Archive for February, 2012

US Fish & Wildlife Service Blasts Dupont Science On Mercury Cleanup Plan

February 21st, 2012 2 comments

Major Rebuke To DEP Review & Challenge to EPA to Strengthen Cleanup

[Extraordinary Update:

Just hours after PEER’s disclosure of the US FWS criticism of the science supporting DuPont’s proposed Pompton Lakes dredging plan [see this], the US EPA today announced that they have shelved the DuPont plan and will reconsider cleanup in light of US FWS and community objections. [See this statement from EPA]

New Jersey PEER Director Bill Wolfe stated:

“We are pleased that EPA is finally listening to the science and the public. We continue to urge EPA to enforce RCRA and the Clean Water Act and to issue an enforceable Order mandating that DuPont conduct a complete cleanup of not only Pompton Lake, but the entire site and downriver sediments. We urge EPA to work with US Fish & Wildlife Service to 1) develop an ecologically sound cleanup plan; 2) fully assess the true natural resource damages; and 3)  ensure that DuPont compensates the public for those injuries.

As we predicted, the US Fish and Wildlife Service (US FWS) has found major flaws in Dupont’s proposed Acid Brook Delta mercury sediment dredging project.

Key USFWS findings as Superfund Natural Resource Trustee:

  • the Service does not believe that the proposed remedial action, as currently planned, will completely address historical releases nor be sufficient to protect against future injury to Federal trust resources from residual contamination originating from the [Dupont] PLW
  • we believe that significant contamination will remain
  • thresholds to evaluate risk to both fish and avian fauna are antiquated and not protective

The Agency’s concerns, transmitted in a February 9, 2012 letter to US EPA Regional Administrator Judith Enck, should require significant changes in the “project’s design and cleanup” and trigger natural resource injury compensation by Dupont (the Service comments explicitly note that they have contacted Dupont already about NR injury compensation).

Here are the highlights, and the bureaucratic backstory to provide a greater understanding of the letter.

To begin, first we note that the US FWS critical review of the flaws in the science supporting the Dupont plan is a major rebuke to NJ DEP, who had approved the Dupont plan and over-rode the findings and recommendations of its own scientists.

Second, it must be emphasized that EPA Region 2 RCRA program staff were either incompetent or intentionally avoided US FWS review of the Dupont plan.

Specifically, EPA presented the Dupont plan informally on October 20, 2011 in Pompton Lakes. We attended that briefing and spoke at the meeting, expressly demanding that US FWS consultation was required. I spoke at length with EPA staff at that meeting and subsequently in emails to reiterate that demand. We again put EPA on notice of federal consultation requirements in a letter to EPA RA Enck. We repeated these requirements in discussions with EPA RCRA staff and testimony at the January 5, 2012 public hearing (video) and in written comments.

Yet the December 21, 2011 EPA review request did NOT come from the RCRA program (despite consultation requirements under RCRA regs) and it only asked US FWS to review NJ DEP state wetlands and stream encroachment permits. US FWS knew nothing about the Dupont mercury cleanup plan until I advised them about it and provided the various technical documents.

The gauntlet is now down before EPA.

Read all about it from our friends at PEER: (hit links at bottom for the documents)

Fish & Wildlife Service Conditions Restructure Cleanup and Spur Damage Payments

Trenton – The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service is raising big red flags about the troubled cleanup plan for the heavily contaminated Pompton Lakes area, according to the agency review released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).  The conditions imposed by the Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) would require a major upgrade of cleanup operations and may result in substantial damages for harming fish and wildlife from the responsible party, E.I. DuPont De Nemours & Company.

The toxic legacy from an old DuPont ammunition plant has made Pompton Lakes the poster child for prolonged but ineffective cleanup.  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has deferred to New Jersey but the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has simply adopted DuPont’s remedial plan, which has been roundly criticized by PEER and others.

The FWS review, transmitted in a February 9, 2012 letter from FWS Field Supervisor J. Eric Davis to EPA Regional Administrator Judith Enck, validates these criticisms.  It concludes that the state plan is only a “first step” because “significant levels of contamination will remain” with mercury, which in certain forms is highly toxic and biomagnifies via the food web being of particular concern.

“This Fish & Wildlife Service review confirms that reliance on a broken state cleanup process is at best imprudent and at worst irresponsible,” stated New Jersey PEER Director Bill Wolfe who has been persistently pressing for this required FWS review. “We humans are outside the Service’s jurisdiction but the remaining toxic threats for fish and wildlife are just as serious for us.”

Among the faults found by FWS in the state cleanup plan was its failure to:

  • Account for offsite migration of chemicals, pointing to suppressed scientific findings by DEP’s own scientists. Those suppressed memos were unearthed by PEER last month;
  • Compensate for “projected future injury to Federal trust resources from residual contamination originating from the PLW (Pompton Lake Works).”  Unless these remaining sources of contamination are removed, DuPont may be assessed hefty damages; and
  • Perform competent scientific assessments. The DEP plan “does not accurately or adequately predict risk to ecological resources from exposure to contaminants released from the DuPont PLW.”  Noting that “concentrations of several chemicals, including mercury, lead, copper, selenium, and zinc, are significantly elevated above thresholds considered protective for human and ecological health.”

“Unfortunately, New Jersey has privatized its eco-science to the detriment of public health and the environment,” added Wolfe, a former long-time DEP analyst. “This remedial plan is so pathetically weak because DEP has been little more than DuPont’s sock puppet.”

It is now up to EPA to impose the FWS conditions on the state plan.  Alternately, EPA could directly assume jurisdiction and invoke its cleanup authority under the Superfund law, as PEER has urged.  According to the EPA Superfund Hazard Rankings obtained by PEER in an ongoing lawsuit, the toxic numbers for Pompton Lakes are nearly double the Superfund threshold yet EPA has yet to explain precisely why it left this site to state discretion.


Read the FWS review

Examine offsite hole in state Pompton Lakes plan

View 26 other toxic hotspots where U.S. EPA stepped aside

See EPA’s opaque explanation for its abdication

Look at how New Jersey has privatized environmental science

New Jersey PEER is a state chapter of a national alliance of state and federal agency resource professionals working to ensure environmental ethics and government accountability

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How Will NOAA Replace Joy and Wonder?

February 20th, 2012 1 comment
NOAA scientist with kids at Sandy Hook

NOAA scientist from Sandy Hook lab with kids at Raritan Bay

Kirk Moore at the Asbury Park Press has another good story today on the proposed closure of the NOAA lab at Sandy Hook, see: Lab in the crosshairs: Once a money saver, Sandy Hook base now a liability

But How is NOAA going to replace this? How can you budget for Joy and Wonder?





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Toxic Cleanups Designed To Protect Wildlife Protect People Too

February 20th, 2012 No comments

Far More Stringent Wildlife Cleanup Standards Drive The Extent of Cleanup

[Update: If you’re happy with soundbite environmentalism like “canary in the coal mine”, then read no further. If you’d like reasoned argument and supporting scientific evidence, by all means, proceed. end update]

I need to clarify some serious misunderstandings that are being exploited in Pompton Lakes regarding the proposed Dupont cleanup plan for mercury in the Acid Brook Delta portion of Pompton Lake.

Well meaning residents are saying things like this:

“Why are we cleaning up the Lake to protect fish and birds – people are more important. Human health should be the cleanup priority.”

“I’m no environmentalist – I care about my family first.”

What those reasonable observations ignore are the facts that:

1)  cleanups based on standards set to protect wildlife are far more extensive, because cleanup standards for wildlife are far, far lower (stricter) than human health standards;

2) people eat fish and other wildlife, so protecting wildlife directly protects public health;

3) wildlife based cleanups often include “natural resource injury” damages. This means Dupont must pay for ecological restoration, land preservation, and/or financial compensation to the public. These NRD clams by federal Trustees can provide huge benefits to the local community – and need not be a ripoff like the prior NJ DEP sweetheart NRD deal with Dupont. (see: our May 16, 2009 letter to Gov. Corzine and the later Bergen Record story:  Dupont deal gave state more tainted soil); and

4) A wildlife base cleanup would provide far more extensive cleanup of the soil and groundwater at not just Pompton Lake, but the entire Dupont site.

(this is why Gov. Christie last year quietly killed DEP’s legal ability to adopt wildlife based cleanup standardsso that polluters would not have to pay for far more extensive and costly cleanups and compensate the public, see: Ecological Standards ignored for 16 years – polluters dodge billions in liability:

Few people realize that the [NJ State cleanup] law actually prohibits the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) from adopting standards to clean up, protect, and restore damaged fish, wildlife, natural resources and ecosystems impaired by toxic chemicals polluting the environment at over 20,000 sites in New Jersey.

I)  Why a wildlife based cleanup is better for the residents of Pompton Lakes

Let me take the first point to illustrate why (I use the terms wildlife and ecological standards interchangeably).

Toxic contaminated sites are often polluted by many dangerous chemicals. Cleanups are driven by the lowest standard for chemicals found on site. For example, if the cleanup standard for chemical X is 100 ppm; chemical Y is 10 ppm and chemical Z is  1 ppm, then the cleanup is designed based on the the 1 ppm for chemical Z.

Similarly, standards come in different “flavors”, depending pin environmental media (i.e. soil, groundwater, surface water, sediment). The same lowest standard approach applies. So if the soil standard is 50 ppm, the groundwater standard is 5 ppm, and the surface water standard is 1 ppb (Billion, 5,000 times LOWER than the groundwater standard) then cleanups must meet the groundwater standard (after conversions from soil, groundwater, and surface water are considered).

Last, cleanup standards are set for different reasons. Some are set to protect people, and some are set to protract ecosystems and wildlife. Standards are also set based upon the most likely and most sensitive type of exposure “pathway” to a chemicals, e.g. via breathing (inhalation), via eating (ingestion), via drinking (MCL), or via direct skin contact with it (dermal contact) or ecological (wildlife impacts, food consumption).

Wildlife standard are set for chemicals that can harm wildlife directly, or do harm to wildlife or to human health via  bioaccumulation through the food chain. Something like this – purely hypothetical example:

1) Sediment level is 1 X  2) bacteria convert to methy form and make bio-available 3)  Micro-organisms uptake at (1 X) 4)  to worms (10 X) – 5) to crayfish (100 X)- 6) to little fish (1,000 X) – 7) to big fish (10,000 X) – 8) to birds that eat fish (100,000 X) 9) to people who eat them (1 million x).

As the chemical moves up the food chain, at each step, concentrations increase by 10 times or more, resulting  in toxic effects. In this case, the chemical concentration in sediments is magnified over 1 MILLION times.

Here are some specifics to illustrate the issues.

DEP does not have cleanup standards for sediment or any wildlife (ecological) cleanup standards.

The DEP soil cleanup standard for PCB’s is 0.2 ppm (MILLION). It is based on soil ingestion and dermal contact (no one eats sediments anyway).

But the DEP proposed wildlife surface water quality standard for PCBs. It was based on effects on birds, and was 0.000072 parts per BILLION that is 2.7 MILLION TIMES LOWER than the human health based soil standard (and people do eat fish and birds).

So, a PCB cleanup designed to protect birds would be FAR MORE EXTENSIVE – e.g. more complete and better protective of people.

Similarly, the DEP soil cleanup standard of mercury is 23 ppm (Million).

But the DEP proposed wildlife surface water quality standard for mercury to birds and people that eat fish is 0.00053 ppb (BILLION). That is 43 MILLION time lower than the soil cleanup standard.

So again, cleanup based on wildlife standards would be far more extensive.

Specifically, although both mercury and lead were present in high concentrations, the prior Acid Brook stream cleanup was driven by lead. The DEP soil lead cleanup standard is 400 ppm, which was set to protect people from soil ingestion.

Had that cleanup instead been based on DEP’s proposed mercury wildlife surface water standard set to protect from ecological impacts and bioaccumulation, far more sediments and soil along the stream would have been excavated.

And the Lake would have been targeted for cleanup and consideration would have been given to the lake sediment cleanup 25 years ago.!

II)  The Path Going Forward – What’s Next

The Dupont proposed cleanup plan is now before US EPA. The plan is being reviewed by US Fish and Willdife Service.

EPA will soon make a decision that will determine the fate of the entire Dupont cleanup (not just the Acid Brook Delta) and finally resolve the Superfund issue, i.e. decide whether to take over the cleanup under Superfund or let Dupont continue to control things under RCRA.

EPA needs to remain the focus of residents attention in this critical period.

The planning board will meet on Tuesday night regarding a Dupont proposed soil mining permit needed to dredge.

That local issue is a diversion –

Worse, it provides cover for Dupont’s surrogates to derail the Acid Brook and Lake cleanup plan by alleging unacceptable neighborhood impacts, e.g. trucks, dust, “swimming”, hazards to school kids, etc. This is exactly what Dupont wants – no cleanup at all!

Instead, here’s what folks need to do:

1. Residents need to stay focused on EPA. We are in a critical period. The ball is in EPA’s court.

2. Residents should tell the Planning Board that it is premature to consider the Dupont soil excavation permit until EPA makes a final decision on the extent of the cleanup (e.g. the full cleanup would involve man times more trucks and far greater lake dredging).

3. Residents need to SUPPORT a complete permanent cleanup (e.g. the Lake, downriver, and the entire Dupont site) based on wildlife standards and US FWS recommendations.

4. Residents need to DEMAND that EPA consider the wildlife expertise and recommendations of the US Fish and Wildlife Service and EXTEND Dupont’s proposed cleanup

5. Residents need to SUPPORT US  FWS and pressure them to file a Natural Resource Damages claim on Dupont for poisoning fish and wildlife and eliminating people’s opportunity to eat the fish they catch.

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Lies by Business Lobbyists Shape Christie Energy and Environmental Policy

February 19th, 2012 No comments

Renewable Energy and Environmental Protections Blamed for Job Loss

gas price3

Last year, NJ Monthly magazine ran an extensive article on NJ energy policy: Brownouts Loom as Demand Outpaces Supply – Brownouts could loom for New Jersey as our growing demand outpaces existing supply

Although reporter Caren Chesler did a good job of counterposing facts and perspectives to implicitly rebut the spin (fair and balanced and all that), beginning with the hyped headline, the article features familiar myths – almost like an Onion parody –   and the same repertoire of scare tactics by the usual suspects; e.g.

  • demand for power is growing and projected to rise

That New Jersey’s energy needs by 2021 will exceed supply is hardly in doubt, and, despite the best intentions of the green movement, many experts say it is going to take more than extra insulation, wind farms and solar panels to meet the growing demand.

But energy demand growth is very much in doubt – demand is falling and projected rates of growth are not realistic. I invite Readers to please submit links documenting this.

  • the lights could go out if we don’t build more power plants and transmission lines;

The state is in a bind because no new power plants of significant output are being built here, and yet demand, particularly during the peak summer months, is expected to rise 1.3 percent to 2.8 percent annually over the next 10 years. That means the state’s energy needs could exceed supply as soon as 2012, energy observers say. The result could be brownouts and even blackouts during high-demand periods.

Scare tactic – again readers back me up here with the analysis, I’m too lazy. And regardless of the shape of demand, conservation, efficiency, renewables, and distributed power are the solutions.

  • EPA greenhouse gas emissions regulations will shut down coal power plants and jeopardize reliability

The problem could be exacerbated by expected federal pollution regulations aimed at reducing greenhouse gases. The potential new rules could shutter some of the region’s existing coal-fired power plants, cutting deeper into the state’s energy supply.

First of all, EPA’s “tailoring” and “NSR” GHG regulations basically grandfather existing plants or delegate plant closure decisions to States. And even Obama’s industry friendly EPA and Energy Department didn’t agree with the reliability scare – see this, for example.

  • nuclear power is the “lowest cost” energy and needed to combat global warming

Oyster Creek puts out 645 megawatts of electricity, or enough to power 600,000 homes per year. Along with New Jersey’s three other nuclear generating facilities, it accounts for more than half of the state’s electricity—and at the lowest cost of all power sources currently available here. […]

Nuclear plants are considered favorable for the environment, because they do not emit the greenhouse gases of plants that use fossil fuels.

But, if nukes are the “lowest cost” power source, how can this also be true?

Then there’s the staggering cost of new plant construction, estimated at $10 billion to $14 billion. Experts agree this will increase the cost of nuclear energy from future plants, should they be built. “Nukes are definitely not cheap,” says Steven Goldenberg, an attorney with Fox Rothschild LLP, “but they are necessary from a cost/reliability/greenhouse-gas perspective.”

Does this mean Governor Christie is willing to spend billions of taxpayer and ratepayer dollars to subsidize avoidance of greenhouse gas emissions, but only if the money is spent on high cost, above market nuke power plant construction?

Does the Governor have a grasp of engineering economics and what relative or ranked ROI means?

Hint for our Good Governor: Google “Amory Lovins”. Investments in “megawatts”, efficiency and renewables have far higher ROI’s; far shorter implementation timeframes; far higher jobs to dollar invested ratio’s, and lower overall environmental impact and financial risk profiles. HELLO!

  • renewable energy is heavily subsidized and not economically feasible;

Proponents of solar say it is clean, renewable and produces energy when needed most—in the middle of the day. Criticism of solar (and wind) energy comes largely from representatives of the state’s biggest energy users, such as the chemical industry. They say solar is unreliable and costly—about 40 to 75 cents a kilowatt hour—and that solar construction is largely driven by state and federal subsidies, a cost ultimately borne by ratepayers.

Bill Potter at NJ Spotlight destroyed this spin, see: Solar Oppostion: Left. Right. Wrong.

  • energy policy incentives drive high enery costs;

“Right now, New Jersey businesses pay higher rates than the national average, and we’re one of the highest in our electric grid,” says Sara Bluhm, an assistant vice president at the New Jersey Business & Industry Association. “That puts us at a competitive disadvantage.”

The state’s energy costs are high for a variety of reasons. New Jersey imports a significant amount of its power, which itself costs more. But under the PJM pricing model, we also subsidize power-plant construction in other states. 

New Jersey’s large energy users also complain about fees and charges tacked on by the state, which add up to about 26 percent of a residential electric bill. These include the societal benefits charge, which pays for things like renewable power subsidies and assistance to low-income customers. There’s a also a 7 percent sales tax, a 6 percent transitional energy facilities assessment tax and a regional greenhouse gas initiative charge, which goes toward reducing greenhouse gases. Large energy users say the latter charge alone costs them hundreds of thousands of dollars each year.

  • high energy costs are killing  jobs and driving business out of the state;

“About a quarter of the bill comes from state policy, so there’s some room for change,” says Bluhm.

Indeed, state officials recently removed the retail margin tax. The fee, which ends in June, was meant to incentivize businesses to shop around for power. The tax cost business more than $12 million a year, Bluhm says.

“We’re encouraged [the Christie administration] will be looking at other taxes and fees and how they can chip away at that 26 percent,” Bluhm says.

Each and every one of those premises is either incomplete, half true, irrelevant, misleading, or flat out false.

But, if you link and follow the logic of this chain of falsehoods and half truths, the overall policy solution is pretty clear: scale back renewable energy goals; scrap costly global warming mitigation programs; build more in state power plant capacity and distribution infrastructure; eliminate subsidies to renewables to lower energy costs in order to grow jobs and the economy.

Obviously, if you build your policy solution on a problem diagnosis based on myths and lies, you enter the realm of the medieval doctor’s prescription of leeches – you bleed the patient to death.

At that is exactly what Governor Christie is doing. Taking the wrong energy path, to invoke energy guru Daniel Yergin.

But I really don’t want to focus now on a point by point rebuttal of these energy policy half truths, spin and outright lies. I’ve done some of that before (see:

Rather, I’d like to show how blatantly false claims by lobbyists form the foundation and political cover for both energy and environmental policy rollbacks under the Christie Administration.

It is important to note at the outset that Christie energy and environmental policies share very similar – – in some cases the same – foundational lies and half truths, that are told by the same people and organizations, for the same reasons.

Hal Bozarth, NJ Chemistry Council

Hal Bozarth, NJ Chemistry Council

Let’s start with Hal Bozarth, of the NJ Chemistry Council

Following Hal’s lead, Hal’s sidekick testified (lied) to the  Assembly Environment Committee last month by using the lowest form of innuendo to imply that the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative was responsible for the loss of almost 30,000 manufacturing jobs in the NJ chemical industry.

Really, he did. I guess Politifact missed that one.

Now if a lie falls on the legislature’s forest, but Politicfact is not there to hear it ….

Not to be outdone, Hal Bozarth himself set the tone and deployed this whopper in the NJ monthly story – on the record and for attribution:

Hal Bozarth, executive director of the Chemistry Council of New Jersey, which represents some of the state’s biggest energy consumers, claims the cost of energy here is driving companies out of the state—to the tune of about 4,000 jobs. In February 2009, for instance, Griffin Pipe Products shuttered its Florence plant, resulting in a loss of 400 jobs. More recently, Gerdau Ameristeel Corp. said it was closing its Perth Amboy plant and reducing production at its Sayreville plant. Bozarth ties these moves to energy costs coupled with the bad economy.

“New Jersey’s unusually high cost of electricity is killing us,” Bozarth says. “These people literally vote with their feet.”

So, let’s look at the Griffin Pipe and Gerdau AMeristeel plants to see if we can find out what drove them to shut down operations in NJ.

Griffin Pipe.

Griffen Pipe closed down for the same reason the US Pipe plant just down the road closed: lack of demand due to global economic recession.

Here is what the New York Times had to say:

“We were expecting a temporary layoff, maybe three months,” said Mark Babula, 38, unit chairman of Local 2040B of the United Steelworkers, the union that represents 175 hourly employees at Griffin. But the economy was worse than anyone had ever imagined: Housing starts had plummeted, and so had the demand for water pipes. Just a year earlier, just three miles downriver in Burlington, another old foundry, U.S. Pipe, had closed.

Hal Bozarth is full of shit – strike one.

Gerdau Ameristeel

Gerdau Ameristeel shut down its Sayreville NJ plant for the same reason it shut down its Sand Springs, Oklahoma plant – “due to lower demand for its products resulting from the downturn in the economy”:

Star Ledger

MIDDLESEX COUNTY — The Flordia-based steel company that operates two steel plants in the county has announced they will be suspending its Sayreville steel mill and will close its Perth Amboy facility due to a decrease in demand for products, according to a report by

Suburban News

Sayreville steel mill suspends production
Market conditions prompt Gerdau Ameristeel closures
A Sayreville steel mill announced this week that it is suspending production in the borough and closing a mill in a neighboring town due to the downturn in the economy.

American Recycler (Trade journal)

Gerdau Ameristeel Corporation is suspending production at its Sayreville, New Jersey steel mill and closing its rolling mill in neighboring Perth Amboy, New Jersey due to lower demand for its products resulting from the downturn in the economy. The company said these actions are expected to occur gradually over the next several months. The company indicated that it would restart operations at the Sayreville facility when business conditions warrant.

The company is also entering into discussions with the United Steel Workers regarding the potential closure of the Company’s steel mill located in Sand Springs, Oklahoma.

Hal Boarth is full of shit – strike two.

But I saved the best for last – so go back up and take a look at the graph at the top of this post. It shows recent trends in industrial sector natural gas prices.

First of all, the Gerdau plant uses lots of natural gas in manufacturing – not electricity as Bozarth suggested.

Second, the Gerdau plant, In August 2007 –  shortly before the global economy crashed and the decision was made to shut down the plant – under went an Energy Savings Assessment (ESA) by the US Department of Energy.

The ESA found that the Gerdau plant management was “very active in exploring and implementing energy savings practices” and  “extremely interested in pursuing energy savings opportunities“.

The  DOE ESA concluded:

Reported values of natural gas consumption for this plant are in excess of 450,000 MMBTU per year, approximate annual natural gas cost for the plant is estimated to be about $8 per million Btu.

Potential opportunities: Major energy saving opportunities identified during this assessment are described briefly below. A large percentage (>85%) of the total natural gas used in the plant is used in reheat furnace and the plant has installed a modern furnace that is designed for very efficient operation. In additional to this the pant operating practices allow them to use 50% or more hot charging in the furnace. This has resulted in excellent operating performance for the reheat furnace.

Main areas of improvement are reported for three heating equipment: Reheat furnace, Tundish heaters and Ladle heating stations. The opportunities are in the areas of: reduction excess O2 in exhaust gases from heating systems, combustion air preheating, and use of improved heating system for tundish heaters.Identified energy saving opportunities includes potential savings varying from $14,800 to more than $270,000 per year for the furnaces/equipment assessed during this visit. Near term (<1 year payback) opportunities identified during this assessment may save 1.5% to 3% and the medium term (< 3 years payback) opportunities may save >3% natural gas cost. The long term (> 3 years) opportunities related to process changes etc. can result in substantially more savings (not estimated at this time).

Those ESA savings opportunities and paybacks were based on a gas price of $8 per million Btu’s (that about $7.89 per thousand cubic feet).

If you go to the top and look at DoE natural gas prices, you will note two important things:

First, gas prices are FALLING, were projected to fall further (from a high of about $18 in early 2008, to less than $6 in 2012). So, just before the 2008 economic collapse, Gerdau management was planning energy conservation investments at the plant.

Obviously, energy prices had very little to do with the closing decision – worse, Bozarth targeted electric energy costs when natural gas is the main source at Gerdau.

Bozarth is wrong about the cause for plant closure, wrong about energy economics and fuel at plant, and relied on a fundamentally wrong economic dynamic – Bozarth is full of shit strike three!

The same people, using the same lies, to promote the same economic interests have falsely claimed that “red tape”, DEP bureaucracy, and environmental regulations have killed jobs and impeded investment.

They have the same credibility as Hal Bozarth’s energy fairy tales.

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Pennsylvania Sells Out To Gas Frackers

February 18th, 2012 No comments


[Update 2/24/12: Delaware Riverkeeper calls out Senator Mcllhinney for misleading his constituent about the fracking law. Read the kick ass letter here!end update]

On Thursday Feb. 16, 2012, Delaware Riverkeeper Network and PA Sierra Club  held a series of protests outside legislative offices across Pennsylvania to hold  legislators accountable for their vote in favor of a new gas drilling law known as the bill HB 1950.

The political deal on the 174 page bill was negotiated behind closed doors by Republican leadership and Governor Corbett and rushed through the legislature in just 48 hours, making it virtually impossible for citizens and local officials to understand what is in the law or participate in the legislative process (here is the Conference Committee report).

The focus of the criticism was on provisions of the new State law that [allegedly – confirmed by Conference Report – see Section 3304 below] over-ride and strip towns of land use zoning powers to regulate fracking and related gas operations (well drilling, pads, access roads, pipelines, pump stations, wastewater processing and disposal, et al).

I went over to nearby lovely Doylestown, to take part in the protest at Senator Mcllhinney’s office [R-Bucks]

Despite a cold rain, about 50 protesters turned out. After gathering downtown, they marched on Mcllhenney’s Office. While the protesters agreed among themselves not to meet with the Senator, I took the opportunity to sit in on a meeting that 2 of the Senator’s constituents at the protest asked for.

The Senator denied any local preemption or restrictions on zoning. He said he had never heard that fracking wastewater contained radioactive compounds. He was unaware of the lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions from fracking. He claimed that all fracking wastewater would be recycled on site and create no environmental harms or risks. He said that use of water was a private property right in Pennsylvania that could not be restricted, equating fracking with agricultural water use. He acknowledged that the law grandfathered existing fracking wells and operations. He claimed that towns could still prohibit all aspects of fracking, but if they did so they would not be eligible for local impact fees. He denied that the impacts of fracking were regional and towns adjacent to fracking wells and infrastructure would be impacted.

[Update: I just read the conference report, I can’t write about the whole thing but it is nothing like the law the Senator described.

This provision alone is a killer – this means none of the new location restriction regulatory standards in Section 3215 apply to drilling on all lands with gas leases. Those wells can’t be stopped or even limited, e.g. “alter or abridged”:

Nothing shall alter and abridge the terms of any contract, mortgage or other agreement entered into prior to the effective date of this section.

And this provision in 3222.1 would gut the chemical disclosure requirements:

  • A vendor, service provider or operator shall not be required to disclose trade secrets or confidential proprietary information.

Section 3304 contains the local preemption, mandatory promotion of gas and numerous other state mandates of what local zoning ordinances must include to promote gas ::

  • Preempts local ordinances adopted pursuant to the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code from regulating matters regulated in Chapter 32 or any other technical aspects of oil and gas operations.
  • All local ordinances regulating oil and gas operations must allow for the reasonable development of oil and gas resources.

I found the Senator’s remarks in favor of the legislation and knowledge of the practice and environmental and land use implications of fracking to be incomplete, misleading, or flat out false.

Here are some photos:







Tracy Carlucchio, Delaware Riverkeeper

Tracy Carlucchio, Delaware Riverkeeper


Senator McIlhinney meets with constituent to explain vote - the Senator was nervous

Senator Mcllhinney meets with constituent to explain vote - the Senator was nervous

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