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Of Zambonis and Groundhogs

L. Grace Spencer, Chairwoman, Assembly Enviromnment and Solid Waste Committee

L. Grace Spencer, Chairwoman, Assembly Environment and Solid Waste Committee

[Update: 2/8/12 Goundhog:

Denisa Superville at Bergen Record has a good story about why the soil testing bill and beefed up DEP regulatory oversight are necessary – another problem with PCB’s in the Park, see: More tests done on Closed Teaneck Park:

“This stuff happens again and again and again, and nobody is connecting the underlying dots,” Wolfe said. “Are there laws in place to do this, and who is responsible for enforcing them? The answer is there are laws in place, but the government is completely asleep at the wheel. And the towns are left holding the bag.” –

Update 2 – for those that like to get down in the weeds, here are some regulatory rocks to turn over at DEP, to wake the sleeping giant:

end update


The first bill released under the leadership of the new Chair of the Assembly Environment Committee would regulate hockey rinks and Zamboni emissions (see A186).

Not exactly a major threat.

I was tempted to do a YESMEN stunt, and request the following amendments:

1) link it to DHSS School/Day care center indoor air program so as to be sure to get laxer standards than those set by DEP (DHSS set standards for children based on a 1 in 10,000 risk level, which is 100 times weaker than DEP standards for healthy adult males, which are based on 1 in a million);

2) link the bill to DEP Vapor Intrusion indoor air program so as to be sure to guarantee that the program is voluntary, unenforceable, and based on private consultant’s judgment, not regulations and standards;

3) link the program to DEP’s Hazardous Air Emissions (HAP) program so as to assure inadequate monitoring and enforcement;

4) link the bill to the DEP environmental standards program to assure delay, as a result of the de facto moratorium on new standards declared by DEP Commissioner Martin

5) refer the bill to the NJ Drinking Water Quality Institute, which is the graveyard, as DEP Commissioner Martin has blocked any meetings (DWQI, which meets quarterly, has not met for over 18 months);

6) make the program implemented via a SIP amendment – this assures years of delay and no EPA oversight.

7) refer the bill to the DEP Science Advisory Board, which is dominated by industry representatives and a sure way to derail, delay, and weaken it.

II) Soil Testing (A1289)

This is a good bill that could avoid the kind of public outrage and avoidable health risks when contaminated soil is discovered at local parks, playgrounds, and schools across the state.

Yet the bill was opposed by the DEP and the League of Municipalities on narrow compliance cost grounds.

Why is DEP opposing efforts to supplement DEP efforts at the local level?

Why are local officials ignoring their constituents legitimate public health concerns?

III) Drugs in Drinking Water (A733)

This is a huge public health and ecological problem that the pharmaceutical industry is working hard to keep under the media radar screen and off the legislative and regulatory agenda. (see:

Here is the band aid measure they are backing to do that:

  1. This bill responds to the growing threat to the environment and human health posed by the improper disposal of unused medications, which has been manifested in recent reports of prescription drugs found in public water supplies and the potential hazards this poses in terms of long-term health consequences, and the rampant abuse of medications, especially among teenagers.

BTW, the bill’s statement of purpose must be revised to reflect the data collected by the USGS National Water Quality Monitoring Program and the US EPA Unregulated Contaminants program.

It is definitely not good form to cite the Associated Press as a source.

IV) Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI – A1998)

Now we arrive at groundhog day.

What is it about RGGI that brings out all the bullshit, from all sides?

It was so bad, I had to sign up to testify to call bullshit and rebut the fundamental misconceptions and just flat out errors.

Dave Pringle started things off by claiming RGGI involved issues of national security and reducing reliance on foreign oil imports.

Dave, RGGI applies only to the electric sector. NJ does not rely on oil to produce electricity (see the Energy Master Plan) so RGGI will have zero impact on foreign oil imports and national security (and yes, I’ve read the national security documents and am familiar with the national security concerns resulting from massive climate change impacts globally. But since RGGI has no impact on GHG emissions, again that legitimate concern is dismissed – see below).

Jeff Tittel was next and he did a good job in characterizing RGGI as a modest effort that produced jobs and funded low income residential energy efficiency.

But he seriously misspoke twice by claiming RGGGI reduced greenhouse gas emissions and was modeled on the Clean Air Act 1990 amendments establishing the SOx Acid Rain Program.

As DEP correctly testified last year, the current RGGI cap is 30% ABOVE current emissions, and thus RGGI would allow emissions to INCREASE, not be REDUCED.

So, it is false to claim that RGGI reduced GHG emissions or emissions of traditional pollutants and will do nothing to slow global warming or improve air quality.

RGGI is not a cap on emissions because it applies ONLY to the electric sector. Total GHG emissions could INCREASE if other sectors, like cars and buildings, increased emissions. RGGI does nothing about any of that.

The 1990 Acid Rain program was based on a legislative mandate for 50% SOx reductions over a 10 year period. Those reductions were enforced via state regulatory programs under the Clean Air Act. There was a true cap and legally mandated deep emissions reductions over an enforceable timetable implemented via State Implementation Plans (SIPs) and facility permits.

None of that is true for RGGI.

RGGI is based on an electric sector, has no cap, is implemented via an auction program, and is not mandatory reductions over time or implemented in clean air act regulatory programs.

I addition to calling bullshit on my ENGO colleagues’ spin and falsehoods, we also called out lies by the NJ Business and Industry Association, Chamber of Commerce, and Chemistry Council.

Those groups tried to argue that RGGI should not be restored because it has no impact on and is undermined by “leakage”, or emissions from neighboring states, like Pennsylvania power plants. The argued that there should be a narrational program for this global problem.

So, I called BS and advised the Committee that all those groups lobby in Washington DC to block:

  • US support of international Climate Change treaties, like Kyoto
  • updating National Ambient Air Quality Standards for ozone
  • directly regulating GHG emissions
  • inter-state emissions (Haze rule)
  • mercury emissions from power plants

So it is complete hypocrisy to oppose NJ state level programs for failure of national efforts, when they are responsible for blocking national and international efforts.

And the flat out egregious lie by the NJ Chemistry Council that RGGI killed 27,000 chemical industry jobs is so facially false is unworthy of rebuttal.

Shame on all bullshitters in Trenton.

Face-off! Don't choke on those Zamboni emissions!

Face-off! Don’t choke on those Zamboni emissions!

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