Why Is NJ Media Keeping NY Gov. Cuomo’s Pipeline Kill A Secret?
Huge activist victory – Democracy in action – News blackout
Christie DEP gets another pass
One would think – with pipeline battle raging across the state from Cape May to Bergen County involving thousands of residents – that New York State Governor Cuomo’s recent kill of the proposed Constitution pipeline would be big news and of interest to the NJ press corps.
It is an extremely rare event for environmental regulators to deny a permit for an economically significant billion dollar project – about as rare as a jet plane crash. One would think surely that would spark significant media coverage.
What Cuomo and his DEC did was – like his moratorium on fracking – of national significance, particularly with respect to the power of State’s to resist FERC and avoid federal preemption. The NY permit denial also has huge implications for the power of States to use the federal Clean Water Act and State water quality standards to block fossil energy projects. It also shows the political power of well organized protest.
One would be wrong about all that.
NJ media didn’t cover the story when it broke on Earth Day – see NY media coverage, including a major story on the Wall Street Journal’s Business page:
- Cuomo administration rejects Constitution pipeline
NJ media didn’t do any followup stories about the implications – for a very good example of that, see this Bloomberg story (which also ignores NJ):
When Bordentown and Chesterfield filed a related challenge to the NJ Natural Gas’ SRL pipeline modeled on NY State’s decision, it generated only one day local coverage.
The NJ media again was AWOL again when DEP Commissioner Martin got grilled on exactly that issue during the Assembly Budget Committee hearing. Curiously, even Assemblyman Singleton, who asked Martin questions, failed to mention the NY DEC permit denial. I wore about that in this post:
- Christie DEP Commissioner Bob Martin Misleads Legislature On Pipelines – With a Little Help From His Friends
And I and others testified at length on exactly this issue during Monday’s marathon meeting of the Senate Environment Committee.
So, what explains this virtual news blackout on an extremely controversial and significant statewide story?
The standard Chomsky critique is that the mainstream media is corporate owned, desperate for advertising revenues, and won’t report news that hurts corporate interests or advertisers.
That practice is even more pronounced in stories that tend to empower citizens, like when activists pressure politicians and win huge victories over corporate interests, democracy in action, like this:
- Gov. Andrew Cuomo urged to block Constitution gas pipeline project
- Hundreds Rally Asking Gov. Cuomo to Deny the Constitution Pipeline
Sheldon Wolin described the media’s role in these dynamics well in his book “Democracy Incorporated: Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism”
Is that true in this case?
I challenge NJ media to disprove the critique.
Or did I just miss all the NJ press stories about how the NY decision could impact the various NJ pipeline battles being waged by thousands of activists across the state?