Archive for January, 2018

Nuclear Cynicism

January 31st, 2018 No comments

RGGI, renewables, EJ, and now energy efficiency as cover

[Update – 5/24/18. Our prediction was right on the money (pun intended). Today NJ Spotlight reports that Gov. Murphy signed the nuke bailout and sham renewable goals cover bills, with Tom Gilbert of Rethink Energy NJ supporting quote. Disgusting.

More Updates below]

We’ve been warning that the upcoming $300 million per year bailout of PSEG nuclear plants would proceed under the political cover of so called aggressive “renewable energy” goals.

As predicted, that’s exactly what happened, as Sweeney amended his bill in a deal with Gov. Murphy, see: REVISED NUCLEAR SUBSIDY BILL APPEARS BACK ON LEGISLATIVE TRACK

Senate President Sweeney failed to ram a stand alone nuke bailout bill through the lame duck session, but immediately reintroduced and fast tracked it in the new Legislative session.

But now the political cover for the nuke bailout has taken on even more corrupt and cynical dimensions. Follow:

First of all, yesterday I wrote about Gov. Murphy’s Executive Order to rejoin RGGI.

Importantly, the Gov.’s press release and numerous press statements had to concede – given paltry actual greenhouse gas emissions reductions attributable to RGGI – that RGGI was not just a program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Instead, Gov. Murphy stressed that it was an “invest[ment] in our future”.

So what does that have to do with a nuke bailout? Plenty.

Stressing the “investment” angle, the Gov. highlighted a $279 million figure – claiming that NJ had lost this revenue, which could have been invested in solar and wind (a misleading statement we called him out on).

But why would the Gov. use a $279 multi-year figure?

The political reason the Gov. used a 7 year $279 million figure – instead of a $45 million annual revenue estimate – was to make it seem comparable to the $300 million PER YEAR nuclear bailout bill he will sign in the near future.

Like Obama’s “all of the above” energy policy, the false equivalency fact challenged media will ignore the annual versus 7 year period and Murphy will say he’s pursuing a “balanced approach”.

And, of course, a spoon full of RGGI sugar helps the nuke bailout go down. That’s why he did the RGGI initiative BEFORE he signed the nuke bailout. It’s called “inoculation”.

The Gov. has consolidated a “green” image and narrative in media and environmental group circles, and he did it with chump change in terms of actual policy commitments. See how easy it is to play ENGO’s and media?

[Update – 2/5/18 – Holy Moly! Talk about consolidating an image while co-opting the enviro’s and setting a low bar, take a look at this (photo too!) ~~~ end update]

Second, and even worse, today, NJ Spotlight reports on the even more cynical efforts to provide political cover for the nuke bailout: energy efficiency:


| JANUARY 31, 2018

Revamped nuclear subsidy bill includes mandate for utilities to curb amount of energy customers use

energy efficiency

The state is getting more serious about conserving how much gas and electricity its residents and businesses use.

Tucked into a complex and controversial bill (S-877) that would ask ratepayers to subsidize nuclear power in New Jersey is a new mandate that utilities begin reducing energy use by their customers.

But are those legislative cover provisions at least real?

Do they address the flaws I wrote about just yesterday (and just so happen to be reported today – see my boldface)? NJ Spotlight reported:

It is not quite an energy-efficiency portfolio standard — a goal long sought by clean-energy advocates but never adopted by state regulators. The provisions also fall short of targeting the amount of reductions achieved by neighboring states in energy efficiency, according to clean-energy advocates.

It doesn’t get any more cynical than that.

And, reflecting our recommendations to raise the bar, at least Doug O’Malley gets it. NJ Spotlight reported:

“This is supposed to mollify the clean-energy community, but it is an insult,’’ said Doug O’Malley, director of Environment New Jersey. “This is not a plan to get us to 100 percent clean energy by 2050.’’ The latter is the cornerstone of Murphy’s clean-energy platform.

But predictably, that notoriously incompetent lying whore Tom Gilbert continues his shameful whoring. NJ Spotlight reported:

“There are key building blocks in there, like energy efficiency, solar, and offshore wind, but the details are missing,’’ said Tom Gilbert, campaign director for ReThink Energy NJ and the New Jersey Conservation Foundation.

And how’s this for setting the performance bar? The Gilbert statement not only flat out contradicts his prior claim that “the details are missing” (2% is a detail, no?) but it sets a pathetically low bar. As NJ Spotlight reported:

“It does not go far enough,’’ said Dennis Wilson, an energy entrepreneur who has been working in energy efficiency for the past dozen years. “It should be 2 percent.’’

Gilbert agreed. “It does not set the bar high enough,’’ noting other states in the Northeast have achieved 2 percent energy-efficiency savings. “It’s got to be done right.’’

Tom Gilbert – now he’s the 2% man.

[Update – 3/12/18 – This is getting ridiculous now – add “community solar” to the list. Are Ed Potosnak NJLCV, EDF & NRDC behind this too? see: COMMUNITY SOLAR SHARES THE SUN, SAVINGS ON ELECTRIC BILLS.

This latest cynical game will backfire big time, and generate resentments that will destroy the future prospects of community solar. Instead, we will get the nuke bailout and sham renewable goals.  Stop playing these games. Defend renewable and community solar on the merits, not as part of nuke bailout deal. ~~~ end update]


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The RGGI Blues

January 30th, 2018 No comments

Gov. Murphy’s Executive Order To Rejoin RGGI Grossly Exaggerated

Climate activists need to raise the bar and temper praise

Source: US Energy Information Agency

“Rejoining RGGI is about much more than cutting emissions and strengthening the our defense against climate change. It’s about investing in our future.” ~~~ New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy (1/29/18)

[Updates Below]

Yesterday, NJ Gov. Phil Murphy issued an Executive Order directing NJ DEP and NJ BPU to immediately begin the process of rejoining the northeast Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI).

The Gov.’s focus on climate change is welcome, but the RGGI move is being blown way out of proportion by environmental groups and the media.

So I guess I now must rehash that critique – which I believe is still valid – if only to put all the false praise in context and provide the relevant facts that are being ignored in the media circus.

I haven’t been following RGGI in recent years, but I’ve written a lot about flaws in RGGI.  To wit (US EIA):

Even though RGGI reduced its [initial 2009] emissions cap [by 45%], actual emissions have remained well below the cap, resulting in a surplus of allowances. In some cases, surplus allowances can be banked for use in future years. However, the availability of too many banked allowances reduces the need to purchase new credits.

First of all, Gov. Murphy’s EO on rejoining RGGI provides absolutely no policy guidelines for whether & how deeply NJ’s original emission “caps” (allowances) should be reduced, or how revenue should be used. That’s not leadership, its abdication.

Second, DEP & BPU’s hands are tied under current NJ RGGI law. How can they “negotiate” terms with other RGGI states given those legal constraints? (and lack of policy guidance by the Gov.). Will Gov. Murphy and Senator Sweeney support necessary legislative reforms to RGGI? (e.g. lower caps tied to the Global Warming Response Act goals; stricter timetables; broader application to GHG emission sources and energy imports; elimination of exemptions to Co-Gen and CHP facilities, subsidies, and $7/ton ratepayer protection exit ramp; etc)

Third, if Gov. Murphy views the revenues generated by RGGI (approximately $45 million per year) as a significant “investment in our [energy] future” he is delusional.  Transition to a renewable energy future will cost many billions of dollars.

To just put that RGGI revenue in NJ budget context, consider that Gov. Christie diverted almost $1.5 billion in clean energy funds generated by the Societal Benefits Charge, almost 30 years of RGGI revenues!

For context on the economic costs of climate change, consider that RGGI allowances sell for $3/ton of emissions, the lowest since 2014. In comparison, economists estimate that the “Social Cost of Carbon” is in the range of $100 – $300+ per ton, while even the federal Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and US EPA estimate $105 – $212/ton. 

RGGI doesn’t come close to “internalizing the external cost” or addressing market failure, as the economists say, and it isn’t even a down payment!

Fourth, Gov. Murphy likes to recall President Kennedy as his hero and role model – Murphy was sworn in using Kennedy’s Bible. Kennedy is probably most remembered for his phrase about sacrifice in his first Inaugural Address:

“Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.”

 If “our future” is at stake, one would think that we all must “sacrifice”. So, consider that the typical homeowner pays something like 50 cents per month to fund RGGI (data to derive that estimate is from from the Christie NJ Energy Master Plan). Is that sacrifice for investment in our future? That’s certainly no “profile in climate courage” on Murphy’s part.

And Murphy’s claims about the use of RGGI funds are misleading, if not factually false. Murphy claimed RGGI funds could have been used for the following, implicitly exaggerating public benefits: (link)

Murphy says the state has forgone $279 million in revenue that could have resulted from participation in RGGI. Money, he says, that could have been used to invest in solar and wind energy and improve air quality.

But the allowable uses of RGGI revenues are much broader and provide less benefits than those mentioned by Gov. Murphy – see those uses prescribed in Section 7 of the statute

I am NOT a fan or RGGI for both ideological and policy reasons.

As a matter of policy, RGGI is a very weak program if judged by greenhouse gas emissions. AS I wrote almost a decade ago:

Despite what you’ve been led to believe about steep emissions REDUCTIONS, the RGGI pollutant trading program allows for an INCREASE in current emissions. Here’s that Orwellian contradiction documented in DEP’s own words – words which also document the fact that economic impacts trumped science and the legal mandate to reduce emissions. According to DEP:

“The initial regional cap is 188 million short tons of CO2 per year, which is approximately four percent above annual average regional emissions during the period 2000 through 2004 for electric generating units that will be subject to the program.

This phased approach,…. is intended to provide market signals and regulatory certainty so that electricity generators begin planning for, and investing in, lower-carbon alternatives throughout the region, but without creating dramatic wholesale electricity price impacts and attendant retail electricity rate impacts.” (see page 4:

We must note that what DEP seeks to avoid and describes as “creating dramatic wholesale electricity price impacts and attendant retail electricity rate impacts” were estimated at about a 1% increase in current electric rates – $5.96 PER YEAR, or 50 CENTS per MONTH for a typical NJ household! (see economic analysis on page 72 of DEP proposal).

This US EIA chart validates my initial assessment:

Screen Shot 2018-01-30 at 1.33.04 PM

Ideologically, RGGI is a market based alternative to traditional environmental regulation. The program is largely under control of Wall Street and the investment community, with little effective government oversight and virtually no public involvement. It is driven by market incentives, i.e. private profits, and not the public interest.

RGGI proponents like to claim that market based trading approaches work, citing the Acid Rain program established by the 1990 Clean Air Act amendments. But what they fail to mention is that those amendments mandated a 50% reduction over a specific timetable and those reductions were enforced via EPA permits. Thus, at best, the acid rain program is a hybrid market – regulatory program. But it only works because of traditional legal mandates and monitoring and enforcement via traditional permits.

And here’s how world renowned climate scientist Jim Hansen views things:

“Cap and trade with  offsets would guarantee that we pass climate tipping points, locking in climate disasters for our children. Cap and trade benefits only Wall Street and polluters, sacrificing humanity and nature for their profits.” Dr. Jim Hansen

Finally, what is lost in the protracted RGGI spin and political battles is the fact that when RGGI was enacted by legislature, virtually all NJ environmental groups OPPOSED THE BILL DUE TO SENATOR SWEENEY’s AMENDMENTS. Look at how the major NJ newspaper editorials all lined up against it too.

Those Sweeney amendments created loopholes and subsidies.

The Original NJ RGGI law still on the books. Note that:

1. the “greenhouse gas emissions portfolio standard” was never implemented and emission from imported energy are not considered;

2. Co-Gen & CHP are granted exemptions;

3. the $2/allowance subsidy to certain power generation facilties; &

4. if a RGGI allowance price exceeds $7/ton, the BPU must provide ratepayer relief – exit ramp

Finally, if you doubt my analysis, watch this YouTube video of 2 EPA air quality enforcement lawyers with over 40 years of experience: THE HUGE MISTAKE (2 veteran EPA enforcement professional whistleblowers).

[Update #1: the Gov. has very cynically dodged the entire issue of the need for more aggressive GHG emissions reductions, and garnered favorable media, with the vague and standard-less and very likely unenforceable EJ provisions of the EO:

4. Pursuant to N.J.S.A. 26:2C-52, the regulations promulgated pursuant to Paragraph 3 of this order shall, in addition to the facto s set forth in N.J.S.A. 26:2C-52(b) and consistent with N.J.S.A. 26:2 -51, include specific guidelines for the allocation of funds realized by the State as a result of New Jersey’s participation in RGGI. Such uidelines shall include, as a primary consideration of the State agen ies charged with allocating said funds, factors that will ensure that funds are allocated to projects that will serve communities that are is proportionality impacted by the effects of environmental degradati n and climate change, and which will alleviate the negative effects human health and the environment resulting therefrom.

[Update #2 – 2/5/18) the Assembly bill (A1212) was amended in Cmte on Thursday (2/1/18), among other things, to track Gov. Murphy’s EO regarding use of RGGI revenues for EJ purposes (see A1212[1R]). But the GHG emissions reductions, timetables, flaws, 2005 MOU, and other gaps and loopholes mentioned below were not addressed. Window dressing on both climate and EJ, because the underlying NJ DEP EJ policy and program and regulatory problems remain unaddressed, see federal Appeals Court Judge Orlofsky’s opinion  ~~~ end update]

[Update #3: The answer to the legislative reform question is NO.

A RGGI bill (A1212) is being rushed through the Legislature on Thursday Feb. 1, 2018 (hearing in Assembly Environment Cmte.). The bill  (Section 3) mandates that the DEP adopt an emissions allowance trading program on the following basis:

shall establish, consistent with the terms of the Memorandum of Understanding signed by New Jersey and other states on December 20, 2005,

Why stick with the original 2005 MOU? Especially given US EIA data & analysis excerpted above.

That “consistent with the terms of the MOU” language means status quo, folks – no emissions cap ratchet down, no deeper emission cuts, no accelerated compliance schedule, no closing of loopholes and subsidies.

Just as bad, the bill rhetorically mentions the Global Warming Response Act (GWRA), but in a very misleading way, because it does NOT substantively link RGGI with GWRA and/or require that the RGGI program (or specific emission sources) actually achieve the emissions reductions in the GWRA. ~~~ end update]

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NJ Gov. Murphy Faces A Huge Challenge Reversing Christie Environmental Dismantling And Restoring DEP Integrity and Leadership

January 27th, 2018 No comments

Will The Gov. and DEP Commissioner Face Tough Questions Or Get A Pass?

Restoration Requires Executive Orders, Regulations, Policies, Budget, Staff

I want to thank NJ Spotlight and their recent “Have A Question” series for prompting me to write this post, something I’ve been thinking of doing for a long time but been too lazy to begin.

Given the comprehensive scope of the Christie Administration’s environmental rollbacks – now compounded by the Trump threats – there is a tremendous amount of work to do.

Christie DEP Commissioner Bob Martin

Christie DEP Commissioner Bob Martin

Remarkably, outgoing Christie DEP Commissioner Bob Martin – by far the most unqualified and worst DEP Commissioner ever – denied all that in an Orwellian 58 page Report celebrating his “accomplishments”, including this blatant lie in an introductory “Message from the Commissioner”:

“During the past eight years, DEP never relaxed a single environmental standard.”

This BS from the Commissioner who signed the waiver rule, which gives him power not only to relax but to waive many NJ State (non-federally delegated) environmental standards and regulatory requirements; and the Highlands septic density rule that relaxed the 88 acre septic density in the Preservation Area and 25 acres for non-forested lands (a rule recently vetoed by the Legislature); and the Stream Encroachment rules that relaxed Category One (C1) exceptional stream buffer protections, among others. (a rule that barely escaped legislative veto)

This BS from the DEP Commissioner who implemented Gov. Christie’s “regulatory relief” and “federal consistency” rollback policies in Executive Order #2 and shared Gov. Christie’s slogan and policy view that regulations constituted “job killing “Red Tape” (Executive Order #3).  A Commissioner who was loyal to a Gov. that said climate change was an “esoteric” issue that no one cared about and ignored the Global Warming Response Act.

A Commissioner who sought to change DEP “culture” and issued a “Transformation Plan” and “Vision Statement” that sought to make “fundamental change” in how DEP functioned, including: a radical new role to promote economic development; a goal and directive to DEP to rely on “cost benefit analysis” (weighted above or equivalent to the findings of science and legislative mandates to protect public health and the environment); and – in a move that harkens back to Chairman Mao – required every single DEP employee to attend “customer service” training (a “business model” where the “customer” is DEP regulated business, industry, and developers, not the public).

Martin harshly criticized DEP scientists and in public testimony to the Legislature, called their work “shoddy”. This attack from a man with no scientific or environmental training or experience.

This transparent BS from a Commissioner that was rebuked by the Asbury Park Press editorial board for “spin” and “restricting public discussion” – and called out by the Bergen Record editorial board for lying about why he killed the Corzine DEP proposed drinking water standard for perchlorate. The Bergen Record’s link is no longer working so here is an excerpt. In April 2010, I caught and called out Commissioner Martin for a lie on killing the perchlorate drinking water standard, a claim validated by a killer 4/25/10 Bergen Record story and an April 30, 2010 followup highly critical editorial titled “Cleaner Water”:

Cleaner water 

… Martin’s new opinion came about after he was embarrassed publicly. The Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility released e-mails sent to Martin from the EPA that made clear that even if the agency imposed a limit, 6 1/2 years could elapse before the rule was in place, Staff Writer James O’Neill reported. Martin would have been playing Russian roulette with the public’s health.

Perchlorate is linked to thyroid dysfunction. In fetuses and infants (through formula or breast milk), high levels of perchlorate can cause developmental delays and learning disabilities. No parent would ever choose to give perchlorate-laced juice to a baby, and no pregnant woman would ever drink a caffeine-free beverage if she knew it included a rocket-fuel additive.

The previous commissioner had proposed a sensible perchlorate limit of 5 parts per billion, far below a possible federal limit. The state limit would leave it in a good position if later scientists find that even 15 parts per billion is too high.

Martin has not said what the perchlorate limit will be. We know what it should be: 5 parts per billion.

Any “environmental standard” is only as real as the DEP effort to conduct compliance monitoring and enforcement. “Relax” compliance and enforcement and you effectively relax the standard. Martin’s DEP enforcement performance set at a record lowas reported by Todd Bates of the Asbury Park Press:

proposed fines covering seven major DEP programs, including air and water quality and land use, plunged from $31.6 million in fiscal year 2007 to $9.1 million in fiscal 2011. That’s the lowest figure since at least 2002 and about half the 10-year average.

The collection of fines is down as well, dropping to $7.5 million in fiscal 2011, the lowest figure since 2006. Also, the number of enforcement inspectors has dropped by about 20 percent over the past five years, making it more difficult to catch polluters in the first place.

At the same time, the DEP has dramatically increased the number of settlements it has agreed to, allowing polluters to get off with relatively small fines. These settlements, the environmental equivalent of a plea bargain, allow violators to pay far less in fines, sometimes pennies on the dollars.

This “relaxed” enforcement policy was part of a broader Christie/Martin “DEP Transformation” agenda to gut the traditional DEP regulatory enforcement paradigm and replace it with a voluntary, privatized, corporate model (based on private 3rd party “certifications” and “incentives (and “dispute resolution” and “self-disclosure immunity”.)

Enough of the Christie – Martin past. Let’s lay out a reform agenda for Gov. Murphy and his DEP Commissioner McCabe.

Below is a short list of the kind of tough substantive questions that begin to outline the legislative and regulatory policies that need to be addressed, posed as questions to Gov. Murphy and his DEP Commissioner Nominee McCabe. These questions should be asked by the media and legislators and frame the demands that must be made by environmental groups.

DEP Commissioner nominee McCabe should face these kind of questions during her upcoming Senate Confirmation hearings.

In this initial effort – which is off the top of my head – I limited the supporting information and links to the first question. I could do the same for each of the 39 questions, but that would make the post far too long – and be more work than I care to do right now.

I format and begin with an emphasis on water resources because that’s what NJ Spotlight asked for from readers. To get a more comprehensive agenda and flesh the below questions out and back it up with supporting material, the intrepid journalist and activist might want to review the last 8 years of NJ Spotlight coverage of the Christie Administration, NJ PEER press releases, and posts here at Wolfenotes (use the search function in the upper right corner of the page).

I’ll try to doing subsequent posts for questions on other DEP programs and climate and energy policy questions.

1. In May 2010, the NJ DEP issued a Report that found over 500 unregulated chemicals in NJ water supply & that granular activated carbon (GAC) treatment was cost effective.I wrote:

DEP scientists presented a Report to the NJ Drinking Water Quality Institute on May 7, 2010.

The Report, entitled “Investigations Related to a ‘Treatment-Based’ Regulatory Approach to Address Unregulated Contaminants in Drinking Water  found over 500 unregulated chemicals are present in NJ drinking water.

It recommended that public water supply systems install treatment to reduce the health risks of these chemicals.

DEP has known about these risks since 1997 – but has failed to act to protect public health.

We are petitioning DEP to develop regulations that require public water supply systems to install treatment systems, monitor for these chemicals, and disclose these risks to consumers.

The DEP denied our petition.

So, will the Murphy DEP continue the ineffective chemical specific risk assessment approach to developing drinking water MCL’s or shift to a Treatment Based Approach, as recommended by DEP scientists almost a decade ago?

2. Will the Murphy DEP adopt regulations to quantify and enforce Natural Resource Damage (NRD) injuries in order to fix legal and technical defects found by NJ Court decisions and vulnerabilities that Gov. Christie’s AG found weakened the State’s litigation hand and used as a rationale to settle not further litigate (i.e. Exxon et al)?

3. Will the Murphy DEP repeal Christie DEP rollbacks of stream encroachment (C1 protections), CAFRA (and not just the public access provisions), WQMP, & Highlands regulatory protections?

4. Will the Murphy DEP rescind, strengthen, and replace the Christie DEP Water Supply Plan (after holding public hearings throughout the state)?

5. Will the Murphy DEP reverse Christie DEP Clean Water Act TMDL policy for Barnegat Bay & trigger a watershed-wide TMDL for the entire Bay? (DEP’s water quality monitoring, assessment, and TMDL programs need major overhauls after 8 years of Martin’s neglect and politicization of science).

6. Will the Murphy DEP mandate the statistical 500 year event in all DEP water resource & infrastructure programs to reflect climate change impacts?

7. Will the Murphy DEP act on DEP scientists’ recommendations in a DEP Report to upgrade several streams to Category One status & otherwise expand the C1 program that was stalled by the Christie DEP?

8. Will the Murphy DEP rescind and replace the Christie DEP “Nutrient Criteria Enhancement Plan” & enforce nutrient criteria Surface Water Quality Standards in land use permitting and mandate nutrient removal treatment in NJPDES POTW permits? (POTW = sewage treatment plants)

9. Will the Murphy administration develop a regional land use regulatory planning scheme to protect water resources of the ecologically exceptional, highly vulnerable, and badly neglected Delaware Bayshore? (along the lines of Pinelands and Highlands)

10. Will Gov. Murphy repeal Gov. Christie’s Executive Orders #2 (regulatory relief, federal consistency, pre-proposal review) and #3 (Red Tape)?

11. Will Gov. Murphy & DEP incorporate climate change reviews, backed by enforceable standards, retrofit requirements, and offsets, to meet the emission reduction goals of the Global Warming Response Act in all land use, infrastructure, air quality, and water resource permits?

12. Will Gov. Murphy – like NY Gov. Cuomo – direct DEP to deny all fossil infrastructure permits based on Clean Water Act Section 401 Water Quality certification?

13. Will Gov. Murphy reverse Gov. Christie’s water resource infrastructure, State lands, & State Parks privatization policies and rescind Christie privatization Executive Orders (see EO17)?

14. Will the Murphy DEP reverse the Christie DEP State Public Lands logging policies and plans (i.e. Sparta Mountain WMA “Forest Management Plan”, stop privatizing planning stormwater state lands and parks by so called conservation groups like NJ Audubon and NJ Future, and revise all similar “Stewardship” initiatives”, et al))

15. Will the Murphy DEP repeal current policy to rely on “BMP’s” and instead enforce NJ Surface Water Quality Standards on forestry, agricultural practices and in freshwater wetlands and land use permits?

16. Will Gov. Murphy issue Executive Orders to expand public involvement in DEP regulatory & permit decisions and develop  Urban environmental quality and environmental justice policies, including mandatory Environmental Justice reviews in designated EJ communities?

17. Will the Murphy DEP close many loopholes and gaps in DEP’s site remediation program to protect groundwater resources & water supplies?

18. Will the Murphy DEP abolish the Science Advisory Board, which has gross conflicts of interest and has become a vehicle for undue industry access, politicization of science, and attacks on regulatory public health and environmental protections?

19. Will the Murphy DEP stop issuing and revoke hundreds of existing DEP approved “Classification Exception Areas” that waive compliance with groundwater quality standards and instead mandate permanent cleanup of groundwater at high risk contaminated sites?

20. Will the Murphy DEP adopt long overdue “eco-flow goals” in water allocation regulations, backed by enforceable numeric standards?

21. Will the Murphy DEP begin to enforce exceedences of current water allocation permit limits?

22. Will the Murphy DEP revoke and strengthen DEP’s “Vapor Intrusion Guidance” to eliminated the “phased approach” and protect people in their homes from toxic pollution vapors?

23. Will the Murphy DEP revive and adopt drinking water MCL for perchlorate proposed by the Corzine DEP and killed by the Christie DEP, as well as 14 other hazardous drinking water contaminants previously recommended by the Drinking Water Quality Institute?

24. Will the Murphy DEP begin to collect market based lease and easement revenues for private use of state lands and natural resources?

25. Will Gov. Murphy support, work with Senator Smith, and sign legislation to eliminate the current$50 million cap on liability for spills?

26. Will Gov. Murphy support and work with Senator Smith to enact water user and development or impervious surface impact fees to fund the multi-billion dollar water infrastructure deficit?

27. Will the Murphy DEP end current DEP policy to rely on “shelter in place” responses to chemical spills and catastrophic releases and begin to develop protective policies for those who live in mapped “off site consequence” areas under NJ State TCPP and federal Clean Air Act ARP programs? (Paulsboro train derailment et al).

28. Will Gov. Murphy use his powers to block “bomb trains” and other unsafe toxic rail and truck shipments through NJ to protect vulnerable communities? How will the administration address these unacceptable risks?

29. What will the Gov. and the Murphy DEP do to promulgate enforceable requirements for reducing risks identified in NJ’s federally mandated Hazard Mitigation Plan?

30. Will the Murphy DEP revoke and reissue the Christie DEP stormwater and CSO permits to include enforceable timetables and technical requirements?

31. Will the Murphy DEP adopt new rules to mandate risk assessment – based on cumulative risk to the most vulnerable populations – and more stringent “advances in the art” (NJ’s legal standard) air pollution controls for Hazardous Air Pollutants (HAPs)

32. Will Gov. Murphy support and work with the legislature to ban importation and disposal of fracking wastewater? Will the DEP use all regulatory tools to restrict such practices?

33. Will the Murphy DEP restore the Commissioner’s Office that conducts department-wide policy, planning, and regulation, while applying DEP’s scientists recommendations? This Office was abolished by the Christie DEP.

34. Will the Murphy DEP eliminate Christie DEP initiatives, programs, and Offices designed to serve corporate interests over protection of public health and the environment, including “culture change”, “customer service”, economic development, dispute resolution, sustainable towns and business, et al?

35. Will the Murphy DEP re-open Bulls Island State Park?

36. Will the Murphy DEP sever all relationships, State funding, and pending projects with NJ Audubon Society?

37. Will the Murphy Administration terminate funding and support of “Sustainable NJ” and stop outsourcing climate adaptation to private groups and local governments?

38. Will Murphy terminate Christie plans to develop and/or privatize Liberty State Park and terminate all State funding and support for NJ Future?

39. What are the Murphy Administration’s specific plans to get the Pinelands Commission and Highlands Council back on track?

I saved the best for last:

40. Given NJ’s experience with Superstorm Sandy and Gov. Christie’s “Rebuild Madness”, will Gov. Murphy support and sign legislation to:

a) establish a Coastal Commission to conduct regional climate adaptation and land use planning and environmental management?

b) repeal the “right to rebuild” storm damaged properties in CAFRA and the Flood Hazard Control Act?

Will these kind of questions be asked? Will NJ’s environmental community make these kind of specific demands publicly and criticize failure to engage?

The whole State is watching.

Pauslbor NJ, toxic train derailment forces evacuation - Train cars still not removed (Paulsboro, NJ 12/4/12)

Pauslbor NJ, toxic train derailment forces evacuation – Train cars still not removed (Paulsboro, NJ 12/4/12)

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I Apologize for Whining About US Border Patrol

January 26th, 2018 No comments

Demented Sadists in US Border Patrol Wage War On Migrants and Refugees

Humanitarian Activists Persecuted

Eleven days ago, disgusted by what I saw and experienced along the US – Mexico Border, I posted a rant, see: They Policed Paradise and Put Up An AeroStat.

[Update: In an amazing coincidence, I now learn via Google that the humanitarian group No More Deaths, released an important report that same day. ~~~ end update]

After just learning yesterday of the sadistic, demented, murderous practices of US Border Patrol agents, I now regret that post and it’s self absorbed ignorance and grossly misplaced focus on aesthetic effects and impacts on wildlife migration.

Specifically, yesterday I heard a segment on local radio station KBRB -Radio Free Bisbee, and just now have read in the Washington Post:

Border Patrol agents were filmed dumping water left for migrants. Then came a ‘suspicious’ arrest.

Last Wednesday, a nonprofit group that provides humanitarian aid to migrants in the Arizona desert released a lengthy report alleging Border Patrol agents were intentionally destroying supplies left for migrants in the desert, the group said, to “condemn border crossers to suffering, death and disappearance.”

What received wider attention, however, was a video that the Tucson-based aid group, No More Deaths, also distributed with its report. The footage, taken between 2010 and 2017, showed Border Patrol agents kicking over water jugs that had been left in the desert. In one clip, a male agent sneers at the person filming him, demanding to know whom the water is for, as he empties a gallon bottle of water onto the ground.

Now the aid group is calling the arrest of one its volunteers suspicious. On Wednesday, Border Patrol agents arrested Scott Warren, 35, in the desert near Ajo, Ariz., about eight hours after the No More Deaths report and video were released.

Warren, a longtime volunteer with the group and a faculty associate at Arizona State University, was detained on preliminary felony charges of alien smuggling; he appeared in court Thursday and was released on his own recognizance, the group said in a statement.

Border Patrol agents also arrested two people who were with Warren on Wednesday and “receiving humanitarian aid” at the time, according to No More Deaths. Those two people remain in custody, the group said.

This is the behavior of a Fascist government – period. I really don’t know what’s worse, the sadism or the retaliatory repression. I suspect that they are inseparably linked psychologically and politically and institutionally: (The Intercept reports – please read the whole story):

A FAITH-BASED HUMANITARIAN GROUP that provides aid and shelter to undocumented migrants on the southwestern border fears it has become the latest target in the Trump administration’s crackdown on immigration advocates. Nine members of the group, No More Deaths, were charged with federal crimes and misdemeanors in recent months, including one volunteer arrested last week shortly after the publication of a report documenting alleged abuses by the U.S. Border Patrol.

This is intolerable and must be resisted at all costs. I urge readers with resources to contribute – financially and/or with activist support – to the humanitarian group No More Deaths who is trying to help.

I am sickened by it and ashamed that I was so ignorant and unaware of the repression that is happening right around me here along the border.

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They Policed Paradise and Put Up An AeroStat

January 17th, 2018 No comments

Radar blimps, helicopters, drones, cameras, & patrols – Trump’s Wall’s Been Built

Visual Vandalism


They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot
With a pink hotel, a boutique
And a swinging hot spot
Don’t it always seem to go
That you don’t know what you’ve got til its gone
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot. ~~~ Big Yellow Taxi” (Joni Mitchell, 1970)

Sorry folks, but Trump’s so called “Border Wall” has been built already.

Paraphrasing Joni Mitchell, they didn’t pave paradise – they just built a police state to patrol it.

I’ve driven and hiked the US – Mexican Border region from Texas through southern Arizona and have been appalled by the pervasive border patrols, the roadside checkpoints – even radar blimps, cameras, helicopters, planes, drones, motion detectors – creating an overwhelming police state presence.

This morning was the last straw. True story, you can’t make this stuff up. Bear with me:

Last night, it dipped into the 20’s – a cold night provides incentives to get up and out early. But at 7 am it’s still dark, so I worry about conflicts between the dog and coyotes and other predators, so wait until sunrise.

As the sun rises, we set out on the usual morning hike – from 2-4 miles -and are thrilled with the canyon grasslands and forest landscape:


We get back and make coffee. As I’m sitting enjoying a hot cup of coffee, basking in the warm sun on my face, I think of the word “mindfulness”.

At exactly that moment, a harsh noise breaks the silence: a police radio. Moments later, a border patrol SUV rolls up.

Fuck that shit. The bastard must have been watching me from the woods.

He’s the 10th border patrol SUV that’s rolled by my remote location in the last 2 days.

I wasn’t there an hour, before I was confronted by and questioned by a border patrol agent.

But it’s not just constant border patrol SUV’s rolling across the landscape.

Take a look at how an “aerostat” blimp poisons the landscape:

aerostat hovers over the Huachuca Mountains in Sierra Vista Arizona, north of the border

aerostat hovers over the Huachuca Mountains in Sierra Vista Arizona, north of the border

DHS radar and cameras in Coronado National Forest, visible from and just west of Coronado National Memorial

DHS radar and cameras in Coronado National Forest, visible from and just west of Coronado National Memorial

DHS rada/camera tower despoils Montezema's Pass at Coronado National Memorial. How do they get away with this?

DHS radar/camera tower despoils Montezema’s Pass. How do they get away with this vandalism?

A National Park Service display at Coronado Memorial highlights the fact that existing low tech fences seriously impede wildlife migration.

US - Mexico border fence runs through the San Pedro Valley - view from Coronado National Monument (look through poor air quality to see the straight line)

US – Mexico border fence runs through the San Pedro Valley – view from Coronado National Monument (look through poor air quality to see the straight line)

And this high tech police state surveillance wall is not limited to the US Mexico border

I saw a border patrol agent on horseback last July in the Pasayten Wilderness area just south of the Canadian border in the northern Cascades in Washington State. What is border patrol doing in this landscape?:

Pasayten Wilderness, view from Hart's Pass, Northern Cascades, Washington State

Pasayten Wilderness, view from Hart’s Pass, Northern Cascades, Washington State

Ironically,in a rebuke to today’s DHS police state, today I hiked in the spectacular Coronado National Memorial,

US - Mexican Border runs through it - Looking west from Montezuma Pass, in Coronado Point in Coronado National Memorial (Az)

US – Mexican Border runs through it – Looking west from Montezuma Pass, in Coronado Point in Coronado National Memorial (Az)

The Memorial was established to:

commemorate Francisco Vasquez de Coronado’s expedition and the cultural influences of Spanish colonial exploration in the America’s in the 1500’s.

It was a journey of conquest filled with exploration, wonder – and cruelty. Inspired by tales of vast cities of gold, 339 European soldiers and over 1000 Aztec allies embarked on an epic journey through arid deserts and rugged mountains. They encountered rich traditions and brought new technologies. The resulting collision and combination of cultures reverberates today. Read More

Sierra Madre mountains, Mexico, on let. US Pantagonia mountains straight ahead. No wall necessary.

Sierra Madre mountains, Mexico, on left – “we don’t need no stinkin” badges!”. US Pantagonia mountains straight ahead. No Trump wall necessary.

Yet the massive border patrol police state in some locations is belied by a total surrender of the border in other locations.

On New Year’s eve, I camped on the Rio Grande river on the border in Lajitas Texas, just north west of Big Bend National Park. Look:


As I sat there, on the Mexican side, a pickup truck rolled up and a Mexican family of about 10 folks jumped out and began a party – loud folk music and lots of laughter.

Moments later, on the US side, a car rolled up and a man and two women got out, luggage in tow.

Simultaneously, the Mexican family carried a small row boat from the back of their pick up truck, rowed across the river, and took the 3 folks across the border in two trips.

Border patrol was nowhere in sight – I guess the golf resorts at Lajitas need maids, cooks and maintenance men.

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