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Air Heads

Clean Air Council Holds Annual Public Hearing Tomorrow at DEP

Too many communities bear a disproportionate share of the pollution burden, as they do to many others. (sic) Too often state decisions are made without keeping that in mind. I will require my administration to develop standards and guidelines and implement them so that cumulative and disproportionate impacts will carry much greater weight in our decisions. Governor Chris Christie, quoted in testimony by Dave Pringle, NJEF

Last year’s Clean Air Council annual public hearing focused on environmental justice, cumulative impacts, and air toxics.

Hit this link to read the testimony and Council’s Report and recommendations to DEP Commissioner Martin (and see this for how DEP addressed similar health risks and EJ issues in Paterson)

But you can’t talk about any of that now – this year’s agenda is limited to transportation and small sources.

If you show up to the public hearing at 9:30 am, and sit and listen to 5 hours of technocrats banter, you can stand up (after the DEP Commissioner and half the Council are long gone) and maybe you can speak for up to 10 minutes!

But don’t be intimidated by the experts on the Council and giving presentations – for example of the rigorous testimony that is given, here’s last year’s testimony of Dave Pringle, NJEF (@p.235)

Based on the Governor’s commitments and Dave’s testimony (key excerpt below), some intrepid journalist or policy wonk  just might want to ask Dave – or DEP Commissioner Martin – just exactly what “standards and guidelines” DEP has adopted and is “now implementing ” “so that cumulative and disproportionate impacts will carry much greater weight in our [DEP] decisions.”

I do know that the Governor Christie HAS “lifted a finger” – too many times.

In his first hour in office, Christie issued Executive Orders that explicitly dictate “regulatory relief” and direct DEP to issue “waivers” for polluters (those are policy terms used in Executive Order #2) and to cut “job killing Red Tape“.

DEP complied with EO#2 and adopted the waiver rule. The Governor also later signed legislation that prohibits DEP from issuing guidance documents (see final version enacted as P.L 2012, c. 215)

I also know that and that DEP has NOT adopted ANY new “regulations or guidelines” or even “methodologies” regarding cumulative impact assessment, disproportionate burden, or environmental justice.

But, without confusing matters with facts, here’s Dave:

In 2005, Candidate Corzine committed to giving DEP the power to just say no to cumulative impacts. He made it in front of my board during our endorsement process.

Between 2006 and 2009, while he was governor, he didn’t lift a finger to implement that commitment.

In 2009, Candidate Christie said, and this is a direct quote,

“Too many communities bear a disproportionate share of the pollution burden, as they do to many others. (sic) Too often state decisions are made without keeping that in mind. I will require my administration to develop standards and guidelines and implement them so that cumulative and disproportionate impacts will carry much greater weight in our decisions.

Needless to say, we were very heartened when he said that. I have had numerous follow-up conversations with various folks in the administration, including the governor himself, and while we always like more progress faster, he already hasn’t backed away from that statement the way Governor Corzine has. (sic)

I was further heartened to hear the Commissioner’s statement earlier today here, not backing away from that, and filling in, in fact, a bit more detail that we seem to be applying cumulative impacts in our current decision making.

And where is *Henry?

This may or may not be an example that works for you or not.

Candidate Christie, at the time, and has repeated since, has cited environmental justice in opposing something. He opposes the coal plant. It hasn’t been stopped yet. So I’m not if that count’s or not. But I would rather him be opposing it than supporting it. [emphases mine]

With lies like these from self described “environmental justice advocates”, we don’t need chemical industry lobbyists!

[PS - just to be clear, I raised these issues to the DEP EJ Advisory Council one 2 years ago (See December 11, 2009 minutes):

Bill Wolfe of PEER asked about the importance of using existing regulatory authority – as noted on page 22 of the report – and questioned whether there had been an effort as part of the study to inventory the existing regulations pertinent to these issues? He suggested that there was a gap in the report in its lack of attention to this, and its lack of a timetable and work plan to push the DEP to make fuller use of these available tools. Ana noted that the Committee had consulted with legal experts about this, and that because of constraints on time and resources had concluded that there was genuine uncertainty about this. Valorie noted that she felt it was important to address this issue further in the near future.

* “Henry” Pringle was referring to is Henry Rose – Henry is a truth teller, not a liar like Pringle.  Heres’ what Henry had to say:

Henry Rose

Statewide Coordinator
New Jersey Environmental Justice Alliance

When we look at what is going on with cumulative impacts and environmental justice, we realize that with both the USEPA and within New Jersey, there are no standards, guidelines, or definitions, no goals or objectives. We wonder if this is due to mistake or willful neglect, but most likely it is due to “analysis paralysis”, or the practice of conducting one study after another.

People know where the communities are. They know what the overburden is. They know what the problems are, and, for the most part, where they are emanating from. This is a moral and ethical issue, an unwillingness to deal with issues of race and class and power in New Jersey. On a regular basis, we know who is dying. We know who has cancer. We know whose communities have higher rates of asthma. We know where high blood pressure is. We don’t need to look for this anymore.

The NJDEP has the duty to protect human health and the environment. There has not been one decision, on anything, from the State that says, you can’t do this because of environmental justice reasons. You can’t do this because this community is already overburdened. You can’t do this because the people here are sick enough. This is a willful neglect of human health.

We should first define what an overburdened neighborhood is, then look at what pollutions are already there, and figure out how to ratchet them down. Here is an area that has a problem. We are not going to allow anything in that is going to make it worse. Let’s figure out how to put things in, how to bring things in to make it better. If cumulative impacts take place by a lot of small incremental steps, then hopefully we can reverse them by small incremental steps going the other way. It is going to take somebody stepping in to do that.

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