Archive for March, 2018

NJ Gov. Murphy Just Compared Dupont Pompton Lakes To Love Canal – So What Is He Going To DO About It?

March 16th, 2018 No comments

A Brief Policy History And Outline Of a Path Forward

NJ DEP Must Assume Control From Trump EPA

DEP Must Enforce State Cleanup Laws

Wednesday’s Bergen Record reported that during an appearance on an earlier WNYC Brian Lehrer radio show, NJ Gov. Murphy compared Pompton Lakes NJ to Love Canal, NY, see:

“This is a really tough situation, and it’s one of these things that brings back memories of Love Canal, which are two words no one wants to hear again,” Murphy said during an appearance on WNYC radio.

But, after dropping the “L” bomb, all Murphy could muster is that DEP is investigating?

Are you kidding me? Does anyone brief Murphy before he opens his mouth?

NJ DEP has overseen Dupont’s “cleanup” of the Pompton Lakes site for over 40 years – importantly under a 1988 “Administrative Consent Order” (ACO) entered into under NJ State law.

The Dupont site is jointly under NJ DEP and US EPA jurisdiction pursuant to federal law.

EPA oversees the Dupont cleanup under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) as amended in 1984  “Hazardous and Solid Waste Amendments” (HSWA) “Corrective Action” program.

The RCRA/HSWA created a complex regulatory framework and cleanup program whose implementation can be delegated to States by EPA. However, NJ never sought EPA delegation of the Corrective Action program, instead relying on State law and the 1988 ACO.

I previously managed the NJ DEP HSWA Corrective Action program, so had front row seats to all this when it was going down.

DEP leaders chafed at EPA RCRA oversight (which they dismissed as “bureaucratic bean counting”) and opposed the stringent RCRA/HSWA regulatory mandates that are implemented via prescriptive federal rules, strict standards, and permit procedures. There was lots of formal public involvement in an EPA RCRA permit program, and both DEP regulators and major corporate polluters hated that accountability, especially for highly controversial toxic site cleanup decisions, where community pressure drives more expensive and protective cleanups.

Instead, for political and economic more than scientific or public policy reasons, DEP leaders favored the more flexible and pro-polluter framework under NJ State laws and DEP oversight.

So, to avoid EPA RCRA oversight, to protect politically influential NJ industrial polluters from costly EPA driven cleanups, and to eliminate public participation and shield DEP bureaucrats and polluters from community demands for complete cleanup, NJ DEP created the “Voluntary Cleanup Program” (VCP) as an alternative to the EPA RCRA Corrective Action program (and prior State DEP enforcement documents like Administrative Orders and Spill Act Directives).

The VCP was implemented by DEP via flexible “Administrative Consent Orders (ACOs) instead of the prescriptive and very public RCRA permit process established pursuant to federal EPA regulations and stringent standards. The DEP used the VCP and ACO mechanism as evidence to argue to EPA regulators that they were making progress in cleaning up federal RCRA sites and had an enforceable program in place. The DEP urged EPA to back off federal RCRA oversight and defer to DEP.

Dupont loved the DEP’s VCP and ACOthey wanted to work exclusively with DEP and keep pesky EPA bureaucrats and the public completely out of the loop.

Here’s what Dupont wrote to EPA as comments on the EPA 1992 RCRA permit (links and analysis):

We believe that the [EPA RCRA] permit, if finalized, would be a major setback in our effort to successfully complete our site cleanup effort.

We are well into the investigation and remediation of [the site]. This work began in 1988, and has proceeded under the terms of an Administrative Consent Order (ACO) with the NJ DEP. The ACO clearly defines such [cleanup] requirements as compliance schedules.

The  [DEP ACO] has provided a clear focal point for the regulatory coordination of the project , and we believe that it has been very effective and efficient.

any changes in our existing [DEP ACO] approach would add complexity and duplication with no benefit to the public or environment.

The final paragraph in the [EPA RCRA permit] should clarify that no further public notice is anticipated regarding groundwater contamination.”

At the time, EPA and US Justice Department lawyers raised concerns that DEP was creating a “shield” to federal enforcement and frustrating enforcement of RCRA/HSWA requirements. They threatened to withhold federal EPA RCRA grant money to NJ DEP. But the EPA and US Justice Department lawyers lost those debates to lobbying by States and industry.

As a result, since the late 1980’s, EPA has deferred to NJ DEP on most critical aspects of the Dupont cleanup, including groundwater cleanup and the vapor intrusion caused by contaminated soil and groundwater.

While EPA was deferring to NJ DEP here in NJ, a massive national chemical industry lobbying campaign weakened the federal EPA RCRA/HSWA requirements, put EPA regulators on a short leash, and effectively put industry basically in charge of their own cleanups.

Meanwhile, at the State level, on May 7, 2009, Governor Jon Corzine signed the Site Remediation Reform Act, (SRRA) N.J.S.A. 58:10C-1 et seq. (“SRRA”) into law.

The SRRA privatized and deregulated the NJ toxic site cleanup program. The law put consultants who work for polluters like Dupont in charge of toxic site cleanup process, with very little – if any -oversight by DEP or transparency and public accountability to the community. While SRRA technically does not apply to federal RCRA sites, it has had a dramatic impact on DEP’s toxic site cleanup program, vastly worsened DEP’s historical deference to consultants for polluters, and further weakened DEP “culture”, particularly regarding enforcement.

But while the situation was bleak at NJ DEP, things at the federal EPA level improved slightly as a result of the demands by the people of Pompton Lakes, who organized a public campaign to pressure EPA to list the Dupont site on the Superfund NPL.

The EPA RCRA and DEP ACO failures to force Dupont to fully cleanup the site then prompted many in the community to seek the EPA federal Superfund program as a solution, instead of RCRA/HSWA.

In theory, for reasons I won’t go into here but have written about in detail, Superfund is a far better program for the people of Pompton Lakes, compared with the industry neutered and dominated RCRA program.

Under the Obama EPA, Region 2 Administrator Enck began to expand EPA oversight under RCRA/HSWA, but never really pulled the trigger and continued the joint management and historical deference to DEP.

But the Obama EPA stuck with RCRA/HSWA and EPA failed to list as Dupont Pompton Lakes as a Superfund site. EPA Region 2 Administrator Enck failed to recommend to EPA HQ that the site be listed on the Superfund NPL. Enck deferred to NJ Gov. Christie.

So, especially considering that the Obama EPA rejected Superfund, in going forward, we now must consider that Trump’s EPA Administrator Pruitt is notoriously pro-chemical industry and corrupt.

He would never support Gov. Murphy’s request to list the site on the National Priorities List (NPL) for Superfund cleanup. Murphy would look naive in even making the request of Pruitt and he would be accused of pointing fingers instead of solving problems under his own control at NJ DEP.

And even if Pruitt were do agree to a Murphy request to list Dupont PL on the Superfund NPL so, it would only be to protect Chemours/Dupont corporate interests, see:

Trump nominates Dow Chemicals lawyer to oversee EPA toxic waste program

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday nominated a Dow Chemicals lawyer to head-up an Environmental Protection Agency unit that oversees hazardous waste disposal and chemical spills from toxic “Superfund” sites.

Trump named Peter Wright as assistant administrator for the Office of Land and Emergency Management (OLEM). Wright served as Dow’s managing counsel for environmental health and safety and provided the company legal support for Superfund and other remediation sites, according to the EPA.

Dow Chemical and Dupont have merged:

DowDuPont Inc. is an American company formed after the merger of Dow Chemical and DuPont on August 31, 2017. It is the world’s largest chemical company in terms of sales

While it is obvious that a Pruitt EPA Superfund program under Dow’s control would be bad for Pompton Lakes, for those that like to get in the legal and financial weeds, you can sort out all that by reading the various Dow Dupont Chemours financial and legal documents.

So, with all that history and the current Trump – Pruitt EPA reality in mind, what should Gov. Murphy do?

Here’s a to do list:

1. Issue an Executive Order directing DEP to act as follows, within 30 days:

2. NJ DEP must assume direct oversight of all facets of the cleanup of the Dupont PL site under NJ cleanup laws;

3. NJ DEP Commissioner McCabe must revoke the 1988 ACO and issue a Spill Act Directive to Dupont, which lays out enforceable technical requirements, deadlines, compensation for DEP oversight costs, and enforcement penalties.

4. Using Dupont’s money, DEP must hire contractors to conduct the remaining cleanup at the site.

5. DEP must reopen the partial Natural Resource Damage settlement with Dupont negotiated by former DEP Commissioner Brad Campbell. That sweetheart deal was corrupt, provided no benefits to Pompton Lakes, and actually allowed Dupont to donate contaminated land (see Bergen Record story: Dupont deal gave state more tainted soil

Bill Wolfe of the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility’s New Jersey chapter agreed. “DuPont got a sweetheart deal and DEP didn’t do their homework,” Wolfe said. “The deal must be renegotiated and DuPont forced to pay fair compensation, especially to Pompton Lakes residents who have suffered for decades.”

DEP can use the soon to be completed US FWS’s NR damage assessment as part of the basis for additional NRD compensation $.

6. DEP must threaten – and, if Chemours/Dupont  is intransigent – collect treble damages authorized by the NJ Spill Act.

What will Murphy do?

Now that he’s personally insinuated himself in the controversy and dropped the L bomb, the whole state is watching.

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Murphy Diverts $136 Million In Clean Energy Funds – Breaks Campaign Pledge On Core Climate and Energy Issues

March 15th, 2018 No comments

After Rubber Stamping Pollution Settlements, More Continuity With Christie

Harkens back to a “monumental strategic error”- “collateral damage of open space”

Murphy’s version of Obama’s “look forward not back”?

NJ Spotlight reports today that NJ Gov. Murphy’s first budget – “how the governor plans to translate campaign promises into policies and spending priorities – proposes to divert $136 million of Clean Energy Funds to close budget shortfalls, see:

Meet the new boss …

As we’ve written, after all the “green” rhetoric, Murphy and his DEP Commissioner nominee have been a huge disappointment thus far.

While Acting Commissioner McCabe seems to be hiding under her desk in Trenton – is she trying to avoid Judy Yaskin’s fate? – Gov. Murphy has not rescinded Gov. Christie’s anti-regulatory and privatization Executive Orders (#1-#4; #17), but instead has shown a disturbing continuity with some of the worst Christie environmental policies, including:

[Strong reforms and very good people are needed at DEP, to reverse this unfortunate reality: Encap Corruption Has Been Institutionalized at DEP]

It all reminds me of President Obama’s’ “look forward not back” approach, which led to continuity with controversial Bush Administration policies on national security, accountability for torture & CIA black sites, and Wall Street’s crimes and financial bailout.

But getting back to the clean energy diversion issue: During the 2017 Gubernatorial campaign, Murphy slammed Gov. Christie’s diversion of some $1.5 billion in clean energy funds.

Murphy’s energy platform pledged to end the practice and increase investment in energy efficiency and renewables.

Murphy Energy and Environment Transition Report vigorously opposed these diversions:

Under the Christie Administration over $1.5 billion was diverted from the state’s clean energy fund to fill budget shortfalls. The committee recommends the Governor utilize 100% of the clean energy fund to advance energy efficiency, grow the clean-energy economy, create clean-energy jobs and drive down carbon emissions.

But I want to clarify a key historical policy point that the Spotlight story alludes to here:

At one point last year, the Legislature appeared poised to put a constitutional amendment in place that would prevent the diversion of clean-energy funds, but that effort stalled and never made it onto the ballot.

NJ Spotlight was referring to this March 2017 story, about Senator Smith’s initiative he failed to follow through on:

Senator seeks constitutional amendment to end annual raids on Clean Energy Fund

But the issue goes back long before then, to 2013. By failing to mention this history, Spotlight provides cover for and prevents accountability for mistakes made by Keep It Green.

Specifically, the full history involves what I described at the time as a “monumental strategic error” and “collateral damage of open space” (see:  Ballot Politics – Why Was The Climate Ballot Question Abandoned?

A proposed climate change ballot question was effectively sacrificed on the alter of the Open Space Ballot question. …

At that time, it was discussed in Committee and possible that the Resolution could be expanded to also dedicate the $350 million per year in Societal Benefits Charge revenues that go to the Clean Energy Fund. That revenue dwarfs the $45-$50 million in RGGI revenues.

Governor Christie has diverted over $1 billion from the Clean Energy Fund, so the argument in support of Constitutional dedication of that money is very strong.

Despite the fact that climate change is by far the most critical “environmental” issue, not one member of the Keep It Green Coalition – not one – testified in support of the climate Resolution. …

Senator Smith has not reintroduced the RGGI Resolution this Legislative session, nor has Senator Lesniak.

The opportunity was squandered.

Another shameful episode in Trenton politics and another huge collateral damage of the open space diversion disaster.

The Green Mafia was only interested in money that would be used for their narrow open space acquisition purposes; money  they would receive a piece of; money that would go to protect the backyards of their elite members.

They didn’t give a damn about the public interest or the number one threat: climate change.

And on top of all that, they stole money from State Parks, DEP clean water programs, and toxic site cleanup to fund their selfish narrow purposes. (hit link to the Bergen Record story Budget cuts doom state parks to disrepair):

Some environmentalists say the amendment had an unintended but severe impact on the Natural and Historic Resources capital budget. The budget had been replenished each year from the same tax, a dedication secured in a prior, 2006 voter-approved constitutional amendment. That amendment was to provide a “reliable and stable source of funding” that would enable the DEP to make “long-term investments in the state park system,” according to a 2013 draft of the state’s Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan.

It provided about $15 million annually, and would have doubled to $32 million in 2016. ...

Mark Texel, head of the New Jersey Division of Parks and Forestry, called it a “massive blow” and said in a Facebook post soon after the vote that it was “the darkest day I have faced in my professional career.” [**Note: he called it “worse than Sandy“] …

“We had a plan to really tackle some of these major capital projects that had been deferred for many, many years,” Texel said. “And we were making progress. Suddenly now our capital budget is having the legs cut out from underneath it. … It was disappointing, I admit. I was very disappointed.” …

Bill Wolfe, director of the non-profit Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, said he didn’t believe that voters in 2014 knew this would happen.

He accused NJ Keep It Green of “intentionally, knowingly” stripping state parks of capital funding to finance Green Acres so they wouldn’t have to ask voters to approve a bond. That, he said, let open space groups avoid a public brawl with Governor Christie, who has demanded no new debt be placed on taxpayers. The coalition, he said, “didn’t have the spine to fight for the money.”

And they now again dodge accountability – but we don’t forget this stuff.

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Murphy AG and DEP Rubber Stamp Christie Pollution Settlement With Big Oil

March 13th, 2018 No comments

Continuity with Christie corporate friendly lax DEP enforcement policy

AG rubber stamps Christie Deals BEFORE legal & policy review of DEP NRD program

Deals call into question Murphy’s promise to restore NJ environmental leadership

The state “knows it has a weak legal hand,” making it reluctant to push too hard and more willing to settle, Wolfe said, adding that Exxon’s lawyers are “sharp enough to know this” too.

“There’s this wink and a nod going on where the DEP is saying, ‘We won’t squeeze you too hard if you just come to the table and settle,’” Wolfe said, adding that it’s been “a quiet little dance for 10 years,” with the state knowing it can’t get more than pennies on the dollar. ~~~ NJ Law Journal

[Update – 3/14/18 – even though the public comment period is closed and the Court has approved these settlements as final, to illustrate these problems, today I filed an OPRA for the following documents. We’ll keep you posted with what we find:

I request copies of the Natural Resource Damage Assessments DEP conducted for MTBE injuries to groundwater in support of the NRD Settlements that were announced by Attorney General Grewal’s 3/12/18 press release, including Sunoco, BP, Amoco, Atlantic Richfield, Shell, and all others. ~~~ end update 

The day before Gov. Murphy’s first budget address – when he surely knew the State House press corps would be focused exclusively on that – Murphy’s Attorney General  Grewal quietly announced a controversial “Natural Resource Damage” (NRD) settlement with Big Oil (Sunoco, BP, Amoco, et al).

Curiously, the AG’s press release did not provide a link to the text of the Settlement documents, which is really disturbing, given that law requires a public comment period and all prior DEP NRD settlements have been posted for public comment. (But, emulating Trump, the AG’s release did provide a link to the AG’s Twitter feed. What bullshit!)

[Update – clarification: the AG’s press release was issued after the public comment period closed:

Notice of the three proposed settlements was previously published in the New Jersey Register. All three settlements were subject to a public comment period, and all three have been reviewed and approved by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. ~~~

That means that they were Christie negotiated and proposed settlements and are final. So why issue the Murphy administration celebratory press release now after the fact? The AG is effectively praising the Christie AG and DEP, so the whole problem is actually worse than I thought. The Murphy administration is not reluctantly accepting the Christie deal in anticipation of reforming the NRD policy and program. The are praising the existing Christie program and have no intention of any reforms to strengthen it.~~~ end update]

In addition to the budget diversion, AG Grewal on the same day issued a press release about his opposition to the Trump Administration’s off shore drilling plans. He was likely seeking to divert the depleted environmental press corps.

The attempted news management didn’t work, at least at NJ Spotlight, who reports today (read the whole story)

The Murphy administration yesterday said it has settled cases with three oil companies who have agreed to pay nearly $200 million for polluting water with a potential human carcinogen.

Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal announced approval of draft settlements reached by the Christie administration to resolve natural-resources damage lawsuits against the three defendants involving contamination of groundwater with an additive to gasoline.

Two hundred million dollars is a betrayal of the public and pennies on the dollar of the actual “natural resource damage” caused by these billion dollar corporate polluters.

The Christie administration faced lawsuits and was pilloried by the public, media, legislators, and environmental groups for their pennies on the dollar settlement of the DEP’s $8.9 billion NRD Exxon claim.

So surely, Gov. Murphy, AG Grewal, and Acting DEP Commissioner McCabe all had to know that the NRD issue was controversial and that the Christie Administration’s NRD settlement policy was polluter friendly, and warranted legal policy review and regulatory reforms at DEP.

The MTBE litigation has been ongoing for over a decade – the AG couldn’t wait another few months for reforms to be put in place?

Worse, AG Grewal had to know that the underlying flaw in DEP’s NRD program was LEGAL and that Christie AG  settled the Exxon NRD case because of what he saw as “litigation risk”. (sorry, the State of NJ’s links to the Christie AG settlement and Judge Hogan’s opinion are no longer working.)

As the NJ Law Journal reported, the lack of DEP NRD regulations created litigation risk that drove the pennies on the dollar settlement:

The proposed $225 million pollution settlement between New Jersey and Exxon Mobil Corp. has been criticized as inadequate, given the state’s nearly $9 billion damages claim, but some lawyers and environmentalists have questioned whether the state’s valuation of the case would have withstood judicial scrutiny.

Murphy’s Acting DEP Commissioner McCabe is an attorney and former US Justice Department natural resource lawyer, so surely she understands the legal and policy weaknesses of the Christie NRD legal policy and DEP program.

So why on earth did Murphy AG Grewal (and DEP McCabe) rubber stamp the Christie draft settlements BEFORE conducting a policy review and public process of reform, including promulgating DEP NRD regulations that the courts have found necessary?

Former DEP Commissioner Brad Campbell entered into a settlement agreement to promulgate NRD regulations years ago (but never honored his legal commitment to the court).

As the NJ Law Journal reported:

The plaintiffs asked the court to compel the DEP commissioner “to promulgate and adopt the method of quantifying [the] alleged legal obligation to compensate the state for groundwater NRD in accordance with the provision of the New Jersey Administrative Procedures Act.” The case settled soon after, with the state agreeing to adopt formal rules….

A March 23, 2003, letter from deputy attorney general Richard Engel to Picco said the DEP “has long planned to promulgate regulations to improve the current Natural Resource Damage program” and “is currently developing its regulatory proposals, and plans to file one or more rule proposals prior to Aug. 1, 2005.” Engel’s letter said the “forthcoming rules clearly will afford the NJ SEED plaintiffs an administrative forum, subject to judicial review, in which to present policy and legal arguments presented in or related to the pending litigation.”

Acting DEP Commissioner McCabe either signed off on this deal or was cut out of the loop.

If she signed off – before even having the opportunity to conduct a policy review of DEP’s NRD program and soliciting public input on much needed reforms – she is either incompetent or an unprincipled coward.

If she was cut out of the loop, she should resign.

This NRD settlement is an outrage that should spawn the same condemnations that the Christie Exxon sweetheart NRD deal did.

Furthermore, it calls into serious question Gov. Murphy’s repeated rhetoric and commitments to reverse the Christie environmental policies and restore NJ’s environmental leadership.

Unfortunately, we were not surprised, because from the day the Transition Team was announced, we understood that Gov. Murphy was a corporate Democrat and that he was surrounded by and listening to corporate Democrats.

Similarly, we have criticized Acting DEP Commissioner McCabe for a series of mis-steps that amount to continuity with the Christie policy (see this and this and this and this), so this MTBE NRD deal is part of a deeply troubling pattern, just another – but much larger – mistake.

I could be wrong – perhaps McCabe has done her homework and just doesn’t want to step out of the corporate Democrat line and become another deposed DEP Commissioner like her only female predecessor, Judy Yaskin, see: this old NJ Spotlight story

In the case of the Salem nuclear power plants, the controversy stretches back nearly three decades to the days of former Gov. Jim Florio’s administration. Then-Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Judith Yaskin ordered cooling towers to installed at Salem — at a cost at that time estimated to be $2 billion –– citing a study that found the plant killed more fish each year than commercial fishermen harvested from Delaware Bay. …

Scott Weiner, who succeeded Yaskin as DEP commissioner, reversed the Salem cooling-tower decision. Instead, PSEG agreed to undertake a massive restoration program of more than 20,000 acres of tidal wetlands along the shores of the Delaware Bay. After he left state government, Weiner worked briefly as a consultant to PSEG.

Somehow, I smell Boss George Norcross and Senate President Sweeney’s scent on this dirty deal. There were NRD settlement precedents with Big Oil in Sweeney’s District.
And aside from NRD settlements, we know how Sweeney took care of the same corporate polluters in loopholes and subsidies in NJ’s climate bill – the same goes for DEP enforcement of air pollution control regulations and chemical safety regulations, and drinking water standards, as well as toxic site cleanup requirements. Sweeney’s Assembly friend Burzichelli pushed legislation to rollback all NJ strict standards to federal minimums (an ALEC bill co-sponsored by ALEC NJ Chair Senator Oroho)
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Murphy DEP Embraces Christie DEP “Stewardship” Spin On Voluntary Watershed Partnership Programs

March 12th, 2018 No comments

Will Murphy DEP Have Continuity or Contrast With Christie DEP?

Once again, the Murphy Administration DEP has missed an opportunity to contrast their policy vision with the Christie Administration and is following the same public relations oriented spin that the Christie DEP abused, this time, on the Watershed Ambassadors Program, see:


That spin includes more scientifically and factually unsupported misleading statements about alleged improvements in water quality. DEP wrote:

“AmeriCorps Week is an opportunity to highlight the work done by Watershed Ambassadors to improve water quality,” said Acting Assistant Commissioner for Water Resources Management Michele Putnam. “Through educational programming and partnerships, AmeriCorps helps all of us become better stewards of natural resources.”

There is no evidence I am aware of that the Ambassadors have improved water quality. This is the second time DEP has spun and misled the public about water quality.

There is no evidence of the performance of the “educational programming and partnerships” that DEP touts. And I don’t think there is even an attempt to monitor and evaluate actual performance in terms of water quality impact.

Voluntary programs like this are great for promoting youth involvement, but from a water quality perspective they don’t work.

Again, we are getting fact free spin and misleading claims from DEP – all while ignoring real regulatory programs that do work and real science and data that show that serious water quality problems remain unaddressed.

That has to stop.

That spin extends to working with the same organizations that collaborated and partnered with and provided cover for the Christie DEP:

Ambassadors will also hold a multi-regional tree-planting project known as “Green the Scene,” a partnership with The Nature Conservancy, during April and May. Ambassadors will restore floodplains, riparian buffer zones, and provide stability to New Jersey streams by working with volunteer stewards to plant 2,500 trees statewide. Event information can be found on the New Jersey Watershed Ambassadors Facebook page at

Planting 2,500 trees statewide is a microscopic small bore program and not a serious effort.

Worse, that small bore feel good measure comes at a time when NJ needs major urban forestry and reforestation programs that are orders of magnitude bigger to begin even an attempt to adapt to climate change and begin to sequester carbon DEP recommended in the Global Warming Response Act implementation plan.

The Nature Conservancy actively undermines stringent regulation and routinely does land deals that are corrupt of provide cover. The Christie DEP enjoyed TNC’s non-threatening friendly collaboration.

Is McCabe this naive about the implications of all this for the kind of work required for the heavy lifting she needs to do to fix DEP?

Is she ducking before confirmation?

Or is there a woman thing going on with “soft” initiatives from the likes of longtime DEP manger Michele Putnam?

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Murphy DEP Continues Christie DEP State Parks Concessions Policy

March 12th, 2018 No comments

Does the Murphy Administration want “continuity” with Christie DEP Policy?

Acting DEP Commissioner McCabe missed another opportunity to contrast the Murphy Administration’s policy reform agenda with Governor Christie’s DEP policies, this time regarding private concessions in State Parks, see:


It seems obvious that McCabe either: 1) doesn’t know the controversial history of the DEP’s leases and concessions program (e.g. that it was subject to several negative State audits and targeted by Legislation to mandate market based leases & concessions) or 2) she got duped again by Christie holdovers in Parks management and the press office (for background on those issues, see:

Does McCabe know that the Legislature mandated that DEP adopt market based lease and concessions? (see: Fair Market Value Leases for Energy Infrastructure Could Fund Park System):

DEP has failed to collect fair market value for energy infrastructure easements across state lands as required by 2008 legislation that specifically mandated the DEP submit a plan by July 1, 2009.

That law mandated that DEP:

“conduct a re-appraisal of the rents and fees charged for all residences and other buildings and structures, and for utility easements and right-of-ways, located on State park or forest lands to ensure they reflect current fair market values and will continue to do so;”

Does McCabe know that Gov. Christie had a revenue and privatization driven State parks policy (see: “Sustainable Parks Funding Strategy”).

Dos McCabe agree with all that?

Does McCabe know that the allocation of lease and concession revenue to State Parks was a huge problem with the recent Green Acres ballot question? (was it ever fully resolved in the implementing legislation?) (i.e. see the Bergen Record story: Budget Cuts Doom State Parks to Disrepair)

If McCabe did understand these policy controversies, she would have used the opportunity to include statements in that press release to distance herself from the Christie – Martin policy and make the point very clear that the Murphy Administration disagrees with those policies and does not view State parks are revenue mills and privatization opportunities.

Is McCabe being duped?

Is she just lazy?

Or does the Murphy Administration want “continuity”?

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