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Archive for April, 2012

DEP Clear-Cut Plan Would Violate Federal Law

April 30th, 2012 3 comments

US Fish and Wildlife Service Asked to Intervene

Army Corps Requires Restoration of Riverfront Fill  - Dredging Stopped

Riverfront restoration underway, as a result of US Army Corps enforcement

Here is another quick update on Bull’s Island, including important new developments.

At our request, the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) conducted compliance reviews and halted the dredging operation for permit violations. The Corps ordered restoration of un-permitted illegal fill and destruction along 450 feet of the Delaware River and along approximately 4,000 feet of the D&R Canal.

Restoration work is underway (see above photo). We understand that the USACE directed the NJ Water Supply Authority – who did the un-permitted work – to submit permit applications.

We understand that the National Parks Service has expressed concerns regarding consistency  with the Lower Delaware Wild & Scenic River Management Plan, an management agreement to which DEP is a party.

We learned that Bull’s Island provides habitat for federally protected Indiana bat and migratory birds – see the below press release and letter to USFWS asking for enforcement of the Endangered Species Act and Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

We also observed cutting of trees, which raises additional USFWS issues (see letter and photo below – from our friends at PEER ).

DEP Parks forester cuts trees (3/24/12)

NEW JERSEY WAR ON “KILLER TREES” VIOLATES FEDERAL LAW
Bull’s Island Is Habitat for Endangered Bat and Protected Migratory Birds

Trenton — Ongoing and planned forestry work on Bull’s Island State Park is at odds with federal wildlife protections, according to Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) which today asked the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to intervene.  New Jersey officials are cutting old growth sycamore trees and plan to clear-cut more than 200 trees from state parkland on the banks of the Delaware River.

The state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has not consulted with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service which enforces the Endangered Species and Migratory Bird Treaty Acts.  The giant sycamores on Bull’s Island provide ideal shelter for a variety of wildlife, including the critically endangered Indiana bat as well as the Cerulean Warbler and a dozen other protected migratory birds.  The Island also abuts protected bald eagle foraging habitat.

DEP actions that are the focus of the PEER complaint include:

  • Cutting several large sycamores during the height of nesting season.  Scores of additional trees are tagged, apparently for removal; and
  • A plan to denude the northern portion of Bull’s Island (from the wing dam to the tip).

“Thinning trees during nesting and roosting season flouts basic wildlife management tenets,” stated New Jersey PEER Director Bill Wolfe, noting that the area is also within a Wild & Scenic River corridor and DEP is contravening the multi-agency management plan it signed.  “The state is managing this unique river park like a municipal golf course which gets mowed whether it needs it or not.”

In a separate operation, DEP dredged the Delaware & Raritan Canal in violation of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and local Soil Conservation District permits.  The state agency also bulldozed riparian vegetation and dumped dredge fill along 450 feet of the Delaware River bank.  In response to a PEER complaint, the Corps has halted the dredging and ordered restoration of the riverfront.

Federal wildlife laws protect both the animals and the habitat upon which they depend. Moreover, detailed federal guidance on how these lands are supposed to be managed stresses the need to minimize tree clearing, to avoid digging and dozing and, above all, to avoid cutting trees and branches during nesting season.  Not only do current DEP actions violate these protective measures but the agency’s plan to clear-cut a large portion of the Island destroys much of its wildlife habitat value.

“State officials are not immune from prosecution for violating federal wildlife laws,” Wolfe added. “It would behoove the DEP to consult with all its partners – federal, regional and local – before blundering forward on its own.”

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Read the PEER complaint to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

Look at DEP clear-cut plans

See Fish & Wildlife Service guidance on Indiana bat

View Fish & Wildlife Service management plan for the Cerulean Warbler

Examine the Wild & Scenic River management plan for lower Delaware

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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Just A Perfect Day

April 29th, 2012 No comments

Bull's Island (looking south down Delaware River)

Just a perfect day

problems all left  alone

weekenders on our, its such fun  ~~~  Perfect Day (1972) Lou Reed

 

After a few weeks of technical difficulties, we’re back on line.

I have several updates to post – will wait till Monday to start all that.

Too perfect a day to write.

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River

April 17th, 2012 No comments

Delaware River, just below Bull's Island

There were record high temperatures yesterday, and as you can see, the river is flowing well below normal.

But if you look at the last 10 years of USGS flow data,  the picture is far worse.

As you can see, not only is the river flowing well below normal, but the level is decreasing at a time of year when it is usually rising steeply.

Bad sign.

 

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Dissenting Report Rips Christie DEP Commissioner Martin On Environmental Justice

April 11th, 2012 No comments

Basis for NJEF Endorsement of Christie Called Into Question

I wrote yesterday about the total fraud and failure of the Christie Administration to develop and implement what the Governor himself promised on environmental justice.

Christie used this promise to secure a political endorsement by the NJ Environmental Federation. As a candidate seeking NJEF’s endorsement, Christie promised to develop and implement:

“standards and guidelines … so that cumulative and disproportionate impacts will carry much greater weight in our [DEP] decisions.”

When I wrote that, I was unaware of last year’s dissenting Report by the Clean Air Council on precisely that issue. I had never read about it in any news reports, and it was buried at the very end – literally the last 2 pages on the Council’s Report, and I missed it.

So, given my focus yesterday, before I write about what went on at today’s Clean Air Council annual public hearing, I thought it very important to print last year’s Council’s dissenting Report to DEP Commissioner Martin in its entirely.

It is unprecedented for the Council to issue a dissenting report – and the dissent itself is extraordinarily well written and right on the mark. I completely agree with it.

A Report of this significance should not be buried, but made a rallying cry across the state, particularly in disproportionately burdened urban communities.

The dissent also makes the case for the NJEF to revoke the Christie endorsement even stronger (see page 36).

Addendum Reflecting a Clean Air Council Dissenting Position

To: Honorable Commissioner Bob Martin

From: Nicky Sheats, Esq.,Ph.D., Hearing Chair John Elston

Howard Geduldig, Esq. Robert Laumbach, M.D. Pam Mount
Richard E. Opiekun, Ph.D. Joseph Spatola, Ph.D.

RE: Addendum Reflecting a Clean Air Council Dissenting Position

The above-listed members of the Clean Air Council (CAC), in response to your request made at the July 13, 2011 CAC meeting for our dissenting position, respectively offer the following addendum:

  1. The dissenters recommend that the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (Department) conduct robust and transparent stakeholder meetings that result in the development and implementation of a coherent cumulative impacts policy. This policy should be incorporated in the Department’s decision-making process, including permitting, in the near future. While we do not oppose continued research into the cumulative impacts of toxic air contaminants on sensitive subpopulations and the general public, we cannot support the recommendation that additional research substitute for the actual development and implementation of a coherent policy. The dissenters find such a recommendation antithetical to good public policy while our citizens, particularly those in communities Of Color and low-income neighborhoods, bear the burden of continuing, and often increasing, threats to public health and welfare.

  2. 2. While stationary sources, in the face of strong state regulation and enforcement, have reduced their emissions, some continue to place a toxic load on our publicly- held air resource and further reductions are warranted especially in and near neighborhoods already overburdened with pollution. The USEPA study on toxic air contaminants at Paulsboro High School, which is proximate to an operating oil refinery and a manufacturing facility, contains results that according to USEPA “indicate the influence of pollutants of concern that are the focus of EPA actions nationwide.” The dissenters believe the USEPA study suggests that risk levels near the school may be high enough, especially when viewed from a cumulative perspective, to warrant the implementation of long-term risk reduction efforts by DEP and USEPA. However, the specific conditions and circumstances at Paulsboro High School, or any other single location, cannot be representative of local cumulative impacts on communities throughout the state.

    3. The dissenters recommend that the Department continue to exercise its leadership in fulfilling its primary mission — environmental protection. We do not support the narrow contention that the purpose of the Clean Air Council public hearing was merely to review already-implemented federal and state action that could be replicated in New Jersey for recommendation to the Commissioner. However, the dissenters do recommend that New Jersey continue to review measures protective of public health being considered and implemented by other states, the federal government, and the international community. Also, where appropriate and feasible, the Department should continue to move forward to protect public health and welfare, even if other governmental entities are not in a position to act. Others will eventually follow New Jersey’s lead and significant positive public health and welfare benefits will accrue to our state in the interim.

    4. The statement that a New Jersey cumulative impacts policy implemented prior to a similar federal policy would place our State at a competitive disadvantage, is conjectural. No testimony was taken at the public hearing nor was any evidence reviewed supporting this contention. The dissenters believe that it is at least as likely that a coherent cumulative impacts policy coupled with other environmental measures that result in a healthy environment with livable cities would be a significant component of, and would contribute to, long-term economic growth.

    5. The dissenters disagree with the qualification attached to a significant number of recommendations in the report stating that the Department “could [take various beneficial actions] if staffing and resources allow.” We believe that it is our responsibility to make sound, viable recommendations, leaving it to the Department to appropriately adjust its resource prioritization as warranted. In response to these recommendations, the robust stakeholder process that is one of the recommendations, and further research-based findings, the redirection of existing resources and/or the provision of additional resources may be indicated.

    6. Finally, the dissenters thank the Commissioner for his willingness to hear from us and welcome the opportunity to respond to any further questions that he may have.

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Transmission of Values (love)

April 11th, 2012 No comments

values2

Girl and Dad at Princeton University Art Museum

John Constable exhibit (through June 10)

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