Archive for May, 2018

Murphy Acting DEP Commissioner McCabe Senate Confirmation Hearing A Deep Disappointment

May 16th, 2018 No comments

McCabe dodged policy issues, while defending controversial Christie DEP rollbacks

The Senate Judiciary Committee finally gave Gov. Murphy’s Acting DEP Commissioner Catherine McCabe a confirmation hearing on Monday.

At best, it was disappointing, both in what McCabe said and failed to say. Aside from RGGI and vague empty rhetoric, McCabe made no commitments to new policy initiatives and she not only failed to criticize the Christie DEP policy, she actually defended it (see examples below) and pushed back to rebut Senate questions that were critical of the Christie DEP!  (i.e. enforcement data, Highlands septic density, etc).

McCabe actually supported “customer service” (Bob Martin’s “culture change” mantra), stressed the need to expedite permits, praised the Office of permit coordination that provides consulting services to regulated industries, and denied that the Office of climate change was eliminated (Fact check: it was eliminated. And it was sent from the Commissioner’s office to Siberia, burried in the air program. But not only access to the Commissioner was eliminated. The Office’s name and mission were changed as well in a way that eliminated climate change. We know climate experts who were forced out or have retired and not been replaced.)

The Senate and McCabe both ignored the fact that Gov. Christie’s horrible “regulatory relief”, “federal consistency”, industry pre-proposal review & cost-benefit (Ex. Order #2); “red tape” (Ex. Order #3); and “unfunded mandates” (Ex. Order #4) and privatization policies are still in effect. When will Gov. Murphy repeal them? Stunning.

In addition to blaming the victims for not installing vapor recovery systems, McCabe flat out lied on the Dupont Pompton Lakes site by equating RCRA Corrective Action to Superfund. When was the last time a Congressman toured or news reported on a RCRA site? Exposing McCabe’s lies about equating RCRA Corrective Action to Superfund was the Record’s “toxic secret” series which included a video interview with McCabe’s former boss, EPA R2 Admin Judy Enck. Enck said she SUPPORTED Superfund. If RCRA and Superfund are equivalent, why did Enck – like many people who live in Pompton Lakes – want Superfund?

Despite this remarkable testimony, McCabe still generated exactly the positive news headlines the Gov. and McCabe sought: e.g. see the NJ Spotlight story: ACTING DEP COMMISSIONER MCCABE SAILS THROUGH CONFIRMATION HEARING.

We have a radically different assessment of that hearing than NJ Spotlight’s superficial wet kiss.

And we will be specific. Interested readers can listen themselves to verify all this at the Legislature’s website (click on Archived Proceedings: View or listen to prior proceedings).

Veteran Spotlight reporter Tom Johnson wrote that McCabe was “peppered with questions issues left unresolved from the prior administration”, but failed to report what McCabe replied to those questions. Below we fill some of those gaps in reporting.

Prior to the confirmation hearing, McCabe used a slogan to tout a “new era in environmental protection” under the Murphy administration and her DEP leadership. Sycophantic NJ ENGO’s, who endorsed Gov. Murphy, drank that Kool-aid.

So, the stage was set for exactly the Kabuki dance McCabe delivered and NJ Spotlight reported.

McCabe opened the hearing with a strong statement of her laudable qualifications for the job. She seemed to think that the Senate’s “advise and consent” confirmation power was limited in scope to qualifications and that policy oversight was beyond the scope of the hearing.


Concurrently with the hearing, I tweeted at least 20 problem responses by McCabe (17 plus 3 more, scroll down!). I won’t go into every one of those in this post today – like the predicted and misleading responses on Pompton Lakes – but instead focus on a handful of the worst. These were so bad that I wrote to Senate Environment Committee Chairman Smith the below letter (Sen. Greenstein asked McCabe questions the next day at DEP budget hearing):

Dear Chairman Smith & Senator Greenstein – Thank you both for asking good questions of Acting DEP Commissioner McCabe. I write because I was disappointed and even disturbed by several of her answers, as set forth below.

1. Highlands Septic Density rule 

The Christie DEP rule was vetoed by the Legislature as inconsistent with legislative intent. While McCabe recognized and agreed to comply with that veto, she defended the Christie DEP rule, accused critics of exaggerating or misunderstanding its impact, and adopted the same scientific and legal posture as the Christie DEP in regard to the need to revise the prior rule.

I was stunned when McCabe pledged to rerun the groundwater model (technically, there is no formal “model” per se) and re-propose a new rule.

There was nothing wrong with the existing rule, legally or scientifically or as a matter of public policy. The Christie DEP decided to roll it back based on settlement of a lawsuit filed by the Farm Bureau.

McCabe is taking the same legal and scientific position as the Christie DEP in regard to the Farm Bureau lawsuit.

Instead, she needs to work with the AG and petition the Court revoke the Christie DEP settlement agreement with the Farm Bureau and defend the existing rule. There is no need to re-propose any new rule.

 2. Drinking Water Quality Institute and MCL’s

In response to questions about drinking water risks and MCL’s, McCabe stated that she would consider the economic impacts of treatment technology.

She mis-spoke. She confused the NJ law with the federal Safe Drinking Water Act. Federal law authorizes EPA to consider costs in setting MCL’s. The NJ law does not.

Under the NJ Safe Drinking Water Act, DEP may not consider the costs of treatment in deriving the basis for MCL’s and proposing and adopting MCL’s as regulatory standards.

Furthermore, I was shocked that she was unaware of the Christie DEP’s policies and practices in blocking the DWQI from meeting, delaying proposal of MCL’s recommended by the DWQI, and abandoning a Corzine DEP proposed MCL for perchlorate under Gov. Christie’s EO #1 moratorium on regulations.

Not only was McCabe unaware of any of this  – I assume she was unaware because she swore an oath to provide “complete” testimony – but she contradicted and undermined your legitimate Senate oversight concerns.

Finally, in response to several questions on the need for and status of DEP plans to propose new MCLs, she dodged the issue by saying those questions were difficult to answer because they lacked specificity. Ironically, she then went on to pledge to adopt unspecified MCL’s “this summer”.

I believe McCabe was referring to the PFOA MCL developed by the Christie DEP, and not several other necessary MCL’s. Accordingly, it appears that McCabe is merely maintaining continuity with Christie DEP proposals in the pipeline and not reforming the DWQI and DEP MCL adoption process.

Finally, I found her responses to Senator Gill’s questions about childhood blood lead levels and Senator Dougherty’s questions about pharmaceuticals and unregulated chemicals at best evasive, if not highly misleading.

A prior NJ DEP Report found over 500 unregulated chemicals in NJ water supplies and a DEP consultant’s report analyzed the feasibility, performance and cost of treatment technologies to remove these unregulated chemicals. I’d be glad to provide these studies at your request. The fact that McCabe apparently is unaware of all this is troubling. She either failed to do her homework or has been played by DEP bureaucrats.

3. Liberty State Park (LSP)

McCabe did not disagree with Christie DEP LSP policies, and explicitly kept the door open on pending and future development schemes at LSP.

[Update: I’m getting questions on this so let me provide details:

1. On the golf course, while she rejected the bid submitted in response to the Christie DEP RFP, she then went out of her way to add a huge caveat: “this does not preclude further discussions”. This means the door is open. She could have said: “There will be no commercial development in LSP under my watch” but she didn’t.

2. On the marina she said “no final decision has been made, we are still talking to applicant.” That means the door is open. She could have said: I will soon deny this application and protect the LSP”. She didn’t do that.

On top of that, McCabe did not abandon future development schemes or criticize Christie DEP policy or the inappropriate private planning done under contract by NJ Future. ~~~ end update]

4. Compliance and Inspections and Enforcement

McCabe rejected – twice – the factual basis of Senate oversight questions that claimed Christie DEP enforcement actions were reduced from 30 – 60%. Todd Bates of the The Asbury Park Press had previously reported reductions in enforcement fines of even larger percentages, in the 80-90% range if I recall.That reporting led to editorials admonishing DEP for lax enforcement.

In addition, I have written that the DEP has not submitted the legislatively mandates annual report under the Clean Water Enforcement Act for over 8 years.

I urge you to request that DEP provide accurate data on enforcement over the last 8 years and pledge to comply with CWEA annual reporting requirements.

5. DEP regulatory authority to review pipelines

McCabe’s responses to pipeline questions were disappointing, evasive, and possibly in error. She also testified that she was not familiar with DEP’s C1 stream buffer program, which suggests either incompetence, dishonesty, or failure to conduct due diligence.

Despite being sworn to provide “complete” testimony, McCabe failed to mention recent Christie DEP regulatory changes that either continued prior lax oversight policies or actually weakened the regulatory framework for pipelines, i.e. the recent adoption of revisions to stream encroachment and wetlands regulations that apply to pipelines. Both rule proposals generated strong public opposition and the Legislature almost finally vetoed the stream encroachment proposal as inconsistent with legislative intent.

If McCabe is unaware of these huge controversies, she has not been properly briefed by DEP staff. If she has been briefed and is aware of these issues, she misled the Senate by omission.

Furthermore, despite specifically mentioning the New York State regulatory action to deny NY DEC approvals for a pipeline, McCabe may have misspoke on the legal basis for doing so. McCAbe cited Clean Water Act “Section 404Q.” That section applies to US EPA and Army Corps federal powers.

Instead, I believe she meant to cite NY DEC and NJ DEP’s Section 401 Water Quality Certification powers.

I urge you to request that DEP provide the legislature with a formal legal opinion from the AG on the DEP’s legal powers under Section 401 of the Clean Water Act and DEP’s State freshwater wetlands regulations on “water quality certification” powers. 

In the alternate, you could request that OLS provide a legal analysis of this body of law.

*6. RGGI

McCabe emphasized that the costs of re-entering RGGI would be “marginal” (as in small). She mentioned models. McCabe and BPU are currently negotiating, among other things, new NJ specific caps.

As you know, the initial RGGI cap and the NJ specific cap negotiated by Corzine DEP Commissioner Jackson were considerably higher that actual emissions. While RGGI has since watched down the initial caps by over 40%, I am very concerned, especially after hearing McCabe tout the “marginal” costs and the cost constraints that serve as exit ramps in the NJ RGGI law (i.e. when allowances exceed a $2 ton trigger?) that the new caps will not be restrictive and drive the emissions reductions required to meet the goals of the Global Warming Response Act.

To avoid a repeat of history, I urge you to conduct oversight and ask DEP to hold public hearings on proposed technical issues, like new RGGI caps.

7. Integrity of the regulatory process

In response to Senator Cardinale’s attacks on an individual DEP employee and the DEP Category one and wetlands regulatory programs, McCabe asked Cardinale and all legislators to call her if they learned of controversies in DEP regulatory implementation and enforcement, In response, she pledge that she personally would conduct a site visit to determine the facts and law.

This is a highly improper role for the DEP Commissioner and it invites improper ex parte communications and interventions.

The DEP must make regulatory decisions on the basis of the administrative record. The Commissioner is the final decision-maker and must be independent and objective and maintain an arms length posture. The Commissioner must base decisions on the formal record, not ex parte legislative communications.

I was deeply disturbed by McCabe’s testimony in this regard, where she seemed oblivious to these fundamental principles of environmental law and administrative practice. This is unforgivable given the fact the McCabe is an experienced attorney and former EPA Appeals Board judge who clearly knows better.

To cover bureaucratic malpractice with some rhetoric about being responsive to the people and closer to the problem as a State official – I refer to the responses where McCabe talked about the contrast between federal EPA and State DEP – is intolerable.

There are several other issues I was troubled by but they are beyond the scope of this already too long letter.

I urge you continuing oversight of these important issues.


Bill Wolfe

ps – I would have copied McCabe on this letter but she has blocked my email. I urge you to forward it to her.

* the RGGI issue was not included in the letter.

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Murphy DEP Halts Proposed Logging Of Public Forests – Policy Review Pending

May 11th, 2018 No comments

DEP Must Update Current Policy & Impose Regulatory Restrictions On Logging Public Lands

We are not fooled by slogans like “stewardship” – we demand science and regulations

Climate change must be considered in management of forest resources


I’ve been harsh in criticizing various mis-steps by Gov. Murphy’s (still) Acting DEP Commissioner Catherine McCabe, so today we balance that with some good news and praise action she’s taken.

McCabe recently announced a “pause” on the controversial proposed logging in the Sparta Mountain Wildlife Management Area, located in an environmentally sensitive water supply watershed, drained by exceptional quality C1 streams in the Highlands Preservation Area.

The Sparta Independent reported:

The state Department of Environmental Protection announced last week that the Sparta Mountain forest management plan has been halted pending a review from the new commissioner.

Forestry activities at two different sites on the Sparta Mountain Wildlife Management Area were set to begin in February and end in April, but new Acting Commissioner Catherine McCabe wants to review the project before it proceeds any further.

“We’re going through a change of administrations,” said NJDEP Spokesperson Larry Hajna. “We have a new acting commissioner and so she is getting up to speed on various issues across the state and this is one that she wants to review. So we’ve decided just to hit the pause button and allow her to review the plan and then we’ll take it from there.”


McCabe’s pause will last until at least November, so there is plenty of time for DEP to conduct an in depth science based review of the policies and regulations that apply to logging of public lands.

The flaws and loopholes revealed by the Sparta Mountain WMA controversy are not unique but systemic and statewide, and therefore require a comprehensive Statewide DEP policy review, followed by reforms to laws and regulations.

We have a few suggestions to guide that policy review:

1. DEP should hold a series of regional workshops and public hearings to solicit public comments on forest management policies. These could be conducted jointly with regional planning agencies in the Highlands and Pinelands.

2. Some policy reforms will require legislative amendments, so the scope of the DEP review should include legislation (for flaws inthe statutory and regulatory framework, see: Environmental Damage Of DEP Sparta Mountain Logging Plan Largely Unregulated

3. The DEP Guidance document that applies to logging public lands is 22 years old, and is outdated scientifically and legally (see” Wetlands Best Management Practices Manual adopted by the Whitman DEP way back in 1995.)

It needs to be updated to reflect current science, particularly climate change mitigation and adaptation issues.

It also needs to be updated to reflect the DEP’s C1 stream buffer protection program and passage of the Highlands Act, whose primary purpose was to preserve the remaining large tracts of intact forests and canopy cover.

4. Local governments and communities must be involved in development of nearby forest management plans. Citizens who have paid to preserve public lands must have a voice in their management.

Early and meaningful involvement includes informal consultations and formal public hearings. Current laws that pre-empt local reviews must be rescinded.

5. DEP’s Wetlands Best Management Practices Manual and various regulations – including the Highlands Preservation Area and Category 1 stream buffer and water quality rules – either don’t apply to forestry, have loopholes, or are technically inadequate and do not protect critical natural resources and exceptional water quality.

DEP must revise current regulations so that they apply to and protect natural resources from logging. (see our framework post for some specific recommendations).

6. Any proposal to log public lands must include requirements to conduct baseline existing water quality, water quality anti degradation reviews,  and natural resource inventories.

Reviews must also include a carbon budget analysis, to determine impacts on carbon sequestration. This would include significant offsets and mitigation of any loss  carbon storage potential.

7. The Corzine DEP produced a report:  Valuing New Jersey’s Natural Capital: An Assessment of the Economic Value of the State’s Natural Resources. That report found that forests have far more economic value as forest than harvested as commercial logging. DEP needs to dust off that report and apply it to future management policies.

8. DEP’s report required by the Global Warning Response Act has data and recommendations on carbon sequestration and forest management.

That report needs to be updated and considered during the policy review, especially in light of re-entry into RGGI, which provides significant funding for carbon sequestration projects.

9. In terms of site specific suggestions for the NJ Audubon proposed Sparta Mountain WMA logging scheme, DEP should:

  • inventory blowdown and forest gaps created by Sandy and more recent storms. The primary rationale NJA presents for logging intact forests is to provide needed gaps in intact forest.” There is plenty of blowdown out there that provides precisely these “needed gaps”.
  • baseline existing water quality and predictive models to structure a science based antidegradation review required for C1 waters to demonstrate compliance with all water quality standards. NJ Audubon claims that their plan “protects water resources“, but they provide no data or baseline water quality analysis (physical, chemical and biological) or compliance field model to determine or predict any impacts.
  • carbon budget analysis. Climate crisis requires that we maximize carbon sequestration and have a policy of no loss of carbon storage.(see #8 above).

10. Conduct an aluminum toxicity analysis to avoid problems the USGS documented in the Catskills. Shockingly, USGS found that forest clear cuts caused 100% mortality of trout:

Clearcutting caused a large release of nitrate (NO 3-) from watershed soils and a concurrent release of inorganic monomeric aluminum (Alim), which is toxic to some aquatic biota. The increased soil NO 3- concentrations measured after the harvest could be completely accounted for by the decrease in nitrogen (N) uptake by watershed trees, rather than an increase in N mineralization and nitrification. The large increase in stream water NO3 – and Alim concentrations caused 100-percent mortality of caged brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) during the first year after the clearcut and adversely affected macroinvertebrate communities for 2 years after the harvest.

We look forward to DEP conducting this kind of rigorous science based review of their current policies, guidance and regulations that apply – or provide loopholes – to logging of public lands.

We are not fooled by slogans, like “stewardship” – we demand science and regulations.

[End Note: I just revised this into a letter to DEP Commissioner McCabe. She has blocked my email (I successfully sent an email previously, so I now its been blocked.

So now I will file it formally as a petition for rule-making and force them to respond.

We will also file a petition for rule-making based on this DEP Report, recommending that several streams be upgraded to Category One: An Evaluation of NJDEP’s Category One Antidegradation Designation Process.

Rule-making petitions are one of the best ways to hold DEP accountable to science and law. They area LOT better than a press release.

Here is an example that can serve as a template to help those individuals or environmental groups that would like to file a petition for rule-making.

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Did NJ Audubon Dupe NJ’s First Lady Tammy Murphy?

May 10th, 2018 No comments

Did Tammy Know She was Palling Around With Trump Partner & Christie Collaborator?

Website Scrubbed Of Controversial Trump Partnership & Corporate Stewardship Council


[5/11/18 – Updates in text]

Today, NJ First Lady Tammy Murphy did a PR event in Cape May sponsored by NJ Audubon and corporate pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly & Co. (see the announcement “Turning the Tide for the Horseshoe Crab“)

The Murphy’s are newcomers to the NJ political scene, so I was wondering if Tammy knew of the the several divisive controversies that NJ Audubon was involved in, including:

We recently tried to warn the incoming Murphy people about some of that NJ Audubon collaboration, and specifically highlight the parallels between Trump and Christie policies and slogans.

Previously, we also criticized NJ Audubon Society, most recently for their role as:

a self-proclaimed “conservation” organization [that] has: 1) formed a “partnership” with Donald Trump; 2) taken money from a Wall Street billionaire to log forests to enhance opportunities for wealthy private hunters; and 3) formed a “Stewardship Council”with major corporate polluters, developers, and pipeline builders; then something apparently benign like a “buy local” sustainable forestry birdhouse program may seem like chump change, and just a short slide down the slippery slope of the Greasy Pole to Gomorrah (a process that Chris Hedges calls “our descent into corporate tyranny.”)

I am referring to NJ’s Audubon’s latest scam, run in cooperation with NJ State Departments of Environmental Protection (“Forest Stewardship”) and Agriculture (“Jersey Grown Wood“).

[Update: I forgot to mention the fact that Dupont funds NJ Audubon for work on Delaware Bay – “Clear Into The Future” –  another Orwellian corrupt corporate green scam.]

I wonder who does the background political research in the Governor’s Office for the First Lady’s events? Were they aware of these minefields?

Maybe the political background work was done by the same person who recommended that Gov. Murphy’s DEP Commissioner join Trump EPA Scott Pruitt’s self serving press release designed to divert attention from his various scandals.

Dupe me once, shame on me – Dupe me twice….? The Murphy political folks are looking either naive or incompetent.

But maybe the political background researcher just got duped by NJ Audubon’s recent scrubbing of their website of any of this stuff.

Take a look at their new website and Stewardship page and see if you can find the Trump partnership, Corporate Stewardship  Council, or various work with the Christie DEP, like the drafting Commissioner Martin’s talking points and the Sparta Mountain WMA logging plan.

This raises questions, like:

[Update – Friends just sent me this NJA spin on the Sparta Mountain logging plan – which I missed on their new website – so they are doubling down. I’ll post on this in more detail soon.]

Inquiring minds want to know!

If NJ Audubon didn’t give the Governor’s Office a heads up on any of these minefields, then they duped the First Lady and should pay a price for that.


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Gov. Murphy’s DEP Commissioner Joined Trump EPA Head Pruitt Press Spin, Just Days After Congressional Hearings On Pruitt Scandals

May 3rd, 2018 No comments

Does NJ DEP Acting Commissioner McCabe Read The Paper?

Clueless Deer in the headlights?

What was she thinking?

I’ve tried to give NJ Gov. Murphy’s Acting DEP Commissioner Catherine McCabe the benefit of the doubt, given Gov. Murphy’s lack of resolve and that her confirmation is being held hostage by Senate President Sweeney, and Sweeney had his own former Senate staffer, Eric Wachter, installed as McCabe’s Chief of Staff.

But after learning of her unprecedented and corrupt “Sweeney Tour” and craven politicization of a wetlands enforcement case, not any more.

But – aside from the Sweeney Tour – this could be one of the most either naive or stupid things any DEP Commissioner ever did.

It is no secret that Trump EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt is waging a war on EPA, on Obama climate policies, and on environmental regulations that protect public health and the environment (for just some of the dirty details, see; Scott Pruitt’s Dirty Politics)

Follow the timeline: On April 26, 2018THE HILL reported

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt faces a make-or-break day Thursday on Capitol Hill with back-to-back congressional panels where he will be grilled over a series of controversies endangering his tenure at the Environmental Protection Agency.

Yet despite Pruitt’s scandalous record, last week, on April 30, just days after Pruitt faced two critical Congressional hearings on his ethical lapses and disastrous policies, NJ Gov. Murphy’s DEP Commissioner McCabe joined a misleading and diversionary Pruitt EPA press release, using a NJ Superfund site to tout Pruitt’s so called “accomplishments” in reforming the EPA Superfund program.

Long prior to Congress’s recent investigation of Pruitt’s ethical lapses, he had been under severe criticism not only for his unprecedented rollbacks of  EPA regulatory protections of public health and the environment, but also for appointing an unqualified crony, Albert “Kell” Kelly, to head the Superfund program. Pruitt crony Kelly was not only unqualified for the EPA position, he received a lifetime ban from the banning industry.

“Kell” Kelly’s most notorious action was presiding over a Pruitt created “Superfund Task Force” that issued a detailed set of recommendations to “reform” the Superfund program. The objectives of that exercise were transparent: to reduce polluters’ cleanup costs and promote redevelopment:

expediting cleanup and remediation process- reducing financial burden on all parties involved in the entire cleanup process- encouraging private investment- promoting redevelopment and community revitalization- and, building and strengthening partnerships

My friends at PEER sought to find out who Pruitt appointed to the “Superfund Task Force” and who wrote the Taskforce report. After suing EPA under FOIA for failure to produce records, here’s what PEER found out:

Washington, DC —U.S. Environmental Protection Administrator Scott Pruitt claims his Superfund Task Force developed a detailed plan to revamp the program without any preliminary or briefing paperwork, according to correspondence posted today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). Thus over approximately one month, this Task Force produced a set of 42 recommendations with no identifiable antecedent or a single supporting document.

On May 22nd, Pruitt announced that he was taking personal control over all major future and ongoing Superfund projects and appointed a task force headed by Albert Kelly, a disbarred Oklahoma banker and long-time Pruitt campaign supporter. PEER submitted a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request seeking basic information about this effort, such as: Who was on this task force? How were they picked? What materials did they look at and how did this group arrive at decisions?

The Chicago Tribune wrote that story:

EPA says Superfund Task Force created by Pruitt kept no records of meetings

And “Kell” Kelly, who has gotten a lot of media attention, is not even the worst problem in Pruitt’s Superfund policy rollbacks that NJ DEP McCabe legitimatized. Check this one out!

Does Acting DEP Commissioner McCabe read the newspaper or follow developments at her former agency, EPA?

All this was well known BEFORE McCabe signed on to the April 30, 2018 EPA press release.

The EPA press release was an obvious diversion from Pruitt’s Congressional investigations, after which an EPA Whistleblower says Pruitt lied during congressional testimony.

Just Tuesday May 2, Pruitt’s corrupt crony “Kill” Kelly resigned amid scandal.

Albert “Kell” Kelly, a top aide to Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt who was hired to revitalize the agency’s cleanup of toxic sites, resigned Tuesday amid scrutiny of his previous actions as the leader of a bank in Oklahoma and his lifetime ban from banking.

Politico reported: Pruitt’s security, Superfund chief leave as probe heats up

So here it is.

Aside from all that, here’s the outrageously false and diversionary claims NJ DEP McCabe signed on to and legitimized.

According to an April 30, 2018 EPA press release(which I received via email from EPA Region 2 press official Dave Kluesner and is not on the Region 2 or EPA HQ website):

Under Administrator Pruitt’s leadership, the Superfund Program has reemerged as a top priority to advance the Agency’s core mission of protecting human health and the environment. Berry’s Creek is both within a site on the National Priorities List and Administrator Pruitt’s December 2017 list of Superfund sites targeted for immediate and intense attention.

“The proposed plan will address the worst contamination first as EPA develops a final plan to ensure a comprehensive cleanup of the entire site,” said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. “We are making tremendous progress expediting sites through the entire Superfund remediation process, ensuring polluted areas are addressed quickly and thoroughly.

Here’s how McCabe legitimized those lies:

“The nation’s Superfund program, based on contaminated site objectives developed in New Jersey, has been a tremendous success. However, in some cases cleanup work has been too slow,” said New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Acting Commissioner Catherine R. McCabe. “Placing additional focus and resources on those sites is the right thing to do to ensure protection of natural resources and public health.”

What was she thinking?

McCabe is dead wrong not only on the optics, but on the policy as well.

Wonder if she’s read the Pruitt EPA Superfund Task Force Report?

Wonder if McCabe understands that NJ’s now cleanup law she touts as a model for Superfund, was privatized under the Corzine Administration and Lisa Jackson’s leadership?

Wonder if McCabe will go the way of Gov. Florio’s first DEP Commissioner? Sure looks like a possibility at this point.

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Gov. Murphy Continues Christie Corporate Subsidies

May 1st, 2018 No comments

May Day Message: Murphy Embraces Same Race To The Bottom

Murphy Needs to Rescind The Same Energy Subsidy Deal To BL England Plant 

I’ve been noting how, thus far, Gov. Murphy – a self proclaimed bold green leader – while changing course on climate and energy policy, is continuing many of Gov. Christie’s environmental policies, particularly DEP regulatory policies, see:  Gov. Christie’s Executive Orders That Weakened Environmental Protections Are Still In Effect

I see similar continuity – and less contrast – in former Wall Streeter Murphy’s economic policy, based on recent news: BPU GRANTS SAYREVILLE STEEL PLANT DISCOUNT ON ENERGY BILL.

Gerdau Steel is getting a discount beginning tomorrow on its energy bill, savings that could help the Sayreville steel plant stay competitive with rivals.

The state Board of Public Utilities has granted the only active steelmaker in New Jersey a 50 percent reduction of a surcharge on its energy costs, which amounts to about $1.5 million annually, according to Gerdau.

The Gerdau Steel deal shares the same fundamental premises of former Gov. Christie’s Neoliberal economic policy: corporate subsidies, concessions to corporate blackmail of threats to relocate jobs, and a war on the public sphere: all things public and social.

That Christie-Murphy policy starves the public of resources to address social needs while further concentrating private corporate wealth and power.

The levy, dubbed the societal benefit charge,(SBC) is used to fund a variety of programs, including clean-energy initiatives, a low-income energy assistance effort, the cost of nuclear decommissioning, and cleanup of former manufactured-gas sites. The surcharge has been imposed on customers since the state broke up gas and electric monopolies. It falls most heavily on businesses that use a lot of energy.

It is part of the Neoliberal agenda to dismantle government, erode labor power, and maximize corporate profits.

Like Christie, Murphy sees public subsidies as necessary to sustain corporate profits (which are masked by the slogan “competitiveness”) a flawed view of the real causes of job loss, which have far more to do with US firms: 1) failure to invest in and modernize US plants, 2) exporting US manufacturing jobs to low wage and slave labor third world countries with few if any pollution control requirements. 3) Technology is the other major driver of “deindustrialization”, as automation and efficiency displace labor.

Gerdau Steel is a global corporation based in Brazil. They operate in 14 countries. They have no loyalty to NJ, the US, or US workers and communities.

Many economists criticized President Trump’s steel tariff’s as a blunt policy instrument and ineffective approach to protect US domestic manufacturing jobs. But they are predicted to increase the price of steel and US steel manufacturers’ corporate profits.

So, if Trump already bailed out the US steel industry with tariff protections, why do they need more NJ BPU energy subsidies?

My sense is that Wall Street financier Murphy thinks his “targeted” subsidies are a sharper policy tool and better approach than Trump’s blunt across the board tariff approach.

But from what was reported, the Murphy BPU subsidies do not require any capital investments or labor training, or corporate profit concessions at the Sayreville plant that would increase long term productivity and real competitiveness.

It is unlikely that the subsidies will provide enforceable mandates to keep the plant operating in NJ – they could shut down and leave, based on corporate decisions made in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

And by lowering the cost of energy, the BPU removes incentives to make the energy intensive plant more energy efficient and reduce its carbon footprint, which directly contradicts Gov. Murphy’s pledge of climate leadership.

Murphy tried to mask this obvious contradiction by excluding the clean energy portion of the SBC from the deal. But that’s just rhetoric and lipstick on a pig.

If Wall Street corporate Democrat Murphy were a true progressive, he’d be talking to economist Richard Wolff and forming a policy to promote worker cooperatives. If the Gerdau corporation is not making sufficient profits, why not sell the plant to the workers? Where are NJ unions in advocating real progressive policies like professor Wolff outlines?

Finally, the elimination of SBC surcharges to subsidize corporate profits has been done before.

In another continuity with Christie policy, news reports fail to mention the fact the BPU exempted the BL England power plant from both RGGI and SBC levies. As we wrote:

Here are some of the benefits of that lobbying, worth hundreds of millions of dollars granted by Christie controlled state agencies:

1.In an April 29, 2013 Order, BPU quietly granted huge tax breaks and subsidies to the Rockland Capital BL England Plant:

Source: BPU Order

2. This BPU Order also provided secrecy to cover up the amount of huge ratepayer subsidies to Rockland Capital.

I don’t recall any news reports about these subsidies.

And I don’t recall Rate Counsel Brand publicly raising any objections to these subsidies.

So, now I’m curious abut how widespread these corporate subsidies as waivers to the SBC charges is – did BPU waive SBC for all those new natural gas power plants Christie pushed through?

Can they be rescinded? Will Gov. Murphy rescind them?

Can the media ask BPU these kind of questions?

End note: here’s a challenge for a real investigative journalist:

When did this deal begin?, i..e when was the deal first presented to BPU? Is it a Christie proposal?

This is pure speculation, but there could be fingerprints of the NJ based Hugo Neu corporation on this deal. Connect the dots of Wendy Neu, who sits on the NRDC Board and was on Murphy’s Energy/Environment Transition Team. She also is a major Democratic donor, and friend of Gov. Murphy’s wife Tammy, a “promoter of policy” in the Murphy administration. Curiously, Tammy, a former George Bush Republican, was recruited by Al Gore to The Climate Reality Project. So, with NRDC and Gore connections, this deal could be Tammy inspired.

Are there any corporate or financial ties between Hugo Neu and Gerdau? Did Wendy whisper in Tammy’s ear, directly or through NRDC or the Murphy Transition Team?

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