Archive for December, 2016

The Pinelands Plan Prohibits Infrastructure In Forests For Very Good Reasons

December 12th, 2016 No comments

The Appellate Court Upheld the Integrity of the CMP and Powers of the Commission

The Courts stopped a rogue Governor and his Executive Director

Now the Commission Must Step Up and Enforce Its Own Plan

Today we try to stay out of the weeds and get back to basics, in light of the reignited debate which turns on whether two proposed gas pipelines are “consistent” with the Pinelands Comprehensive Management Plan (CMP).

The forest standards of the CMP prohibit construction of infrastructure in forests, with a very narrow and limited exception, as the recent Appellate Division found: (emphasis mine).

Public service infrastructure is, however, only permitted in the Forest Areas if “intended to primarily serve only the needs of the Pinelands.” N.J.A.C. 7:50-5.23(b)(12)

Here is the full text of the applicable standard in the CMP, which suggests broader and specific objectives of the CMP’s restrictions on infrastructure in forests: part of  NJAC 7:50-5.23 – Minimum standards governing the distribution and intensity of development and land use in Forest Areas

[1 – 11]

12. Public service infrastructure intended to primarily serve [only] the needs of the Pinelands. Centralized waste water treatment and collection facilities shall be permitted to service the Forest Area only in accordance with N.J.A.C. 7:50-6.84(a)2. Communications cables not primarily intended to serve the needs of the Forest Area may be permitted provided that they are installed within existing developed rights of way and are installed underground or are attached to road bridges, where available, for the purpose of crossing water bodies or wetlands.

So, we get back to basics and ask a few questions:

1. Why does the CMP prohibit infrastructure in forests?

First, a little history.

There was a time when influential people looked out across the unspoiled vastness of the Pine Barrens and saw not a state treasure to be preserved but undeveloped real estate worth a potential fortune for people who had the vision to plan and invest.

In 1960, at the dawn of the commercial jet age, county planners in Ocean and Burlington made an ambitious pitch to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. (read the whole story, from the Asbury Park Press of June 19, 2014 : World’s largest ‘jetport’ was planned for Pine Barrens)

A hundred years before that, Philadelphia (and north jersey) sought to tap the Pines’s 17 trillion gallon aquifer for drinking water (“History of the Pinelands” – by the Commission)

1878  Joseph Wharton, a Philadelphia financier, proposes exporting Pinelands water to Philadelphia. The New Jersey Legislature blocks his efforts.

A hundred years after, in the 1970’s, in response to the Arab oil embargo, the federal government sought to expand US production of oil and gas, including plans to lease and drill off the NJ coast. Three pipelines were planned to cut through the Pinelands and deliver oil and gas to Delaware River refineries. The Pinelands Act was passed by Congress to block that (see: “Untold Pinelands History”).

The Pinelands Act was passed and the CMP developed, in part, to block massive infrastructure projects, whether resulting from pipelines to bring off shore oil and gas to Delaware River refineries; or to prevent the export of Pinelands drinking water to thirsty Philadelphia and north jersey; or to stop airports serving the NY/Philadelphia metropolitan region; or to stop major highways or railroads to serve Atlantic City and jersey shore tourists.

Infrastructure – and its location and capacity – have huge implications for and impacts on land use, forests, water resources, and ecological integrity. That’s why the Highlands Act prohibited extension of water and sewer infrastructure in the Preservation Area (see Section 34 of the Act). It is why DEP WQMP regulations limited designation of sewer service areas and extension of sewers to environmentally sensitive lands (until rolled back by the Christie regime).

Construction of infrastructure disturbs and fragments forests and threatens water resources and sensitive ecosystems.

Infrastructure directly induces development, that changes land uses, that disturb and fragment forests, and that threaten water resources and the integrity of sensitive ecosystems.

Infrastructure capacity and location produce “facts on the ground” that create economic and political pressures that undermine the CMP’s land use, water resource, and ecosystem protections. Infrastructure is expensive to build and maintain. It requires dense development. The cost to ratepayers creates incentives to lower rates by expanding to serve new development and increase users which lowers rates. Infrastructure greatly increases land values, which increase property taxes which in turn provide incentives to develop. Infrastructure greatly increases the profits of land owners and development corporations, which pressure the Commission and state and local politicians to undermine development restrictions and water resource protections of the CMP. If you build it, they will come.

2. Why does the CMP provide a narrow exemption, a standard that requires that the infrastructure isintended to primarily serve only the needs of the Pinelands.” ?

The prohibition on infrastructure in forest areas is a critical tool in protecting the Pinelands and a foundational policy of the CMP.

The requirement that any infrastructure that is permitted serve “primarily serve only the needs of the Pinelands.” is a crucial standard that provides the basis for the Commission to limit the capacity and location of any infrastructure.

It is not some minor bureaucratic red tape, but the core of the CMP.

3. Does the fact that the proposed SJG pipeline serves the BL England power plant, which is located in the federally designated Pinelands, satisfy this narrow standard?

Here is what Executive Director Wittenberg found on August 14, 2015 (which the Court determined was not authorized by law) and is now subject to public comment and review by the Commission:

Based on review of the application, including newly submitted information, materials in the record and review of prior applications, the applicant has demonstrated that the proposed gas main is consistent with the permitted use standards of the CMP. Specifically, the proposed pipeline is designed to transport gas to an existing facility, the BL England plant (built in 1963) that is located in the Pinelands.

After last Friday’s Commission meeting, in an informal conversation, the Pinelands Commission Director of Land Use, professional planner Larry Liggett, told a young man that the Commission does not look at the distribution of products of the end use of the pipeline infrastructure, but rather only at it’s location.

I was told that Liggett provided an analogy to a farm – the Commission does not consider who purchases the crops grown on a farm.

Mr. Liggett is either a completely incompetent professional planner who does not understand the distinction between land use and infrastructure policies; or he is simply mouthing the talking points given to him by South Jersey Gas’ lawyers, by way of his boss (who, like Gov. Christie, tolerates no dissent), Executive Director Wittenberg.

I am fairly certain its the latter.

Here is South Jersey Gas’ argument:

The Forest Management Area use standards of the Pinelands Comprehensive Management Plan (“CMP”) permit the construction of public service infrastructure in the Forest Area—including a natural gas pipeline—if it is “intended to primarily serve the needs of the Pinelands” in accordance with N.J.A.C. 7:50-5.23(b)12. This standard does not require an applicant to show that the public service infrastructure is “necessary” to serve the needs of the Pinelands, nor that such infrastructure “solely” serves the Pinelands. Rather, the standard requires a showing that such infrastructure “primarily serves” the Pinelands; thus, public service infrastructure that primarily serves a Pinelands use while additionally benefiting areas outside the Pinelands still conforms to the CMP because its main purpose is to serve a use within the Pinelands. Here, the main usage of the pipeline is to provide natural gas service to a Pinelands customer, BLE. This conclusion is supported by the fact that SJG’s enforceable agreement to supply gas to BLE through the pipeline requires the entire capacity of the pipeline to be dedicated to the service of BLE at least 350 days/year, or 95 percent of the time, thereby enabling the plant to provide the necessary electricity and capacity to serve the electric reliability needs of 638,000 Pinelands residents while also slashing its air pollution emissions. In fact, the pipeline will only serve customers outside the Pinelands during an emergency circumstance. For these reasons, the Project conforms fully with Forest Management Area use standards and does not require a MOA or any other waiver of the CMP, although the underlying facts supporting the need for the Project also clearly would satisfy the standards for a compelling public need.

Here is why they are wrong.

First, see above history.

Second, Mr. Liggett’s analogy to a farm is absurd. A farm is a land use, it is not infrastructure. Under the Liggett approach, a private homeowner could build a regional airport or private road or sewage treatment plant or drinking water pipeline to Philadelphia.

Third, the SJG pipeline is a “dedicated line”. It is contractually limited to exclusively serving the BL England power plant (unless emergency conditions exist). It is like a private road or private jet port.

The SJG pipeline will not provide any gas service to the Pinelands or Pinelands homes and businesses- it therefore can not possibly meet the applicable standard of the CMP, which is “to primarily serve only the needs of the Pinelands.”

If the Pinelands Commission votes to determine that the proposed pipelines are “consistent with the CMP” and “primarily serve only the needs of the Pinelands”, they will establish an absurd and dangerous new infrastructure policy and will gut the CMP’s land use scheme.

Under such an interpretation and precedent, the Commission could not stop any of the massive infrastructure projects noted above that historically led to the passage of the Pinelands Act and land use scheme under the CMP.

Finally, I must note that at a time when the Executive Branch, the Legislative branch, and the Commission itself were corrupted, the Court stood up to protect the integrity of the CMP and the powers of the Commission.

It was the Court, not the Gov. or legislative oversight or the Commission, that stood up to a rogue Executive Director and the politicization of the CMP and Commission.

But the Court did not render a decision about whether the proposed pipelines complied with the CMP, thus the Court took the first step.

The Commission now must take the next step and stand up for the integrity of the CMP and enforce their own plan.

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Pinelands Commission Signals Fast Track Approval of Controversial Pipelines

December 12th, 2016 No comments

Despite Rebuke By Court, Dirty Tricks Repeated With Impunity 

Intimidating Corpo-Union muscle flexed in support of pipeline construction jobs

Source: Michelle Brunetti, Press of Atlantic City (12/9/16)

Georgina Shanley, CURE – Wolfe in background. Source: Michelle Brunetti, Press of Atlantic City (12/9/16)

Unfortunately, it is not possible to respect a Commission that defies law, refuses to comply fully with an opinion of the Court, allows the Gov.’s Office and Executive Director to walk all over them, and ignores the public by rubber stamping a corrupt political deal that undermines the integrity of the Commission, violates the CMP, and accelerates destruction of the climate of the planet.

I immediately knew it was bad.

I arrived a half hour early for the Pinelands Commission’s regularly scheduled meeting on Friday (12/9/16), but already the parking lot and lobby were jammed and a long line of corpo-union guys snaked out the door.

I got in line behind the $600 suit lawyer and lobbyist for BL England power plant owner RC Capital, John Valeri, former Counsel in Gov. Whitman’s Office and of the notorious law firm Wolff & Samson.

Last Friday (12/9/16) was the first meeting of the Pinelands Commission after a huge legal victory for environmental opponents of the South Jersey Gas (SJG) pipeline through the Pinelands.

It was widely anticipated that the Commission would have an in depth public discussion about whether to appeal the Court’s decision; how to comply with the Court’s decision; and how to control their rogue Executive Director.

That did not happen – just the opposite. (read Press of Atlantic City’s coverage)

Last month, on Nov. 7, 2016 the NJ Appellate Division agreed with a lawsuit filed by environmental groups and ruled that the Executive Director of the Pinelands Commission had violated law and illegally unilaterally approved the controversial South Jersey Gas pipeline. (read the opinion)

Upholding the integrity of the Pinelands Comprehensive Management Plan (CMP) and the power of the Commission, in strong language the Court found that Executive Director Wittenberg had illegally usurped the powers of the Commission.

In a strong rebuke to Gov. Christie’s strong armed tactics exercised through his appointed puppet, Executive Director Wittenberg, the Court stressed the need for the Commission to make the decision:

the CMP does not confer on the Executive Director or the Commission’s staff the authority to render final decisions on CMP compliance in these circumstances. There also is no provision in the Pinelands Act that confers upon the Executive Director authority to render a final decision for the Commission in the coordinated permitting process.

Here, the Commission retains final decision-making authority as to whether SJG’s proposed pipeline is consistent with the minimum standards of CMP. Indeed, as we have pointed out, the CMP states, “the Commission bears the ultimate responsibility for implementing and enforcing the provisions” of the Pinelands Act and the CMP. N.J.A.C. 7:50-1.11. The Commission therefore retains “ultimate responsibility” under the CMP to review the proposed project and render a final decision on CMP compliance.(@ p.22)

The Court rebuked the BPU and Pinelands Commission for allowing the Executive Director to usurp their powers:

We note that, in this matter, the Board did not make a factual finding on the critical issue of whether SJG’s pipeline is “intended to primarily serve only the needs of the Pinelands” and therefore a permitted use in the Forest Area. The Board merely relied upon Wittenberg’s decision on this issue, and on that basis, its approval of SJG’s MLUL petition complied with N.J.S.A. 13:18A- 10(c).

The Court noted the importance of an open public process and the need for an opportunity for the public to comment before the Commission made the decision.

The Court remanded the SJG case back to the Commission and ordered the Commission to conduct a public process and determine whether additional evidence and public hearings were required , whether to refer the matter to the Office of Administrative law, and to determine if the proposed pipeline violated the Comprehensive Management Plan (CMP):

The Commission shall determine whether to review the Executive Director’s decision based on the factual record developed before the Board, or whether the parties should be permitted to present additional evidence on the question of whether the pipeline is consistent with the minimum standards of the CMP.

The Commission also shall determine whether to refer the matter for a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ).

Pipeline opponents – including myself – had claimed that Wittenberg’s decision was NOT based on the facts and the CMP, but rather was dictated by Gov. Christie’s Office and written by lawyers for SJG. Wittenberg over-rode and reversed her professional staff’s prior finding that the SJG pipeline was inconsistent with the CMP. The fact that the Court directed the Commission to consider whether Wittenberg’s decision was based on the “factual record” lends strong credence to these criticisms of political intervention and corrupt decision-making by Wittenberg.

Given the strong rebuke by the Court in finding that the staff had illegally usurped the Commission’s powers and essentially hijacked a public process, it is remarkable how the Commission responded to the Court’s decision.

The Commission:

  • Failed to put the matter on the meeting agenda
  • Failed to mention the issue during the Executive Director’s public briefing (monthly Report)
  • secretly discussed the matter in Executive Session
  • invoked attorney – client privilege to shield those discussions from the public or open public records laws;
  • approved, with [***very little] discussion or public comment, two Resolutions that formalized the public process to respond to the Court’s remand. The Resolutions were drafted before the hearing, but not made available to Commissioners or the public for review prior to the vote.

Instead of a public discussion, Gov. Christie’s installed Chairman Sean Earlen (R-Burlington) blindsided and strong armed his fellow Commissioners and the public and strong armed a fast track approval process.

Remarkably, Earlen and Gov. Christie’s Deputy Attorney General invoked exemptions in the Open Public Meetings Act for discussion of “litigation” and invoked Attorney Client privilege as justification to adjourn to a secret Executive Session to discuss how to respond to the Court’s decision and develop a plan going forward.

Here is the text of the Resolution.

Here is the public notice and information on public comment and the public hearing:

Pursuant to Pinelands Commission Resolution PC-4-16-42, the Pinelands Commission is providing notice of the public’s opportunity to provide comment concerning the Commission staff’s determination (i.e. the August 14, 2015 Certificate of Filing; the August 21, 2015 letter to Paul Flanagan, Executive Director, Board of Public Utilities enclosing the Certificate of Filing and the December 14, 2015 letter to Paul Flanagan, Executive Director, Board of Public Utilities) to that the portion of the 22-mile, 24-inch, natural gas pipeline proposed by the South Jersey Gas Company (SJG) to be constructed within the State designated Pinelands Area (Pinelands Application No. 2012-0056.001) is consistent with the standards of the Pinelands Comprehensive Management Plan.

The Commission contradicted the explicit remand mandate of the Court.

The Court directed the Commission to  allow the public to comment on the issue of whether the SJG application, as amended is consistent with the CMP:

For the reasons that follow, we remand the matter to the Commission for further proceedings and a final decision on whether SJG’s proposed pipeline is consistent with the minimum standards of the CMP.  (decision at p.3)

Instead, the Commission’s public notice is on Executive Director Wittenberg’s determination that the proposed pipeline is consistent with the CMP, the very illegal and unauthorized determination that the Court rebuked Wittenberg for. 

In perhaps the only good news of the day, the Commission agreed that the COurt’s opinion would be precedent to challenge the proposed “Southern Reliability Link” (SRL) proposed pipeline through the Pinelands that Wittenberg also illegally approved. But effectively, all that really does is avoid the delay of litigation and accelerate the Commission’s attempts to ram new approvals through.

At the conclusion of the Commission’s hearing on Friday, Vice-Chairman Galletta admonished the public to conduct themselves with “respect” for the Commission and staff going forward.

Unfortunately, it is not possible to respect a Commission that defies law, the Courts, and ignores the public by rubber stamping corrupt political deals that undermine the integrity of the Commission, the CMP, and the climate of the planet.

*** correction – 12/16/16

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Denial and Delusion In TrumpWorld

December 6th, 2016 No comments

Gore Grovels

False Hope, Naivete’, Careerism, and Cowardice In High Places

[Updates below]

A quick note today on denial and delusions –

No, not the well documented delusions of Donald Trump – but rather the delusions of Al Gore and whatever “environmental activists” Coral Davenport of  the NY Times was referring to in this absurd headline:

The media’s pack coverage of the Gore/Trump meeting is just more of the same “horrid coverage” of the climate change issue (Counterpunch):

– The horrid “coverage” of global warming and climate change in the U.S. media, which has consistently embraced the false claims of fossil-fuel funded think tanks and pundits claiming that the planet is not warming, and if it is, that it is due merely to natural fluctuations in temperature over time.  This position, if one could even call it that, is rejected by virtually every climatologist on the planet, and is nothing more than blatant propaganda in service of the fossil fuel industry and their useful idiots in Congress (and now the White House), who are dead set on dramatically escalating the threat of global warming.  As more societal attention has been directed as of late to the scientific consensus that global warming is real, almost entirely caused by humans, and a serious threat to ecosystems, species, and possibly even human survival, corporate media have sought to obscure this reality at every turn. Media outlets like Media Matters for America should be commended for documenting the journalistic efforts to downplay climate change, as seen in the overwhelming majority of media weather reports on forest fires, coastal flooding, and heat waves which simply refuse to situate these extreme weather events within the broader context of climate change, despite numerous scientific studies concluding that extreme weather becomes more probable with global warming.

Did Al Gore think that a Ted Talk to The Donald would change his mind or alter the politics on climate? That he could use Ivanka Trump to manipulate him? That he could derail the Trump Transition juggernaut, overcome corporate expectations and lobbyists, and derail the massive political momentum of Trump’s climate denying base and campaign commitments?

Gore symbolically crawled on his belly to Trump Tower to kiss the King’s ring. What a tool.

Worse, Gore did so at a critical time when he should be standing with Standing Rock and calling for rebellion and organized resistance to the Trump agenda.

In that regard, Gore follows and serves the same symbolic and political purposes as Obama’s White House meeting, which served to legitimize and normalize Trump. Obama’s trip to Europe (Greece and Germany) was designed to do the same thing, e.g. to assure allies and world financial markets that Trump’s remarks about NATO would not undermine “continuity” in US foreign policy. (Ironically, scaling back NATO and US imperial hegemony and trade agreements were about the only sane things Trump said. Leave it to Obama to nix all that – just like his “look forward, not back” policy let the Bush War Criminals off the hook and institutionalized and provided “continuity” with much of the Bush wars, Wall Street bailout, and post 9/11 National Security State. Trump can be viewed as the bookend of Obama’s Bush Neoliberal consolidation.)

Similarly, as I’ve previously noted, new Democratic Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer raised the white flag almost immediately.

While the NY Times has found historical resonance in the fact that Gore – like Hillary Clinton – won the popular vote, it’s also worth recalling that, historically, Gore played exactly the same craven role in the Bill Clinton Administration’s politics of concession and appeasement in response to the “Gingrich Revolution” and the Republican Congress’ “Contract for America”. (Just call me Al, Democratic envoy to the corporate Right wingnuts.)

That was the political impetus for the Clinton Administration’s “Reinventing Government” initiative.

Policy Wonks may recall that initiative created a “partnership” with States that reflected right wing Federalist Society views. It promoted market tools and basically gutted the federal role in supervising State implementation of federal laws, like the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, RCRA, etc. and dramatically weakened the enforcement of environmental laws.

But I am getting far too deep in the policy weeds – back to Gore’s Trump meeting.

Gore’s delusions about Trump are echoed in the environmental community and media punditry.

Repeating major mistakes of the campaign coverage, the media seems to be walking on eggshells in failing to accurately characterize the reckless and radical nature of the Trump regime.

Meanwhile, the response from the beltway environmentalists seems muted, cowardly, and in disarray.

Not only do media and environmentalists underestimate the radicalism of Trump, they exaggerate the capacity of “checks and balances” to soften or moderate Trump.

I’ve heard multiple excuses and forms of denial, which reveal not only naivete’, but a complete lack of understanding of executive power, including:

  • “It’s too early, he hasn’t done anything. We need to give him the benefit of the doubt and try to work with him on issues of common concern (e.g. jobs, infrastructure, trade).”
  • “He won the election and should be given a chance to govern.”
  • “Trump has backtracked on many of his extreme campaign statements – maybe if we are nice to him, he won’t follow through or change his mind on the radical climate and environmental rollbacks. Don’t criticize and get him mad, because he is thin skinned and vindictive and we will surely lose.”
  • “Congress, the Courts, whistleblowers, and the media will expose, check and prevent abuses.”
  • “The Generals (or the bureaucrats) will not follow illegal orders.
  • “We can play defense for 4 years and then resume progress in 2020.” (I actually heard this on NPR WHYY Philadelphia from a climate reporter who claimed that climate activists in Marrakech expressed hope and confidence in the wake of Trump’s election).
  • “The wheels of government turn slowly and career bureaucrats are sure to resist Trump’s Agenda. So we’ll have time to convince the American People to rise up and block the worst of Trump’s agenda.”
  • “The environmental groups can use lawsuits to block Trump’s EPA rollbacks.”
  • “Environmentalists should refocus and redouble efforts at the State and Local level.” [Deft move, after 7 years of giving NJ Gov. Christie a pass.]
  • “Free market forces (low natural gas prices, declining solar costs, etc) will produce as much GHG emissions reductions as EPA regulations so it really doesn’t matter, Trump can’t change the direction of the market towards lower emissions.”

In a future post, I will explain why each of these assumptions is delusional.

For now, just consider the massive destruction Trump plans in his “Day One” initiative.

As I’ve written, that first day “go large” with Executive power strategy mimics NJ Gov. Chris Christie’s first day in Office.

Where do you think Trump got his “Day One” idea from?

[Update – 12/8/16 – I need to make a few points on delusions in NJ Spotlights’s coverage of Trump’s EPA pick:

1. The headline gives him the benefit  of the doubt (“could be bad news” versus “would be”)

2. The NJ ENGO’s adopted the delusion I mentioned above, i.e. focus on State issues. Not only is that delusional with respect to Trump and his EPA head –  climate change effects us all. We can not escape the damage that Trump/Pruitt will do on the energy and climate front – but it is self serving and cynical.

NJ LCV gets paid (grant funded) to endorse Democrats. They are pimping off the Trump debacle to attempt to be a policy player in Trenton. The same cynical partisan politics can be seen in NJ LCV (and others’) support of the NRD Constitutional amendment ballot question SCR 39, which is designed to increase voter turnout in a gubernatorial election year and benefit the Democratic candidate for Governor.

As I’ve written, they are getting played – what use would it be to have NJ voters go through a Constitutional charade to dedicate money from a DEP NRD program that is not generating any revenues or recovering just pennies on the dollar?

3. This was my favorite quote in the Spotlight article – and it goes to exactly the history I wrote about above: (boldface mine)

“Pruitt has been a vocal critic of federal overreach and understands that state agencies are well-positioned to take on a larger role in protecting the environment, while also allowing for responsible and necessary commerce and energy production,’’ said John Nothdurft, director of governmental relations for The Heartland Institute, a conservative think tank based in Illinois.

The origin of the “federal over-reach” attack on EPA was Newt Gingrich and the Contract on America (1994). Those attacks were led by the fledgling Federalist Society.

The Clinton Administration, in a classic “triangulation” move, compromised with Gingrich and incorporated a radical State’s rights “federalism” in their “Reinventing Government” initiative. Under the banner of the “partnership” slogan, it crippled strict EPA oversight of State enforcement of environmental laws and weakened implementation of environmental laws across the board.

That Clinton compromise was led by none other that Al Gore.

Gore just signaled the same craven compromise in his meeting this week with Trump on climate.

History repeats itself.

[Update #2 – The NY Times does not share NJ Spotlight’s timidity or headline ambivalence –

  • Trump Picks Scott Pruitt, Climate Change Denialist, to Lead E.P.A.

Relevant highlights from the NY Times coverage:

Mr. Pruitt may be the right man to do that. As attorney general, Mr. Pruitt created a “federalism unit” in his office, explicitly designed to fight President Obama’s health care law and environmental regulations.

“You could see from him an increasing effort to delegate environmental regulations away from the federal government and towards the states,” said Ronald Keith Gaddie, a professor of political science at the University of Oklahoma. …

As Mr. Pruitt has sought to use legal tools to fight environmental regulations on the oil and gas companies that are a major part of his state’s economy, he has also worked with those companies. A 2014 investigation by The Times found that energy lobbyists drafted letters for Mr. Pruitt to send, on state stationery, to the E.P.A., the Interior Department, the Office of Management and Budget and even President Obama, outlining the economic hardship of the environmental rules.

NJ Gov. Christie was part of the State attack on Obama EPA Clean Power Plan rules and shares much of the Pruitt anti-regulatory ideology and slogans (command and control, one size fits all, job killing red tape, etc), but I don’t think he went this far down the fraud road:

Mr. Pruitt’s office also began to send letters to federal regulators — including the E.P.A. and even President Obama — that documents obtained through open records requests show were written by energy industry lobbyists from companies including Devon Energy. Mr. Pruitt’s staff put these ghostwritten letters on state government stationery and then sent them to Washington, moves that the companies often then praised in their own news releases, without noting that they had actually drafted the letters in the first place.

But I could be wrong.

[Update #3 Washington Post  notes ideology and quoted Trump doubling down:

Pruitt has spent much of his energy as attorney general fighting the very agency he is being nominated to lead.

He is the third of Trump’s nominees who have key philosophical differences with the missions of the agencies they have been tapped to run. …

“For too long, the Environmental Protection Agency has spent taxpayer dollars on an out-of-control anti-energy agenda that has destroyed millions of jobs, while also undermining our incredible farmers and many other businesses and industries at every turn,” the release quoted Trump as saying. He said Pruitt “will reverse this trend and restore the EPA’s essential mission of keeping our air and our water clean and safe.” Trump added, “My administration “strongly believes in environmental protection, and Scott Pruitt will be a powerful advocate for that mission while promoting jobs, safety and opportunity.”

WaPo also notes the federalism issue, but provides no history or context:

After he was elected attorney general in 2010, Pruitt established a “Federalism Unit” to “more effectively combat unwarranted regulation and systematic overreach by federal agencies, boards and offices,” according to his online biography.

To their credit, they do note industry support:

Industry representatives expressed satisfaction with the choice Wednesday. “The office he headed was present and accounted for in the battle to keep EPA faithful to its statutory authority and respectful of the role of the states in our system of cooperative federalism,” said Scott Segal, head of the policy group at the lobbying and legal firm Bracewell. …

“General Pruitt has been the leader among the AGs in defending federalism, the key feature of our constitutional architecture,” said Rivkin, a partner at Baker Hostetler, adding that he believed Pruitt would “ensure both environmental protection and constitutional fidelity.”

[Update: 2/10/17 – vindicated again – I get tired of “I told you so”. Krugman today:

We’re only three weeks into the Trump administration, but it’s already clear that any hopes that Mr. Trump and those around him would be even slightly ennobled by the responsibilities of office were foolish. 

[Update – 12/16/16 – SCR39, to dedicate NRD money discussed below, was amended to increase the cap to 10% and include a local nexus requirement. Those are good amendments we and others requested and I now support the Resolution and obviously the criticism of NJ LCV et al must no longer hold on the NRD issue. ~~~ end update]

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