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Make Polluters Pay For Lead Abatement

No More Diversions of Clean Energy Funds

Time to fund environmental justice programs

I just read in today’s NJ Spotlight story on Newark’s lead problem that Senator Bateman will seek a $20 million diversion from the Clean Energy Fund to fund lead abatement, see:

That is a terrible idea – Governor Christie already has diverted over $1 billion from the Clean Energy Fund and the Open Space program was based on diversion of funding from key environmental programs, including State parks, water resources, and toxic site cleanup.

Enough is enough! We need to reject this austerity policy model and find new money.

Here is my letter to Bateman and other key legislators that explains why and proposes a new source of funding the is directly related to urban lead emissions that cause the problem as well as addresses a deep injustice in grossly disproportionate impacts on NJ’s poor and minority cities.

Take a look at where these garbage incinerators are located and how much primarily suburban garbage they burn.

These toxic polluters also emit huge amounts of greenhouse gases and they have received hundreds of millions of dollars of taxpayer subsidies over the years.

Ideally, they should be shut down – but until then, make them pay!

Dear Chairpersons Smith and Spencer:

Senator Bateman is quoted in today’s NJ Spotlight story on the Newark schools lead problem, suggesting he will seek a $20 million diversion from the Clean Energy Fund.

“To that end, Sen. Kip Bateman (R-Somerset) said late yesterday he would sponsor a measure to fund up to $20 million for lead abatement in Newark and other state locations. Bateman suggested using the state Clean Energy Fund to finance the effort, a source of money often siphoned off by various administrations and Legislatures for purposes beyond its original intention.”


I strongly urge you not to continue to go down this  road, of robbing Peter to pay Paul.

Instead, it’s time to find new money to address our mounting neglected public health and environmental problems.

One significant source of new funding to address the lead issue would be a $20 per ton surcharge on disposal of garbage at NJ’s five operating garbage incinerators.

Those facilities emit significant amounts of lead into our environment, and have huge environmental justice implications given their locations and wastesheds. The wealthy suburban towns that send their garbage to NJ’s cities can afford to pick up the tab for poisoning our urban children.

The Newark Covanta facility alone burns almost 1 million tons of waste per year and is permitted by DEP to emit 13,100 pounds of lead per year.

Facilities in Camden (450,00 TPY), Gloucester (210,000 TPY), Rahway (560,000 TPY), and Oxford (200,000) also emit significant amounts of lead. Cumulatively, that amounts to over 2.5 million tons per year.

A $20 per ton surcharge would generate $50 million in new money to abate lead risks and begin to address the urban impacts of climate change.

These facilities are also major green house gas emission sources as well. As you know, climate change is disproportionately impacting NJ’s urban areas, due to high ozone levels, heat island effects, and few green spaces to absorb heat and pollution.

I suggest that $10 per ton be allocated to lead abatement programs and $10 per ton be allocated to urban parks and urban tree planting programs.

As you will recall, during our lifetimes, NJ legislature has imposed solid waste disposal surcharges for a variety of reasons, including subsidizing the construction of these incinerators.

The Resource Recovery and Solid Waste Disposal Facility Bond Act provided $168 million in zero interest loans to construct these facilities. The “McEnroe” solid waste disposal taxes provided many millions of dollars to Counties to plan and develop these facilities.

Incinerators were provided enormous additional subsidies via: 1) economic public utility deregulation of their profits, 2) long term above market energy contracts that cost consumers hundreds of millions of dollars, as well as 3) allocations of then scare “private activity bond volume cap” that could have been allocated to other more socially beneficial uses, like affordable housing.

It’s time to stop subsidizing pollution and start subsidizing social and environmental needs, particularly to address environmental injustice.

I am willing to help draft the bill and look forward to your favorable response.


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