Home > Uncategorized > Is Murphy DEP Commissioner McCabe A Naive Deer In The Headlights or a Machiavellian Manipulator?

Is Murphy DEP Commissioner McCabe A Naive Deer In The Headlights or a Machiavellian Manipulator?

McCabe Seeks To Divide and Conquer 

Isolates and Marginalizes DEP’s Dupont Critics

Manipulates Public & Provides Cover For Local Officials At Partisan Sham “Hearing”

That headline is not rhetorical – once again, Murphy DEP Commissioner McCabe has revealed herself as either a totally naive fool or a malign manipulative political bureaucrat.

[A reader just shot me an email – slams me for getting it badly wrong and says: “McCabe a wealthy corporate sell out – check her record and financials”]

The most recent case of gross malpractice occurred in Pompton Lakes regarding the notoriously failed 30 year long Dupont toxic site “cleanup”. Follow the most recent developments:

Recall that, months after Gov. Murphy compared Dupont Pompton Lakes to the Love Canal disaster, McCabe was criticized for rejecting the pleas of local residents to support designation of the Dupont site as a federal Superfund site, see: Like Christie, Murphy’s DEP says no to Superfund for Pompton Lakes cleanup (June 3, 2108):

Gov. Phil Murphy’s administration has no plans to seek Superfund status to speed cleanup of a contaminated plume and former DuPont munitions site in Pompton Lakes, despite pleas for such action from many residents who must live with the cancer-causing pollution.

“I don’t see any advantage in Superfund,” Catherine McCabe, acting commissioner of the state Department of Environmental Protection, said last week in an interview with The Record and NorthJersey.com.

(We noted that in seeing no advantage in Superfund, McCabe contradicted her former boss, US EPA Region 2 Administrator Judith Enck, who, after leaving office, told the Record:

Six years ago, a leading EPA official told McCabe’s predecessor, then-DEP commissioner Bob Martin, how Pompton Lakes would benefit from Superfund.

Judith Enck, a former EPA regional administrator, pushed Martin and the Christie administration in 2012 to put Pompton Lakes into the Superfund program.

States must nominate toxic sites to begin the Superfund process, and Enck said the Christie administration was the biggest obstacle.

“I think the new administration should consider sending a letter to EPA for Superfund designation,” Enck has told The Record, referring to the new Murphy administration.

The Record also reported that McCabe’s claims of “no advantage in Superfund” were flat out contradicted by McCabe’s former agency, US EPA:

Superfund status would provide a more ironclad cleanup plan for Pompton Lakes that could not be as easily challenged by Chemours, according to U.S. Environmental Protection emails obtained by The Record and NorthJersey.com.

It would also give residents more opportunity to have their concerns heard. And it would allow them to hire independent contractors to examine mounds of scientific data.

And of course, based on McCabe’s own prior legislative testimony, I predicted exactly this would happen long before it did, see:  Murphy DEP Admits “Continuity With Christie DEP” On Dupont Toxic Fiasco (May 17, 2018).

After McCabe announced her “no Superfund” decision, local residents were especially enraged because McCabe made that decision without meeting with or even talking to them. That betrayed a promise they had received from McCabe’s Chief of Staff, Eric Wachter and thought they had received personally from Gov. Murphy himself on a WNYC radio call in show. (and we predicted that too – see Played in Pompton Lakes – Again)

To make amends for betraying local residents, McCabe agreed to a meeting with them.

On Thursday August 16, 2018, Commissioner McCabe, Chief of Staff Wachter, DEP’s Communications Director and McCabe’s “special assistants” Brendon Shank, Derek Hardy &  Chris Gough finally met with several local residents and members of local activist groups CCPL and PLREI.

McCabe brought her political team – not one DEP expert or staff familiar with the Dupont cleanup attended that meeting. I was told that McCabe apparently was not even familiar with the terms of the 1988 Administrative Consent Order (ACO) between DEP and Dupont. That ACO governs the DEP’s oversight of the cleanup and is a crucial document.

It is simply incomprehensible that a DEP Commissioner would hold a meeting with informed residents without a DEP expert and without detailed briefings on and knowledge of the regulatory oversight documents (i.e permits, ACO, etc).

But before the meeting with residents went down – a meeting which took DEP months to arrange – word of the meeting got out to local officials and others, who then demanded their own meeting with DEP.

Despite residents’ longstanding disagreements with local officials, whose negligence in protecting residents and consistently supporting Dupont, (see: Is Pompton Lakes The Most Corrupt Local Government In NJ?) DEP and EPA borders on corruption, McCabe immediately accommodated that request, which was held just one day after meeting with residents.

In this second meeting, McCabe met with an invited small group of local officials and Republican State legislators representing the District.

Republican Assemblyman Kevin Rooney falsely called that political meeting an “Environmental Hearing”.

It was not a “hearing”.

It was a divisive dog and pony show, an orchestrated and partisan sham to create the false appearance that local officials and State legislators are aggressively holding DEP and Dupont accountable and looking out for residents.

Here’s a screen shot from Assemblyman Rooney’s Twitter feed:

Screen Shot 2018-08-19 at 9.55.55 AM

Here’s how former local official and CCPL leader Lisa Riggiola felt about that “hearing”, calling out Rooney in this comment on Rooney’s Facebook page:

A hearing and many of the residents of the plume that have been fighting for their lives for a decade are not invited to a hearing?   You sure this wasn’t a political event for the Republican Party?  Are these some of the same people that have shunned the plume residents, showing them not an ounce of care or respect let alone do anything positive to fight for the right clean up?  You have a hard time after a decade for them to believe that some of them are changed after all these years?

Right on, Lisa! You got it exactly right.

But, of course local and State politicians are going to play these bullshit games.

A DEP Commissioner is NOT supposed to do so and should have the political chops to understand these games and avoid getting manipulated by them (see:  The Murphy DEP Is Out of Control In Politicizing Dupont Pompton Lakes Permit Review).

By holding 2 meetings – both private, by invitation only, and political – McCabe has sown further mistrust and division among the people of Pompton Lakes, while also undermining trust in DEP.

McCabe is playing the same manipulative game as local officials have in trying to isolate and marginalize the residents who criticize Dupont and DEP. She has shown disrespect to them.

But instead of avoiding these games and manipulation, McCabe – just like she did on that wetlands “tour” with Senate President Sweeney – completely caved in and willingly participated in gross political manipulation.

That’s why there were no DEP scientists or experts in the meeting with residents, just McCabe sycophants and political hacks.

Shame on her – again.

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