Home > Uncategorized > Climate Accountability In An Age of Lies And Craven Self Promotion

Climate Accountability In An Age of Lies And Craven Self Promotion

[Update below]

A wonderful essay by my friend Bill Neil, formerly Director of Conservation at NJ Audubon (before NJA became a corporate consulting firm and partner with Donald Trump) on proposed Maryland legislation to protect forests and their role in climate change prompted me to post this brief note (see  Maryland’s 1991 Forest Conservation Act, as contained in the bills HB 766 and SB 610.)

Relatedly, in response to a current proposed NJ Audubon plan to log Sparta Mountain in NJ’s Highlands Preservation Area, 2 years ago I wrote: Christie DEP Highlands Logging Plans Would Reduce The Forest’s Carbon Storage Capacity and Worsen Climate Change

That post was ignored by activists and NJ media.

Since then, Eric Stiles of NJ Audubon –  who spent the last 8 years seeking private foundation, billionaire, Christie DEP and corporate funding for logging schemes in the Highlands under the false scientific justification of creating “young forest habitat” – has dodged all that accountability and is now apparently the sole media “green” spokesperson at NJ Spotlight for forests and climate change risks.

The reason? Stiles sees money for that: in the current spin cycle to get behind NJ Gov. Murphy, Stiles sees money because forest carbon sequestration funds are coming as a result of NJ rejoining RGGI. [See Update below for specific details]

NJ Spotlight recently reported:

“In the Christie era, climate science was a four-letter word,’’ argued Doug O’Malley, director of Environment New Jersey. Christie pulled New Jersey out of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a multistate effort to reduce pollution from power plants. New Jersey will rejoin the program, according to Murphy.

“Climate change is really the overarching issue,’’ said Eric Stiles, president and CEO of New Jersey Audubon. “When you look at the top-tier threat to humans, wildlife, and habitat of New Jersey, it’s climate change.’’


NJ Audubon not only ignored climate change in their logging schemes, they made the problem worse. As I wrote: 

It is well known that the Christie Administration is irresponsibly outright hostile to any plans or programs to address climate change, and instead has actively promoted new fossil fueled gas plants and pipelines across the state, while suing to block the Obama EPA Clean Power Plan climate initiative.

But here’s an aspect of that climate negligence that has gotten no attention: reducing the ability of NJ’s forests to store carbon.

The controversial proposed DEP logging plan for Sparta Mountain is not NJ Audubon’s or DEP’s first logging operation.

Highlands forests are under assault from the State agency directed by the Highlands Act to preserve them.

Getting virtually no attention are the facts that NJ Audubon also logs Newark watershed lands (see page 43) and DEP has proposed logging not only at Sparta Mountain but in Weldon Brook WMA and Mahlon Dickerson Reservation.

Some think that Hamburg Mountain is next in line for logging.

The cumulative effects of these logging operations – on forest health, water resources, ecosystems, wildlife habitat, recreation, or climate change – have not been considered by the DEP. Not at all. No consideration. (read the complete post)

Accountability, where the hell is it?

Stiles is now a media source and a hero – why is that?

[Update – 2/19/18 – Apologies to readers for a serious omission. The reality is actually worse than my original post above would suggest.

Specifically, when the RGGI legislation was undergoing legislative deliberation, most of the environmental community was working hard and very publicly to make RGGI as strong as possible and to prevent the bill from being hijacked by Senator Sweeney on behalf of big oil (which it ultimately was, resulting in editorial boards and most NJ environmental groups to OPPOSE the final version of RGGI, see: Lame Global Warming Bill Goes to Governor.)

But two groups, NJ Audubon and American Littoral Society were working quietly behind the scenes NOT on strengthening the RGGI bill, but on seeking special amendments to essentially earmark RGGI revenues to their organizations and pet projects. 

Specifically, NJA and ALS met quietly with NJ DEP Director of Policy & Planning Jeanne Herb to secure earmarks of RGGI funds for carbon sequestration.

DEP supported these amendments and deceptively conveyed them to the Legislature as DEP amendments – thus disguising the special interests NJA and ALS behind them and essentially laundering special interest earmarks.

Here they are: (see Section 7.b.(4))

(4) Ten percent [of RGGI revenues] shall be allocated to the department to support programs that enhance the stewardship and restoration of the State’s forests and tidal marshes that provide important opportunities to sequester or reduce greenhouse gases.

NJ Audubon was the ONLY group in NJ doing “forest stewardship and restoration”.

ALS was the only group working on “tidal marsh” restoration.

This 10% was an earmark to those groups.

Now that RGGI will be restored, NJA and ALS will receive those funds – which amount to about $4.5 million per year.

Keep in mind that these same to two groups did nothing to make RGGI better, but cynically and opportunistically merely used it as a funding vehicle for their own organizations.

Since then, both groups have done virtually nothing on climate change – Audubon’s logging actually made things worse – while both groups received funding and worked cooperatively with the Christie Administration to provide political cover to DEP rollbacks.

I found it outrageous and totally unacceptable that they now will milk even more public funds from a Democratic administration.


Categories: Uncategorized Tags:
You must be logged in to post a comment.