Home > Uncategorized > Some Stuff at Christie’s DEP

Some Stuff at Christie’s DEP

Warning: Dismantling in Progress

Despite the fact that I’ve been designated persona non grata by DEP Commissioner Bob Martin, I thought I’d spend a brief moment revisiting a few problems at our DEP with respect to science, standards, and policy, as we learn that 2 scientists are leaving the DEP global warming program for positions at Rutgers.

First off, the DEP global warming program was dismantled a while ago.

Upon creation by the (toothless) Global Warming Response Act, that program was formerly housed in the Office of Climate Change in the Division of Policy, Planning and Science.

DEP Commissioner Bob Martin took the following steps to dismantle the program (Martin is playing to the crowd of Republicans seeking to repeal the Global Warming Response Act , the radical global warming deniers):

  • abolished the Division of Policy, Planning, and Science;
  • buried the Office of Climate Change in the air quality permit program;
  • zeroed the budget and diverted RGGI funds;
  • fired the Director Jeanne Herb [Update: A Mercer County Chamber of Commerce hack was installed in her place and directed to promote economic development]; and
  • eliminated the Office of Policy and Planning that was created to develop policy and integrate science in various DEP silo based permit programs (full disclosure: I was involved in creating and worked in that Office from its creation in 2002 – 2004).

Is it any wonder why a competent scientist would leave under those circumstances?

Second, moving right along to the issue of science at DEP.

Under DEP Commisisoner Bob Martin’s vision, the external Science Advisory Board (SAB) has displaced DEP science.

This displacement effectively ends DEP regulatory standards development. That implements Governor Christie’s Executive Order #2, to provide “immediate regulatory relief” and defer adopting stricter NJ state standards in lieu of reliance on weaker federal standards.

Members of the SAB are biased and the SAB has blatent conflicts of interest among several members.

Martin has directed the SAB to get directly involved in regulatory and policy issues.

That is a gross violation of both former Commisisoner Lisa Jackson’s policy memorandum, Commissioner Mauriello’s Administrative Order that established the SAB and Martin’s own Administrative Order that continued it and selected members.

Under Jackson’s policy, Mauriello’s Order, and Martin’s AO’s, the SAB is strictly prohibited from getting involved in regulatory and policy issues.

That restriction was put in place to avoid politicization of the science, to protect the integrity of the regulatory programs, and to provide safeguards to limit the inherent bias and conflicts of interest of some members of the SAB.

Third, on the standards front, Commissioner Martin has imposed a defacto moratorium on regulatory standards development (for drinking water, soil, surface water, groundwater, ecological, septic density).

Martin is weakening current standards by transforming them to unenforceable guidance. The Site Remediation program’s technical standards and vapor intrusion indoor air standards were the first examples of implementation of that policy.

Martin has prohibited the Drinking Water Quality Institute from meeting – they historically met quarterly and now haven’t met in almost a year.

Dupont and Hal Bozarth just love that.

DEP has lost hundreds of experienced professionals to attrition and retirement. They have not been replaced and there is no plan in place to preserve the institutional integrity of DEP as the Department hemorhages experienced experts. Chaos reigns.

This is how the Republicans roll – and it implements Christie’s game plan:

  • deregulate and privatize
  • disparage government
  • defund government
  • disable government, and
  • then use the resulting dysfunction as the justification to dismantle government.
Categories: Uncategorized Tags:
You must be logged in to post a comment.