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What You Won’t Hear on TV News About the Blizzard

December 27th, 2010 2 comments

Exactly these extreme weather events are predicted by global warming models

[Update 3: 1/25/11 – The New York Times does an interesting story, as explanations and theories begin to emerge: Cold Jumps Arctic “Fence”, Stoking Winter’s Fury –

The deeper issue is whether this pattern is linked to the rapid changes that global warming is causing in the Arctic, particularly the drastic loss of sea ice. At least two prominent climate scientists have offered theories suggesting that it is. But others are doubtful, saying the recent events are unexceptional, or that more evidence over a longer period would be needed to establish a link.

Since satellites began tracking it in 1979, the ice on the Arctic Ocean’s surface in the bellwether month of September has declined by more than 30 percent. It is the most striking change in the terrain of the planet in recent decades, and a major question is whether it is starting to have an effect on broad weather patterns.

Ice reflects sunlight, and scientists say the loss of ice is causing the Arctic Ocean to absorb more heat in the summer. A handful of scientists point to that extra heat as a possible culprit in the recent harsh winters in Europe and the United States.

Their theories involve a fast-moving river of air called the jet stream that circles the Northern Hemisphere. Many winters, a strong pressure difference between the polar region and the middle latitudes channels the jet stream into a tight circle, or vortex, around the North Pole, effectively containing the frigid air at the top of the world.

[Update 2: 12/29/10 – Ed Rodgers of NJN TV does a story on NJ’s extreme weather – but State Climatologist Robinson, as usual, rejects global warming links and actually says it is NOT climate change (while speculating about La Nina), says “meteorology trumped climatology”. Robinson should talk to Dr. Cohen, who has a very different analysis]

Update 1: 12/28/10Superb interview of Dr. Paul Epstein, associate director of the Center for Health and the Global Environment at Harvard Medical School. Click on and Watch it! (w/transcript]

Global warming is real and it’s already here. (see broader Northeastern US impact assessment).

While science can not say for sure that global warming (climate change) “caused” this specific blizzard (weather), the news media should try to begin to educate the public about the relationships between weather and climate; the differences between “warming” and “weather”; and inform people that the bizzard is exactly the kind of extreme weather event predicted by global warming models.

This is a teachable moment. Millions of people watch their local weatherman every day!

People don’t associate blizzards with “global warming”. They associate them with Ice Ages, a false perception that the global warming deniers are taking advantage of.

But instead of doing this education, the public is getting bad information or having misperceptions reinforced and validated.

Here is Jim Hansen’s take:

The standard scientist answer is “you cannot blame a specific weather/climate event on global warming.” That answer, to the public, translates as “no”. However, if the question were posed as “would these events have occurred if atmospheric carbon dioxide had remained at its pre-industrial level of 280 [parts per million] ppm?”, an appropriate answer in that case is “almost certainly not.” That answer, to the public, translates as “yes”, i.e., humans probably bear a responsibility for the extreme event.

In either case, the scientist usually goes on to say something about probabilities and how those are changing because of global warming. But the extended discussion, to much of the public, is chatter. The initial answer is all important. Although either answer can be defended as “correct”, we suggest that leading with the standard caveat “you cannot blame” is misleading and allows a misinterpretation about the danger of increasing extreme events.

I am not an expert on this stuff and don’t hang at weather or global warming sites, so I did a quick Google turned up this discussion of whether global warming “produced” last October’s Nor’easter, but not much on yesterday’s blizzard.

So I thought I’d provide relevant excerpts from the recent NY State Sea Level Rise Task Force Report to the Legislature (great timing, it’s draft and now open for public comment!) and NJ’s Coastal Assessment (known as the 309 Assessment, August 2010 draft)

The Sea is Rising

Our climate is changing, causing the world’s seas to rise. Since 1970, New York State has witnessed incrementally higher increases in average temperatures than the rest of the United States, an increase nearly twice the global average. These changes have resulted in warmer winters and hotter summers and other changes in the form of fewer, but heavier snows and heavier, more intense rainfall and storms. The warming produced by global climate change causes the sea level to rise because warmer water takes up more space and higher temperatures are melting ice sheets around the globe. New York Harbor has experienced an increase in sea level of more than 15 inches in the past 150 years, with harbor tide gauges showing a rise of between 4 and 6 inches since 1960.

Findings:

1. Sea level rise and coastal flooding from storm surge are already impacting and will increasingly affect New York’s entire ocean and estuarine coastline from Montauk Point to the Battery and up the Hudson River to the federal dam at Troy. New York must act now to address the challenge of sea level rise.
 
2. The likelihood that powerful storms will hit New York State’s coastline is very high, as is the associated threat to human life and coastal infrastructure. This vulnerability will increase in area and magnitude over time.
 
From NJ’s Coastal Zone Assessment, which classified coastal storms as a “hig risk” “high priority” concern:
Many parts of New Jersey’s densely populated coast are highly vulnerable to the effects of flooding, storm surge, episodic erosion, chronic erosion, sea level rise, extra-tropical, and to a somewhat lesser albeit not at all unimportant degree, tropical storms. The risk to the State’s coast posed by each of these particular hazards is also likely to be complicated by anticipated changes in regional climate in the future. Hazards identified as a high level of risk have been so identified through historical experience and vulnerability to coastal hazards as documented within each county’s Multi-Hazard Mitigation Plan (produced in accordance with Federal Emergency Management Agency guidance under the Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000) and assessments produced by both the federal government and regional academic institutions.
 
New Jersey’s coastal area is comprised of a variety of different landscape types ranging from elevated headlands to wave-dominated and mixed-energy barrier islands to extensive mosaics of tidal and freshwater wetlands. Although each of these areas has evolved uniquely in response to their respective environmental conditions over many millennia, the entirety of New Jersey’s coastal area is subject to the damaging impact of coastal hazards including riverine and coastal flooding and gale-force winds from hurricanes, nor’Easters and extreme rain events. Although the scale, duration and seasonality of each of these coastal hazards varies by storm, the proximity of much of New Jersey’s coastal population and infrastructure to areas impacted by these hazards, as well as long-term hazards such as chronic erosion, has resulted in the potential for damaging consequences to the welfare of people and property during future storm events. This circumstance is exacerbated by long-term biophysical and climate trends which indicate that New Jersey will likely be subject to higher sea levels, an accompanying loss of natural coastal buffers (leading subsequently to more extensive overland storm surges and periodic inundation/flooding) as well as a trend toward stronger storm events, albeit occurring with greater irregularity and/or frequency. The sum consequence is the need for coastal managers and planners to accurately identify natural hazard risks and vulnerabilities throughout New Jersey’s coastal area in order to provide proactive guidance in planning and mitigating against potentially damaging future events.

A recent characterization of the anticipated coastal impact of sea level rise was produced by Princeton University researchers in 20051. The researchers created projections of future sea level rise based on a combination of a derivation of the combined sea level rise from global and local factors, yielding an estimated range of between .31 and 1.10 meters by the year 2100. The researchers then applied sea level rise inundation levels considered to be most likely (.71 meters, which, due to limits in data precision at the time, was approximated as .61 meter/2 feet) and highest end (1.10 meters, approximated to be 1.22 meter/4 feet) upon available state elevation data. The result was that 1 – 3% of New Jersey’s land area would likely be subject to permanent inundation by the end of the century. Projecting these same sea level rise estimates onto the base flood elevations of present special flood hazard areas, the researchers concluded that 6.5 – 9% of the State would thus be subject to special flood hazard area designation.

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Ducks Cross The Delaware

December 25th, 2010 No comments

ducks

Breaking: Ducks Cross Icy Delaware River Waters

Trenton, NJ – Six ducks were seen crossing the Delaware River at Titusville early this morning, as a Christmas nor’easter continued to dump heavy rains on the region. The lone female was accompanied by five male ducks, reportedly not her brothers. Flocks of geese also were seen flying overhead.

The Times sent a team of investigative reporters and artists to monitor duck developments and bring you exclusive coverage of this breaking news story (enjoy our exclusive illustrations!)

dReligious leaders complained that publication of the illustrations would send the wrong message to young women about multiple sex partners and sex outside of marriage.

Government officials also opposed publication on the grounds that the ducks’ locations would compromise national security and be used by colonial insurgents as a recruitment tool.

Although no ducks were seen in the river by Trenton, Times reporters that are embedded with British Troops in Trenton Barracks also contributed to this Report.

According to British officials in Trenton, troops have joined with Hessian coalition forces to celebrate Christmas. They continue to work effectively together in the joint “surge” strategy announced early last year by King George.

The “surge” has tamped down insurgent forces, leading to greater security throughout the colonies.

Princeton22Meanwhile, scientists at the College of NJ at Princeton warned that the rains could destroy vulnerable British forts and troop locations throughout the entire northeastern colonies. Such destruction would only work to build insurgent momentum, they say. Global raining models support their argument, they say.

Scientists noted that rainfall was the highest in a decade and that their calculations showed rainfall would increase. As rainfall continues to run off the ducks backs and feed floodwaters, this ultimately will devastate colonial military infrastructure, they claim.

Scientists’ models predict a humiliating defeat by insurgent colonists, whose momentum, military prowess, and support among flood victims and colonists are building.

The predicted destruction of British forces is caused by increasing rainfall levels, which fuel insurgents and lift the tide of the insurgency scientists conclude.

“We are witnessing a colonial catastrophy that will lead to complete imperial collapse in North America – the surge is a failure and the King and his military leaders are incompetent hacks”, warned Dr. Bill Wolfe.

Note for Dave Pruingle - Major John Andre. A so called Princeton Grad like is well versed in this history. Do the Wiki if you forgot.

Note for Dave Pringle – Major John Andre. A so called Princeton Grad like you is well versed in this history. Do the Wiki if you forgot.

Wolfe is an expert in global raining and insurgency and a frequent critic of government policy.

Wolfe claimed that his calculations projected that British control would be washed away and replaced by insurgents, who would establish a new North American government power that would dominate world affairs for the next 250 years, before collapsing from imperial over-reach, wars, greed, corporate control, and apathy sometime around 2000.

But the scientists views were scoffed at by the King’s spokesmen and high level British military and diplomatic officials, who requested to remain annonymous.

“The King’s surge in Trenton and throughout the colonies is working, particularly in the northeast colonies. The formation of our Hessian coalition and expanded security training of Hessian forces has shown great results“, a high level diplomatic source said.

“Our diplomatic and military counterinsurgency strategy has turned the corner and neutralized colonial insurgents. There is light at the end of the tunnel, and British prestige will be maintained” said British military leader, General Betray-Us.

“The King’s efforts are protecting the British homeland and are the glory of an expanding empire” concluded a high level King’s official.

PaineLast week the King himself  joked that the theory of global raining and the alleged power of  colonial insurgents is a total myth, with absolutely no supporting evidence. The King summarily dismissed the consensus view of scientists as “a big lie crafted by left wing insurgent propagandists, like Tom Paine.”

Dave Pringle of the NJ Environmental Federation agreed with the King’s controvesial remarks.

“The King was speaking off the cuff” Pringle said. “King George’s leadership has created a model of military effectivenesss. I have commitments from the King’s Administration that British interests will be protected in the colonies.”

Pringle concluded that “We look forward to continue to work with the King and his officials in keeping Britain safe from insurgent forces.”

(see illustrations of river conditions below)

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A more graphic depiction of the fate of the good Major Andre.

A more graphic depiction of the fate of the good Major Andre.

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EPA Greenhouse Gas Rules: A “Modest” and Empty Plan

December 23rd, 2010 No comments


 

I just got off a press conference call on EPA’s announced new greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions standards.

Today, EPA announced that they would issue “New Source Performance Standards” (NSPS) under the Clean Air Act for GHG emissions from coal and oil power plants and refineries (see this for background on EPA’s approach to GHGs).

EPA merely announced schedules for the new rules and refused to comment on any substance.

Oil/coal NSPS rules will be proposed by 7/26/11 and adopted by 5/26/12. Rules for refineries will be proposed by 12/8/11 and adopted by 11/15/12.

By way of background, the rules stem from the 2007 US Supreme Court’s decision in Massachusetss v. EPA that found that GHG are “pollutants” under the Clean Air Act. In that decision, the Supreme Court directed EPA to make a regulatory determination under the Clean Air Act.

In response, EPA issued a finding that GHG emissions “endanger” public health and welfare. Several states and environmental groups then filed petitions to force EPA to enact meaningful regulations.

Today’s announced plan to adopt NSPS rules result from Settlement agreements EPA entered into under that litigation. EPA entered into two settlement agreements to issue rules to address greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel-fired power plants and refineries.  These two industrial sectors make up nearly 40 percent of the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions.

So the take home point is that this is not about EPA leadership, but rather EPA response to litigation and Court mandates.

There are about 500 coal or oil power plants and 150 refineries currently operating in the US that could be subject to the new standards IF they make “major modifications”, or IF states voluntarily decide to fully incorporate and apply federal emission guidelines.

Under the Clean Air Act, it is important to note that EPA national NSPS do NOT apply to existing plants, which are left to State programs under State plans. EPA issues emissions guidelines that states may consider in their State Plans (see above Section 111(d) looppholes).

EPA repeatedly refused to talk about any substantive aspect of the new rules or to estimate a range of potential GHG emissions reductions the rules might achieve.

During the press briefing, EPA’s Assistant Administrator for Air used all the code words that signal weakness and dodge Congressional minefields.

She repeatedly stressed that any new rules would be: 1) modest; 2) cost effective; 3) flexible; 4) common sense; 5) made part of existing EPA sector based NSPS air toxics and criteria pollutat permit programs; and 6) phased in by EPA and States. She repeatedly refused to estimate ANY level of emission reduction or how many existing plants the new rules could impact.

In response to reporters who repeatedly asked the political hot button question about Republican opposition in Congress, EPA emphasized that: 1) the NSPS were NOT a cap and trade system; 2) did NOT establish a price on carbon; 3) did NOT involve EPA setting an overall emissions reduction goal: and 4) were based on the longstanding Clean Air Act NSPS program and therefore did NOT require new Congressional authorization (but this will not shield this proposal from Congressional oversight).

The new NSPS rules will be based on existing technology at existing coal and oil power plant and refineries.

In repeatedly downplaying the significance of the new rules (i.e. the EPA AA for air actually called the proposal “business as usual“), EPA touted decades long experience with these “heavily regulated” sectors. During this period, EPA said they had documented several existing technologies that can provide significant opportunities to significantly reduce emissions cost effectively. Based on this regulatory experience, EPA estimated the significant GHG emissions reductions could be made by technology investments that had payback periods from at little as 3 months to 3 years.

Yet, despite this claimed extensive experience and well known cost effective GHG emission reduction opportunities, EPA refused to identify one technology or provide an estimate – or range – of potential GHG emissions reductions that were feasible or could be expected to result from the new rules.

The EPA NSPS limited sector approach is the worst of all possible  worlds, for at least three reasons:

1. It can not cap and reduce emissions, or get us to meaningful emissions reduction goals

The plan is a huge disappointment to any environmentalist who had hoped EPA would use existing authority under Section 108 NAAQS of the Clean Air Act to comprehensively and aggressively regulate GHG emissions in the wake of the death of the cap and trade legislation and new Republican control of the House of Representatives.

The flaws are several:

  • the approach is limited to just 2 industry sectors and will apply to only 40% of current GHG emissions
  • there are no overall GHG emission reduction goals or requirements linked to the individual plant specific NSPS permitting technology based approach. Thus, the rules can not block new coal power plants or increases in current GHG emissions.
  • EPA NSPS are based on costs factors and existing technology – they are not technology forcing.
  • EPA NSPS consider costs and States may balance plant specific costs and economic factors. This defaults to the lowest common denominator at the State level and which will undermine the ability to secure needed deep reductions.
  • EPA national NSPS apply directly to only to new facilities or major modifications of existing facilities – states are given flexibility to apply EPA emission guidelines to existing facilities.
  • States have great flexibility to set standards for existing facilities, both in terms of the substance and the schedules to implement GHG emisison controls. So coal dominant states like Ohio, Illinois, Pennsylvania will not limit emissions from existing coal plants and EPA can not force them to do so.

2. It will prompt furious industry opposition and political attacks in Congress – all pain, no gain.

Regardless of these shortcomings, politically powerful coal and oil inteterests nonetheless will see EPA regulation as a potential threat and attack and oppose the proposal strenuously.

3. It is conceptualy flawed and can not be integrated into internation Climate Change treaty efforts

For policy wonks, the proposal is conceptually flawed, because the technology based approach under the Clean Air Act’s “New Source Perfomacne Standards” (NSPS) approach is not tied to any national  emission reduction targets (i.e it is NOT a cap). Thus, NSPS can not address the fundamental objective of a GHG policy: to cap and reduce overall current emissions to meet a numeric global warming goal (e.g. 350 ppm atmospheric CO2 concentration) or overall national reduction goal as part of an enforceable global warming initiative under UN processes.

This is go slow status quo – not change we can believe in.

It will be intersting to see how this plays ou in corporate press. All the big news outlets participated (WaPo, NY Times, Wall Street Journal, CBS, Reuters, Dow Jones, USA Today, LA Times, McClatchey, Politico, et al)  but all reporters asked questions that suggested they were deeply confused about basics, like how NSPS program works and how technolgy based emission controls compare to a cap and trade approach.

Interestingly, the EPA spokesperson was NOT Administrator Lisa Jackson – I sensed that using the EPA Assistant Administrator for Air as EPA spokesperson was an attempt to downplay this as “business as usual” to mute harsh Congressional and business community reaction.

My guess is that national enviro’s will salute it – warts and all – in an all too typical effort to build support, but really this stance is just a political compromise that reveals weakness and fear of Congress and industry oppostion.

[note: technical portions of the original post were slightly revised and corrected. Conclusions have not been changed.]

[Update 3 – Bingo! at least the McClatchy  story gets it right (McClatchy was the only news outlet with the integrity to expose the Bush Administration’s Iraw war justification as a fraud too):

Existing plants – about 500 coal-fired power plants and 150 refineries – would continue to operate as usual until states impose their own regulations.

Does anyone think that new Republican Governors in Pennsylvania and Ohio will impose strong regulations on all their dirty coal plants? No way that happens. If you believe it will, I’ve got some real estate in Florida for you!

Update 2 – 12/24/10 – Consider this absurdity:

Under the Clean Air Air Section 108-110 NAAQS program, EPA strictly regulates billions of consumer products – from paints, hairspray, and deodorants to lawn mowers and ATV’s – to get tiny emission reductions to reduce respiratory disease (via ground level ozone and fine particulate NAAQS).

I don’t want to downplay the significance of respiratory disease, but if EPA can do all that to reduce human respiratory diseases, why can’t EPA use the same strict regulations to reduce GHG emissions that are killing planetary scale ecosystems and thousands of people?

Why can’t EPA do more than just “modest” regulations to only slightly reduce GHG emissions from 650 large industrial plants that produce less than 40% of GHG emissions (and with no specific emission reductions even specified)?

EPA has very successfully improved air quality over the ast 40 years using the CAA NAAQS approach.  So we know what works.

EPA’s failure to invest same level of effort for GHG emissions using the same effective  NAAAQS tools is absurd and reflects not science, but anti-regulatory ideology and the political power of special interests to cow EPA (no pun).

Because yes, I favor regulating methane emissions fom cows too. There is lots we can do, from reducing the amount of meat and dairy we eat, to reducing the size of the herd and changing the way we feed and graze cattle.

And yes Obama supporters, I  know all about the EPA “Tailoring rule” and wrote a similar analysis last December: EPA Proposed Global Warming Rule Would Protect Polluters by Locking in Loopholes

Note – I changed the original title to avoid valid criticism of inaccurately comparing the Bush and Obama EPA. The Bush administration declined to regulate coal/oil power an refinery emissions at all – while the Obama EPA took a tiny “modest” step to do so (EPA’s own words in EPA press release headline).  Plus, the EPA plan is only a schedule, it has no content and is thus by definition “empty”. end update]

Update 1: There are different options under the Clean Air Act for regulating Greenhouse gas emissions. To understand the flaws in the EPA’s NSPS sector based approach announced today requires a broader discussion of alternative approaches to regulating GHG under the Clean Air Act discussed by the Bush EPA in the July 2008 ANPR.  

The Obama EPA took same wrong path Bush took. Obama EPA rejected the stronger, science based Section 108 National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) criteria pollutant approach in favor of pursuing the “flexible”, “cost effective”, and “political feasible” Section 111 NSPS Sector approach.

Under Section 108 NAAQS: (page 44,367):

Section 108 of the CAA requires EPA to identify and list air pollutants that “˜cause or contribute to air pollution which may reasonably be anticipated to endanger public health or welfare.”. For such pollutants, EPA promulgates “primary” and “secondary” NAAQS. The primary standard is defined as the level which, in the judgment of the EPA Administrator, based on scientific criteria, and allowing for an adequate margin of safety, is requisite to protect the public health. The secondary standard is defined as the level which is requisite to protect the public welfare. Within one year of EPA of a new or revised NAAQS, each State must designate its regions as nonattainment, attainment, or unclassifiable. Within three years from the NAAQS promulgation, States are required to adopt and submit to EPA a State implementation plan (SIP) providing for the implementation, maintenance, and enforcement of the NAAQS. ….. the courts have held that when setting a NAAQS, EPA cannot consider important policy factors such as cost of compliance.

Using the 108 NAAQS criteria pollutant approach would have allowed EPA to adopt 350 ppm as a NAAQS, set that standard irrespective of costs, defined the entire country as a non-attainmetn zone, and directly regulated all emission sources, not just 2 sectors that account for less thnan 40% of total emissions. Section 108 NAAQS is faster, science based, puts EPA in charge, does not consider costs, and is stronger overall than the EPA seelcted Section 111 NSPS approach.

The EPA NSPS Section 111(d) sector approach is flawed, as outlined by EPA ANPR (@  page 44,487). Basically, the NSPS consider costs and allow coal powered states with grandfathered existing soruces to take advantage of huge loopholes in EPA rules:

Instead of giving EPA direct authority to set national standards applicable to existing sources in the source category, section 111(d) provides that EPA shall establish a procedure for states to issue performance standards for existing sources in that source category. Under the 111(d) mechanism, EPA first develops regulations known as “emission guidelines”. These may be issued at the same time or after an NSPS for the source category is promulgated. Although called “guidelines”,they establish binding requirements that states are required to address when they develop plans to regulate the existing sources in their jurisdictions. These state plans are similar to [Note: not legally the same as] state implementation plans and must be submitted to EPA for approval. …. In the event that a state does not adopt and submit a plan, EPA has authority to then issue a federal plan covering affected sources.[Note: what happens if a state has a crappy plan?]…, both the statute and EPA implementing section 111(d) recognize that existing sources may not always have the capability to achieve the same levels of control at reasonable cost as new sources. The statute and EPA regulations in 40 CFR 60.24 permit states and EPA to set less stringent standards or longer compliance schedules for existing sources where warranted considering cost of control; useful life of the facilities; location or process design at a particular facility; physical impossibility of installing necessary control equipment; or other factors making less stringent limits or longer compliance schedules appropriate. [that spells LOOPHOLE]

The Bush EPA rejected the Section 108 NAAQS approach as too costly and politically infeasible.

So did Obama and Lisa Jackson. Same as Bush – this is not change we can believe in].

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Dupont Fined for Coverup of Chemical Health Risks

December 22nd, 2010 4 comments

Suppress Rat Studies, Get EPA fine – Poison People, Get EPA Grants & Sweetheart Deals 

[Update: 12/29/10 – At least I’m not the only one disgusted by the Dupont story – see Charleston Gazette’s post by Ken Ward: EPA cuts pre-Christmas deal with DuPont

Ward is a professional journalist and he shares my concern on key points, including what I called a news blackout in NJ:

an EPA announcement was withheld until the middle of the busy holiday week. And perhaps I’ve missed it, but I haven’t been able to find much media coverage of the deal. If a quiet announcement was intended, then EPA and DuPont succeeded]

The US EPA just announced enforcement action against Dupont, issuing a $3.3 million fine for failure to disclose scientific studies of Dupont chemicals that pose “a substantial risk of injury to human health and the environment” (read the EPA enforcement document).

Interestingly, EPA’s press release yesterday generated at least 59 media stories, per Google, but not ONE from NJ. That NJ news blackout ought to tell you something. [Correction: Ed Rogers of NJN TV ran the story last night. I missed it because I don’t have a TV and Google media doesn’t track TV. Clarification: Jim Oneill of the Bergen Record has done many great stories on Dupont]

Dupont hid 176 scientific studies on the health effects of their chemicals. Such studies are required by law to be disclosed to US EPA under the “Toxic Substances Control Act” (TSCA).

This is not the first time Dupont has been caught in a scientific coverup – in 2005, EPA took another major enforcement action and fined Dupont $10 million.

The irony and absurdity of the situation was not lost on us.

You see, the studies Dupont covered up were rat inhalation studies, where rats were exposed to chemical vapors. For hiding rat exposure studies, Dupont is fined millions.

But for coverup of Dupont exposing people to chemical vapors in at least 450 homes in Pompton lakes NJ, Dupont gets off scot free.  No EPA enforcement Action – No fines and penalties.

Nada – Zilch – Zippo – – Instead of enforcement crackdown, residents get just EPA press stunts and manipulation of the citizens and chronic failure to mandate cleanup and promotion of real estate development.

Nor did we miss the absurdity of the fact that Dupont’s total lack of scientific integrity and compliance with environmental laws is seen as a qualification for membership  on the recently created NJ DEP’s Science Advisory Board.

And how about the hypocrisy of Dupont’s intimidation and attacks on the credibility of DEP scientists? They actively suppress their own science, politicize DEP science, and then have the balls to attack the integrity of DEP scientists?

Or the absurdity of Dupont’s sweetheart deal with DEP for Natural Resource Damages?

Or the disgusting irony that a company that repeatedly has been shown to lack scientific integrity and fail to comply with environmental laws, under NJ law is sufficiently trusted and allowed to privately self certify compliance with NJ’s privatized toxic site cleanup laws and receive liabilty protection from additional cleanup.

Or the ludicrous fact that the Obama Administration gave Dupont NEPA exemptions  and $8.9 million in stimulus grants (to a company with more than $30 billion in sales).

Dupont has poisoned communities throughout NJ.

At the Dupont Chambersworks facility in Deepwater, toxic chemical PFOA has been found in drinking water – Dupont paid an $85 million settlement and $285 million for medical monitoring in a West Virginia PFOA case. But nothing so far in NJ.

Dupont facilities create catastrophic risks where millions of neighbors could be killed by a plant release, yet they lobby Congress to block protections and corrupt EPA.

Dupont has a long and sordid history of poisoning workers, neighboring communities, and the environment.

Let me share just one smoking gun that perfectly illustrates the evil criminality of Dupont’s corporate conduct, an excerpt from David Michael’s superb book “Doubt is Their Product – How Industry’s Assault on Science Threatens Your Health“.

Michaels recalls working with medical students at Albert Einstein College, investigating workers’ health at a Bound Brook, NJ chemical plant (then known as Calco Chemicals, then American Cyanamid, now Wyeth):

“… The union members told us that the Raritan River downstream from the factory would run red some days, blue others, and green others, depending on the work product at the time. They also told us about the bladder cancers that were afflicting several of their co-workers and about their lawsuit against Dupont, which produced the chemicals then used in the manufacture of the dyes. These chemicals are known generically as aromatic amines … The workers’ lawsuits had ended abruptly some years earlier, when Dupont’s lawyers produced a letter dated 1947 from a medical director for the company warning the medical director of Calco of the hazards on beta-Naphthylamine (BNA), one of the chemicals in question. The workers’ attorney told them Dupont would have been legally liable only if it had known or should have known of the risks posed by BNA and then failed to tell its customers. Since it had warned Calco of the dangers, their attorneys explained, Dupont was off the legal hook, and under workers’ compensation laws, workers are barred from suing their employer. The men with bladder cancer would have to settle for workers’ compensation payments, which would cover their medical bills and only a portion of their lost wages, with no payments for pain and suffering.

One of the workers gave us a copy of the Dupont letter, which contains information that, to my knowledge, had never been made public. The second paragraph begins this way: “The question of health control of employees in the manufacture of BNA is indeed a grave one. As you know, we have manufactured BNA for many years. Of the original group, who began the production of this product , approximately 100% have developed tumors of the bladder.” (page 19-20 – emphases supplied)

Sadly, that tells you about all you need to know about the Dupont Corporation.

So here’s to a real Merry Christmas to all the good folks over at Dupont.

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A Fish Story to Illustrate Flaws with “Bait and Switch” Bill

December 20th, 2010 No comments

[Update: 1/5/11NY Times reports today on the “death panels” issue – this is an example of a “substantive change on adoption” and why S2014 is a bad idea. We don’t want further politicization of agencies and regulations – “U.S. Alters Rule on Paying for End-of-Life Planning:

WASHINGTON – The Obama administration, reversing course, will revise a Medicare regulation to delete references to end-of-life planning as part of the annual physical examinations covered under the new health care law, administration officials said Tuesday.

The move is an abrupt shift, coming just days after the new policy took effect on Jan. 1.

Many doctors and providers of hospice care had praised the regulation, which listed “advance care planning” as one of the services that could be offered in the “annual wellness visit” for Medicare beneficiaries.

While administration officials cited procedural reasons for changing the rule, it was clear that political concerns were also a factor. The renewed debate over advance care planning threatened to become a distraction to administration officials who were gearing up to defend the health law against attack by the new Republican majority in the House.]

Last Thursday, I wrote about a package of 3 Christie “Red Tape” bills that would radically change and weaken regulatory protections (see this).

Today, I want to do 2 things, first, provide a brief update on one of those bills (S6- Sarlo), and second, give a specific illustration of why one of the bills (S 2014 – Oroho) is so bad.

Rick Engler of NJ Work Environment Council and I were able to meet briefly with Senator Buono and draft amendments to the introduced version of S6. The Senate version was held by the Senate Budget Committee on Thursday, but the amendments we secured were incorporated into the Assembly version (A 2853 1R), which was later released from the Assembly Budget Committee.

The amendments do damage control:

  • subordinate the Lt.  Governor’s permit coordination intervention to the decision rules (i.e. level of protection) afforded in the underlying statutes pursuant to which the permits are issued – e.g. this prevented importing new cost benefit tests into every environmental permit program;
  • force public disclosure
  • require rulemaking to increase transparency and acountability and prevent abuse by special interests
  • eliminate the private compliance certification provisions
  • exempt federally funded and/or federally delegated programs
  • eliminate waivers and hardship waivers
  • eliminate reference to vague “common sense principles” and thereby avoid legislative codification of Christie Executive Order #2

Below please find a letter to legislators on another bad bill in the Red Tape package, S 2014. The letter provides an illustration of the kinds of abuse “substantive change on adoption” could create. I selected fisheries management because of the controversies over fisheries management regulation, but the same problems could occur in any DEP or other state agency regulation:

December 20, 2010

Dear Senators Beck and Van Drew  – Re: S 2014

S 2014 would change current rulemaking requirements under the NJ Administrative Procedures Act to allow state agencies to engage in a practice known as “substantive change on adoption“. Such changes were prohibited by NJ courts in order to protect fundamental due process rights.

The bill may soon be up for Senate vote.

Few realize the significant implications of this change. Complexity makes the issues difficult to explain to legislators.

Because you have been sensitive to recreational fisheries issues, and know first hand of the controverial nature of fisheries management decisions, I thought I’d provide a fisheries illustration of how “substantive change on adoption” could be implemented. .

I previously was Mid Atlantic manager of Pew Environment Group’s “End Overfishing” campaign. The management policies advocated by Pew are reviled by many recreational fishermen.

Pew was seeking a one word change in recent NMFS proposed regulations – from the proposed discretionary “should”, to mandatory “shall”.

Changing one word in proposed NMFS regulations – from “should” to “shall” – is an example of a “substantive change on adoption“.

That change would have fundamentally altered US fisheries management policy, particularly with respect to the legal and scientific management requirements in setting annual catch limits.

The Pew recommended change to “shall” also would have changed the partnership relationship between federal fisheries managers at NMFS and the discretion exercised by regional Fisheries Councils.

For details, see Pew press release  and Pew comments filed with NMFS.

Do you want state agencies like DEP to have this kind of discretionary regulatory power to “bait and switch”?

Please oppose S 2014.

Thank you,

Bill Wolfe, Director

NJ PEER – 609-397-4861

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