Senate Dems Blast Christie Global Warming Cuts and DEP’s Abandonment of Perchlorate Drinking Water Standard
I will try both to summarize what went on and inject my analysis along the way.
While legislators – on a bipartisan basis – again expressed praise for streamlining DEP and cutting red tape, for the first time democratic legislators raised objections to some of Christie’s environmental cuts and deregulatory policies.
DEP Commissioner Martin opened the hearing with pretty much the same testimony he read to the Assembly Budget Committee (see this for Assembly hearing).
Perhaps in response to criticism, Martin claimed that budget cuts that zeroed funds to the DEP Office of Climate Change ($373,000 cut), Policy & Planning ($1.1 million cut), Affirmative Action, and non-lethal black bear management ($575,000 cut) would have no impact. Remarkably, Martin claimed that the current work of those programs would continue uninterrupted despite these deep cuts. Martin did not explain how he could zero out funding for those programs and still have them perform at the same level. This is part of a pattern of denial and failure to assume responsibility for the negative impact of his policies.
Senate Majority Leader Barbara Buono was first up and blasted DEP Commissioner Martin for killing a proposed drinking water standard for the chemical perchlorate.
Buono noted that perchlorate is toxic and creates risks to pregnant women and young children. She stressed that even short term exposure increases risks to developing infants and children, and that the perchlorate standard had been under scientific study by DEP for many years. Noting that California and Massachusetts already have adopted strict standards to protect their residents, Buono demanded to know why Martin killed the DEP proposal.
Martin’s reply was absolutely stunning and unprecedented in terms of its disingenuous attack on his own DEP scientists.
Martin correctly explained that the perchlorate proposal was frozen by Governor Christie’s moratorium under Executive Order #1 and Red Tape Review process.
Martin also failed to correct the record for the false statements he made regarding EPA’s efforts to develop drinking water standards “this summer”.
Instead of assuming responsibility, Martin attacked DEP scientists by claiming that when he attempted to review the scientific basis for the proposed standard, he found that DEP science was “shoddy, poor, not organized, and anecdotal” and that “there was little data and science to back it up”.
But we disclosed EPA emails that show that Martin’s rationale here is completely bogus. Martin ignored his own scientists – who are recognized national expert toxicologists – and waited until just days before the legal expiration date of the rule proposal to contact EPA scientists. Thus it was Martin’s mismanagement and Christie’s policy – not DEP science – that explain this failure to adopt the proposed standard.
Martin’s attack on DEP science is completely false and totally unacceptable testimony.
Worse, Martin then falsely claimed that there was no data documenting a public health risk from perchlorate. Martin said: “No one was able to document public health risks to me. No one came up with a scientific study that tells us what the health effects are – there were no numbers to back it up”.
Senator Buono then asked if there was no science supporting the proposals, then how did former DEP CommissionerÂ Mauriello justify the proposal?
Martin then claimed that Mauriello must have based the proposal on politics or policy.
Senator Buono, as co-prime sponsor of the Global Warming Response Act, then moved on to strongly opposed the Christie Administration’s diversions of over $300 million in Clean Energy Funds earmarked for energy efficiency, renewable energy, and global warming mitigation funds.
Buono began by asking Martin whether he thought global warming was a myth.
Martin said no, he thinks global warming is real.
Buono then said that it is hard to believe that the Christie Administration takes global warming seriously after diverting $300 million in RGGI and Clean Energy Funds.
Martin responded by offering some lame excuses about Christie’sÂ support off shore wind and that he was forced to make tough budget choices.
Buono reminded Martin that cuts would be counterproductive and kill green jobs, and that as a coastal state that NJ was uniquely vulnerable to global warming sea level rise and storms. She concluded by criticizing the Christie cuts as “tragic for the people of NJ and future generations.”
Chairman Sarlo raised concerns that local officials had not been notified about Christie $7 million diversion of Recycling Fund monies. Sarlo said this cut would have local budget impacts and force reductions in municipal recycling programs.
There were some fireworks when Republican Senator Michael Doherty revealed himself as a global warming denier and went on a right wing extremist rant against all forms of green energy (and this guy replaced the moderate pro-environment Leonard Lance! Yikes!)
Doherty objected to Senator Buono’s questions and Commissioner Martin’s testimony, and claimed that “man’s activities are not the cause of global warming“.
Doherty then proceeded on a rant: He attacked the NJ Global Warming Response Act as a “job killer”. Said wind and solar were 4 times more expensive than coal and would take coal power plants “cash cows” off line. Bragged that the US is “the Saudi Arabia of coal”. Doherty even praised Nazi coal gasification technologies developed during WW II to convert coal to jet fuel. Claimed Goldman Sachs was conspiring to bring us cap & trade legislation so that the US would “go billions of dollars in debts for wind to pay Goldman for it”.
DEP Commissioner Martin did not take exception to or challenge any ofÂ Doherty’s global warming denial claims and defend global warming science.
Martin merely presented the Chritie pro-wind policies and defended them on economic grounds. Martin claimed that wind manufacturing jobs were key to economic development; that over time wind costs would come down as the technology developed; and energy independence was an important national security concern. “From an economic point of view, we have our eye on the ball” Martin concluded.
After Doherty finished his global warming denying, coal supporting, Nazi technology praising, Goldman Sachs cap and trade conspiracy attack rant, he went on toÂ praise the Christie Red Tape Report and expand his rant to include attacks on DEP as an impediment to economic development; the Highlands Act as an unconstitutional taking of private property without just compensation; and call for local home rule at the Highlands Council.
Again, Commissioner Marin did not defend the Highlands Act, but merely said he had established a “stakeholder process” to inventory all the complaints about the Highlands Act and develop a legislative and regulatory agenda to respond toÂ them.Â But Martin failed to note several attacks he has engaged on the Highlands.
Legislators and the public need to start asking questions about these so called “stakeholder processes” to assure that they are transparent and open to the public.