Archive for August, 2013

Obama Visits Fracking Ground Zero – Gets Slammed By Protesters in Binghamton NY and Scranton PA

August 23rd, 2013 No comments

Tight Security Keeps Protesters Far from The Presidential Bubble and National Media

Hey Obama, we do’t need no fracking drama!  ~~~   Ban Fracking Now!

The Presidential Bus in Scranton - We can't see in - But Can Obama see out?

Hundreds of anti- fracking protesters greeted President Obama today in Binghamton NY and Scranton PA, ground zero in the fracking debate.

There is a moratorium in NY and the Delaware River watershed, while Pennsylvania is suffering from drilling of thousands of wells [for some old news, see: Obama backs the frack  and On the threshold of a fracking nightmare].

slogans collide - "Yes We Can"!

Despite a massive Presidential motorcade, oppressive security detail, orchestrated faux town hall events, and two busloads of sycophantic journalistic stenographers in tow, determined protesters managed to hijack the Presidents tour message and media campaign.

Obama spoke at events at SUNY Binghamton and Lackawanna Junior college in Scranton Pa to talk about education.

From a quick scan of news reporters, it looks like Binghamton had the far larger crowd, which make political sense, as there still is hope that drilling can be stopped or severely limited in NY, while PA seems to be a lost cause.

Obama got an earful – if he could hear or see the protesters from his bubble, an oppressive security perimeter that reminded me of the Bush Administration’s “protest zones”, a repressive police practice where protesters are herded far away from media cameras and political supporters and contributors who write the checks.

See Salon story on the Binghamton event. Here’s a quick note on Scranton.

Despite the fact that I am a SUNY Binghamton alumni, I went to the Scranton event. I just got home after a long day and am beat. A few photos for now. I will provide clips in an update tomorrow.

tap water from Dimock, Pa

protesters greet visitors at Obama event

Dump trucks were used to secure the perimeter. I'm old enough to remember when Nixon surrounded the White House with buses in fear of Vietnam War protesters. That was widely condemned as paranoia at the time. Today, its standard operating procedure.



Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

If Gov. Christie Had A Sense of Humor, Humility, or History

August 22nd, 2013 No comments

He’d Pull This Stunt –

Instead of A $25 Million “Stronger Than The Storm” Ad Campaign

A Throne, A Robe, and Fawning Courtiers From Monmouth & Ocean County

Spectacles At Beaches, Boardwalks, & Arcades From Sandy Hook To Cape May

Poor King Canute Has Been Badly Misunderstood (h/t Carl Pope)

“Like King Canute, King Christie cannot hold back the seas no matter how much pork he piles on the beaches,” stated New Jersey PEER Director Bill Wolfe. “Armor plating indefensible positions will not make them safer in the next storm but may endanger lives of those deluded with a false sense of confidence.” ~~~ PEER Press Release

King Canute Rebukes His Courtiers

King Christie embraces his courtiers


Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

Gov. Christie Claims “No Knowledge” of NJ Transit “Storm Plan” Prior to Sandy

August 22nd, 2013 No comments

Christie’s Claim Conflicts with His Responsibilities Under State of Emergency Delaration

Gov. Claims Inconsistent With DEP Commissioner Testimony

Gov. Is The Decider in Chain of Command Under NJ’s Emergency Operations Plan & Hazard Mitigation Plan

I’d like to start off by framing out how we operate in an emergency response point of view from the State. So, I’d like to take a few minutes to talk about that and then the scope of responsibilities DEP has, that fits into an overall comprehensive plan.

First off, the State operates during emergencies based on planning – significant planning that occurs at the state level.

Each department operates with its own plan and ties into an overall unified command which is operated and coordinated by  the State Police.

All the major decisions, critical decisions, are made by the Governor. […]

We do not operate in silos as an organization – we operate clearly together as a team.

The Cabinet members sit with the Governor, helping to inform him on those decisions.  ~~~ DEP Commissioner Bob Martin. Testimony to Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee. December 3, 2012 – watch it, begins at time 1 hour 47 minutes

A Bergen Record story today quotes Gov. Christie saying he had no knowledge of NJ Transit’s “storm plan” prior to Sandy:

Christie: No knowledge of NJ Transit’s hurricane plan before Sandy hit:

Governor Christie said Wednesday that he had no idea NJ Transit had a plan in place months before Superstorm Sandy hit last year that called for storing commuter trains in upland sites — which the transit agency didn’t do — resulting in more than $120 million in damage to locomotives and railcars that were left in low-lying yards in Kearny and Hoboken. […]

“I did not have a specific, personal knowledge of this plan before the storm and, as almost every department of government has a plan, I’m sure that the people of the state will not be shocked to know that I haven’t read every one of them,” Christie said. “So I didn’t know about it.”

I find this hard to believe. If true, it reveals gross negligence and incompetence.

The Governor is evading his fundamental responsibility under NJ law.

NJ’s overall framework for hazard mitigation and emergency planning and response was established 20 years ago, under Gov. Florio’s Executive Order #115.

That Order  created the State Hazard Mitigation Team (SHMT).  The SHMT is chaired by a representative of the Governor’s Office.   The Governor approves and supervises the implementation of the State Emergency Operations Plan. 

Governor Christie’s convenient “know nothing” posture directly contradicts his widespread perception as a hands on, take charge, competent leader in the response to Sandy.

More importantly, his statement conflicts with his legal powers and responsibilities and role under the following:

WHEREAS, it is necessary to take action in advance of the storm to lessen the threat to lives and property in this State; […]

I do DECLARE and PROCLAIM that a State of Emergency exists in the State of New Jersey and I hereby ORDER and DIRECT the following:

1. I authorize and empower the State Director of Emergency Management, who is the Superintendent of State Police, to activate those elements of the State Emergency Operations Plan that he deems necessary to further safeguard the public security, health, and welfare 

Updated Plan: Refers to the New Jersey State Hazard Mitigation Plan approved by FEMA and adopted by the Governor of the State on a three (3) year cycle. The original State Hazard Mitigation Plan was adopted in 2005 and subsequently updated in 2008 and 2011. The next scheduled Updated Plan is April 2014.

  • the testimony of DEP Commissioner Bob Martin excerpted above regarding the Gov.’s role in emergency response.

If true, Governor Christie has revealed massive incompetence in his preparation for and response to Sandy.

NJ Transit operates what is defined as “critical infrastructure” under those plans – like water supply and sewer systems that also failed due to poor planning and preparation. Decisions about “critical infrastructure” are major decision made by the Governor.

How is it possible for the Governor of a highly developed and vulnerable coastal state – even in the wake of the major storm Irene – to have no knowledge of or involvement in planning for and responding to major storms, sea level rise, and climate change?

How could Gov. Christie have allowed the April 2012 Hazard Mitigation Plan Update to NOT consider climate change and lessons from recent disasters and major storms like Irene, see this:

Technical information on the four (4) most recent disasters and climate change issues are still being reviewed and are not included in this April 2012 NJ Hazard Plan update.  ~~~ NJ Hazard Mitigation Plan (April 2012)

If false, its just another lie to deflect responsibility and cover up his own incompetence.

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

Gov. Christie’s Coastal Management Strategy Ignored Climate Change and Storm Hazard Planning

August 21st, 2013 No comments

Gov.’s Barnegat Bay Plan Displaced Prior Funding & Priority On Coastal Hazards

(Source: NJ DEP 309 Coastal Management Strategy - 2011 - 2015)

With all the focus on the federal Sandy Rebuild Task Force Report recommendations, it’s time to get back in the weeds to explain crucial issues.

I seem to have had some problem communicating this in policy and regulatory words, so, keeping it simple, perhaps the above chart will help.

The chart is from the NJ DEP “New Jersey Section 309  Strategy: 2011 – 2015″.

Look at it closely – do you see coastal hazards or climate change mentioned or funded?

That Strategy is required under the federal Coastal Zone Management Act and is submitted to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for review and approval.

It is NJ’s official State strategy for coastal zone management. NOAA funds and oversees the programs the State includes in the strategy.

The above chart demonstrates the following crucial facts that have gone completely un-noticed by the public and media:

  • Despite the fact that the NJ coast is highly developed and highly vulnerable, the Christie Administration reversed longstanding policy and failed to consider coastal hazards in their strategy and priority program funding decisions;
  • The Christie Administration failed to consider climate change, sea level rise, and more frequent and intense storms in coastal planning and management;
  • Gov. Christie’s personal political decision to prioritize and fund the development of a “Special Area Management Plan” (SAMP) for Barnegat Bay consumed 1/3 of total available funds and displaced other previously high priority DEP initiatives;
  • DEP Commissioner Martin decided to make “Coastal and Marine Spatial Planning” a priority and allocate 1/3 of available funds to that project. Again, this decision diverted funds and priority focus from work on other coastal hazard, vulnerability assessment, and adaptation planning that was under development by DEP in various forms;
  • DEP Commissioner Martin severed the Office of Coastal Management from the Commissioner’s Office and buried it in the land use permit programs, while forcing out veteran coastal management experts;
  •  As a result of these decisions by the Governor and Commissioner, DEP did virtually no work on coastal hazard planning; vulnerability assessment; climate change or adaptation planning.

And as a result of all that, NJ shore communities were more vulnerable, less prepared  and suffered more damage from Sandy than necessary.

Basic accountability demands that we keep this in mind, particularly in ight of the recommendations of the HUD Sandy Rebuild Task Force Report.

If those recommendations are not mandatory – either as conditions of federal funding, federal flood  insurance, or federal regulations – there is very little likelihood that they will be embraced and implemented by the Christie Administration, given this prior incompetence and pattern of failure.

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

Gov. Christie Sides With Chemical Industry – Vetoes Bill To Pay for Treatment of Polluted Residential Wells

August 20th, 2013 No comments

Gov. Shifts Costs from Polluters to Homeowners

Refuses to make polluters pay for the ongoing long term costs of pollution

Governor Christie vetoed a bill (S576[1R]) that would have provided “Spill Fund” funding for treatment of polluted residential wells for people who purchase homes with these drinking water treatment systems installed.

The bill:

provides for guaranteed NJ Spill Compensation Fund coverage, upon sale of property where private well is treated by point of entry water treatment system.

In vetoing the bill, the Governor sided with the chemical industry over homeowners.

The Governor has unconscionably shifted costs from the chemical industry to homeowners.

The chemical industry had testified in opposition to the bill on the grounds that the bill would increase demands for Spill Fund payments and thereby could increase their tax burden and contribution to the “Spill Fund” .

Governor Christie agreed.

Virtually restating the chemical industry’s opposition, in his veto message, the Gov. wrote:

This bill seeks to revert to the prior practice, thereby jeopardizing the future viability of the Spill Fund and potentially triggering a statutory tax escalator on petroleum should the Spill Fund’s balance fall below enumerated thresholds. 

The “statutory escalator” the Governor refers to is in the Spill Act.

It would INCREASE the special surcharges (e.g. taxes) paid by the chemical industry.

So, the Gov.’s has refused to make chemical polluters pay for the ongoing long term costs of their pollution.

Instead, new homeowners must pay for the costs of maintaining drinking water treatment systems that had to be installed to treat the pollution of their wells caused by the chemical industry’s reckless disposal of chemicals.

And that is simply outrageous.

Categories: Uncategorized Tags: