Archive for September, 2015

God Bless The Child

September 25th, 2015 No comments

For All The Duke Farmers – and their $1.79 billion endowment

A barn

A barn

Billie Holiday did it best, but I grew up with the Blood, Sweat and Tears version:

Them that’s got shall get
Them that’s not shall lose
So the Bible said and it still is news
Mama may have, Papa may have
But God bless the child that’s got his own
That’s got his own
Yes, the strong gets more
While the weak ones fade
Empty pockets don’t ever make the grade
Mama may have, Papa may have
But God bless the child that’s got his own
That’s got his own
When you got money, you’ve got lots of friends
Crowding round the door
When you’re gone, and all your spending ends
They won’t be round no more
Rich relations may give you
Crust of bread and such
You can help yourself
But don’t take too much
Mama may have, Papa may have
But God bless the child who can stand up and say:
I got my own
Mama may have, Papa may have
But God bless the child that’s got his own
That’s got his own
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Christie DEP Granted A Stewardship Award To This Site

September 25th, 2015 No comments

Put on your DEP inspector’s hat and take a look

assorted commingled waste materials - no controls

assorted commingled waste materials – no controls

The owner of the site depicted above and below recently authored an Op-Ed, published by NJ’s largest news outlet, bragging about receipt of a DEP Stewardship Award.

I urge readers to answer a few questions about these photos of that site: (Hint: in researching this issue, OPRA is your friend, so is the DEP Hotline) (all photos shot on 9/24/15)

1) do they depict DEP “regulated activity”?

2) has the site been issued valid DEP permits?

3) is the permittee in compliance with these DEP permits?

4) when was the last time that DEP conducted a compliance inspection of this location and what was the outcome?

5) Even if this is not DEP regulated activity, are these “best management practices” for outdoor storage of materials that generated nutrient rich runoff upslope of wetlands, streams, and ponds?

6) If a private contractor or individual were to dump the same materials on State lands, would DEP’s new enforcement initiative crack down immediately upon public complaint or DEP notification or awareness? (see next question).

*7) Most astute readers, here’s a final exam extra credit bonus points essay question:

Compare and contrast the notorious Duck Island Caper, where criminal charges were filed by DEP and a deportation case emerged, with the Stewardship case.

What are the justice implications of the fact that DEP issued a press release that bragged about deportation of a person for doing less environmental harm than the billion dollar foundation they issued a stewardship award to?

Contents of the materials were traced back to a contractor who had renovated a Trenton home. Removal of the debris was subcontracted to Marvin Agustin Perez, who has since been deported to Guatemala, and Grodoniel Espinosa Austin (nicknamed Emilio), who is believed to be living in the area of Butler Street in Trenton.

Hints: here are relevant DEP regulations:

Recycling Regulations (NJAC 7:26A)

Scope and applicability

(d) Unprocessed recyclable materials, post-consumer materials, and used or abandoned materials that are or will be deposited on or in the lands of the State for any period exceeding six months, including by stockpiling, staging or stor- ing, are solid waste that shall be managed in accordance with the Solid Waste rules, N.J.A.C. 7:26, unless:

Solid Waste Regulations

(look especially at whether all the conditions for the exemption of recyclable materials are met)


composting materials, no stormwater runoff controls - direct discharge to wetland

mulch composting, no stormwater runoff controls – direct discharge to wetland (bio-swale?)

commingled waste material

commingled waste material


nutrients from organic composting material discharge directly to wetland - no controls

nutrients from organic mulch composting material discharge directly to wetland – no controls (bio-swale?)

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Foundation Grant Writers, Marketing Majors, and Entrepreneurs of the World Unite!

September 25th, 2015 No comments

There’s colors on the street
Red, white and blue
People shufflin’ their feet
People sleepin’ in their shoes
But there’s a warnin’ sign
on the road ahead  ~~~~ Keep on Rockin’ In the Free World (Neil Young, 1989)

The Boondocking with Bouie Project

Steinbeck’s Charlie In An Age of Neoliberal Austerity

From Jack London, to Jack Kerouac, to Jack Shit

The pitch: (TM/(R))

Americans have a deep and rich literary and cultural tradition of “the road”

The current variant is known as “boondocking”.

Through direct experience, writing, and photography, this project wil explore “the road” as it exists today.

The project will document that experience politically and culturally and – keeping with Neoliberalism’s capitalist and entrepreneurial imperative – also demonstrate and evaluate the range of products that are most effective in the “boondocking” experience and culture.

A whole new market niche will emerge.

Ford is already marketing an “eco-boost” engine, while Dodge markets an efficient diesel pickup.

Various RV and camper manufacturers compete for the most lightweight and reliable “road home”.

These markets combine with the slide in camper option (Steinbeck’s Charlie Truck is now called a slide in camper).

The project will illustrate which is the best option for a slide in camper package – and how best to solar power and equip that rig.

The RV market was built on Winnebago and the post war suburban wanderlust.

That market needs updating in light of unemployed and declasse’ roadsters who – in this age of Austerity and precarious surplus labor – look to efficiency and quality and high performance – off the grid and on a low budget.

Only serious funders need reply.

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Christie DEP Very Late In Declaring Drought “Watch” – Relies On Voluntary Measures

September 24th, 2015 No comments

Politics Trumps Science and the Public Interest (Again)

passaic flow2

Yesterday, the Christie DEP issued a drought watch for portions of the State. A watch is just the first step in getting DEP involved in managing the State’s water supply, which is their duty and lead responsibility under State law.

Because Governor Christie has blocked the update of the State Water Supply Master Plan, the public has no information on NJ’s water supply management, or ability to participate in the many critical policy decisions about how NJ’s public water resources are managed during drought (and who pays for and bears the risks and impacts of those decisions).

Those critical decisions are made behind the scenes, mostly by private water companies, DEP political appointees, and local government water authorities. This is a profoundly anti-democratic approach to managing a vital public resource.

The DEP “drought watch” comes very late, is limited in scope, and stresses “voluntary action”. Here’s why:

North Jersey Has Structural Drought Conditions

North Jersey lacks adequate reservoir storage capacity per capita – just 76 billion gallons. That is small, small compared with NY City’s 550 billion gallon storage.

NJ relies on rivers – water is pumped from rivers to reservoirs and also taken directly for water supply. But Rivers are getting too polluted to take water from during low flows.

Plus, up to 20% of water leaks from the ancient infrastructure.

Demand is higher than NYC due to things like lawn watering and swimming pools. And trees – more in NJ than NYC – consume a lot of water via evapotranspiration.

All these factors put huge “stress” on water supplies.

Therefore, given these structural conditions, NJ needs to be far more conservative in issuing drought warnings and more aggressive in water conservation.

DEP Was Not Conservative and Ignored Data

The DEP’s partial indicators of drought – rainfall deficits, low stream/river flows, declining reservoir storage, and groundwater levels – have shown “stress” for MONTHS, yet DEP did nothing.

There are reasons for that delay in acting that are unique to the policy and leadership of the Christie DEP:

1) Christie/Martin (C/M) oppose regulatory mandates from DEP – note the emphasis on “voluntary measures”

2) C/M do not respect government competence and defer to the private sector water companies – ideologically part of their “the private sector knows best and “privatization” policy;

3) C/M defer to local government and oppose “unfunded mandates – See Executive Order #4. They oppose State DEP leadership as top down bureaucratic red tape from Trenton.

4) C/M have no environmental management experience and do not respect or listen to their professionals.

5) C/M oppose and frequently simply reject the concept of planning of any kind and are hostile to or simply ignore science as “esoteric”.

6) C/M are more interested in and focused on the Governor’s political aspirations than in managing DEP and protecting the water supplies of the state.

7) A drought and mandates from DEP hurt the Gov. with the Republican base in primary States, who hate government, environmental agencies, and mandatory government requirements.

Seven sins. And we pay for them.

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FEMA Seeks To Block Christie DEP Rule Allowing Building on Hudson River Piers

September 23rd, 2015 No comments

DEP Rule Conflicts With Gov. Christie’s Prior Veto of Legislation

Poor Communication Between DEP & The Front Office?

Or Change in Gov.’s Policy?

The DEP’s proposed new Flood Hazard Rules would allow major new development on Hudson River piers located in mapped high hazard areas. That’s just one of the gems buried in the 900+ page proposal.

The proposal would violate National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) requirements and jeopardize eligibility for the NFIP program.

The DEP proposal is opposed by FEMA and the NJ League of Municipalities, as NJ Spotlight reports today  (and as I first disclosed last week):

In a letter to the state Department of Environmental Protection, FEMA commented that a proposed DEP rule could weaken current flood protections, by allowing, among other things, a new building to go up in a floodway along the Hudson River. …

In another concern, FEMA cites a provision of the rules that would allow construction of a building on a pier in the Hudson River that may not be consistent with the federal flood-insurance program.

The New Jersey State League of Municipalities also urged amendments to the rules to ensure the regulations do not fall below the standards of the flood-insurance program.

Given the Christie Administration’s anti-regulatory animus and reckless promotion of redevelopment in the wake of Sandy – what I’ve called “rebuild madness” – none of this surprised me.

But what left me scratching my head is the fact that the DEP rules on development on Hudson River piers flat out contradict a prior veto by Governor Christie.

In fact, on August 19, 2013, Governor Christie issued an absolute veto of legislation that would have allowed development on Hudson river piers in high hazard areas.

Remarkably, the Gov.’s justification for the veto echoed precisely the same objections expressed by FEMA and the League of Municipalities on DEP’s proposed new rules – it would violate the NFIP and jeopardize eligibility. Christie wrote:

Federal law provides that no flood insurance may be sold or renewed under the NFIP in areas that lack adequate land use and control measures. The federal regulations implementing the NFIP expressly provide that “all new construction” within a coastal high hazard area shall be “located landward of the reach of mean high tide.” Allowing new construction on a pier in a coastal high hazard area as this bill provides contravenes that federal regulation and may therefore jeopardize NFIP eligibility for those municipalities with existing piers along the Hudson River. I cannot condone such a risk.

I wrote three in depth posts about this veto to clarify that the risk that Gov. Christie could not condone was the financial risk of jeopardizing eligibility from the NFIP, not the risk to human life and property from sea level rise and the development in the coastal high hazard zone, see:

Now, 2 years later, DEP Commissioner Bob Martin condones EXACTLY the same risk that Gov. Christie could NOT condone.

Martin has some explaining to do.

I was directly involved in rule making at DEP and have closely followed DEP rules as an activist for 30 years and I can never recall a similar situation where the DEP essentially defied the Gov. Office.

DEP draft rules are reviewed and must be approved by the Governor’s Office before they are proposed for public comment in the NJ Register.

How did this happen? Was it just poor communication between DEP and the Governor’s Office?

Did DEP stealth the provision by the front office in the 900 page proposal?

Did the Governor’s Office miss it?

Or has the Gov. changed his mind about the risks he can and can not condone?

Or is there something else going on??

Do readers have thoughts on that? I am truly baffled.

What Hudson river pier development is involved? Who is the developer? A friend of Christie?

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