Archive for October, 2010

Clean Drinking Water Petition Needs Public Support

October 24th, 2010 No comments

NJ PEER recently filed a petition to force the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to develop rules to require public disclosure, monitoring, and treatment for over 500 currently unregulated chemicals detected by DEP in NJ public water supplies (to read the petition, click here).

DEP has known for years that our water supplies are polluted by over 500 unregulated chemicals, with unknown health risk. (for example, the chemicals linked to a childhood cancer cluster in Toms River were unregulated, and they still are).

It is way past time that DEP take regulatory action to reduce health risks, warn the public about the problem, and require currrently available treatment technologies to clean up our water supplies.

The scientific basis for the petition is DEP’s own policy paper:

To read the PEER press release and supporting documents, click here.

Public notice of the petition was published in the October 18, NJ Register (See below).

DEP will be making a decision on the petition in the next 30 days. DEP needs to hear from you!

We urge our environmental group colleagues and their members to endorse the petition and to lobby DEP Commissioner Martin to approve the petition.

We urge readers to email Bob.Martin@DEP.State.NJ.US or write to DEP Commissioner Martin in support of the petition at:

Bob Martin, Commissioner NJDEP

401 East State Street, CN 001

Trenton NJ 08625unreg

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Harvest Moon over Rocktown

October 23rd, 2010 No comments

harvest moon2

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Breaking: NY Times Discovers Vast Corporate Global Warming Disinformation Campaign

October 22nd, 2010 6 comments

Big Oil, Tea Party, Religious Fundies and Right Wing Media Exposed – 30 Years Too Late

[Update 2: 10/25/10 – Oh my, NY Times again: Texas oil money fueling California Prop. 23 to “suspend” global warming law AB 32; while billionaire Koch brothers coordinate secret Tea Party strategy] 

Update 1: 10/25/10 – Chris Hedges column today expresses exactly my views, and far more eloquently than I do:

The lunatic fringe of the Republican Party, which looks set to make sweeping gains in the midterm elections, is the direct result of a collapse of liberalism. It is the product of bankrupt liberal institutions, including the press, the church, universities, labor unions, the arts and the Democratic Party. The legitimate rage being expressed by disenfranchised workers toward the college-educated liberal elite, who abetted or did nothing to halt the corporate assault on the poor and the working class of the last 30 years, is not misplaced. The liberal class is guilty. The liberal class, which continues to speak in the prim and obsolete language of policies and issues, refused to act. It failed to defend traditional liberal values during the long night of corporate assault in exchange for its position of privilege and comfort in the corporate state. The virulent right-wing backlash we now experience is an expression of the liberal class’ flagrant betrayal of the citizenry. 

After letting corporate liars get away with a campaign of unchallenged lies and disinformation for years, the NY Times finally reports the news - and they put it on Page 1:

Climate Change Doubt Is Tea Party Article of Faith

My favorite quotes from the story: (validating this classic 1967 essay)

“It’s a flat-out lie,” Mr. Dennison said in an interview after the debate, adding that he had based his view on the preaching of Rush Limbaugh and the teaching of Scripture. “I read my Bible,” Mr. Dennison said. “He made this earth for us to utilize.”

and this one:

“This so-called climate science is just ridiculous,” said Kelly Khuri, founder of the Clark County Tea Party Patriots. “I think it’s all cyclical.”

“Carbon regulation, cap and trade, it’s all just a money-control avenue,” Ms. Khuri added. “Some people say I’m extreme, but they said the John Birch Society was extreme, too.”

and this one:

And 8 percent of Tea Party adherents volunteered that they did not believe global warming exists at all, while only 1 percent of other respondents agreed.

Those views in general align with those of the fossil fuel industries, which have for decades waged a concerted campaign to raise doubts about the science of global warming and to undermine policies devised to address it.

They have created and lavishly financed institutes to produce anti-global-warming studies, paid for rallies and Web sites to question the science, and generated scores of economic analyses that purport to show that policies to reduce emissions of climate-altering gases will have a devastating effect on jobs and the overall economy.

Their views are spread by a number of widely followed conservative opinion leaders, including Mr. Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, George Will and Sarah Palin, who oppose government programs to address climate change and who question the credibility and motives of the scientists who have raised alarms about it.

Groups that help support Tea Party candidates include climate change skepticism in their core message. Americans for Prosperity, a group founded and largely financed by oil industry interests, has sponsored what it calls a Regulation Reality Tour to stir up opposition to climate change legislation and federal regulation of carbon emissions. Its Tea Party talking points describe a cap-and-trade system to reduce carbon emissions as “the largest excise tax in history.”

Wow. I’m speechless.

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Headed “Back to the Stone Age” on a “Road to Ruin”

October 22nd, 2010 1 comment

Even the Wall Street Journal Gets It

Governor Christie’s cancellation of the ARC Hudson River rail tunnel project is just one more indicator of accelerating decline (see today’s AP national story: Infrastructure projects in N.J., other U.S. states put on hold amid struggling economy, spending slowdown 

(and no, I am not surprised that Christie got caught lying about his political rationale for killing the project).

Christie’s ideologically driven thinking reminded me of a bizarre Wall Street Journal story I read this summer. A must read WS Journal story reported:

Roads to Ruin: Towns Rip Up the Pavement

Asphalt Is Replaced By Cheaper Gravel; ‘Back to Stone Age’


Paved roads, historical emblems of American achievement, are being torn up across rural America and replaced with gravel or other rough surfaces as counties struggle with tight budgets and dwindling state and federal revenue. State money for local roads was cut in many places amid budget shortfalls.

This is the natural result of  an unchallenged 30 year campaign of right wing conservative attacks on government and taxes.

This period of right wing organizing was accompanied by a virtual withdrawal and abdication by those that support government programs and progressive values. Right wingers have filled that vacuum and hijacked populist and progressive agenda.

Recent develpments are consistent with and more evidence for the collapse of empire theory.

History shows that military over-reach and huge expenditures on the military industrial complex lead to a downward spiral: huge budget deficits, cuts in domestic social programs, lack of private investment in production and a shift to financial speculation, faltering economy, the rise of an oligarchical class as the midddle class is destroyed by rising economic inequality, and ultimately collapse of democracy and the imperial project.

And the most recent Republican assault was all predicted by author Naomi Kline in her superb book “The Shock Doctrine” (which I applied to Christie policy in this post).

Scary to think that we are living through the Twilght of American culture and collapse of the US empire as the world simultaneously faces the ultimate limits to growth caused by: peak oil and gobal climate change.

Have a good weekend!

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My First Taste of NJ Corruption

October 21st, 2010 No comments

[Update below]

The death of Cary Edwards reminds me of my first taste of NJ corruption – and my one and only indirect experience with Mr. Edwards.

Here’s the story:

In late 1980’s, I was with DEP and was negotiating the terms of a $48 million state DEP loan to the Newark garbage incinerator project.

The source of state funds was the 1985 Resource Recovery and Solid Waste Disposal Facility Bond Act (a voter approved loan program).

After months of negotiation, at the final meeting (at the Newark office of the bond counsel law firm) where the parties were expected to execute the loan, the Deputy Attorney General  (DAG) Nancy Stiles suddenly reversed course and refused to sign the loan agreement.

DAG Stiles claimed the terms of the loan were flat out illegal because they effectively turned a $48 million loan into a revenue producing grant, thereby violating IRS regulations and the NJ constitution (because voters had approved a bond referrendum for a loan program, not a grant program).

The Essex County representative who led the meeting was furious (his name was Curtis Meanor, I think he was a retired judge, because people called him “judge”).

He exploded, his face got red as a beet, he pounded the table, and called DAG Stiles a “little bitch”.

He then demanded that she immediately call her boss, Attorney General Cary Edwards. Meanor claimed that the loan terms were guaranteed by a hand shake deal between Governors Tom Kean and Mario Cuomo.

I was shocked by all this.

The meeting was suspended so that the State team could caucus. In my presence, DAG Stiles then called AG Edwards and briefed him over the phone.

Shortly thereafter, while on the phone, she turned white as a ghost.

The phone conversation ended abruptly.

We then resumed the meeting.

DAG Stiles said” “The State of NJ is prepared to execute the loan”

The DAG proceeded to execute the loan agreement and the meeting ended shortly thereafter.

That was my first taste of NJ corruption.

On the ride back to Trenton with my boss Joe Wiley, whom I respected (he was Ivy League undergrad and grad, Peace Corps volunteer) I asked him WTF just went on and what we were going to do about it.

His advice: “Bill, you’re just starting out on a promising career. There’s lot’s of interesting work at DEP. Let me give you something else to work on.”

I bit my tongue and lost all respect for my boss – as well as a little self respect.

[Update: 10/29/10 – maybe IRS can look into the Newark incinerator financing like this, per Star Ledger: IRS audits $1.375B in bonds issued by N.J. Turnpike Authority ~~~ end update]

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