Archive for May, 2014

Another Misleading Story About “Low” Fracked Gas Prices

May 30th, 2014 No comments

The gas industry is pushing stories celebrating the so called “low” price of fracked gas and of course, mainstream corporate media is predictably eager to cheerlead and write the story of lower energy bills next winter

(but what will electric bills do this summer during a heat wave? What does climate science say about how 90 – 100+ degree extreme heat days will become more frequent and severe? What are the heath effects associated with that? What about the costs of all that? Oh, but I’m getting ahead of myself here).

This “good news” is all part of the industry’s divisive political campaign to pit consumers and policymakers against those who oppose fracking.

Another page out of the “too cheap to meter” playbook used to promote nuclear power – as if all that mattered in life was your monthly electric bill.

But, given high regard for NJ Spotlight’s issue oriented coverage, I was surprised this morning to read their unqualified bandwagon story too, see:

Significant issues and costs were left out of that story, so I posted this brief comment:

Ask the people in Pennsylvania whose wells have been contaminated, air polluted, wildlife poisoned, farms lost, and natural landscape destroyed if they think the cost of fracked gas is low.

Or the local governments that have to pay for the damage to roads and bridges from the drilling rig traffic.

Or all the guys who are out of work in the solar and wind industries, as artificially low prices of gas have undermined investments in renewable energy.

Or the economists who work on quantifying “market failure” and “external costs” associated with economic impacts that are not included in the “low price of gas” – you know, stuff like air and water pollution, respiratory diseases and other pollution related health effects, destruction of irreplaceable rural landscapes, and global warming.

Small potatoes like that.

When do we get coverage of all THAT?

If we did, perhaps BPU regulators and consumers might think twice about the glories of artificially cheap fossil fuels.

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

Dear Judy …. Great Expectations Dashed by Dupont

May 30th, 2014 No comments
Judith Enck, EPA Region II Regional Administrator shows fish consumption warning of PCB toxic contamination of fish in Bound Brook, NJ (12/10/09 Wolfe

Judith Enck, EPA Region II Regional Administrator shows fish consumption warning of PCB toxic contamination of fish in Bound Brook, NJ (12/10/09) – Such Great Expectations!

[Update – preface.

I am including this confirmation from EPA, because this issue has generated confusion in some quarters with regard to point #6 below.

New Jersey has not received authorization for the corrective action provisions in RCRA section 3004(u) and the corresponding regulations at 40 CFR 264.101.  Because New Jersey has not received authorization for these provisions, and because they were promulgated under HSWA, EPA has the lead for addressing corrective action in New Jersey – see RCRA section 3006(g).  This EPA lead will continue until New Jersey receives authorization for those provisions. – ~~~ Wayne Roepe, US EPA  State Authorization Program – end update]

Dear EPA Regional Administrator Enck:

I’ve been working on you so long now, mind if I just call you Judy?

In case you missed it, I’m attaching a great profile on you from today’s Greenwire: Regional boss recycles everything – from orange peels to organs.

I loved the recycling stuff, but the part about the kidney donation was a little too much information for my tastes.

Anyway, I hope you don’t mind if I use this friendly opportunity to get down to business somewhat, and ask you a few questions (especially in light of your reported aggressive style and “frustration” with how polluters “slow walk” cleanups):

1.  What’s the status of Dupont’s request to increase the vapor screening criteria (in light of NJ DEP’s increase) ?

Given how substantive the impact of that change would be, will that request be proposed for public review, public hearings, and public comment as a formal RCRA permit modification?

Of course, I don’t need to remind you that EPA RCRA decisions are not bound by NJ DEP’s Guidance.

And just in case you didn’t know, we would strongly oppose that move.

At a minimum, approval of Dupont’s request would not only increase risks to the people exposed in Pompton Lakes, but it would set a horrible national precedent for EPA in terms of consideration of voluntary, informal, State guidance values in formal EPA regulatory RCRA decisions that impact human health.

2. Speaking of vapor intrusion:

Based on talking with an Inside EPA reporter yesterday, I understand that EPA HQ indicated that they would delay – and reconsider the need for – a previously scheduled “Advanced Notice of Proposed Rule-making” (ANPR) on including vapor intrusion as a risk factor in the CERCLA Hazard Ranking Score (HRS).

What’s up with that?

I had hoped that EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson’s involvement in the initial EPA proposal to revise the HRS to consider VI and her knowledge of Pompton Lakes VI risks would assure that the proposal would move forward aggressively.

(See January 31, 2011 Federal Register for that EPA proposal.)

3. What is the status of the revoked EPA Dupont final ABD RCRA Corrective Action permit for lake and downriver dredging , hot spot removal, and sampling of highly contaminated mercury sediments and impacted fish and wildlife?

As you recall, we previously objected strenuously to EPA’s use of the EAB process to renegotiate Dupont’s  RCRA Corrective Action regulatory requirements in the absence of public review and under the guise of legal proceedings and litigation threat.

4. Last we left it, you indicated that you would not consider listing Dupont PLW on the NPL “at this time”.

Have any facts on the ground since changed to alter your consideration?

5. If you will not consider Superfund listing, would you then consider RCRA enforcement action to compel cleanup, given Dupont’s RCRA permit litigation, cleanup delay, recalcitrance, and ongoing direct contact and human exposure?

Surely, imminent and substantial risks and extensive delays justify EPA enforcement sanction.

6. And if you remain unwilling to assume 100% EPA cleanup control via Superfund designation OR pull the RCRA enforcement trigger, would you at least  consider assumption of ALL site wide cleanup oversight under RCRA Corrective Action, given that the State of NJ has not been delegated the RCRRA Corrective Action Program by EPA, 30 years AFTER Congress passed the HSWA to RCRA?

7. Last: about all those EPA certifications to Congress about RCRA indicators that groundwater and human exposure were “under control”…. Perhaps I’ll lay low on that for now.

Other than that, I hope you are well and find the time for an extend weekend retreat to your upstate NY place.

I spent much of my youth on the Hudson River and know how grand “a paddle” on the river can be.

Your friend,


Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

Pilgrim Pipeline Would Make Tri-State Region More Vulnerable

May 29th, 2014 No comments
Source: NYC Climate Adaptation Plan

Source: NYC Climate Adaptation Plan

Fossil infrastructure “an exercise in lunacy that must be stopped”

 [Important Update on Pipeline tactics below]

As a result of the catastrophic climate change crisis we face, I oppose any investment in fossil fuel infrastructure and think that should be the most prominent reason for opposing the Pilgrim Pipeline, but without going into all that, just a quick note to rebut  one of the big lies I just read by the spokesman for Pilgrim Pipeline, specifically this from the Morris Daily Record story:

George Bochis, vice president of development, Pilgrim Pipelines Holdings, said the Pilgrim Pipeline would remove 1,000 barges off the river each year and help alleviate shortages of critical fuels for families and businesses after severe weather events such as Hurricane Sandy, decreasing recovery times for affected areas.

The Linden refinery, which would receive the Pilgrim Pipeline oil, is highly vulnerable to climate change impacts and in fact – as shown by the chart above – was knocked out for over a week by Sandy. The Colonial and Buckeye pipelines were knocked out as well.

While the Christie Administration in NJ lacks a Climate Change Adaptation Plan, thankfully, our NY neighbors are no so irresponsible.

According to the NY City Climate Adaptation Plan (Chapter 7 – Liquid Fuels) – an analysis you can’t get from the Christie Administration, despite the fact that critical infrastructure is located in NJ:

What Happened During Sandy

Disruptions occurred at nearly every level of the fuel supply chain, reducing all fuel flow into and within the New York metropolitan area. Most of the infrastructure affected was located in New Jersey, where a combination of extended power outages and direct damage from storm surge, for a time, nearly dried up New York City’s fuel supply.

Despite widespread failures throughout the supply chain during and after Sandy, a lack of available information on the operational status of terminals, pipelines, refineries, and other key infrastructure delayed situational awareness for several days. Duplicative efforts among different governmental entities to secure information further delayed diagnosis of the cause of the supply disruptions and resulted in conflicting reports and, at least initially, responses that did not properly address the underlying issues.

Hurricane Sandy dramatically reduced output at refineries that supply New York City. While Philadelphia refineries were not greatly affected by the storm and reopened fairly quickly, two northern New Jersey refineries were closed for extended periods. The owners of these regional refineries partially shut down their facilities before the storm to minimize damage to equipment, eliminating 35 to 40 percent of the region’s total supply capacity preemptively. Despite this prudent preparation, storm surge damage to electrical equipment at two of the six refineries delayed their restarting, reducing regional refining capacity by 26 percent. Although both refineries eventually reopened several weeks later, one of the two subsequently was permanently closed, due to market conditions. (See chart: Regional Refiner- ies, Operational Status After Sandy)

The Colonial and Buckeye pipelines also were impacted by Sandy, shutting down for four days due to extensive power outages in New Jersey. This reduced total supply in the region by another 35 to 40 percent. Even after backup power generators were deployed and utility power was restored, it is likely that the flow of fuel through these pipelines still did not reach pre-storm levels for several days because of bot- tlenecks at the terminals that they supplied. (See chart: Pipelines, Operational Status After Sandy)

Of all of the ways in which Sandy interfered with the liquid fuel supply chain in the New York re- gion, perhaps the most significant was the damage to the area’s terminals. This damage took multiple forms. For example, docks at some terminals were destroyed, making it im- possible for those terminals to ship or receive fuel. In many cases, damage to electrical equip- ment reduced the capacity of impacted termi- nals to dispense fuel to delivery trucks that service gas stations. Additionally, damage to storage tanks at several terminals resulted in spills into area waterways totaling some 460,000 gallons of fuel around the city. And, as a result of the large amount of storm-related debris in the harbor immediately following Sandy, the US Coast Guard placed restrictions on port traffic for days until the waterways were deemed safe for use. As a result, even if a ter- minal were otherwise able to operate, many were still, for a period, unable to dispense or re- ceive tanker and barge shipments, reducing supply capacity by an additional 20 to 25 per- cent. Overall, for three days after Sandy, all fuel terminals in the New York metropolitan region were completely out of service. Even 10 days after the storm, only 79 percent were operational. (See chart: New York Metropolitan Area Fuel Terminals, Operational Status after Sandy)

[read the entire chapter and complete Report, it is superb.]

The NYC Plan provides an excellent diagnosis of the liquid fuel supply chain vulnerabilities.

liquid fuels2

The Plan outlines 9 specific initiatives for “increasing resiliency in the liquid fuels system” – none of which recommend another oil pipeline to serve the region to reduce those vulnerabilities – just the opposite.

North Dakota oil imports will exacerbate climate change and increase risks of extreme weather and power outages at refinery and liquid fuel infrastructure.

In addition, the Linden refinery is highly vulnerable to climate change as a result of its location.

The NYC Plan finds that these “risks will become worse over time”.

The last thing the planet and our region needs is another fossil fuel pipeline and an expansion of fossil infrastructure.

Given that oil will increase the probability and magnitude of extreme weather events, it is ludicrous – and tragically ironic – for Pilgrim Pipeline spokespeople to attempt to justify the project as to “help alleviate shortages of critical fuels for families and businesses after severe weather events”.

What Could Happen in the Future

The risks that extreme weather events pose to the liquid fuels supply chain are, as Sandy showed, serious if not addressed. The systematic failure that occurred as a result of Sandy’s storm surge revealed that there are already significant challenges today. These challenges will only be exacerbated by climate change in the future.

Major Risks

Given the existing locations of key terminals, pipelines, and refineries, and the importance of waterfront access for the movement of fuels into New York City, the greatest risk to the liquid fuel supply is storm surge. Of the 39 fuel termi- nals in the New York metropolitan area, nearly all lie within FEMA’s 100-year floodplain. The same is also true of the refinery in northern New Jersey as of the writing of this report. As the climate changes, the frequency of the most intense hurricanes is likely to increase, potentially increasing the risk to these facilities. (See map: Regional Liquid Fuel Terminals.)

Not only do extreme weather events cause direct damage to key liquid fuel assets in the region, they also disrupt the power infrastruc-ture critical to the functioning of terminals, refineries, and pipelines. Although utilities must meet current reliability standards, the increased frequency and severity of heat waves and storm surges associated with the most intense coastal storms are likely to increase the frequency of power disruptions throughout the region that would, in turn, render key refineries, pipelines, and terminals inoperable (see Chapter 6, Utilities). Given the high energy requirements of pipelines and refineries, backup generation may only provide limited operability during utility power outages. Additionally, if power were out for more than a few hours, refineries would quickly shut down, after which it would take weeks to restart them. Gas stations and terminals, which generally do not have on-site backup generation, also are fully reliant on utility power.

Other Risks

High winds present moderate risks to the liquid fuels supply chain. Wind events could result in direct damage to refineries, which have tall dis- tillation columns that are critical to the process- ing of crude oil. In addition, if wind events affect the availability of utility-supplied electric power, they will also impact terminals, refineries, pipelines, and gas stations.

[Update – a message from our friends in Rising Tide Vermont:

Sara Mehalick, a resident of Plainfield, Vermont, has locked her neck to the main entrance of the building, effectively blockading the doors shut.  She released a statement about why she undertook today’s action:

Today I’m taking action because Vermont Gas is intent upon shackling our communities to fossil fuels, and condemning us to irreversible climate change.  We have a responsibility to the communities whose land, water, and air are being poisoned by fracking, and we’re determined to make sure that this fracked gas pipeline does not move forward.  Today we’re here to tell Vermont Gas to cancel their construction plans, or expect to see growing resistance.

Jonathan Shapiro, with Rising Tide Vermont, said “Climate change is already driving heat waves, torrential rains, and flooding in the Northeast, which is only predicted to worsen in the coming years.  In this context of mounting climate crisis, building new fossil fuel infrastructure is an exercise in complete lunacy and must be stopped.”

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

Another Decade of Doing Diddly On Controlling Carbon Emissions?

May 28th, 2014 No comments

Debate Over RGGI A Diversion

10 Years After DEP First Regulated CO2, No Followup

Grassroots Movement Politics, Direct Regulation, Real Price on Carbon Are Solutions

“Cap and trade with offsets would guarantee that we pass climate tipping points, locking in climate disasters for our children. Cap and trade benefits only Wall Street and polluters, sacrificing humanity and nature for their profits.” Dr. James Hansen  ~~~   11/30/09

Fracktivists march on Trenton Capitol (6/20/13)

Fracktivists march on Trenton Capitol (6/20/13)

  • What Went Wrong?

Quite a bit has been written about how the big national beltway environmental organizations made a major blunder in putting all their campaign eggs in the failed insider strategy to have Congress pass so called climate change “cap and trade” legislation, e.g. see: this major academic Report and Washington Post story “Why has climate change legislation failed” for the mainstream assessment.

For a harsher and more controversial critique, with which I strongly agree, see Naomi Klein’s interview in Salon: Green groups may be more damaging than climate change deniers (she exempts Sierra, Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, and from this withering assessment):

Well, I think there is a very deep denialism in the environmental movement among the Big Green groups. And to be very honest with you, I think it’s been more damaging than the right-wing denialism in terms of how much ground we’ve lost. Because it has steered us in directions that have yielded very poor results. I think if we look at the track record of Kyoto, of the UN Clean Development Mechanism, the European Union’s emissions trading scheme – we now have close to a decade that we can measure these schemes against, and it’s disastrous. Not only are emissions up, but you have no end of scams to point to, which gives fodder to the right. The right took on cap-and-trade by saying it’s going to bankrupt us, it’s handouts to corporations, and, by the way, it’s not going to work. And they were right on all counts. Not in the bankrupting part, but they were right that this was a massive corporate giveaway, and they were right that it wasn’t going to bring us anywhere near what scientists were saying we needed to do lower emissions. So I think it’s a really important question why the green groups have been so unwilling to follow science to its logical conclusions. I think the scientists Kevin Anderson and his colleague Alice Bows at the Tyndall Centre have been the most courageous on this because they don’t just take on the green groups, they take on their fellow scientists for the way in which neoliberal economic orthodoxy has infiltrated the scientific establishment. It’s really scary reading. Because they have been saying, for at least for a decade, that getting to the emissions reduction levels that we need to get to in the developed world is not compatible with economic growth.

What we know is that the environmental movement had a series of dazzling victories in the late ’60s and in the ’70s where the whole legal framework for responding to pollution and to protecting wildlife came into law. It was just victory after victory after victory. And these were what came to be called “command-and-control” pieces of legislation. It was “don’t do that.” That substance is banned or tightly regulated. It was a top-down regulatory approach. And then it came to screeching halt when Reagan was elected. And he essentially waged war on the environmental movement very openly. We started to see some of the language that is common among those deniers – to equate environmentalism with Communism and so on. As the Cold War dwindled, environmentalism became the next target, the next Communism. Now, the movement at that stage could have responded in one of the two ways. It could have fought back and defended the values it stood for at that point, and tried to resist the steamroller that was neoliberalism in its early days. Or it could have adapted itself to this new reality, and changed itself to fit the rise of corporatist government. And it did the latter. Very consciously if you read what [Environmental Defense Fund president] Fred Krupp was saying at the time.

It was go along or get along.

Exactly. We now understand it’s about corporate partnerships. It’s not, “sue the bastards;” it’s, “work through corporate partnerships with the bastards.” There is no enemy anymore.

More than that, it’s casting corporations as the solution, as the willing participants and part of this solution. That’s the model that has lasted to this day.

(listen to Bill Moyers interview Klein).

  • RGGI – the Only Game in Town?

So today, with all the recent focus on Gov. Christie’s exit from RGGI – which is a market based cap and trade program, not an emissions control regulatory program – we tackle the same failure in New Jersey that Klein talks about at the national level.

In a much less eloquent but similarly critical vein, we’ve written about how former NJ Gov. and US EPA Administrator Christie Whitman – while being praised by the big Green groups and mainstream media – injected over a decade of delay in EPA’s efforts to regulate greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act, see:

We’ve testified and written about the flaws in RGGI and why it won’t ever come close to meeting science based emission reductions (Note: these analyses were conducted before recent renegotiation and reduction of the RGGI cap in other states. While I have not more recently crunched the numbers, I doubt that my original conclusions are changed significantly) see:

In the process, we’ve also be accused of disloyalty:

Bill Wolfe of NJ PEER broke ranks with his environmental compatriots in opposing the bill and the cap-and-trade approach on which it is based (Bill’s testimony starts at the 22:00 mark in the recording)” 

  • Debate on Strategy and Tactics Lacking – Will Mistakes Be repeated?

But this debate seems to have been lost on NJ – I certainly can’t find it – whose environmental leadership, press, and legislature remain mired in the failed insider Trenton RGGI “cap & trade” game.

This is curious, because the only recent “successes” by environmental groups – e.g. blocking the Pinelands pipeline, progress on a ban of importing fracking wastewater, and  Fenimore landfill – were based on an entirely different strategy, tactics, and model of change – place based, activists, bottom up, in your face, diverse, populist, coalitions.

The failures Klein criticized at the national level and I focus on in NJ have lessons for the Obama EPA’s upcoming GHG emissions control rule for existing power plants.

In that case, it seems like big Green Groups, like NRDC, appear poised to aggressively support the EPA and in doing so repeat exactly the same mistakes.

At this point, all indications are that  the EPA rule that only will tinker at the margins and produce very small – if any – real emissions reductions.

Global warming activists need to know how limited the impact of the EPA rule is likely to be, in terms of real emissions reductions.

  • NJ Regulatory Tools Ignored for another Decade in favor of “flexible” “incremental” market based schemes

Almost a decade ago, few people seem to remember that the NJ DEP, under the leadership of Commissioner Brad Campbell, proposed to regulate CO2 and greenhouse gases as “air contaminants” (i.e. “pollutants”) under the NJ Air Pollution Control Act (see this for DEP’s rule proposal). DEP concluded:

The Department determines, based on the evidence outlined herein, that regulating carbon dioxide (CO2) as an air contaminant is in the best interest of human health, welfare, and the environment. This statement shall fulfill the Department’s requirement to advise the public of its determination and justification for this determination, pursuant to N.J.S.A. 26:2C-9.2i.

The Department’s determination is based on compelling scientific evidence of existing and projected adverse impacts due to climate change on the environment, ecosystems, wildlife, human health, and enjoyment of property in the State. The Department also bases this determination in part on the expected impacts of climate change on the formation of ground-level ozone. Increases in average temperature and related extreme heat events will increase the formation of ground-level ozone and further undermine the State’s attempts to meet national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS) for NOx, with attendant increases in adverse human health and environmental impacts, as well as State compliance costs.

According to DEP, this rule went far beyond RGGI’s tiny reductions and limited scope over portions of the power sector to apply to all emission sources and sectors – e.g. industrial, commercial, housing, transportation, land use – “as necessary” to meet deep emissions reductions goals [like those later established by] the Global Warming Response Act:

This rule enabled the State to implement its responsibilities under RGGI and to enact additional rules to reduce CO2 emissions from other sectors as necessary. Prior to this, in 2003 New Jersey added CO2 and methane to its emission statement program reporting requirements. The emission statement program requires the annual reporting of emissions of 50 air contaminants from approximately 600 of the largest stationary sources of air pollution in New Jersey.” 

Yet, this broad and powerful regulatory authority was abandoned almost immediately after it was adopted in favor of the market based RGGI cap & trade scheme backed by environmental groups.

[Note: the introduced version of the Global Warming Response Act included a provision to strip DEP of authority to regulate GHG emissions. We were able to defeat that provision and had it removed from the bill.]

For almost a decade since these regulations were adopted, there’s been virtually no public education, advocacy, organizing or media coverage.

It’s been all RGGI all the time – as if RGGI were the only game in town.

  • A Real Price on Carbon Is Required

From the outset, during the initial RGGI debate, we tried to explain why the modest emissions goals, the economic constraints, and politically timid RGGI effort would not work:

According to DEP:

“The initial regional cap is 188 million short tons of CO2 per year, which is approximately four percent above annual average regional emissions during the period 2000 through 2004 for electric generating units that will be subject to the program.

This phased approach,…. is intended to provide market signals and regulatory certainty so that electricity generators begin planning for, and investing in, lower-carbon alternatives throughout the region, but without creating dramatic wholesale electricity price impacts and attendant retail electricity rate impacts.” (see page 4:

We must note that what DEP seeks to avoid and describes as “creating dramatic wholesale electricity price impacts and attendant retail electricity rate impacts” were estimated at about a 1% increase in current electric rates – $5.96 PER YEAR, or 50 CENTS per MONTH for a typical NJ household! (see economic analysis on page 72 of DEP proposal).

If a 50 CENT PER MONTH rate increase is the economic pain threshold – and it still allows for INCREASING emissions – how are we ever going to get DEEP REDUCTIONS which will cost REAL MONEY?

Since then, there’s been a ton of research on the “Social Costs of Carbon” – again, mostly ignored in NJ.

  • Upcoming Groundhog Day?

And pretty soon, at the national level, just like the push to back RGGI, it’s gonna be a major call to “Support the Obama EPA rules” – 24/7 and unequivocally.

Time to wake up and get serious – before we waste another decade and cruise past catastrophic climate tipping points.

[End Note – How’s this for cognitive dissonance?

Here is an excerpt of the leading academic political science analysis of why cap/trade failed (linked above):

Prospects for action on climate change soon deteriorated further. In the November 2010 mid-term elections Congressional Democrats sustained massive setbacks, and very conservative Republicans were in many instances replaced by right- wing extremists. The 112th House that took office in January 2011 was one of the most right-wing in U.S. history, and it included dozens of Tea Party backed Republicans who would not bargain about any major Democratic legislative priority, certainly not carbon controls or green energy legislation.4 Republican hardliners in and beyond Congress set out on a crusade to strip the federal Environmental Protection Agency of its judicially affirmed powers to regulate greenhouse gases, and even to take away longstanding EPA powers in other areas of environmental protection.

Note how stripping EPA of power to regulate greenhouse gases is characterized as a “radical right wing crusade”.

But the Democratic global warming bill that passed the House of Representatives would have adopted a market based approach. That bill (Waxman-Markey – HR 2454) was celebrated just paragraphs prior to the excerpt above.

DISSONANCE ALERT: That bill also would have revoked EPA authority to regulate GHG under the Clean Air Act (Title VIII, Part C) (see NY Times for implications  “Greenhouse Gases Imperil Health, E.P.A. Announces“. Industry strongly opposes EPA regulation, and the ENGO backers of cap & trade conceded to this demand:

On June 26, 2009, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Waxman-Markey climate change bill — the American Clean Energy and Security Act (H.R. 2454)– by a narrow vote of 219-212. As voted on by the House, this bill would amend the Clean Air Act to enact a cap-and-trade program (see Part VI.B.3) to reduce emissions of multiple greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, sulfur hexafluoride, some hydrofluorocarbon emissions, perfluorocarbons, and nitrogen tetrafluoride. Each gas would be given a carbon dioxide equivalent value, and the emissions trading program would apply to electricity-generating and other industrial sources that emit more than 25,000 tons per year of carbon dioxide equivalent. The program would seek a reduction of 17% from 2005 emissions levels by 2020 and an 83% reduction by 2050. Until 2025, electric and natural gas utilities and home heating oil suppliers would receive 55% of the emissions allowances for free, to protect consumers from energy price increases.

In addition, the bill would repeal the EPA’s authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions through the Clean Air Act’s existing programs. (link – scroll down)

So the effort to strip EPA of authority to regulate GHG, described as a “right wing radical” Legislative proposal, was in the same Democratic sponsored cap/trade bill the environmentalists supported!

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

DEP’s “Strong Man” Strong Arms Roxbury – Martin’s Fingerprints on Fenimore

May 22nd, 2014 3 comments

Report Documents That Gov. Christie’s Policy & Politics Drove Fenimore Landfill Fiasco

“Customer Service”, Reducing Red Tape, and Promoting Economic Development at DEP

DEP Commissioner Bob Martin - a "strong manager"

DEP Commissioner Bob Martin – a “strong manager”

3.4  Email from Gary Sondermeyer of the DEP to Richard Bernardi of SEP suggesting he find the “Environmental Transition Team” Report prepared for Governor Christie and his Executive Order #2 (Red Tape Task Force) (sic) in order to pursue a “different way” of future permitting to provide incentives for “green projects”  […]

3.7  Email from Gary Sondermeyer of the DEP to Richard Bernardi of SEP after complaints of delays and being behind schedule. Sondermeyer says he will help with the “logjam” and suggests Bob Martin as the new Commissioner of the DEP is a “strong manager” supportive of renewable energy projects, “the likes of which we never had” 

[Important Updates below]

Thus far, press reports and citizens complaints in Roxbury regarding the Fenimore landfill fiasco have accused DEP of “bureaucratic bungling” and incompetence.

But a Report released yesterday by the group REACT discloses and provides excerpts from numerous DEP emails and documents that suggest that it was Gov. Christie’s regulatory policy, strong armed top down intimidating management, and politics – not staff incompetence and bungling – that pressured DEP staffers to cut corners to promote the SEP disposal and redevelopment project.

The Report reveals DEP’s effort to promote the project, including considering how to “waive” regulations, garner a Highlands exemption, and withhold information from the public.

DEP emails show that early on, DEP’s longtime Chief of Staff, Gary Sondermeyer, reached out to the landfill owner to suggest that

he find the “Environmental Transition Team” Report prepared for Governor Christie and his Executive Order #2 (Red Tape Task Force) (sic) in order to pursue a “different way” of future permitting to provide incentives for “green projects” 

Keep in mind that this landfill owner was a convicted felon, barred by NJ law from the solid waste industry.

Sondermeyer went further to tout not only Gov. Christie’s new regulatory policies, but to praise Christie’s new DEP Commissioner. According to the Report, Sondermeyer wrote:

Bob Martin as the new Commissioner of the DEP is a “strong manager” supportive of renewable energy projects, “the likes of which we never had” 

One email from Martin’s Assistant Commissioner documents direct involvement by Gov. Christie’s Office:

Email from Jane Kozinski of the DEP to Richard Bernardi of SEP discussing viability of the Fenimore project and scheduled meeting with the Governor’s office 

There are other emails that show incompetence and inappropriate intervention in DEP regulatory reviews – or worse – by Martin’s unqualified  political appointee Cindy Randazzo.

Based on a quick read of REACT’s Report, this project received the highest level support and top down management.

There are numerous examples of DEP’s failure to comply with their own regulations and consider science and their obligations to protect public health and the environment, in their reckless pursuit of expediting approvals (AKA “customer service” and “slashing job killing red tape” and “changing the culture of the bureaucracy” according to Gov. Christie and Bob Martin’s DEP Transformation Plan).

Those kind of mistakes don’t come from the DEP career staff and scientists – they are dictated by incompetent political hacks like Bob Martin. Like his boss, Gov. Christie, Martin intimidates staff and they just follow orders to preserve their careers.

Ed Putnam began his career in the DEP’s publicly funded cleanup program and has been there for over 30 years – you think Ed didn’t know that DEP was making huge mistakes at the Fenimore site? You think Ed doesn’t know what real community involvement is? But does Martin’s political hack appointment Cindy Randazzo, who “managed” community relations, understand any of this?

Similarly, Bob Confer was in the RCRA waste classification program when I arrived at DEP in 1985 – you think Bob doesn’t know the regulations he was disregarding, bending, and breaking?

DEP “Customer Service” Commissioner Martin’s fingerprints and Gov. Christie’s regulatory policies are all over this, so I hope those issues are probed in detail by oversight hearings of the the Senate and Assembly  Environment Committees, whose Chairs have written the Governor to request an investigation.

In the meantime, please read the REACT Report for the full monty.

Once you get past the first section about how DEP knowingly allowed a convicted felon to own and operate a landfill (which is prohibited by NJ law), while keeping critical information secret, bombshells like this continually go off – some directly linking the project to Gov. Christie’s  Office and improper involvement by political appointees at DEP:

8.3  Email from Deputy Attorney General Robert Kinney to the DEP, SEP, and Roxbury Township to discuss the asbestos issue along with methane presence. Residents were never notified of these issues and their potential danger

[Full disclosure: in my prior work at DEP, I have worked with DEP managers Bob Confer & Gary Sondermeyer mentioned in the Report. PS, I had no role in the REACT report.]

[Update #1 – 5/23/14 – Awesome press account of Lois Gibbs’ talk:

[Update # 2 – 5/23/14 – Oh my, you can’t make this shit up.

A friend just shot me an email to let me know that Gary Sondermeyer was just recognized by those friends of mine over at NJ’s most ethically challenged outfit, Sustainable NJ, as  a “Sustainability Hero” for the month of April.

How can one group get their dirty hands in so many dirty pies and step in so much shit?  –

[Update # 3 – 5/26/14 – Shoes continue to drop with more damning documents – Star Ledger reports today that DEP backed off sampling of of 39 homes adjacent to landfill for methane – AG’s office reversed a prior DEP requirement. It is unclear why AG reversed DEP staff requirements – whether the AG intervened for political, legal, or scientific reasons, see:

[Update #4 – 5/26/14 – The Roxbury crew gets in Gov. Christie’s face – this isn’t going away anytime soon, see:


end updates]

Categories: Uncategorized Tags: