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Kirk Moore Wins EPA Award for Barnegat Bay Coverage

Kirk Moore, longtime environmental reporter for the Asbury Park Press, won an award from EPA for his coverage of the Barnegat Bay.

The EPA award noted:

Press and Media
Kirk Moore, Tuckerton

Kirk Moore’s coverage of the environmental issues facing the Barnegat Bay for the Asbury Park Press served as a foundation for New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s 10 point action plan for the Barnegat Bay in December, 2010. His week-long newspaper series “Barnegat Bay Under Stress, and subsequent news pieces, prompted numerous calls to the Asbury Park Press from individuals offering help and asking to be notified of educational and volunteer opportunities. In response to public concern, local legislators and decision-makers focused their efforts on legislation and other initiatives to achieve real improvements for the Barnegat Bay.

We have written about similar topics and praised Mr. Moore’s work here numerous times.

We will do so again for his most recent story which ran yesterday: Battle looms on efforts to restore Barnegat Bay

In that story, Moore does a superb job writing about complex issues of biology, regulation, land use, and politics:

Another battle over Barnegat Bay is taking shape, one that has Ocean County officials and Gov. Chris Christie on opposite sides. In between is a dispute about development, land use and the validity of decades of research that says nitrogen compounds are to blame for the present state of the bay.

A forthcoming report from Rutgers University scientists says the bay’s underwater eelgrass meadows –  which shelter fish and crabs – thinned to their lowest levels in six years as of 2010.

Meanwhile, Christie is under pressure from conservation groups to follow up on his January approval of bay restoration measures, such as signing legislation to authorize storm water pollution fees for developers. But Ocean County officials tell Christie they won’t tax builders or shopping malls to pay for pollution-control projects they argue should be state-funded.

Moore’s story included the views of a so called skeptic, a retired water quality engineer. Those view were correctly dismissed by Rutgers Professor Mike Kennish:

But Moffitt’s analysis does not account for nitrogen accumulating in the bay’s bottom sediments and plant life, said Michael Kennish, a research professor at Rutgers who heads the Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences’ bay program.

The bay’s central problem is essentially overfertilization by nitrogen that drives excessive blooms of microscopic plants and large algae like sea lettuce, Kennish said.

“This is a coastal lagoon and he (Moffitt) is completely not looking at the way the system works in the bay,” said Kennish, whose team is developing a system of biological indicators for the bay’s health.

Moffitt “essentially has focused on physical-chemical factors, not biotic, and he is doing calculations that wastewater engineers do routinely,” Kennish said.

Let’s hope that Mr. Moore continues to focus on the Bay – especially the TMDL and EPA oversight issues.

We must not let the politicians, developers, and Christie’s DEP get away with using so called scientific skeptics to deny the science and derail or delay action.

We’ve seen so called skeptics – from the tobacco, chemical, and energy industries – attack the science for far too long by manufacturing false uncertainty.

Scientific tactics in this war are laid out in detail in a wonderful new book by science professor David Michaels titled Doubt is their Product  How Industry’s Assault on Science Threatens Your Health. Michaels is a professor at George Washington University, former Assistant Secretary for Environmental Safety and Health at the Department of Energy; and is now candidate for Administrator of the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

Michaels exhaustively documents how industry “ starting with the tobacco, lead, and asbestos industries, whose tactics were embraced by the chemical industry “ has “manufactured doubt” to frustrate regulation, and as a result, killed and poisoned thousands of Americans.  Using outright lies, denial, PR and then shifting to sophisticated “sound science”, industry is literally killing us.

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