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Archive for February, 2012

Meet ALEC’s NJ State Chairman – Senator Oroho

February 28th, 2012 7 comments

Sussex County Senator Is ALEC’s Corporate Point Man in NJ

[Update 2 - It is is clear that ALEC and NRA drafted the “Stand Your Ground” law in Florida, and yes Sen. Oroho has sponsored a model ALEC/NRA “Right to Carry” bill - S 104 – and the bill cites Florida crime and handgun statistics!

Update 1: Yes, Oroho has sponsored an anti-women ultrasound bill - S231]

Tomorrow, February 29, 2012, the Occupy Wall Street Movement is Leaping Into Action to Reclaim Our Future, with an nationwide call to Action to “Shut Down the Corporations”.

Here in NJ, Occupy New Brunswick is holding an event focused on ALEC – the Billionaire Koch Brothers funded American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). [Note: see ALEC’s Board, h/t WH]

We’ve previously noted ALEC influence on Governor Christie, on attacks on DEP science, and regulatory policy bills.

orohoSo, I thought I’d warn people about ALEC’s little known NJ State Chairman, Senator Oroho (R-Sussex).

Here is a list of some of the worst bills and Constitutional Amendments Oroho is sponsoring – many are grounded in model ALEC bills. A virtual boatload of bad ideas.

They illustrate a sweeping pro-corporate attack on virtually all progressive values, policies, and governing institutions.

Oroho attacks labor, the environment, immigrants, the urban poor in “special needs districts”, science, government, civil service, taxes, the judiciary, fairness, and gay and women’s rights.

Oroho’s agenda is shocking in its scope and audacity. He would make English the official language and repeal the Global Warming Response Act, the Highlands Act, and the Estate Tax.

His proposed Constitutional amendments are equally radical and would dramatically alter the social contract and severely weaken and dismantle government as we now know it.

The common theme, with the exception of hunters and gun owners who he supports, is the elevation of corporate interests above the public interest.

It is a very troubling sign that a man with these far right wing views could get elected is so called liberal Blue State NJ.

Equally shocking, is that this is a man that Democratic Senate President Sweeney negotiates and cosponsors bills with.

Check it out – breathtaking: (hit the bill number links to read the bills)

S103 Concerns unemployment benefits for corporate owners and officers.

S104 Revises procedures for securing a permit to carry a handgun.

S164 Prohibits the employment of unauthorized aliens and requires employers to use E-Verify program.

S183 Bars companies which hire illegal aliens from public contracts, grants, loans, or tax incentives for seven years.

S223 Provides for no net loss of DEP lands for fishing, hunting, and trapping purposes.

S224 Clarifies that Fish and Game Council has sole authority to regulate freshwater fishing, hunting, and trapping.

S225 Prohibits use of public funds for embryonic stem cell research.

S226 Prohibits State departments and agencies from considering or requiring compliance by Highlands planning area municipalities with Highlands regional master plan in certain circumstances.

S228 Revises “Administrative Procedure Act” concerning socio-economic impact statements for proposed rule-making.

S230 Eliminates expansion of preschool education program in “School Funding Reform Act of 2008.”

S231 Requires physicians to provide patients opportunity to undergo obstetrical ultrasound or sonogram within 48 hours of performing abortion.

S232 Requires Mandated Health Benefits Advisory Commission to study financial impact of all enacted mandated health benefits.

S235 Prohibits adoption of new rules exceeding federal standards unless specifically authorized by State law or necessary to protect public health, safety, or welfare.

S236 Eliminates seniority in Civil Service and other jurisdictions for reductions in force in certain circumstances.

S238 Establishes a 2.0 percent cap on annual appropriations increases for certain State government spending.

S239 Phases out estate tax over five-year period.

S240 “New Jersey Jobs Protection Act;” requires verification of employment.


S265 Requires proof of lawful presence in the United States to obtain certain benefits.

S276 Repeals “Global Warming Response Act” and related sections of Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative implementing law

S608 Permits licensed dealers to display and auction firearms at fund raising events sponsored by certain tax exempt organizations.

S742 “Revised Uniform Limited Liability Company Act.”

S743 Extends expiration date of certain permits pursuant to the “Permit Extension Act of 2008.”

S912 Suspends “Highlands Water Protection and Planning Act” until certain conditions are met.


S913 Revises “Administrative Procedure Act” concerning conflicts between rules of different State agencies.

S1360 Permits use of deadly force against black bears in certain cases.

S1363 Allows for exclusion of certain properties from Highlands preservation area.

S1619 Provides that English shall be the official language of the State.

S1622 Bars certain employees of certain public agencies from participating in PERS; repeals law permitting PERS and TPAF members on leave who work for labor organization to purchase pension credit.

S1626 Repeals the “Agreement Among the States to Elect the President by National Popular Vote.”

S1627 Eliminates prohibition against purchasing more than one handgun in calendar month.

S1721 Modifies definition of at-risk pupils in school funding law.

Constitutional Attacks

SCR12 Proposes a constitutional amendment abolishing tenure for Supreme Court justices and establishing retention
elections as part of the reappointment process.

SCR16 Proposes constitutional amendment to preserve right of people to fish, hunt, trap and harvest fish and wildlife.

SCR17 Amends Constitution to limit use of nonrecurring revenue in State budget except in certain times of crisis and limits State budget growth.

SCR18 Amends Constitution to require that bills with net effect of raising State revenues by proposing a new State tax or a State tax increase pass each House of Legislature by two-thirds majority vote.

SCR19 Proposes amendment to constitution regarding parental notification for medical or surgical procedures or treatments relating to pregnancy to be performed on minor children.

SCR20 Proposes an amendment to the Constitution to describe the manner in which the Legislature shall provide for the maintenance and support of a thorough and efficient system of free public schools.

SCR21 Proposes constitutional amendment to establish a 2 percent cap on annual appropriations increases for certain State government spending.

SCR24 Provides for 5 year terms for Justices of the Supreme Court and for tenure elections for a Justice to receive tenure upon reappointment.

SCR57 Proposes constitutional amendment to prohibit State courts from requiring that State government spend money.

SCR79 Proposes constitutional amendment to provide that only the union of one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as marriage.

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Awesome Sky Tonite

February 26th, 2012 No comments

sky

Some music to accompany a walk by:

Night on Bare Mountain

This is a version by Rene Leibowitz, conducting The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, 1962.

I think its far more terrifying than the more recognized version of “Night on Bald Mountain” by Leonard Bernstein conducting the NY Philharmonic.

Walking around, upon reflection, I think I know what Sigmund Freud meant by the force of “Thanatos”:

Eros and Thanatos Freud identifies two drives that both coincide and conflict within the individual and among individuals.  Eros is the drive of life, love, creativity, and sexuality, self-satisfaction, and species preservation.  Thanatos, from the Greek word for “death” is the drive of aggression, sadism, destruction, violence, and death.  At the conclusion of C&D, Freud notes (in 1930-31) that human beings, following Thanatos, have invented the tools to completely exterminate themselves; in turn, Eros is expected to “make an effort to assert himself in the struggle with an equally immortal adversary.

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NJ School Used Duct Tape To Respond To Oil Spill

February 26th, 2012 1 comment

Duck & Cover, Duct Tape, and Turtles Are Still With Us

“Children connect numbered dots that form a toxic-gas cloud”

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Winds were blowing that day toward neighboring Greenwich Township. There, at Broad Street Elementary School, all children and staff were taken to the gymnasium, and the doors and windows were sealed with duct tape and plastic.   ~~~ Gloucester County Times 2/25/12

The Absurdist Hall of Fame is littered by many foolish and delusional notions, perhaps the all-time greatest was the 1950′s “Duck and Cover” nuclear defense campaign, featuring Bert the turtle (watch this classic civil defense video).

But the Bush Administration’s Department of Homeland Security”s “disaster supply kit” and recommendation to use “a roll of duct tape and scissors“, could be in the runner up category.

Fearful Americans seemed to fall for the bullshit both times. I can recall “duck and cover” drills in elementary school, and more recently, witnessed folks head out to the local Home Depot fearing al Qaeda and cause a run on duct tape.

But many NJ school officials and emergency management professionals have some real threats to fear in their own back yard: massive oil refineries and chemical plants.

Shortly after the February 2003 Bush “duct tape” warning, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported on April 20, 2003 (See: In the Shadow of Danger: The Chemical Plant Peril).

The source of that danger could be the Valero Energy Corp. oil refinery that cleaves to Paulsboro, across the Delaware from Philadelphia International Airport. It is one of eight plants in the Philadelphia region that could put more than one million people at risk of serious injury or death in a “worst-case scenario,” according to the Environmental Protection Agency. …

And if anyone thinks that advances in science, technology, and environmental laws and regulations have allowed us to progress beyond those silly paranoid 1950′s civil defense notions about “duck and cover”, and the Bush Administration’s absurd hope that duct tape was a solution, consider this.

As the Inquirer reported, the “‘duck and cover” slogan has simply become “shelter in place” - and Bert the Turtle has had a sex change and is now named Shelley:

The companies also included some information on their [emergency management] plans in a newsletter mailed out by a community advisory panel.

The panel, composed of community members and representatives of five companies, has publicized the concept of “shelter-in-place,” which involves closing doors and windows, shutting vents, and sealing a room with duct tape and plastic.

The panel’s efforts include a coloring book featuring Shelly the Turtle. “Shelly stays safe when she shelters in her shell,” the book explains. Children can connect numbered dots that form a toxic-gas cloud.

Paulsboro Mayor John Burzichelli said shelter-in-place, not evacuation, may be the town’s only option.

Of course, largely ignored are the chronic day to day health risks caused by refinery emissions of tons of toxic hazardous air pollutants.

We don’t hear anything about any of that from DEP, Paulsboro Refinery Company, or – sadly – news reports.

(and what do we tell the kids when there are more chemical evacuation days than snow days ? ….)

view from the bleachers - Paulsboro HS

view from the bleachers - Paulsboro HS


(source: Philly ABC news helicopter)

view from the air (source: Philly ABC news helicopter

Paulsboro Refinery on Delaware River (Google maps)

Paulsboro Refinery on Delaware River (Google maps)

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Only DEP “Red Tape” Prevented an Oily Black Delaware River

February 25th, 2012 1 comment

Paulsboro Refinery and DEP Should Face Some Tough Questions

tanks at Bayway Refinery (Linden, NJ)

tanks at Bayway Refinery (Linden, NJ)

The Delaware River just dodged an oily bullet. Here’s why.

The attack on DEP and environmental regulations as “job killing” and “red tape” is led in NJ by the Christie Administration, but several Democrats in leadership of the party share those views.

Ironically, in the Paulsboro refinery spill and Sunoco pollution cases, those views are shared by Senate President Sweeney and Assemblyman Burzichelli, in whose district the those oil refineries are located.

As expected, the local press coverage of the Paulsboro refinery spill basically just printed the DEP press release, again failed to ask tough questions, and whitewashed the whole episode.

So, I thought I’d provide some information regarding the NJ State program that regulates the storage of oil and petroleum products to enable some tough questions.

Based on this information, the refinery and DEP should be asked a number of questions about the enforcement of the Paulsboro Refinery’s Spill Response Plan (see 10 questions below).

That DEP regulatory program – known by the acronym “DPCC” –  is the only thing that prevented an environmental catastrophe from resulting from the oil spill.

Instead of the 6.6 million gallons that spilled running off into the nearby Delaware River, the spill was contained in a diked 12 million gallon capacity “secondary containment” area.

Spill secondary containment areas are mandated by the DEP’s DPCC program – technically known as the Discharge Prevention, Containment and Countermeasures program.

The NJ DPCC State program is more stringent than federal requirements, is strongly opposed by the powerful oil industry, and is a preventative program that was not based on any cost benefit analysis.

It therefore would never have been enacted by the Christie Administration under Executive Order #2 and the Red Tape Initiative.

The DPCC law would never be passed by the current crop of Democratic leaders in the Legislature, for those same reasons.

So, this spill is perfect example of the kind of risks the are being created by the regulatory dismantling now underway at the Christie DEP and the Legislature.

Ten Questions for DEP and Paulsboro Refinery

The context for these questions is the fact that DEP stresses PREVENTION of spills:

With currently available cleanup technology, it is often not possible to recover all, or even most, of the hazardous substance released during a discharge. Therefore, prevention of discharges is a primary goal of these rules. In those cases where a discharge does occur, discharge response and cleanup must be swift and effective, particularly where ESAs are involved. If the substance that is discharged is not contained or recovered, that substance can remain in the environment, causing damage over the long and the short term.

1) when was the facility last inspected – what were the results? What is the facility’s compliance history?

2) was the broken pipe that caused the release structurally sound and in good condition, how old was it, and when was it last maintained;

3) does the secondary containment at the refinery have liners to prevent groundwater contamination? If not, will DEP mandate installation at all existing containment areas?;

4) what are the air monitoring results for EPA regulated “Hazardous Air Pollutants” (HPA’s);

5) what are the health effects for HAP’s ;

6) what are the groundwater monitoring data – are there violations of groundwater quality standards? If so, for what pollutants? Are they being cleaned up?:

7) Has DEP evaluated subsurface gas migration and vapor intrusion into nearby buildings? What are the results?

8 ) How much contaminated soil will DEP require be excavated as part of the spill cleanup?

9) How will storm water runoff to the Delaware River be prevented? How will the cleanup and revised spill containment systems prevent oil and hazardous substances from being washed into the Delaware River by floodwaters, as required by DEP regulations (NJAC 7:1E-2.9); and 1

10) What is DEP proposed enforcement fine and when will that fine be collected?

Background Info

According to DEP:

The Discharge Prevention Program works to forestall the release of hazardous substances and petroleum products to the environment, thereby protecting natural resources and public health before problems occur. The program centers on sound management practices that are considered essential when working with hazardous substances: training employees who handle such materials, periodically inspecting storage tanks, assuring that adequate secondary containment is in place, and developing standard operating procedures for routine operations and maintenance. The program also works to ensure that response plans, trained personnel and emergency equipment are at hand should an incident occur. The Program is often referred to by the acronym “DPCC,” which refers to one of the preparedness documents that major facilities develop under the Program, the Discharge Prevention, Containment and Countermeasure plan.

The current DPCC program operates under regulations adopted by the Corzine Adminsitration. The Paulsboro spill may have been affected by changes made in 2006.

Corzine DEP Commissioner Lisa Jackson bowed to oil industry pressure and EXEMPTED EXISTING OIL STORAGE TANKS from requirements to install liners at secondary containment systems. Liners are needed to protect groundwater from spills.

The DEP DPCC rule proposal made this clear::

N.J.A.C. 7:1E-2.6(c)3i through iii exempts existing secondary containment or diversion systems for existing aboveground storage tanks from the requirement that they be made of or lined with impermeable materials, maintained in an impermeable condition. In the past, the Department accepted a statement from the owner or operator that existing secondary containment for an existing tank could protect the groundwater, in accordance with N.J.A.C. 7:1E-2.6(c)3i through iii. Recently, the Department has requested that owners or operators prove that they can protect the groundwater in the case of a worst case leak into a secondary containment system that does not meet the definition of “impermeable.” In several cases, when actual soil permeability measurements are made and the actual depth to groundwater is considered, data submitted to the Department indicated that the groundwater would not be protected by the existing secondary containment system. Therefore, the Department is proposing to amend N.J.A.C. 7:1E-2.6(c)3i to clearly state that the Department may require the owner or operator of the facility to provide proof that an existing secondary containment system has the ability to protect groundwater, including soil permeability testing (a test used to determine how quickly a substance will move through the existing soil), knowledge of depth to groundwater in affected sections of the facility, and information on how long it would take to clean up the contents of the largest tank within the system. This information can be used to directly determine whether the groundwater will be affected or not.

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Another Major Oil Spill at Paulsboro Refinery

February 24th, 2012 8 comments
refinery in the back yard of High School

refinery in the back yard of High School

Do Sweeney and Burzichelli Still Hate DEP Regulations and Red Tape?

Late yesterday, DEP issued a press release that just hit my in basket announcing a major oil spill at the Paulsboro refinery.

As is typical, DEP is downplaying risks – the press release reads as if it were written by the oil company. There is no mention of the school just feet away.

12/P16) TRENTON — A large spill from an oil tank at the Paulsboro Refining Company facility in Gloucester County is not expected to impact the Delaware River or local water supplies. Air monitoring also indicates there should be no health effects from odors caused by the spill.

… As of 4:30 p.m., 157,000 barrels — or about 6.6 million gallons — of oil had leaked into the emergency containment area. The tank holds 286,000 barrels of oil, or about 12 million gallons. The emergency containment area, essentially a large berm surrounding the tank, is designed to hold 377,000 barrels in the event of an emergency.

We called the “Community Information Line” and all we got was a tape message by the Paulsboro Refining Company – almost like an advertisement! I wanted to find out if they’ve closed the school.

Has DEP now privatized community communication too? I doubt Paulsboro Refining Company will tell the public about my concerns.

The facility has a history of spills, a pattern of operating “upsets”, and existing air releases and air toxics problems we’ve written about, see:

I’ll check the press and see what the status is and if the school issues got covered.

With Sunoco closing and leaving pollution behind and Paulsboro polluting, I wonder if Senator Sweeney and Assemblyman Burzichelli still  hate all that Red Tape and are still supporting rollbacks to environmental regulations

And of course, the fold by Legislators on spill liability is involved as well.

  • Oil Spill liability cave - S2108

A bill drafted in response to the Gulf of Mexico oil blowout, that would appear to eliminate the cap on liability for oil and chemical spills, is up as well.

While some may see this as a positive, don’t fall for the Trenton Kabuki.

Make no mistake, it illustrates a total collapse by legislators – on a bipartisan basis – to the powerful lobbyists of the chemical and oil industries.

The introduced version of the bill was serious but the final version is now a corrupt and cynical joke.

Legislators gutted the bill by exempting inland oil and chemical facilities and narrowing the bill to spills ONLY from a drilling platform!. There are no and never will be any drilling platforms in NJ or off the NJ coast)

So if an oil tanker spills in the Delaware River – or a chemical plant blows up and kills nearby residents, they will have their liability capped at only $50 million.

For the ugly details on all that, see:   Gulf Blowout Prompts NJ lawmakers to Seek Increase In Polluter Liability To $1 Billion

pb2

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