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Trenton Today

I went down to Trenton today to listen to the debates and votes on environmental bills on the Assembly Board list.

While the priority focus was on the Legislative veto of the DEP waiver rule (ACR 37 [1R]) and the RGGI restoration bill (A1998), I was particularly interested in really bad bills that have flown under the media and environmental lobbyist group radar and curiously generated no visible opposition:

  • A2584 – which I wrote about yesterday, is a bill that would expand loopholes in the Whitman Administration’s enforcement “Grace Period” program and make it more difficult for DEP to adopt “Technical manuals” and thereby regulate industry;
  •  A1534 – an innocent sounding bill that amounts to a chemical industry sponsored attack on the Pollution Prevention Act (does the sponsors Assemblyman Burzichelli think there are not enough DEP Reports here?);
  • A1527 changes to the Watershed Propertry Review Board that amount to threats to the current development moratorium on watershed lands (the Senate version is co-sponsored by Norcross and Kryillos- now what do you think that’s about?).

So, here’s the quick rundown.


Waiver Rule Veto

As expected, with no debate, the Waiver rule veto passed largely on partisan lines by a vote of  47 – 31. This is a significant victory that now shifts the debate to the Senate.

If the Senate passes the identical Resolution, the DEP Commissioner will have 30 days to revoke or amend the Waiver rule. If he fails to do so, and if both Houses then pass another Resolution, the waiver rule is repealed.

The waiver rule scheduled to go into effect on August 1, so it is important that the Senate vote ASAP, because the Legislature adjourns for the summer after the budget is done, July 1.

RGGI Restoration

Assemblyman McKeon (D-Essex) introduced and spoke in support of the bill (substituted by S1322).

At the outset of his remarks, he misspoke by claiming that greenhouse gas emissions “destroy the ozone layer”, which then causes global warming (I thought only Christie Whitman was confused about that, a gaffe reported by the NY Times). Wrong on both counts. (Holy shit – Mulshine called him out on it too!)

He then again misspoke  by claiming that RGGI fees are paid by emissions sources who emit in excess of the “cap”.

Ironically, McKeon cited the work of world renown NOAA scientist Dr. James Hansen, apparently unaware that Hansen strongly OPPOSES cap and trade programs like RGGI.

McKeon cited jobs, alleged emissions reductions, and enhanced economic activity as reasons to support RGGI. He criticized Governor Christie’s raid on $65 million in RGGI funds.

Assemblyman Carroll (R-Morris) rose in oppostion.

He too was an embarrassment, but far more so than McKeon.

Carroll echoed the paranoid delusional talking points of Steven Lonegan of Americans for Prosperity, the Koch Brothers funded front group.

The bill passed, again largely on partisan lines by a vote of 45 – 33.

It now has passed both houses and goes to the Governor, where it is certain to be vetoed (again). At this point, supporters lack the votes to over-ride the Governor’s veto. So, this was mainly show.

Pollution Prevention

With no debate, the Pollution Prevention Act Attack bill passed by a vote of 72-4-2.

While there is no companion in the Senate, passage of the bill would set the stage for rollback of the Act.

Shamefully, what was once the cornerstone of the Florio Administration’s environmental policy and a national groundbreaking model bill to promote toxics use reduction and force changes in the manufacturing practices of the chemical industry, is now a dead letter, with absolutely no defenders.

Democrats can carry the chemical industry’s water, seemingly with impunity.

Where the hell are the environmentalists?

Grace Period/Technical manuals

Without debate, the bill passed by an astonishing vote of 77-1, with McKeon the lone opponent.

Ironically, this actually EXPANDED the scope of a Whitman Administration “voluntary compliance” “regulatory flexibility” “open for business” law called “Grace Period”.

The vote came at the end of a long session.

While the environmental lobbyists were long gone, the GodFather of NJ toxics Hal Bozarth and his chemical gang remained in the gallery.

This lopsided vote with no debate just reveals that Legislators, environmentalists, and the media are totally clueless in terms of how environmental programs are actually implemented and enforced.

Watershed Property Review Board – Moratorium

With no debate, the bill passed by another lopsided vote of 71-4-2.

Tomorrow’s headlines – if there even are any stories – will likely be “Environmentalists praise Democrats for protecting the environment” or some such bullshit.

I think I’ll sign off now and leave it at that.

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