Archive for August, 2012

The New Dr. Strangelove – New York Is Ground Zero in Fracking Debate

August 24th, 2012 No comments

 Industry Sees Major Risks From Citizen Activists

 Battle In New York State Has Huge Ramifications


Sometimes the most revealing  information is hidden in plain sight – disclosed by unhinged industry analysts who are so drunk by greed and power as to literally not understand what they are doing.

Just take a look at that map above and recognize the twisted ambition and vision  of combined Wall Street and energy industry greed – The New Dr. Strangelove.

The map is from a bizarre exhibition of corporate greed – a strategic assessment titled Energy 2020 – North America, the New Middle East?  – which was used to support the Romney Energy Plan.

It  reveals the industry’s vulnerabilities and true fears.

Industry strategic analysts are arrogantly blunt in their assessment.

They see only one obstacle that can stop their demented plans to maximize profits at all costs by exploiting oil, gas, and coal reserves that would  literally cook the planet:  democracy and citizen activism:

Whether the increase in production results in the US reducing its imports or whether net exports grow doesn’t matter much to world balances. Either way, North America is becoming the new Middle East. The only thing that can stop this is politics — environmentalists getting the upper hand over supply in the U.S., for instance; or First Nations impeding pipeline expansion in Canada; or Mexican production continuing to trip over the Mexican Constitution, impeding foreign investment or technology transfers — in North America itself. […]

Whilst the story of North American ‘energy independence’ is one of incredible potential and possibility that could alter the geopolitical landscape from the Middle East to the Mid-Continent — public policy might well be the most critical factor in determining whether the current steep supply trajectory remains robust for many decades to come or if it fizzles out; trumping both technology and geology.

The myriad of policy implications relating to hydrocarbon production growth involve entrenched political trade-offs that have the potential to significantly slow if not halt the development of deepwater wellheads, tar sands, tight oil, and NGL supplies that could otherwise nearly double to almost 27-m b/d in the next decade. For example, Canada could see over 3-m b/d of growth impeded by the geopolitics of pipeline development, environmental policy and resource nationalism. The US faces these same obstacles in addition to perhaps even more deeply rooted environmental concerns and interstate politics. Mexico, too, could risk little flexibility on constitutional change, hence limiting output growth of Pemex shale and deepwater plays to perhaps 50% or even less of their potential.

The industry has no fear of the Obama Administration or any federal regulations.

Obama is viewed as a supporter and friend. Obama’s temporary halt to the Keystone XL pipeline is not viewed a a strategic threat, but a mere election year ploy.

EPA’s greenhouse gas emission and fracking regulatory initiatives are summarily dismissed:

Perhaps no other government agency has felt more political heat than the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), an organization the current opposition party simply labels a “jobs killer.” Additionally, while hardly the most powerful lobby in Washington, environmental concerns typically ensure their voices are heard when it comes to critical decisions (e.g. Keystone XL). But while there are a slew of actual policy initiatives related to reducing US GHG emissions (and the current White House does have a penchant for renewable sources) on the whole, these largely voluntary bullets don’t appear very restrictive for the oil and gas production side (rather, more immediate regulatory uncertainty concerns appear more impactful for power and utilities). Outside of the EPA, there are other agencies involved with carbon capture and tax incentive policies to reduce GHGs but these, too, seem benevolent although the emissions rule (discussed in the Natural Gas section) is likely the biggest factor in seeing if the demand side will pull supply. Additionally (and more relevant specific to production), the White House has supported several meaningful policies just this year including the historic deepwater drilling agreement with Mexico (see section on Mexico) and the Department of Interior’s announcement of enhanced exploration in shallow waters of the Arctic this summer. Secretary Salazar noted earlier this month, “Alaska’s energy resources — onshore and offshore, conventional and renewable — hold great promise and economic opportunity for the people of Alaska and across the nation” with the Administration asserting its support for safe and science-based exploration in the region. 

So, what is the one obstacle the industry fears?

And where will this battle manifest?

On the whole, anti-fracking sentiment in New York could put a damper on future growth and spread, where judges have upheld community bans on grass drilling and anti-fracking sentiment has become a part of the Occupy Wall Street movement. 

Go To New York – Occupy Albany on Monday August 27.

Tell Governor Cuomo: “Don’t Frack NY – Don’t Be Frackin Crazy – No Fracking Way!”

"Stop the frack attack" protest, Washington DC (July 28, 2012)

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Obama and Exelon – It’s Not Corrupt Crony Capitalism, It’s a “Shared Vision”

August 24th, 2012 5 comments

Obama White House Intervenes at EPA at Request of Exelon 

Obama Worse than Bush On Industry Access and Control Over Regulations

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson – A “Pliant Bureaucrat” – Rolls Over

The New York Times ran a devastating page one investigative story yesterday about how corporate energy giant Exelon used political influence with the Obama administration to over-ride science to delay, weaken, and kill environmental regulations  – including dodging major safety reforms in light of the Japanese Fukushima nuclear disaster– while securing huge subsidies.

The story in many ways parallels the corrupt science and regulatory policies and practices of the Bush Administration, which were severely criticized by environmental organizations, who now seem curiously silent as the Obama Administration does much the same thing.

The industry access and regulatory favors are especially galling, coming from the Obama administration after the President (via Executive Orders) and EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson have repeatedly emphasized scientific integrity , reforms to the regulatory process, and pledged to reduce the role of lobbyists in policy (for example, Lisa Jackson testified that scientific integrity wasthe backbone  of my leadership at EPA”  and the “compass of environmental protection”). 

The NY Times wrote:

Ties to Obama Aided in Access for Big Utility


White House records show that Exelon executives were able to secure an unusually large number of meetings with top administration officials at key moments in the consideration of environmental regulations that have been drafted in a way that hurt Exelon’s competitors, but curb the high cost of compliance for Exelon and its industry allies. […]

White House officials and top executives at Exelon, which operates the nation’s largest fleet of nuclear power plants, say the relationship does not reflect favoritism, but rather a shared vision of moving the nation toward a cleaner energy future.

We previously wrote in detail about some of these same issues, particularly the role of Cass Sunstein in promoting unprecedented access and accommodation to industry in regulatory policy decisions. On August 4, 2012, we wrote:

Obama “Regulatory Czar” Steps Down

The fact that critical life and death decisions and the health of the planet can be determined based on flawed economics in corporate dominated back room deals should outrage all Americans.

Let’s hope Sunstein’s departure can shed some light on and engage dialogue on those issues.

Cass Sunstein, President Obama’s head of the powerful but virtually invisible Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), is stepping down..

OIRA review and approval is required before any major federal regulation can be approved. Sunstein leveraged that role – with direct access to his close friend and former University if Chicago colleague, President Obama – to wield enormous power in a destructive way.

Sunstein was an advocate of cost benefit analysis – and other flawed pro-industry tools used to promote a corporate agenda.

He used those tools not only to block, weaken, and delay regulations, but also to provide an unprecedented level of corporate access and influence on regulatory policy.

According to a report by the Center for Progressive Reform: Behind Closed Doors at the White House: How Politics Trumps Protection of Public Health, Worker Safety, and the Environment,  astonishingly, Sunstein’s Office  intervened to change over 80% of EPA regulations to benefit industry at the expense of the environment.

Well, the NY Times has shown a bright spotlight on exactly those issues and validated our analysis. (see also Why Lisa Jackson Should Not Run EPA)

The Times reports that industry lobbyists had an open door at the White House and with regulatory agencies. The Times reports:

But the lobbying campaign over clean air and water rules illustrates the company’s unusual access. White House records show that Mr. Rowe, before his retirement, visited eight times, far more than chief executives of coal-centered companies like American Electric Power that were fighting parts of the rules that Mr. Rowe was supporting.

Exelon’s efforts peaked in 2011, White House meeting records show. Mr. Rowe flew to Washington in March, and met with William M. Daley, then Mr. Obama’s chief of staff; Cass Sunstein, then the head of the White House office that oversees all federal regulations; Lisa P. Jackson, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency; and Gina McCarthy, the agency’s top air pollution official. 

The Times documents that this access produced results for Exelon, particularly on the Clean Water Act cooling tower issue (we have blasted Governor Christie for caving in on mandating cooling towers at the Oyster Creek NJ plant). The Times reports:

In the weeks before the draft rule was issued, Exelon lobbyists attended two other White House meetings, records show, giving it greater White House access than any other company or environmental group trying to influence the outcome. The Exelon meetings included Mr. Sunstein, who supervised the process, while utilities arguing against the regulations also made their case, but to lower-level staff members, the records show.

At the same time, Exelon was working with other power companies to block or weaken a provision of proposed clean water regulations that were also under review. The E.P.A., aiming to prevent water intakes at power plants from killing fish and other aquatic life, was proposing regulations that the companies feared would require extensive renovations.

Exelon lobbyists and their allies, over the last year, have again secured unusual access to White House meetings, pressing for dozens of changes, even proposing how to redraft entire sections of the regulation, according to its written presentations to the E.P.A.

The Times managed to procure White House emails that show that Exelon’s meetings produced specific results. It is often difficult to connect the dots and show direct industry fingerprints on regulatory outcomes, but believe me, in my experience, it is a routine practice.

That’s why we opposed Gov. Christie Executive Order #2 to provide “regulatory relief” and more access to industry in rule making and the recently enacted legislative changes to rule making procedures that provide more industry access and allow DEP to change the text of regulations after the fact to accommodate industry concerns (AKA the “bait and switch” bill).

Outrageously, in this case, Exelon drafted the text of the regulations, saving Exelon hundreds of millions of dollars. The Times reports:

Days after a March 2011 meeting with Exelon executives, a White House official instructed the E.P.A. official in charge of drafting the water intake rule to rewrite major portions, according to White House e-mail records.

The E.P.A. official, Mary T. Smith, was called to a meeting shortly after lobbyists for Exelon and industry associations appealed for changes, and told to rewrite the regulation, agency e-mails show. …

The rewrite effectively narrowed the circumstances under which nuclear plants would be required to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to eliminate the hazard for aquatic life.

This could not happen without the knowledge and support of EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson who – just as we predicted prior to her confirmation hearings – has shown to be  a “pliant bureaucrat” willing to follow political orders.

Cass Sunstein – without providing any evidence or rationale – denies that Exelon’s access was corrupt:

Mr. Sunstein, in an interview, said that any action his office took was not a result of requests from Exelon, or other companies that sought changes, including PSEG of New Jersey.

“It is a huge mistake to associate the number of meetings with the ultimate product of the rule-making process,” said Mr. Sunstein, who resigned his post this month. “And I want to put ‘huge’ in bold letters.”

Cass Sunstein is a liar – the Times documented how access produced specific outcomes that REDUCED Exelon’s compliance costs by hundreds of millions of dollars and allowed their plants to continue to slaughter billions of fish and aquatic life.

I’d love to sit in on his Harvard classes and see how he explains and justifies this immoral and unethical crap to his students.

[End Note: That headline was no accident.

The cornerstone of FDR’s New Deal was the “Civilian Conservation Corps” (CCC).

In a perverse irony, coming full circle, Obama can be proud that his “Raw Deal” is based on  another kind of “CCC” – “Corrupt Crony Capitalism”.

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Science Meets Politics at the NJ Shore

August 23rd, 2012 1 comment

Gov. Christie’s Statements Belied By Brown Tide

Gov. Says: “Heck of a Job, Bobbie!”

This deep red harmful algae, called Lingulodinium polyedrum, often produces brightly colored water discoloration. It has been associated with fish and shellfish mortality events, but its threat to human health is still being evaluated. (photo credit: Kai Schumann, California Department of Public Health volunteer) - Source: NOAA

 [Updates below]

Gov. Christie was down the shore on Monday, touting the “Jersey Comeback”, and he repeated the same whopper he told last September (from Asbury Park Press story):

“I have never seen the ocean cleaner than this summer,” the governor said, commending the job Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin is doing to make sure “the ocean not only looks clean, but is clean.” Martin accompanied the governor to the city Monday.

But, ooops, just 2 days later, some inconvenient science emerged.

The Asbury Park Press reportsDEP: Brownish algae could be hitting shoreline

From the DEP website (8/22/12 report)

Phytoplankton samples are being collected at beaches in Monmouth County to monitor reports of discolored water in areas around Asbury Park, Avon and Bradley Beach. The Monmouth County Health Department has identified a variety of species of dinoflagellates (planktonic plants) in the waters at the swimming beaches. These microscopic plants are generally not toxic to humans but in very heavy concentrations may be toxic to fish and shellfish by removing oxygen from the water. Additional samples are being collected in the ocean by DEP’s Bureau of Marine Water Monitoring and at the beaches by the Monmouth County Health Department this afternoon.

Like the proliferating jellyfish in Barnegat BayHarmful algae blooms are an indicator of ocean ecosystem stress and pollution. Depending on the species of algae, they can be toxic to fish and shellfish and people.

Here’s info from NOAA’s website:

Harmful algal blooms (HAB) affect a number of coastal ecosystems with impacts including the devastation of critical coastal habitats, loss of economically and culturally vital shellfish resources, illness and death in populations of protected marine species, and serious threats to human health posed by algal toxins. Just one harmful algal bloom event can cost tens of millions of dollars to local coastal economies. In 2005, harmful algal bloom events were particularity problematic along the New England Coast (the largest recorded since 1972 forcing shellfish closures from ME to RI) and off the west coast of FL (causing respiratory distress, marine mammal mortalities and widespread hypoxia in bottom waters killing vast areas of coral reefs). In addition to HABs, over half of our Nation’s estuaries experience hypoxic conditions, the largest of which is the recurring “dead zone” in the Gulf of Mexico which has widespread implications for land-use practices in the US (watershed encompasses greater than 40% of the US) especially with emerging efforts to develop ethanol.

Last September, just after a “Monster Algae Bloom” formed off the Jersey shore in August, Christie said this:

Christie, in a news conference in Bergenfield today, said his environmental record is strong and that the ocean “is the cleanest it’s been in decades”. The beach this year, you saw no type of debris, no type of waste coming up on the beach this year, Christie said.

(for last year’s story, see: Of Monster Algae Blooms and Monstrous Lies).

Unfortunately, the science gets buried by the pervasive political spin.

The DEP and some coastal groups play right into this misleading dynamic by overemphasis on bacterial beach monitoring.

That bacteria monitoring is much like the dissolved oxygen monitoring in Barnegat Bay –  it ignores other important indicators of ecological health and as a result can give deeply misleading results.

This is why we worked to enact the law that created the Coastal and Ocean Protection Council to focus on ecosystem health and ecosystem based management.

Governor Christie’s budgets zeroed the appropriation for that Council. The Governor  has failed to make any appointments to the Council.

DEP actually proposed to abolish the Council under Christie Executive Order #15, a blatant over-reach of Executive power, because the Council was created by the Legislature and can not be abolished by the Governor or DEP.)

And the DEP has done nothing to integrate EBM into existing coastal programs.

When will an intrepid reporter call the Governor out on this spin?

[Update: 8/24/12 – DEP reports that algae bloom not visible from the air so apparently not large, but another problem with fish kill on Toms River reported.

As in other prior episodes on menhaden kills, DEP blames fish schooling behavior for depleting oxygen. But low DO levels are caused by pollution (nutrient enrichment – eutrophication), not fish. This is another sign of poor water quality and declining ecosystem health.

Blaming the menhaden for low DO is like blaming the sun for air pollution. Yes, smog (high ground level ozone) does get formed by sunlight, but the underlying problem is the pollution, not the sunlight.

Remember President Reagan blamed trees for air pollution?

Consultants for sewage treatment plants make similar arguments, i.e. the algae blooms in rivers are caused by sunlight, not their nutrient rich pollution discharges.

These same consultants also argue that wetlands discharge nutrients to rivers – while technically accurate in some locations, this is misleading. Wetlands serve as a pollution sink, not a source.

But DEP TMDL water quality models consider wetlands a pollution source and thereby reduce the burden on polluters to reduce their pollutant loadings and improve treatment of nutrients, especially biological removal of nutrients from sewage treatment plants.

Really perverse, no?

[Update: 9/3/12 – DEP press office just can’t stop lying. This time its about the causes of algae blooms.

I just came across this story by NBC TV news – What’s causing smelly beaches in New Jersey?

Here is what the best science says about the causes (from NOAA Report to Congress):

While marine HABs occur naturally, human actions that disturb ecosystems in the form of increased nutrient loadings and pollution, food web alterations, introduced species, and water flow modifications have been linked to the increased occurrence of some HAB species. 

Here is what Sierra Club said and note the “100% wrong” “no scientific basis” attack  by DEP –

The head of the New Jersey Sierra Club believes pollution from overdevelopment, sprawl, and combined sewer overflow are to blame for the algae bloom. But the State DEP says those claims are 100-percent wrong, made with no scientific basis and that the bloom was completely unpreventable.

DEP claims that WIND caused the algae bloom:

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection says it’s the result of an algae bloom spotted offshore within the past day from Manasquan inlet to the Seaside Area and that it poses no health risks to humans.

Officials say the bloom was caused by winds drawing up water from the bottom of the ocean that provided nutrients for the algae.

Memo to DEP – the large majority of nutrients that spur the growth of the algae are put in the system by human activity – pollution: sewage treatment plants, combined swear overflows, storm water runoff, and atmospheric deposition.

The wind merely moves the nutrients around – the wind dos not “cause” the algae bloom.

That’s like saying the sun causes the bloom!

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Court Strikes Down EPA Inter-State Air Pollution Rule – What It Means for NJ

August 22nd, 2012 1 comment

(source: USEPA)


In  a huge blow to clean air and public health, the DC Court of Appeals yesterday struck down US EPA’s “Cross- State Air Pollution Rule”

You can check the news coverage – I am now reading the opinion and EPA rule and will provide an analysis later when I finish. (read opinion here)

For now, the above map and table speak volumes, so I want to make just a few brief points:

1) The rule would provide huge health and economic benefits to NJ

EPA estimates up to 2,000 DEATHS would be avoided – that doesn’t count thousands of additional hospitalizations for those suffering from NJ’s smog; non-fatal heart attacks, emergency room visits, respiratory symptoms, aggravated asthma and thousands of days of kids missing school and adults out of work.

EPA estimates that the rule would provide up to $17 BILLLION in economic benefits to NJ

2) Governor Christie did not support the EPA rule

Governor Christie ignored NJ’s public health and economic interests in favor of right wing ideology.

Christie sided with polluters over people.

In a radical departure from NJ’s historic policy as a downwind state – which has been to aggressively support stricter regulation of mid-western sources of pollution that harm NJ (as a member of the Ozone Transport Commission (OTC)) – Christie did not join the northeastern states who disproportionally benefit from the rule (hit this link to read the OTC’s analysis of the public health benefits).

Instead, Christie blasted EPA – Bergen Record story:

Governor Christie did not join the legal battle with other Northeast states in support of the EPA’s rule, saying last year the agency has “been overreaching and stifling to job growth and business development in this country.”

3) Larry Rangonese of DEP press office is either stupid or corrupt (or both)

Despite the huge public health and economic benefits of the EPA rule, Larry Rangonese of the DEP press office downplayed the huge impacts:

A spokesman for the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection said on Tuesday that the ruling would not have an immediate impact on New Jersey’s air.

“We have an interest in the case, and we’ll be looking at this closely,” said Larry Ragonese, a DEP spokesman. “But we don’t think it will have a great impact.”

Now, how stupid is that? No rule has an “immediate impact”.

Governor Christie chooses ideology over NJ’s best interests and his DEP Press Office is loyal to and spins in support of the Governor’s position, regardless of the facts, the science, and the benefits.



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US Army Corps of Engineers Issued Cease & Desist Order at Bull’s Island for Violations of the Clean Water Act

August 21st, 2012 2 comments

Documents Show NJ DEP & NJWSA Lied To Investigators About Illegal Fill

NJ DEP Also Issued Stop Work Order for State Violations

Vegetation bulldozed and debris and dregde material disposed along Delaware River in Bull's Island State Park (March 10, 2012)

DELAWARE TWP.  The piles of debris including tires and other materials at Bulls Island State Park are a result of routine maintenance dredging of the Delaware and Raritan Canal, a spokesman for the state Department of Environmental Protection said today, Thursday.

This is an environmentally positive effort,“ Larry Ragonese said, rather than the desecration described by environmental activist Bill Wolfe of West Amwell Township in an article published on on Wednesday.

“What looked like fill material was being bulldozed along about 400 feet of the floodplain. It was full of solid waste: tires, metal, bottles and cans, chunks of steel and construction debris, wood, and PVC pipe,” [Wolfe] said.

According to Ragonese, the state Water Supply Authority is doing the work, and it “has permits from the DEP and the Army Corps of Engineers.” ..

Ragonese called Wolfe “completely ridiculous and irresponsible” for his comments. Debris is removed from the canal annually, “to keep in flowing and healthy,” Ragonese said. ~~~ Hunterdon County Democrat –  March 14, 2012

Documents just obtained under a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request reveal that the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) recently took enforcement action and issued a Cease and Desist Order to the NJ Water Supply Authority (NJWSA).

The USACE Order cited NJWSA for illegal activity along the Delaware River and un-permitted activity – a direct contradiction of the above statements by Larry Rangonese of the DEP press Office.

In other words, Larry lied.

The Order cited multiple violations of the Clean Water Act and the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899 for illegal discharge and disposal of dredge materials in and along the Delaware River and unpermited dredging at Bull’s Island State Park and along additional sections of the D& R Canal in Stockton.

The May 23, 2012 USACE Order states:

Inspection by personnel of this office has revealed that unauthorized work, including dredging and the discharge of dredge and/or fill material, has been performed in waters of the United States at Bull’s Island …The unauthorized work was performed within the Delaware River and within and adjacent to the upstream terminus of the Delaware and Raritan by the New Jersey Water Supply Authority.

Work of this nature, when conducted without a Department of the Army permit is a violation of Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899 and of Section 301 of the Clean Water Act.

The Corps inspectors found additional violations and unpermitted work along a stretch of the D&R Canal near Hendrick Island north of Stockton.

The Corps Order chastised the NJWSA for serious repeat violations, including failure to comply with prior agreements with the USACE for previous illegal work along the D&R Canal and Delaware River, including construction of structures, dredging, and discharge of dredge materials in violation of the Clean Water Act.

So, NJWSA is a repeat offender and has shown not only a pattern of violations, but egregious willful and knowing conduct and a total disregard for compliance.

That kind of behavior typically warrants strong enforcement sanctions – including steep fines.

NJ DEP water enforcement rules provide:

(h) The Department shall determine the conduct of the violator as major, moderate or minor as follows:
1. Major shall include any intentional, deliberate, purposeful, knowing or willful act or omission by the violator; 

But it gets even worse.

It isn’t just the DEP press office that lied – and it is accurate to say that the DEP press office lied in this case because they never corrected the public record and acknowledged their error.

USACE documents show that both the NJWSA and DEP lied to Corps investigators about the illegal actions, specifically regarding illegal disposal along the Delaware River.

Let’s repeat that: DEP and NJWSA lied to Corps investigators.

A May 16, 2012 USACE “MEMORANDUM FOR RECORD” (boldface in original) makes that very clear. The USACE memo also cites violations of NJ State law and NJDEP permits.

This memo vindicates virtually everything I’ve written about violations at Bull’s Island, see especially this March 27, 2012 post: DEP Statements on Bull’s Island Are Flat Out False.

The USACE memo, By Kevin Maley of the  Surveillance and Enforcement Section, states (see especially point #7):

1. On March 23, 2012, Mr. Samule Reynolds, Chief, Application Section II Philadelphia District received a telephone call from Mr. Bill Wolfe, PEER, Ringoes NJ ..

2. Mr. Wolfe claimed that dredging was occurring within the D&R Canal with no erosion controls and that sediment and storm debris was being bulldozed into the Delaware River at Bull’s Island..

3. I reviewed the newspaper articles and Mr. Wolfe’s website articles. It appeared from photographs included with these articles that regulated work was being performed within areas subject to federal jurisdiction..

4. Review of in-house records, including a copy of the permit referenced by Mr. Wolfe, revealed that the permit (Nationwide Permit 24)  had expired in 2009.

5. I inspected the site on March 27, 2012. During my inspection, I meet with Ms. Colleen Ruzicka, D&R Canal State Park; Ms. Marley Dooley, Executive Directo of the D&R Canal Commission; Messers …William Bogosian of the NJWSA and Ms. Tanya Hatten of the NJDEP.

6. During the meeting, Ms. Hatten informed me that the NJDEP had directed that the work along the Delaware River, which is not authorized, stop.  She also informed me that the NJWSA had a State permit to perform maintenance dredging of the D&R Canal, but that she had stopped the work due to seasonal restrictions conditions on the State Permit.. …

7. During my inspection, I observed that material had been pushed into the Delaware River approximately five to ten feet channel ward of the existing ordinary high water mark (OHWM). Ms. Ruzika (of DEP) told me that that work was State Park work to repair river bank lost during recent flooding events. I asked her to find any pictures of the site taken prior to the flood erosion. I also asked her and NJWSA personnel directly if the material being placed along the bank of the river had been dredged from the canal. They all assured me that it had not. They said that the material came from the flood bars deposited in the upland areas of the park. Ms. Ruzika did say that the NJWSA had performed the work for the Park using NJWSA equipment. (This Office was later informed by NJWSA personnel, that some of the material placed along the bank of the Delaware River had indeed been dredged from the canal.)

Well there it is.

Not only the DEP Press Office lied, but so did DEP and NJWSA staff.

NJ DEP water enforcement regulations provide major penalties for providing false information (@ NJAC 7:14-8.6):

7:14-8.6 Civil administrative penalty for submitting inaccurate or false information

(a) The Department may assess a civil administrative penalty pursuant to this section against each violator who sub-mits inaccurate information or who makes a false statement, representation, or certification in any application, record, or other document required to be submitted or maintained, or who falsifies, tampers with or renders inaccurate any monitoring device or method required to be maintained under the Water Pollution Control Act or the New Jersey Under- ground Storage of Hazardous Substances Act or any rule, water quality standard, effluent limitation, administrative order or permit issued pursuant thereto.


(c) The Department shall assess a civil administrative penalty for violations described in this section based on the conduct of the violator at the midpoint of the following ranges except as adjusted pursuant to (d) below:

1. For each intentional, deliberate, purposeful knowing or willful act or omission by the violator, the civil administrative penalty shall be in an amount up to $ 50,000 per act or omission; 

I don’t expect $50,000 per day penalties anytime soon.

But I do expect the DEP Press Office to correct the record and apologize to me personally for false attacks.

[Note: especially for shit like this, which a friend just sent me – which makes it all the more satisfying to see the USACE hold DEP accountable:

Ragonese dismissed Wolfe as a disgruntled former employee and called the Sierra Club criticism “ridiculous.”

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