Archive for November, 2014

The Price of Integrity

November 24th, 2014 No comments

BILL MOYERS: A good citizen driven to despair?

CHRIS HEDGES: Yes. And a good citizen driven to despair who will not remain apathetic and passive. And, you know, in every single place that we went to, Camden, West Virginia, Pine Ridge, we found these utterly magnificent human beings. I mean, this woman Lolly in Camden, African American woman, who you know, raised her own children. And I think by the time she was done, 19 others.

Her fiancé was shot and killed, one of her little seven-year-old daughters died of an asthma attack because they didn’t have the right medicine. And I said, “Lolly, how do you do it?” And she said, “I never ask why.” And when you spend time in the presence of people like that, and they were everywhere you know, they understood what they were up against.

It is deeply empowering. Because not to resist, not to fight back is on a very personal level to betray these people. And when you build relationships, as over the two years Joe and I did, with figures like that, it really, you know, almost comes down to something that simplistic. You can’t betray Lolly. You can’t betray any of these great figures who’ve stood up. Because their fight is our fight. And oftentimes they’ve endured far, far more– well, they have endured far, far more than I have endured or ever will endure.

Old news: I thought this superb interview by Bill Moyers of Chris Hedges  might help in thinking about our current situation and might embolden NJ journalists:

BILL MOYERS: But do you think taking sides marginalizes your journalism? I mean, when you were being arrested, and some businessman was quoted in the paper passing by and looking at those of you being carried away and said, “Bunch of idiots.” He needs to hear what you, read what you say. Do you think he will once he knows you’ve taken sides?

CHRIS HEDGES: Well, I think that in life we always have to take sides.

BILL MOYERS: Do journalists always have to take sides?

CHRIS HEDGES: Yes. Journalists always do take sides. You know, you’ve been a journalist a long time. The idea that there’s something objective and impartial is just a lie. We sell it. But I can take the same set of facts– I was a newspaper reporter for a long time, and I can spin that story one way or another. We manipulate facts. That’s what we do. And I think that the really great journalists–

BILL MOYERS: Not necessarily to deceive though. Some do, I know, but–

CHRIS HEDGES: Right, but we do.

BILL MOYERS: We choose the facts we want to organize–

CHRIS HEDGES: Of course, it’s selective. And it’s what facts we choose, how we place, where we put the quotes. And I think the really great journalists, like the great preachers, care fundamentally about truth. And truth and news are not the same thing.

And the really great reporters, and I’ve seen them, you know, in all sorts of news organizations, are management headaches because they care about truth at the expense of their own career.

BILL MOYERS: What do you mean truth as opposed to news?

CHRIS HEDGES: Well, let’s take the Israel occupation of Gaza. You know, if I had a dinner with any Middle East correspondent who covered Gaza, none of us would have any disagreements about the Israeli behavior in Gaza, which is a collective war crime. And yet to get up and write it and say it within American society is not a career enhancer.

Because there’s a powerful Israeli lobby, and it’s a lobby that I don’t think represents Israel, it represents the right wing of Israel. And you know it. But, the great reporters don’t care. And they’re there.

But you know, large institutions like “The New York Times” attract huge numbers of careerists like any other large institutions, the Church of course, being no exception. And those are the people who are willing to take moral shortcuts to promote themselves within that institution.

And when somebody becomes a headache, even if they may agree with them, even if they may know that they are speaking a truth, and it puts their career in jeopardy– they will push them out or silence them.

So I think that one can take sides, and Orwell becomes the kind of model for this. But one can never not tell the truth. And I’ve often written stories that are not particularly flattering. And there’s much in this book about people in Pine Ridge or Camden, you know, that is not flattering. I mean, we’re interviewing people that are drug addicts and this kind of stuff. And–

BILL MOYERS: Drug dealers–

CHRIS HEDGES: –prostitutes and–

BILL MOYERS: Yeah, drug dealers–


BILL MOYERS: –prostitutes.

CHRIS HEDGES: So we’re not, you know, the lie of omission is still a lie. But I don’t think any foreign correspondent who covers war, whether it was in Bosnia or whether it was in Sarajevo can be indifferent to the tremendous human suffering before them and not want that human suffering to stop.

BILL MOYERS: But there is a price, as you have said, to be paid for stepping outside of the system that enabled your name and reputation and becoming a critic of that system. I mean, what price do you think you’ve paid?

CHRIS HEDGES: I don’t think I paid a price, I think I would’ve paid a price for staying in. I wouldn’t have been able to live with myself. You know, I was pushed out of “The New York Times” because I was publicly denouncing the invasion of Iraq. And again, it comes down to that necessity to speak a truth, or at least the truth as far as you can discern it.

I’ve spent months of my life in Iraq. I knew the instrument of war. I understood in all the ways that this was going be a disaster– including upsetting the power balance in the Middle East. It’s one of the great strategic blunders of the United States, it’s empowered Iran. And to remain silent would’ve been the price. Was it good for my career? Well, of course not.

But my career was never the point. I didn’t drive down Mount Igman into Sarajevo when it was being hit with 2,000 shells a day because it was good for my career. I went there because what was happening was a crime against humanity. And as a reporter, I wanted to be there to chronicle it.

BILL MOYERS: Well, you should. But, so you don’t think journalism is futile?

CHRIS HEDGES: I think journalism is essential. I think it’s essential. And we’re watching its destruction. You know, journalism, the power of journalism is that it is rooted in verifiable fact. You go out as a reporter, you seek to find out what is factually correct. You crosscheck it with other sources. It’s sent to an editor. It’s fact-checked, you put it out. That’s all vanishing.

That’s what we’re really losing with journalism. Yes, you know, commercial journalism, there were things they wouldn’t write about. You know, as Schanberg says, “The power of great newspapers like “The Times” is that at least it’s stopped things from getting worse.” I think that’s right.

BILL MOYERS: But can it make things better? I mean, do you think you can accomplish more as a dissenter, and I look up on you now, when I ask you what’s your faith, I think your faith is in dissent, if I may say so. It’s in “This far and no further.” But do you think you can accomplish as much as a dissenter than as a journalist?

CHRIS HEDGES: Yeah, it’s not a question that I’ve asked. Because the question is, “What do you have to do?” I certainly knew after 15 years at “The New York Times” that running around on national television shows denouncing the war in Iraq was, as a news reporter, tantamount to career suicide. I mean, I was aware of that.

And yet, you know, as Paul Tillich writes about, you know, “Institutions are always inherently demonic, including the Church.” And you cannot finally serve the interests of those institutions. That for those who seek the moral life, there will always come a time in which they have to defy even institutions they care about if they are able to retain that moral core. And in essence, what, you know, “The New York Times,” or other institutions were asking is that I muzzle myself.

BILL MOYERS: But all institutions do that, don’t they?

CHRIS HEDGES: All institutions do.

BILL MOYERS: Intuitively or explicitly.

CHRIS HEDGES: That’s right. And I think for those of us who care about speaking, you know, the truth, you know, or if you want to call it dissent, we are going to have to accept that at one day, there’s going probably mean a clash with the very institutions that have nurtured and supported us. And I have been nurtured and supported by these institutions.

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NJ’s Landed Gentry – Open Space Has Become A Tool For The New Restrictive Covenants

November 24th, 2014 No comments
The New Presbyterian Church (Harding Township, NJ)

The First Presbyterian Church of New Vernon (Harding Township, NJ)

“The diversity in the faculties of men from which the rights of property originate, is not less an insuperable obstacle to a uniformity of interests. The protection of these faculties is the first object of government” declared Madison. This is a correct analysis of the economic basis of political attitudes, except that too great a significance is attached to inequality of faculty as the basis of inequality of privilege.

… inequalities of privilege are due chiefly to disproportions of power, and that power which creates privilege need not be economic but it typically is.  […]

The moral attitudes of dominant and privileged groups are characterized by universal self deception and hypocrisy. The unconscious and conscious identification of their special interests with general interests and universal values . .. is equally obvious in the attitude of classes. The reasons why privileged classes are more hypocritical than underprivileged ones is that special privilege can be defended in terms of the rational ideal of equal justice only, by proving that it contributes something to the good of the whole. …

The most common form of hypocrisy among the privileged classes is to assume that their privileges are the just payments with which society rewards specially useful or meritorious functions. ~~~ Reinhold Niebuhr  “Moral Man and Immoral Society

[*Updates below]

Today, in Part 1, keep Niebuhr’s critique of privilege in mind as I begin to flesh out the story suggested in my Saturday photo teaser:

The story that set me off on Saturday morning was this:

As I read the story, my head kept exploding, as it confirmed virtually every one of my criticisms of the Keep it Green Campaign for open space, as we will discuss in detail in future posts and outline below.

“*The total cost of the preserved acreage is $2,700,000, with additional funding expected from Green Acres and the Harding Open Space Trust (HOST) fund.”

(* “expected”? on what basis is that expectation formed? Could it be based on the fact that Gov. Christie’s Chief of Staff lives there?)

Those multiple criticisms included lack of strategic land use planning, purchase of regulated lands, inflated real estate appraisals, manipulation by well endowed private non-profit land trusts and Foundations, insider elite self dealing, an insidious form of privatization,  magnification of inequality, inegalitarian transfer of public resources from poor urban to wealthy suburban communities, starving public parks of resources, cuts to DEP environmental programs, and deep environmental injustice, if not flat our racism.

KIG website - lots of photos of black children frolicking - But not in harding

KIG website – lots of photos of black children frolicking – But not in Harding Township

But my anger turned to rage when I read this about Harding Township: (Wiki)

The 07976 ZIP code for New Vernon was named one of the “25 Richest Zip Codes” in the United States by Forbes magazine in 2006.[20]Many relatively unchanged large country estates that have been passed down through several generations attest to the wealth of many of its residents. Some have been listed on the National Register of Historic Places and some of those have nonprofit support organizations that assure the retention of the original nature of the properties.

And this ugly gem of history, from the National Parks Service:

The Silver Lake Historic District is identifiable as a distinct place through its geographic setting, its concentration of historic buildings, and through a shared historical experience, culminating in the 1928 restrictive covenants of Harding Township’s founders. It was through a variety of deed restrictions and gentlemen’s agreements that the area now identified as the Silver Lake Historic District became the core of a “preservation area” in the mid-20th century. The recognition of special qualities of place, which focused on a highly cultivated “rural” landscape and its attendant historic buildings, was apparent in the 1920s, and efforts were put in place to preserve them which lasted into the 1970s. At that time, the deed restrictions were replaced by local zoning laws, which perpetuated the scenic qualities valued in Harding Township for over fifty years.

Those restrictive deed covenants, gentleman’s agreements, and restrictive zoning help to explain the origin and perpetuation this data too:

The racial makeup of the township was 94.14% (3,613) White, 0.99% (38) Black or African American, 0.13% (5) Native American, 2.66% (102) Asian, 0.00% (0) Pacific Islander, 0.34% (13) from other races, and 1.75% (67) from two or more racesHispanics or Latinos of any race were 3.49% (134) of the population.[8]

So, there it is.

I immediately grabbed the camera and the dog, jumped in the car, and headed out to Harding.

In our next few posts, we discuss what I saw there and why its relevant to the Open Space funding debate, particularly as that debate enters the next phase in the Democratic controlled legislature and urban Democrats are forced to vote on appropriations of Open Space funds. Now, that will get interesting real fast.

But for now, let me just say that the narrow meandering rural roads were no mere means of transportation.


They served as a means of visual display of the massive estates set back a half mile from the road, buffered by huge fields and lawns (preserved open space? publicly funded conservation easements?), with the migrant worker looking lawn care trucks in the circular driveways and the posted restricted Private Lanes so that the ogling rif-raff doesn’t get too close.

It all made me feel like I was in some kind of rich white people’s petting zoo – would some blue blood pop out on the lawn for an equestrian event (Dressage?) or  a polo match?


(Source:  The Harding Township/Green Village Bridle Path Association

[Update: According to DEP, Green Acres funded projects must provide “meaningful public access”:

Meaningful public access must be provided to every project funded under this program.

Let me offer just two examples of projects funded in Harding that do not provide “meaningful public access”.

This is Margetts Field, which I understand was partially Green Acres funded ($250,000).

margetts field

The field provides scenic vistas and serves as a buffer from the road for the huge estates along the edge. It also seemed to have equestrian trails on the northern edge. So in addition to blocking development, it has significant benefits for the adjacent estate owners.

“Meaningful public access” is provided by a tiny unmarked , unsigned, and dangerous dirt pull off area that can handle, at most, maybe 4 cars, if the drivers cooperate.  When I was there (cold day) there was 1 man, driving a BMW wagon,  flying a robotic plane.

Here is another example – this is the entrance to the Marcellus Hartley Dodge Bridle Trail.

There was no “meaningful public access” provided at all (unless one arrives on horseback from the adjacent estates). I parked illegally in a private driveway to take this photo:



There seemed to be many other areas where conservation easements were purchased that provide no public access at all.


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WalMart Funding Cuts To NJ Greenwash Effort Offset By Dodge Foundation Grant

November 23rd, 2014 No comments

Why Do WalMart and Dodge Foundation Share Similar Funding Strategies?

Last month, I was pleased to report that WalMart had cut funding – by two thirds – of their NJ corporate greenwash efforts with Sustainable New Jersey,  slashing a $450,000 contribution to just $150,000, see:

Confirming our assessment, a few days ago, a reader passed along this Grist story, saying that “Sustainable NJ must be so proud of their sponsor, Walmart these days, eh?”

Walmart has been strutting around decked out in solar panels lately. At an event broadcast from its Arkansas headquarters last month, the company’s top executives crowed about their pledge, made nearly a decade ago, to shift to 100 percent renewable power, while a video screened shots of glossy new solar panels behind them. Many reporters — even many environmentalists — have been marveling at the emperor’s new finery. The Wall Street Journal ran the headline “Walmart Doubles Down on Solar Energy Plans,” while the San Francisco Chronicle and The Motley Fool explained “Why Walmart Loves Solar.”

But look a little closer and this emperor’s outfit isn’t all that it appears to be.

Far off from 100 percent, only 3 percent of Walmart’s U.S. power is supplied by its renewable energy projects and special green power purchases, according to data the company submits to the EPA’s Green Power Partnership. And only one-third of that 3 percent comes from Walmart’s rooftop solar and other onsite installations.

Which begs the question: Where does the other 97 percent of Walmart’s power come from?

Here at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, we decided to take a look. And what we found is a big, filthy mountain of coal.

But yesterday, in doing research for a different story on NJ’s Green Mafia, I discovered that the WalMart funding cuts were offset almost dollar for dollar by the NJ based Dodge Foundation.

According to their website, in June, Dodge provided a huge grant to SNJ that offsets the WalMart cuts:

A $370,000 grant to Sustainable Jersey was awarded to support this municipal certification program as it continues to grow and strengthen its core priority of serving municipalities through voluntary, citizen-led actions, and to expand its reach in schools and communities, including the launch of a new Green Team Leadership Academy.

Passive voice, i.e. “was awarded”? Revealing.

We have written extensively about the flaws in the concept of “sustainability” and “resilience” and the SNJ municipal certification program and how that flawed voluntary local effort displaces and diverts focus and resources from more effective forms of advocacy and activism and regulatory oversight.

But what should be even more disturbing to climate activists and environmental advocates alike is that the Dodge Foundation shares the same corporate values, priorities, and funding strategies of WalMart.

Both WalMart and Dodge fund efforts that divert attention and activists away from issues of corporate power and democratic and governmental regulatory powers to limit that corporate power.

And that should disturb everyone.

More coming, as we do additional research on NJ’s Green mafia.

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Recent Bergen Record Coverage of Dupont Pompton Lakes Cleanup Raises Concerns

November 23rd, 2014 No comments

[Update: 11/28/14 – Jim O’Neill at Record wrote the NRD story today, see:

I tried to reconcile these two very different perspectives on the adequacy of the Dupont cleanup.

First, the official version, in a regulatory document:

As the EPA is undoubtedly aware, a significant amount of mercury-contaminated sediments will be left behind at the completion of the currently proposed removal action.” ~~~ US FWS consultation letter (11/10/14)

Second, the unofficial press interview remarks:

They are removing the vast majority of contamination, so the load in the ecosystem will be reduced,” Melissa Foster, a senior biologist in Fish and Wildlife’s New Jersey field office, said in an interview. ~~~ Bergen Record, 11/21/14

So which is it?

Is Dupont doing a great job by removing the “vast majority” of contamination?

Or is Dupont getting off the hook for leaving “a significant amount of mercury contaminated sediments” behind?

Now, I can completely understand why a biologist at US FWS would want to tone down public criticism of a powerful polluter – and implicitly a partner federal agency the EPA – in press remarks. Aggressive regulators that hold powerful corporate polluters accountable tend to suffer career setbacks.

But, why would a reporter – who had been provided and specifically advised about the significance of the US FWS regulatory documents – write a story with that quote, which he knew was in direct contradiction to US FWS official written assessment?

For simply asking that question, I get accused of “trashing reporters”.

Bergen Record reporter Jim O’Neill tells me he’s tired:

Really really really really getting tired of your constant trashing of reporters. I have written more than 50 stories about the Pompton Lakes DuPont contamination .. .I’m not ignoring it, downplaying it or getting spun….  

O’Neill was lashing out in response to my private email, which did not “trash reporters”, but merely respectfully noted that he got spun in his most recent Dupont cleanup story. I provided the direct evidence explaining exactly how he got spun, with verbatim quotes from regulatory documents that contrasted sharply with quotes from his story.

Well, I’m tired too – tired of breaking the story, producing the documents the Record relies on, and then getting ignored – or worse – by the reporters and editors at the Record. It has happened so many times now it can not be random.

I’ve even been pressured by the Record’s lawyer to take down material I’ve posted – not once but TWICE. The first legal attack came for posting a Margulies cartoon without permission (see: Even the Cartoonists Are Afraid Of Christie), which I refused to take down because I felt it met fair use standards.  The second attack was for a TWEET! Can you imagine that: the Record felt the need to send out a legal attack dog for a fucking tweet that criticized Scott Fallon for stealing my ideas.

I guess my 11/13/14 Letter to the Editor about how Scott Fallon missed the story about open space diversion of parks capital budget must have burnt the last bridge at the Record.

But, I’m getting way off topic.

So, let’s take a look at how Mr. O’Neill has gotten spun in his last 3 stories on the Dupont cleanup – in fact not only spun, but his stories reported the exact opposite of what was actually going on.

I) Dupont request to weaken the Vapor Intrusion requirements

On April 25, 2013, Dupont wrote a letter to NJ DEP requesting that their vapor intrusion workplan be revised to reflect changes that DEP recently made to weaken the Vapor Intrusion (VI) standards (read Dupont’s letter).

In January 2013, leading up to the Dupont request, when NJ DEP previously had weakened those vapor intrusion standards, we broke the story and issued a press releasing criticizing that.

Of course, that should have been a huge statewide story because it impacts not just Dupont Pompton Lakes, but thousands of sites across NJ where people are being poisoned in their own homes by industrial chemicals.

But it was ignored by the Record (see our press release that went unreported)

Over 18 moths later, on August 19, 2014, O’Neill finally wrote about the Dupont VI request with this lede, under this headline:

NJ rejects DuPont request to alter plan on Pompton Lakes cleanup

State environmental officials said Tuesday they will not grant DuPont’s request to change its plan to deal with contaminated air inside Pompton Lakes homes sitting above polluted groundwater.

No room for doubt there – a reader could only conclude that NJ DEP rejected the Dupont request.

The problem is, O’Neill didn’t just ignore our statewide press release and miss the Dupont story or get spun, he got it exactly backwards.

NJ DEP did not reject Dupont’s request, in fact, just the opposite: NJ DEP approved it!.

Here is the EPA website headline for the NJ DEP response to Dupont’s request – note the word “Approval”:

Here is the pertinent text of the DEP letter – note use of the phrase “hereby approve”:


We caught DEP and EPA with their pants down, approving a Dupont request to weaken VI cleanup requirements behind closed doors.

That should have been a major scandal. Instead, O’Neill made DEP look like an aggressive regulator.

Strike one.

II) Initial Coverage of EPA Lake Dredge Plan Downplayed Weakenings & USFWS history

There is a long story I won’t go into right now on EPA’s efforts to force Dupont to cleanup the mercury contamination in Pompton Lake and downriver sediments, and the concerns of US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) about the adequacy of those cleanup plans.

For today, the key point is that we’ve been involved, have written multiple posts and press releases, and were instrumental in securing US FWS review.

So we were well prepared when EPA finally released its revised cleanup plan on  October 30, 2014.

At the request of Suburban Trends reporter Leslie Scott, we rapidly reviewed the EPA plan and provided initial review comments to her and Mr. O’Neill later the afternoon of October 30 (see:

Ignoring most of that, particularly the ecological issues, here is what O’Neill wrote about the revised EPA plan:

Well, there was a lot more than hot spots – just days later, the Record published a far more critical story by Leslie Scott. In that a story, EPA was forced to go on the record and admit that the cleanup was scaled back:

Bill Wolfe, director of New Jersey PEER (Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility), said the EPA is letting DuPont off the hook for potentially millions of dollars in natural resource compensation damages.

He said, “While the EPA is not legally responsible for assessing and collecting natural resource damages … an ERA is a critical scientific study that documents, among other things, the need for additional cleanup and the need to compensate the public for injuries to natural resources. The 2014 version leaves it up to EPA to decide, at some future point, based on future monitoring and sampling, whether an ERA is required.”

Wolfe added that DuPont has had the benefit of closed-door negotiations that allowed a reduced cleanup size, delayed the cleanup by two years, and changed the cleanup standards to be “flawed and lax.”

Wolfe said abandoning the older standard “puts more control over cleanup in DuPont’s hands, which raises oversight and enforcement concerns.”

Strike 2.

III) Coverage of US Fish and Wildlife consultation with EPA

The day after EPA released the Dupont cleanup plan, on October 31, 2014, we joined Pomtpon Lakes residents at CCPL in a letter to EPA Regional Administrator Enck to request an extension of the comment period, and notified press of that request.

There were two specific reasons for our request for additional time: 1) to review US FWS review comments; and 2) to determine the status of US FWS Feb 2012 commitment to pursue a Natural Resoruce Damage Assessment (NRDA) against Dupont.

We also threatened to issue a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to obtain the US FWS documents, see:

The request was ignored by the Record. To do a story about it would have had to involve PEER and raised concerns about Dupont’s science, which had been seriously criticized by US FWS back in 2012.

On November 12, 2014, US EPA issued a press release to announce that they approved our request:

(New York, N.Y.) In response to requests from Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility and Citizens for a Clean Pompton Lakes, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will extend the public comment period for the proposed plan to remove mercury contamination from areas of Pompton Lake in Pompton Lakes, New Jersey from December 18, 2014 to February 2, 2015

That newsworthy US EPA announcement also was ignored.

Again, to cover the issue would require mention of PEER and a would have had to discussion of WHY we requested an extension of the comment period, i.e. the ecological and US FWS issues.

On November 18, 2014, PEER issued a press release which broke the story about two things: 1) USFWS was pursuing NRD claims, and 2) US FWS had submitted critical comments on the proposed EPA cleanup plan. In that press release, we released US FWS documents that had not been released previously or reported on – in other words, they are highly newsworthy, see:

Again, that press release was ignored.

But the US FWS documents PEER released were used. Our letter to EPA RA Enck is what prompted EPA to post the USFWS comment letter, our press release is what made those documents public, and out FOIA threat is what prompted the Record’s awareness of the US FWS NRDA.

I had always assumed that reporters credited their sources, inserted of creating the appearance of doing investigative work.

O’Neill finally did write about the US FWS conners, but again, he got it exactly backwards.

As I had written in a series of detailed emails to O’Neill, there were two things of significance in the US FWS documents:

a) US FWS had completed a screening, found natural resource injuries, and was pursing a NRD claim against Dupont; and

b) US FWS had submitted critical comments, but had significant backed off from their prior criticism issued in the Feb. 2012 comment letter to EPA.

There were several obvious signals in the most recent US FWS comments that showed that they backed off the 2012 criticism, which I outlined to O’Neill in detail based on a comparison of the 2012 US FWS letter with the 2014 version.

Those obvious signals in the 2014 version of US FWS comments included:

  • using the wrong baseline to compare the EPA’s revised 36 acre cleanup. USFWS used 26 acres, instead of 40 acres from the final EPA permit Dupont challenged. This comparison masks the fact that the cleanup was scaled back;
  • no mention of the NRDA issue in the 2014 version
  • no mention and apparent withdrawal of severe criticism of Dupont’s ecological analysis

I encourage readers to compare the 2012 US FWS letter with the 2014 version to observe how USFWS backed away.

So, after ignoring our request to extend the comment period; EPA’s approval of that request; and the PEER disclosure of the US FWS comments and pursuit of NRDA again t Dupont, O’Neill finally wrote about the US FWS concerns, in an November 21, 2104 story, he ignores us again:

The story  not only ignores our analysis – it presents the issue of the adequacy of the cleanup in the wrong light.

The focus on the need for a thicker cap ignores the critical point, which is that the EPA plan is deficient because it allows Dupont to leave a lot of mercury behind.

The US FWS has repeatedly raised concerns about the fact that the EPA would allow a “significant” amount of mercury to remain in the environment – that is why US FWS decided to pursue NRDA injuries back in 2012.

Despite having the US FWS documents, which PEER forced public release of, O’Neill quoted US FWS expressing exactly the opposite concern:

They are removing the vast majority of contamination, so the load in the ecosystem will be reduced,” Melissa Foster, a senior biologist in Fish and Wildlife’s New Jersey field office, said in an interview. “But some will be left, and we want to make sure it’s not getting into the food chain.”

But here is what US FWS letter actually said:

“As the EPA is undoubtedly aware, a significant amount of mercury-contaminated sediments will be left behind at the completion of the currently proposed removal action.”

“Significant amount of mercury-contamaitned sediments left behind”?

Or “removing the vast majority of contamination”.

Glass of mercury half empty or half full?

Is there a pattern here in O’Neill’s coverage, both in terms of ignoring PEER and downplaying criticisms of Dupont’s cleanup  efforts?

You decide.

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Keeping the Backyards of the Landed Gentry Green – With Public Funds Stolen From State Parks and DEP Environmental Programs

November 22nd, 2014 No comments

A Tale of Blood Money & The Green Mafia


As I had my first coffee and opened the news clips, the story read as if I’d written it as an Onion parody – either that, or it was a whole new genre in blue blood New Jersey noir.

I really can not imagine a story that included virtually every single abuse I warned about in the Open Space diversion disaster – and then some.

And the more I looked into the situation, the more incredible and worse it got.

Follow me here as I go down the rabbit hole.

(to be continued: settle for the photos for now – the incredible full story and text coming soon – Update – see Part 1 – How Open Space has become a new tool to enforce Restrictive Covenants)





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