Home > Uncategorized > The Murphy Administration Retains Christie DEP’s Office of Climate Denial

The Murphy Administration Retains Christie DEP’s Office of Climate Denial

Christie DEP organization, personnel, and slogans still in place

Murphy policy reforms not yet developed

“Green” groups AWOL – not making public demands

Christie collaborators, rehabilitated, fill void & pitch failed voluntary local programs

[Update – 4/11/18. I stand corrected (with no apologies): Murphy DEP climate webpage is new and improved, but they still have not taken down all the Christie garbage I wrote about.

Read that page and notice that it makes no new commitments and substantively, it relies on the prior policies and programs of the Christie DEP and continues to outsource climate adaptation work to Rutgers. THAT’S STATUS QUO BS – NOT LEADERSHIP ~~~ end update]

Additional Updates below]

Thus far, after numerous campaign pledges of bold leadership – particularly on prioritizing climate change and restoring DEP’s Office of Climate policy – and promises to reform Gov. Christie’s irresponsible climate, energy and environmental policies, the Murphy Administration has not announced it’s overall climate plan to attain the emissions reductions targets of the Global Warming Response Act.

The DEP issued the legislative mandated Report on recommendations to implement the GWRA way back in 2009. That Report has fallen into a black hole.

In contrast to Murphy’s inaction, Gov. Christie hit the ground running and in his first day in office, issued a slew of executive orders to declare a regulatory moratorium (EO#1) and to provide “regulatory relief” (EO#2) and slash red tape (EO#3) and defer to local government (EO#4).

The moratorium killed, among others, the Corzine Administration’s proposed new rules on monitoring and reporting of greenhouse gas emissions.

At the same time – again in contrast to the Murphy Administration – Gov. Christie’s DEP Commissioner  – prior to his confirmation – began his dismantling agenda, including, among many other things, the abolition of DEP’s Office of Climate Change and purging of climate experts.

So lets compare that Christie/Martin aggressive agenda to Gov. Murphy and his DEP Commissioner McCabe.

In the one (see update below, it’s now two) formal climate initiative(s) that Gov. Murphy has begun to implement, i.e. rejoining the northeast State’s “Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative” (RGGI), we hit the links on the DEP press release to review the substance and just learned that the Murphy DEP is implementing that RGGI initiative through the Christie/Martin Office of Climate Denial (which they called: “Air Quality, Energy and Sustainability”)

Read the mission of that Office and  the organizational chart and note that it does not mention climate change, renewable energy, adaptation, or the Global Warming Response Act: (but does recognize “affordable power”)

What We Do

The Office of Air Quality, Energy and Sustainability’s (AQES) mission is to evaluate, develop and implement clean, secure and resilient energy systems and sustainable environmental practices that complement our on-going efforts to ensure New Jersey has clean air and a safe environment now and for future generations. Our vision is to build a nationally recognized organization that ensures clean, reliable, safe and affordable power without sacrificing clean air and a protected environment.  Since energy generation and fuels are the primary sources of New Jersey’s continuing air pollution problems, the merging of these programs under one Office enhances and expands the effectiveness of DEP’s ability to meet its mission to preserve and protect New Jersey’s environment and the public health.

[Note: The AQES website was updated most recently on March 27, 2018, to simply include a page on RGGI, so Murphy/McCabe own it. And that simple update reveals troubling thinking – e.g. don’t make waves, don’t challenge Christie policy, and don’t think synthetically.Worse, the McCabe DEP is regurgitating the Christie Energy Master Plan goals and policies and continues the failure to even mention climate change – read this page!]

That bureaucratic silence is a form of climate denial.

But it is far more than just silence on climate science and policy.

The Christie Administration – and it’s corrupt collaborators about whom we will write in depth in a future post – have denied climate change and instead substituted the slogans “sustainability”, “reliability” and “resilience”

Those slogans provide political cover and are used to justify abdication by DEP on the planning and regulatory front and replacement of the State role by a failed voluntary, market based, and local government program that relies solely on incentives (in the form of corporate subsidies and grants to feed the collaborators).

Slogans “reliability” and “resilience” have also been used to justify an Energy Master Plan that drove a massive expansion in fossil fuel infrastructure – gas power plants and pipelines.

“Resilience” has served as the cover not only for regulatory approvals of fossil infrastructure but as a way to avoid having to address climate adaptation planning (and the reality of climate change).

[Update 4/3/18 – for an egregious example of this abuse read this “sponsored content” for nuclear power bailout, based explicitly on reliability and resilience. It reads like a rebuttal of this post!]

“Sustainability” has allowed DEP to abdicate its State responsibility and essentially outsource climate planning to private groups that promote poorly designed and demonstrably failed local voluntary solutions and taxpayer subsidized corporate incentives.

“Affordability” was used to kill off shore wind (the “cost test”) and block the expansion of solar.

Words matter. They can sharpen focus on real problems and real policy solutions or obfuscate to justify sham.

For 8 long years, non-profit groups Sustainable NJ, NJ Future, and others have collaborated with and been funded by the Christie DEP to provide these political services, support these slogans, and advocate for token and demonstrably flawed local programs (more to follow on that).

It is a disgrace that these same groups are now coming out of the woodwork and are being rehabilitated by media outlets like NJ Spotlight.

Those same groups and people are now working behind the scenes to pitch their failed policies to the Murphy Administration and DEP Commissioner McCabe.

At the same time, there is a virtual silence by the groups that are doing good work on climate and that backed the Gov. politically during the election.

We’ll post a more detailed analysis after we get past the shock and have time to collect our thoughts.

[Update: 4/4/18 – The Murphy Administration announced its second climate initiative, see today’s NJ Spotlight story: NJ TO JOIN CLEAN CAR INITIATIVE, AS EPA EASES FUEL-ECONOMY STANDARDS

So I took a quick peek at the Multi-State ZEV Task Force Memorandum of Agreement and the Action Plan – as suspected, it’s a lot more show than substance.

Not being a clean car wonk, my initial reaction was to Tweet a question to NJ Spotlight:

How does the regional compact goal of 3.3 million ZEV over the region by 2025 compare to California 15% sold in state by 2025? Is the regional pact WEAKER than California? DATA? How are goals ENFORCED?

But then I read quickly the MOU and noted this, which basically says the MOU is a market based alternative to traditional regulatory policy and is instead a corporate oriented framework with no teeth:

7. PUBLIC – PRIVATE PARTNERSHIPS The Signatory States will cooperate with automobile manufacturers, electricity & hydrogen providers, the fueling infrastructure component industry, corporate fleet owners, financial institutions and others to encourage ZEV market growth.

Similarly, the Action Plan relies exclusively on market tools (no mention of regulations, mandates, or implementation funding) and is not really a action plan at all – it is not even binding on the signatory states:

It is not intended to provide a uniform pathway for all states to follow. Each state will promote ZEV market growth in ways that best address its own needs and advantage its unique opportunities.

And there was no quantitative or comprehensive analysis to demonstrate if and how the ZEV compact program would meet the goals of the NJ GWRA. This crap from a NJ Gov. that stresses the need of “data” to evaluate performance.

We need regulatory mandates, deadlines, money and enforcement sanctions – with emissions reductions quantified and tied to GWRA goals and timetables.

We don’t need more symbolic gestures and PR, especially when the Trump EPA is dismantling the existing weak regulatory apparatus.

RGGI & voluntary measures won’t secure science based emissions reductions. ~~~ end update]

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