these factors and an additional economic factor. (proposal at page 19-20)

In terms of the science, DEP already found major flaws with EPA’s 15 ppb Guidance value:

It should be noted that on October 10, 2008 USEPA issued a preliminary regulatory determination for perchlorate through its drinking water Contaminant Candidate List process (73 Fed.Reg., page 60262). USEPA preliminarily determined that a drinking water standard (MCL) for perchlorate is not needed. Instead USEPA will publish a final non-enforceable health based guidance level at the same time its final regulatory determination is issued. The USEPA regulatory determination established a drinking water Health Reference Level for perchlorate of 15 μg/l. The Department has submitted comments expressing concerns with the USEPA preliminary regulatory determination. The main points made in the comments are: 1) A health based level of 15 μg/l is not protective of infants, as they would be exposed to several times the RfD at this concentration. 2) USEPA should adopt a Federal drinking water standard, rather than drinking water guidance, since perchlorate occurs in public water supplies at levels of health concern at a frequency sufficient to warrant regulation. (proposal at page 6. emphasis supplied)

In terms of the recent EPA Inspector General’s Report, we note the following major flaws in that report: (Source: E&E Reporter, 4/21/10)

A draft of the IG report last year came under fire from environmentalists and public health experts for failing to justify its support of the more liberal drinking water standard.

Although OIG’s use of a cumulative effect approach may have merit, it is inappropriately used to argue against a protective drinking water value for perchlorate,” Massachusetts Environmental Protection Department officials wrote. “From a public health perspective and desire to protect children’s health, exposures to multiple thyroid toxicants should lower the acceptable exposure value for any single toxicant not the other way around” (Greenwire, May 15, 2009).

We have written about the perchlorate issue – here and here and here – and will continue to keep you posted as this debate unfolds.

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Christie’s Earth Week in Review

April 24th, 2010 No comments

This is the last installment in our series, and it will be brief.

Capturing the essence of the current meaning of Earth Day, we turn to that crumbling pillar of the main stream press, the New York Times:

At 40, Earth Day Is Now Big Business

 Todd Heisler/The New York Times  Peat the Penguin at F. A. O. Schwarz. The toy, made of soy fibers, teaches green lessons to children.

Todd Heisler/The New York Times Peat the Penguin at F. A. O. Schwarz. The toy, made of soy fibers, teaches green lessons to children.

So strong was the antibusiness sentiment for the first Earth Day in 1970 that organizers took no money from corporations and held teach-ins “to challenge corporate and government leaders.”

Forty years later, the day has turned into a premier marketing platform for selling a variety of goods and services, like office products, Greek yogurt and eco-dentistry.


To many pioneers of the environmental movement, eco-consumerism, creeping for decades, is intensely frustrating and detracts from Earth Day’s original purpose.

“This ridiculous perverted marketing has cheapened the concept of what is really green,” said Denis Hayes, who was national coordinator of the first Earth Day and is returning to organize this year’s activities in Washington. “It is tragic.”

As we all know, over this same forty year period, sadly, much of politics and what now passes for “environmentalism” have devolved into similar “ridiculous perverted marketing” and propaganda, broadcast uncritically by a cowed and depleted media.

And I’m saddened to have to call out one “environmental group” for use of coded and offensive rhetoric in our current Tea Party racists tinged climate, by calling Obama’s off shore drilling plan “snake oil” and a “deal with the Devil“. As these “environmental activists” surely know, many in the Tea Party movement and even more extremists right wing groups really do believe that Obama is the anti-Christ.

The confluence of the ascendance of corporate marketing, crass political propaganda, environmental group opportunism, and media collapse played out in NJ all week (and check out my Wednesday photo and compare it to the Governor’s Thursday photo op on left below!).

The Culmination: With his daughter Bridget at his side, Gov. Chris Christie announced at the Surfrider Beach Club in Sea Bright on Thursday that he is opposed to offshore drilling. (STAFF PHOTO: BRADLEY J. PENNER)

The Culmination: With his daughter Bridget at his side, Gov. Chris Christie announced at the Surfrider Beach Club in Sea Bright on Thursday that he is opposed to offshore drilling. (STAFF PHOTO: BRADLEY J. PENNER)

Christie’s Earth Week: How Green Was My Valley!


Christie’s Earth Week Preview


Christie’s Earth Week: Day 1 – Red Tape Rollback


Christie Earth Week Day 2: Back Door Man


Earth Week Day 3: Clean Communities Cover


Christie Making the Shore Look Safe for Private Beach Clubs

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Christie: Making the Shore (Look) Safe for Private Beach Clubs

April 23rd, 2010 No comments
privatizing the Jersey Shore

privatizing the Jersey Shore

[Update: While Chrisite & Co. were doing photo op stunts, the US Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, & Transportation hel an important hearing that focused on the science of ocean acidification] and NASA’s Jim Hanson was on the Mall in DC]

Day 4 in our series: Earth Day arrives! So get your waders on, the bullshit is deep today.

The Asbury Park Press reports: “Christie opposes oil, gas projects off N.J.

SEA BRIGHT — Gov. Chris Christie’s reply to proposed oil and natural gas development in ocean waters off New Jersey: “Keep out of our backyard.

Christie spelled out that message loud and clear at a half-hour news conference at the Surfrider Beach Club in Sea Bright Thursday afternoon before an estimated crowd of 150 that included local politicians, environmental groups and recreational fishermen who oppose offshore oil and gas development.

“We stand by our opposition to any kind of offshore drilling,” Christie said. “For as long as I am governor, this administration will oppose any application for liquefied natural gas.”

New Jersey is not going to be a pipeline for New York City for natural gas at the risk of runing (sic) our shores, our beaches and our environment,” Christie added. …[…]

Christie also signed legislation Thursday that he said will enhance and expand the state’s ability to produce renewable energy sources.

While the Governor deserves some praise, it is absurdly exaggerated because opposing off shore drilling is a motherhood and apple pie issue in NJ that politicians of all stripes just love to exploit to create a false appearance that they are eco-warriors.

Opposing  a hypothetical offshore liquified natural gas (LNG) project is a light political lift that gores no NJ special interest Ox (and the LNG project may have already been killed by market forces, like the huge glut in US domestic natural gas supplies, expanded by the massive new “Marcellus Shale” gas reserves).

And these NIMBY crumbs are offered up at a time that the Governor is under harsh criticism for his environmental rollbacks and real and increasingly severe shore threats are ignored. (and what about this PSEG eyeing new nuclear plant in Salem County) and this: Coalition pushes for cooling towers sooner at Oyster Creek)

And just whose backyard is Christie protecting? From what threats? Is the ocean/shore really being protected? From what?

The Christie demagoguery, propaganda, and hypocrisy are stunning – as is the opportunistic, narrow, and compromised stance of some “environmental” groups who can’t seem to understand how they are being cynically manipulated and used to provide political cover for the Governor. This political cover is a dangerous old divide and conquer game. It gives the public a deeply misleading assessment of the Governor’s true record on the environment, while providing the Governor an accountability free pass on scores of other far more pressing policy issues.

Let’s explore those critical claims.

First up is the fact that the event was held at a private beach club – apparently continuing a pattern of invitation of friends only – just days after the Governor’s Red Tape Review Report found that DEP rules to expand the public’s right to access to the shore “offend common sense” (@ page 37). That Report also found that longstanding DEP’s coastal rules to prevent developers from making current severe parking problems worse “overreach” DEP’s legal authority and should be dismantled (@ page 40). Gotta keep out the riffraff and subsidize more developers.

Ironically, the private beach club shares a name with the Surfrider Foundation, a real ocean advocacy organization that supports expanded public access under the public trust doctrine.

And on top of all that – you can’t make this stuff up – it took a lawsuit by Corzine Attorney General Anne Milgram against the private beach club to provide public access ANNE MILGRAM, ATTORNEY GENERAL OF NEW JERSEY, et al. Plaintiffs, v

As Surfrider Foundation reports:

In January 2010 a legal dispute between six Sea Bright private beaches and the state was settled with an agreement which “significantly expands the amount of beach open to the general public.” The settlement obliges five of the businesses — Chapel Beach Club, Surfrider Beach Club, Sands Beach Club, Water’s Edge Beach Club and Ship Ahoy Beach Club — to contribute $30,000 each to fund public-access improvements, while the Driftwood Beach Club will contribute $20,000 and give the state a tract of oceanfront property in nearby Monmouth Beach. Additionally, Sea Bright will spend $556,000 to provide public-access amenities within the borough that are related to providing public access to the beach. The new agreement expands one signed in 1993 that established a 15-foot “limited-use public corridor” in front of the clubs’ beaches. Instead, a “full public use” area encompassing at least 50 percent of the beach, up to a maximum of 150 feet, will be established.

Second, showing what a cheap shot demagogue he is, Christie played the NY City card – every good republican and NIMBY shore-dweller hates NY City right? (other than Wall Street, that is).

The fact of the matter is that NJ already is an energy pipeline to NY City. Those inconvenient facts are in the BPU Energy Master Plan (EMP)that Christie has rejected. Thee EMP warns about “increasing exports to NY City and Long Island“:

Like New Jersey, New York City and Long Island suffer from a shortage of local generation capacity and limits on their ability to import electricity. A substantial part of their strategy to address that problem is to enter into contracts that support the development of new transmission lines over which they can import more power. As New York City and Long Island import more electricity from and through New Jersey, our own shortfall of capacity to meet rising demand is exacerbated.

Before the “Neptune” transmission line from New Jersey to Long Island commenced operation, the United States Department of Energy said that the line “will move electricity from New Jersey to Long Island; the line will ease Long Island’s supply needs, but it may exacerbate New Jersey’s local reliability and supply problems.”15 When the Neptune line commenced operation in 2007, it immediately began withdrawing about 660 MW of capacity from New Jersey. This withdrawal was equivalent to an immediate retirement of about four percent of our current in-state generation, or about the capacity of the Oyster Creek nuclear plant. To look at it another way, activating the Neptune line had an instantaneous effect equivalent to two years’ worth of increases in peak demand in New Jersey.

The Neptune line is not the end of the story. PJM states that with the Neptune line and other planned projects, the impact of growing peak demand is “compounded by the stresses on the transmission system of potentially having to accommodate more than 2,800 MW of planned exports of power from eastern PJM to New York City and Long Island. . .”16 (@ page 35-36)

While we are exporting these huge and growing exports of NJ power to NY, Christie claims we need to produce more power, more nukes, and is supporting a major $750 million ratepayer funded Susquehanna-Roseland 500-kilovolt Pennsylvania power line into northwestern New Jersey transmission line to import dirty coal power from Pennsylvania and the midwest.

While Christie touts a minor piece of legislation that provides regulatory relief for solar (seems like the Governor’s entire economic development policy is limited to regulatory relief), the fact of the matter is that Christie made deep cuts in funds for energy efficiency, wind, and solar by raiding $300 million from the Clean Energy Funds so the wealthy can have tax cuts (while ignoring growing global warming ocean threats).

Christie says he wants to change the culture at DEP yet data show DEP approves more than 99% of permits.

The culture that needs to change is in the private sector, whose consultants and well paid lobbyists exert undue political pressure on DEP to cut corners and issue inappropriate and sometimes illegal permits.  Surprisingly, former US Attorney Christie said nothing about the criminal “Operation Bid Rig” indictment of shore Republican Assemblyman Van Pelt for his corrupt behind the scenes dealings with DEP – does everyone forget the outrageous Van Pelt quote in the NY Times: “DEP works for me”?

Mr. Van Pelt, who sits on an assembly committee that oversees the Department of Environmental Protection, was accused of accepting money to help the informant obtain environmental permits. In a meeting in Atlantic City in February, prosecutors charged, Mr. Van Pelt assured Mr. Dwek that the environmental agency “worked for” him, then took $10,000 in cash and told the informant to call him “any time.”

Christie say DEP regulations are crippling the economy yet virtually every professional economist says Wall Street greed and LACK of regulations caused the collapse.

Christie is sacrificing the environment to benefit his business cronies, making the NJ shore look safe for elite NIMBY’s while real risks rise, and limiting public access rights for the benefit of wealthy shore homeowners.

End of story!

Takanassee shore 197

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Earth Week Day 3: Clean Communities Cover

April 22nd, 2010 No comments
Trenton, NJ

Trenton, NJ

Commissioner Martin is guilty of rank hypocrisy: celebrating the exact program Governor Christie’s budget is slashing and who’s funding the Governor opposes.

For the third installment in our Christie Earth Week series, we focus on DEP Commissioner Bob Martin KICKS OFF EARTH WEEK WITH TRENTON LITTER CLEANUP:

TRENTON –Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin kicked off a statewide celebration of this week’s 40th anniversary of Earth Day today when he joined a team of youths and adults at Trenton City Hall for the start of the annual Trenton Litter March.

Commissioner Martin provided opening remarks to the group, lauding their efforts as they embarked on a citywide cleanup – one of a host of events taking place statewide this week, which is designated as Environmental Education Week 2010 in New Jersey.

While we’re all for the Trenton Litter March (we marched in the first one in 1987 as a DEP employee, AND we picked up litter), but we feel obligated to point out that the emperor has no clothes. None. Naked.

While I was not at this year’s march, it sounds like Mr. Martin merely spoke at “the start” of the event at City Hall, and didn’t walk Trenton’s neighborhoods and pick up trash (maybe he was afraid of the gangbangers – click on that link to see a racist stunt NJ Senate candidate Martin took right out of the Wallace/Nixon/Reagan “southern strategy” playbook).

There’s an awful lot of green-washing and hypocrisy going on in these events, so we thought we might briefly touch upon important material facts Martin left out of his press release and provide a glimpse of what Martin might have seen had he walked Trenton’s streets.

First of all, Martin failed to note that the Trenton Litter March (and hundreds of cleanup events just like it in communities across the state) is funded by DEP’s Clean Communities Grant Program , which is funded by a garbage disposal tax that goes to the State Recycling Fund. Governor Christie absolutely hates taxes so of course Mr. Martin simply fails to tell taxpayers about the popular and effective programs they get for their money.

Martin didn’t want to talk about taxes or about a Corzine achievement, who’s accomplishments Martin was taking advantage of. According to DEP:

Recycling Enhancement Act Becomes Law

Undoubtedly, January 14, 2008 will long be remembered as one of the most important days in New Jersey’s recycling history for it was on this date that Governor Jon S. Corzine signed into law the Recycling Enhancement Act. This landmark piece of legislation reestablishes a source of funding for recycling in New Jersey through a $3.00 per ton tax on solid waste accepted for disposal or transfer at in-state solid waste facilities. Solid waste being transported out of state, either directly or by railroad, is also subject to the new recycling tax. In such cases, the solid waste collector is responsible for paying the tax. The reestablishment of a funding source for recycling is especially significant, as inadequate funding has been considered one of the key reasons behind New Jersey’s declining recycling rates, which have dropped precipitously over the past decade. The New Jersey recycling community has looked forward to this day ever since the expiration of the recycling tax in 1996 and views the signing of this legislation as a watershed moment in our state’s recycling history.

But Martin had a far more important reason not to disclose the funding source, because Governor Christie’s budget slashes municipal aide, and, worse, it specifically raids $ 7 million from the Recycling Fund (source OLS Analysis of DEP Budget (@page 16)

So Martin is guilty of rank hypocrisy: celebrating the exact program Governor Christie’s budget is slashing and who’s funding the Governor opposes.

Second, Martin dodges the controversy (see: Asbury Park Press story: “Push for DEP to weigh economic impacts creates a stir“) Martin created by his plan to “make DEP a major player in economic development”, appoint an Assistant Commissioner for Economic Development, and fundamentally shift DEP’s mission. (see Asbury Park Press editorial “Aiding economy not DEP’s job“).  Note how Martin misleads on this issue by saying DEP’s goals remain unchanged – again, this is no accident (and maybe the harsh Asbury Park Press coverage is why Martin and Christie is doing all these shore events?):

The goals of the DEP, said the Commissioner, are much the same as they were in 1970, namely ensuring clean air and a clean water supply, preserving open space, cleaning up contaminated land, managing solid waste and managing land use.

Third, Martin again rhetorically emphasized his and Governor Chiriste’s “commitment” to the environment, but again leaves out key facts that flat out contradict the claim:

“Governor Christie and I are committed to preserving the environment and natural resources of New Jersey, just as Governor Cahill did when he signed legislation to create the DEP on April 22, 1970″ said Commissioner Martin.

For the record, here are just a few of those inconvenient facts of rollbacks already done (for a longer list, see Sierra Club’s Report on Christie’s environmental record over his first 90 days)

“[DEP Commissioner] Martin’s “fresh look” at DEP science already: 1) killed a proposed greenhouse gas monitoring rule, 2) abandoned a drinking water standard for the chemical perchlorate, 3) twisted the findings of an EPA funded air toxics study in Paterson, 4) moved to gut DEP Vapor Intrusion requirements, 5) issued Administrative Order 2010-3 which delayed and weakened water quality management rules, and 6) signaled to a Court a plan to nix the Highlands septic density standards, the core of water resource and land protection in that region.

Last, here are a few shameful Trenton environmental issues Martin might have seen had he walked Trenton’s neighborhoods – all within a half mile of the Statehouse and DEP building. But to Martin and Christie, these problems are invisible (of course, Martin mouths empty “environmental justice” platitudes). And of course Christie’s budget, housing, transportation, education and social service policies will make these problems of deep poverty, disproportionate negative environmental and public health impacts, and injustice far worse:








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Christie Earth Week Day 2: Back Door Man

April 21st, 2010 6 comments
Governor Christie takes the oath of office at his innagural. I wonder if he's given any thought to what kind of world will his children and grandchildren inherit?

Governor Christie takes the oath of office at his inaugural. I wonder if he's given any thought to what kind of world his children and grandchildren will inherit? Was that in the oath?

Christie’s did not discuss his cuts of $158 million from the Clean Energy Fund, which is funded by utility customers for programs that reduce greenhouse gases, and from other funds designated to save energy. He declined to take questions from reporters, leaving immediately after his speech via a back door. (Star Ledger 4/21/10)

I was going to write today about DEP Commissioner Martin’s games in Trenton yesterday, but just read that the Star Ledger reports that Governor Christie announced his new “business friendly” “energy and environment” policy at a highly unusual Rutgers “forum” yesterday.

The backdrop for the “forum” was Christie’s  wrecking ball to NJ’s renewable energy and global warming programs (see: CHRISTIE SHREDS NEW JERSEY CLIMATE CHANGE PROGRAMS — Kills Emission Reporting, Diverts Green Energy Fund & Defunds Climate Office and his assault on regulatory protections under the guise of eliminating “Red Tape” (see: CHRISTIE TO AXE JERSEY POLLUTION AND PUBLIC HEALTH RULES — “Red Tape Review Group” Issues Hit List of Regulations to Toss or Water Down

Let’s just say the Governor didn’t fool anyone, including Star Ledger reporter Abby Gruen, who rightly nailed the Governor multiple times in her story, in unusually good reporting.

Preferring to write my own material, I don’t usually do this kind of media analysis, but because this particular story raises so many important issues, lets break it down:

Right up front, the story sets the context for the speech, by providing an allusion to the elephants in the room I linked to above as the backdrop:

In one of his first policy addresses since presenting his budget, Gov. Chris Christie yesterday unveiled a business-friendly energy and environment plan at a forum sponsored by Rutgers University.

The unusual nature of the “forum” is made clear, properly informing readers and urging them to ask obvious questions:

Speaking to a small crowd at the State Theater in New Brunswick, Christie said that energy is an “engine of industry.”

Questions like: Why a small crowd small for such critical public policy issues during Earth Week? Rutgers knows how to turn out people for credible policy forums.

The NJ Environmental Federation, a panel member, knows how to organize and publicize an event and generate turnout. Why wasn’t this Governor’s policy level global warming related “forum” widely publicized by NJEF?

My sense is that this was a last minute, by invitation only, purely political event developed by the Governor’s Office and rammed down Rutgers’ throat in order to create a false appearance of academic legitimacy and substance to the Governor’s non existent “energy and environmental policy”. The Environmental Federation kept a low profile to avoid a protest by angry environmentalists, who can see through the spin and green cover that NJEF is providing the Governor.

The fact of the matter is that Christie – by his own admission – has no energy and environmental policy. His transition team recommended that he abandon the comprehensive Energy Master Plan developed over a 4 year period by the Corzine Administration, ironically with significant technical support from Rutgers University, the sponsor of this sham “forum”. Shame on Rutgers for legitimizing this political stunt!

He [Christie] said he and his administration will also be reviewing the 2008 Energy Master Plan over the next three months, but did not specify what changes would be made.

In addition to having no energy policy and abandoning good policy of the EMP, the Governor is slashing over $300 million in energy conservation, renewable energy, and global warming mitigation funds (not just the $158 million report by the Ledger). His budget zeroed the DEP Office of Climate Change, responsible for developing programs and regulations to implement the Global Warming Response Act and his regulatory moratorium killed a DEP proposed green house gas emissions monitoring regulation.

The Ledger story then captures the essence of this purely political stunt:

“The Lieutenant Governor and I are setting up a regulatory environment that is friendly to business,” Christie said.

In a nod to Earth Week, Christie said that his environmental policies will not be “incompatible to having a growing economy.”

Struggling to fill a $13 billion budget gap, and acknowledging that his cuts have made him unpopular in the polls, Christie said that when the state’s finances were in order he would move forward on other priorities, like the environment.

The emphasis on business in his energy address was welcomed by industry.

“We haven’t had that kind of attention paid to business in a while,” said Sara Bluhm, a spokeswoman for the New Jersey Business and Industry Association.

We heard the pretext about how the economy is driving his budget cuts and deregulatory moves on the environment. But the facts of the matter are:

1) because 80% of DEP’s budget comes from federal funds, and polluters fees and fines, there are virtually no taxpayer savings to be had by cutting DEP’s budget;

2) the Clean Energy Fund creates thousands of new jobs and supports hundreds of small businesses in NJ. These will be destroyed by the Christie cuts, thus harming the economy Christie claims to be promoting;

3) weakening DEP regulations costs NJ taxpayers and does nothing to stimulate economic development. NJ’s strict environmental regulations not only spur productivity growth and attract private investment in innovative technology, they match federal funds. Most importantly, strict regulations protect NJ’s “natural capital”, generating $20 billion/year in revenues and provide significant public health benefits – the best documented are the health care costs of hospital admissions triggered by air pollution, mostly in urban NJ. Those costs will rise substantially as New Jersey experiences far more 90-100 degree “bad air” days due to global warming (see this for complete NJ global warming impact assessment). Furthermore, there have been no credible studies that  show that NJ’s regulations harm the economy – instead, virtually all professional economists blame the Wall Street financial meltdown for causing the economic recession. Ironically, that Wall Street collapse was caused, in part, by the same deregulation and lax  government oversight policies Christie is promoting.

4) global warming is a crisis we are already experiencing in NJ, via increased coastal storm damage and major inland flooding. The economic costs of global warming will be in the billions, and the longer we delay responding, the larger those costs and impacts will get. So Christie’s policies are extremely shortsighted and highly irresponsible.

So, given how reckless and unjustified the Governor’s policies are on energy and the environment, we can understand why the Governor took the back door:

Christie’s did not discuss his cuts of $158 million from the Clean Energy Fund, which is funded by utility customers for programs that reduce greenhouse gases, and from other funds designated to save energy. He declined to take questions from reporters, leaving immediately after his speech via a back door.

But what we can’t understand is why Dave Pringle and the NJEF continue to provide cover for this Governor, given what we know thus far:

“It is significant and a positive sign that the governor sees energy policy as important and a means to grow us out of the economic problems we are in,” said David Pringle, campaign director for the New Jersey Environmental Federation, who was a panelist.

“That’s why we are so concerned about the cuts to the Clean Energy Fund because it is our seed money to grow the economy.”

That continuing cover is disgusting, because we know that Dave and the NJEF Board are aware of this (*Note: to avoid any confusion per anonymous comment, the below quote is from not the above Star Ledger story, although this should be obvious to readers by how my original used the link and specification of the term and link to “of this” as a preface, which very clearly sourced and linked the quote below it to my own blog, not the Ledger piece. This is standard blogging convention and sound journalistic practice. Additionally, I prefaced virtually all of the Ledger story content with intro material clearly sourcing it. And if the “anonymous” commenter thinks I have no credibility, he/she should put their name on that kind of BS comment!)

“[DEP Commissioner] Martin’s “fresh look” at DEP science already: 1) killed a proposed greenhouse gas monitoring rule, 2) abandoned a drinking water standard for the chemical perchlorate, 3) twisted the findings of an EPA funded air toxics study in Paterson, 4) moved to gut DEP Vapor Intrusion requirements, 5) issued Administrative Order 2010-3 which delayed and weakened water quality management rules, and 6) signaled to a Court a plan to nix the Highlands septic density standards, the core of water resource and land protection in that region.

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