Archive for March, 2019

A Presidential Permit Is An Outrageous Abuse of Executive Power

March 30th, 2019 No comments

Same Day Trump Reversed On Arctic Drilling – He Issues “Permit” To Keystone XL

[Update: 4/15/19 – Words from the horse’s mouth confirm my point

the president, not the bureaucracy, will have sole authority to make the final decision when we get caught up in problems. ~~~  President Trump speaking Wednesday in Crosby, Texas, where he signed the orders. (from Democracy Now!)

A federal judge just reversed Tump’s abuse of executive authority on arctic drilling:

WASHINGTON — In a legal blow to President Trump’s push to expand offshore oil and gas development, a federal judge ruled that an executive order by Mr. Trump that lifted an Obama-era ban on oil and gas drilling in the Arctic Ocean was unlawful.

The decision, by Judge Sharon Gleason in the United States District Court for the District of Alaska, concluded late Friday that President Barack Obama’s 2015 and 2016 withdrawal of about 125 million acres of Arctic Ocean from drilling “will remain in full force and effect unless and until revoked by Congress.” She wrote that an April 2017 executive order by Mr. Trump revoking the drilling ban “is unlawful, as it exceeded the president’s authority.”….

it adds to a growing roster of legal losses for Mr. Trump’s effort to undo Mr. Obama’s environmental legacy. Experts in environmental law estimate that the Trump administration has now lost about 40 environmental cases in federal courts.

But just hours later, in an obvious propaganda – news management move, Trump again abused Executive authority and issued a “Presidential permit” to the Keystone XL pipeline.

The Bloomberg story:

Unlike the earlier State Department permit, which was issued after a deep environmental analysis required under the National Environmental Policy Act, the new presidential permit is not directly tied to any such review. And the NEPA statute that generally compels environmental study of energy projects and major agency actions does not apply to the president. ….

But Trump still retains the authority to issue presidential permits himself, said the person, who asked for anonymity to discuss internal deliberations. And because Trump’s permit is not subject to environmental review requirements in federal law, it effectively restarts the process and undercuts the Montana lawsuit.

U.S. District Judge Brian Morris’s November ruling found that the 2014 environmental assessment by the Obama administration fell short. Trump had used that review in a March 2017 decision allowing the project to proceed. Morris said the government must consider oil prices, greenhouse-gas emissions and formulate a new spill-response strategy before allowing the pipeline to move forward.

While I was aware of the State Department’s “Presidential Permit”, I must admit that I’ve never heard of a “Presidential permit” – in the “Presidential” sense – and the whole idea of being exempt from environmental laws sounded absurd to me.

I thought Bloomberg must have gotten it wrong – but they’re right.

Federal Register:

Because the determination is Presidential action, made through the exercise of Presidentially delegated authorities, the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA), the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, the Endangered Species Act of 1973, the Administrative Procedure Act, and other similar laws and regulations that do not apply to Presidential actions are inapplicable. (sic) However, as a matter of policy, the Department conducts its review of Presidential permit applications in a manner consistent with NEPA.

How can the President be exempt from environmental laws?

Did Congress explicitly exempt the President or is this some manufactured Executive Branch legal opinion regarding the President’s powers?

Hopefully this too will be legally challenged.

The scope of executive power is a key issue that was not adequately discussed during the Supreme Court confirmation hearings of Brett Kavanaugh.

Even now, with the pending Constitutional conflict over the Mueller Report front and center, there’s not much discussion. Too abstract – Too complex for our media. The #metoo identity politics are soooo much easier to report.

But, if President Trump can go around issuing environmental permits that are exempt from environmental law, we no longer have the rule of law and are far down the road to tyranny.

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Why Is DEP (or EPA?) Keeping Dupont Gen X Pollution A Secret?

March 29th, 2019 No comments

DEP [or EPA] Redacts Key Information About Pollution From Plant

Redactions obscure health risks and lax regulatory oversight


[Important update in text]

Jon Hurdle of NJ Spotlight has a good story today about imports of the toxic chemical known as “Gen X” to Dupont’s Chambers Works facility in South Jersey. (Chemours purchased Dupont), see:

The story was the result of the work of Tracy Carlucchio at Delaware Riverkeeper, who filed an OPRA request to DEP.

The document, dated May 18, 2018, was obtained from the state Department of Environmental Protection through an open-records request from the environmental group Delaware Riverkeeper Network.

I was stunned by the fact that DEP redacted critical information from the response to Riverkeeper, mentioned  in the final paragraph of Hurdle’s story:

But some parts of the document were redacted, obscuring the company’s responses to EPA questions including what pathways allowed the escape of GenX into the environment at the plant, and how the company treats for the chemical.

Asked to provide details of any GenX spills at the site, the company denied there had been any.

“We are not aware of any spills of HFPO-DA at the Chambers Works site,” the company said in its response.

[Update: I just got email reply from Mr. Hurdle. It is not clear whether DEP redacted the information under OPRA, or whether EPA redacted it in the Chemours Report to US EPA. It sounds like the later. Regardless, it is critical regulatory information that must be made public – see specific questions below about that. ~~~ end update]

I was also disappointed that Hurdle missed the issue, on both OPRA and the implications of the redaction.

First of all, the issue is broader than the Dupont response that denied any “spills”.

Here are the relevant issues:

1. The issue is not limited to “spills” but whether there are ongoing releases of Gen X to the air, land, and surface water (the Delaware River) and groundwater at the facility.

2. The issue is whether the facility’s air and water permits authorize these discharges (i.e. are they regulated discharges?  are they fugitive emissions?) and whether the facility’s DEP permits were properly modified and issued by DEP with public notification and public participation.

3. The issue is whether the facility was required by DEP to conduct a risk assessment, as required under DEP air permit regulations for discharge of hazardous air pollutants and carcinogens that adversely impact public health – and whether DEP determined that the risks were “acceptable”. 

Pursuant to N.J.A.C. 7:27-8.5(b), for preconstruction permit applications, and N.J.A.C. 7:27- 22.3(cc), for operating permit applications, health risk assessments are required for Air Toxic emissions listed for new or modified equipment and at the time of Title V operating permit renewals. For Title V permit renewals, a facility-wide health risk assessment is not required if the facility has already completed one for a previous renewal, unless there have been changes to emissions, stack parameters, risk factors, or dispersion models since the last time a facility-wide health risk assessment was conducted. Applicability determinations are made at the time of permit application. Additional information on applicability can be found at the Air Quality Permitting Program, Division of Air Quality (DAQ) website” – see: DEP Technical Manual

4. The issue is whether the facility is in compliance with their air and water permits with respect to discharge of Gen X – and if not, whether DEP has taken enforcement action for permit violations or unpermitted discharges.

5. The issue is whether Chemours and/or DEP monitors all emissions of Gen X from the plant and beyond the facility’s property boundary for risks to public health and the environment – and if they do, what do those data say?.

6. The issue is whether DEP regulations and oversight are too lax and provide loopholes that allow the facility to discharge this hazardous chemical with no DEP regulatory oversight and public awareness.

7. The issue is why DEP redacted critical information regarding release of Gen X to the environment that is directly relevant to all the above issues.

8. The issue is on what legal basis under OPRA DEP justified these redactions.

9. The issue is why did this information have to be forced out of DEP by an OPRA request and not previously disclosed to the public and community.

10. The issues why the federal Toxic Substances Control Act – including recent amendments for which Cory Booker declared victory – allows Gen X to be manufactured and why the public was not informed of any of this by US  EPA and NJ DEP. ASK BOOKER.

“Congressional approval of this bipartisan chemical safety law is a major victory for our state and for the legacy of Sen. Frank Lautenberg who championed this fight.  I am proud of the long-overdue improvements I fought to include in this bill, includingprovisions that strengthen EPA’s ability to regulate toxic chemicals, provide EPA with dedicated funding, give more scrutiny to new chemicals before they come on the market, allow states to continue to co-enforce with EPA, and minimize animal testing when scientifically reliable alternatives exist.

[Update According to US EPA:

Another tool in the TSCA enforcement toolkit is TSCA Section 7 Imminent and Substantial Engagement (ISE) authority. This infrequently used provision provides EPA authority for preventing a release or continued release of a substance meeting the definition of a ”imminently hazardous chemical substance or mixture” in TSCA7(f).

Ask DEP and EPA why this TSCA enforcement tool was not used in this case.

We want answers – and we want more rigorous followup reporting by NJ Spotlight. I reached out to Mr. Hurdle several times now.

We’ll keep you posted.

{Update 2: It appears that DEP and EPA did not redact the information. But even if Chemours redacted the information pursuant to TSCA in a Report to EPA (that NJ DEP had bee copied on) as confidential business information, it relates to chemical releases to the environment at the facility. Even if redacted for public review, EPA and DEP both have the underlying data. Accordingly, the above regulatory issues are still relevant.]

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Murphy DEP Finally Re-Opens Corrupt Dupont Pompton Lakes Natural Resource Damage Settlement

March 27th, 2019 No comments

Persistent Local Activists Get Credit For Victory

DEP admits flawed original 2005 NRD settlement 


  • Today, 31 years after the original 1988 State ACO was signed, the Facility and surrounding natural resources remain heavily contaminated. The full nature and extent of the contamination, and the injuries caused by that contamination, remain unknown. ~~~ NJ DEP NRD lawsuit against Dupont (3/27/19)

“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.”

After decades of getting screwed by Dupont, EPA and NJ DEP, the residents of Pompton Lakes finally won a battle in their war with Dupont.

Today, the Murphy DEP and AG announced a new NRD lawsuit against Dupont (I’ll omit a link to the over the top AG/DEP press release).

The victory was the result of the hard work and persistent activism of a small group of residents, led by former Councilpersons Lisa Riggiola and Ed Meakem. They organized and fought for years. And with no help from their own local government (for a sense of Dupont’s power over the local hacks, consider the fact that Ed and Lisa got unelected after just 1 term).

The Natural Resource Damage issue at Dupont Pompton Lakes goes back decades.

I’m proud to say that I did a lot of the technical background work on this issue.

In fact, I brought the NRD issue to the attention of the US Fish and Wildlife Service, who knew nothing about it until I told them. US FWS was under the false impression that EPA and DEP were issuing minor wetlands and dredging permits regarding the lake dredge – they were unaware of the NRD issues. That was because EPA failed to comply with RCRA regulations that mandate consultation with USFWS as part of the lake dredge corrective action permit modification.

Most recently, just over a year ago, on March 16, 2018, I gave DEP Commissioner McCabe a “to do” list.

I reiterated that “to do list” back on May 17, 2018, I wrote:

If the Governor and McCabe are listening, as I wrote and the residents of Pompton Lakes have written McCabe to request, here is a path forward: [1.-4.]

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 (12/6/10)

“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.”

But even now, DEP never admits that they screwed up. DEP never admits that the narrow scope of the original 2005 NRD settlement was limited to groundwater and that DEP failed to do due diligence and allowed Dupont to donate what DEP should have known was contaminated lands.

While I praise this action by McCabe, I must call out some continuing problems with DEP’s NRD program and some lies in the Dupont lawsuit claim.

First of all, DEP has still not resolved serious legal and technical vulnerabilities in their NRD program identified by NJ Courts, including failure to promulgate NRD regulations that, among other things, define and quantify NRD damages. We warned DEP and policymakers about this, see:

DEP’s failure to heed that 2007 warning led directly to the debacle in the Exxon case.

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.

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,” Engel said in the letter.  ~~~~ Some Say NJ Had Little Choice but to Settle With Exxon,  (NJ Law Journal) (4/2/15)

Reflecting those vulnerabilities, the DEP Dupont NRD lawsuit – in contrast to the $8.9 billion damage assessment DEP laid on the table in the infamous Exxon case – seeks unspecified money damages and seeks relief for vague compensation and restoration requirements, which are subject to negotiation.

Dupont could be liable for $10 or $10 million. We don’t know.

Accordingly, the latest round of NRD lawsuits are vulnerable to legal challenge by the polluters.

In terms of lies, DEP makes this claim in paragraph 109, which is false:

Under federal law, the State lacked authority to issue the provisions of the permit that pertained to the Hazardous and Solid Waste Amendments of 1984 (“HSWA”), because only the federal U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) may issue such permit provisions.

This is simply not true and DEP knows it. (I go into great deal about the RCRA HSWA delegation issue in this post).

US EPA can delegate the RCRA HSWA program provisions to States.

Here is EPA’s State Authorization program:

State authorization is a rulemaking process that EPA delegates the primary responsibility of implementing the RCRA hazardous waste program to individual states in lieu of EPA.

Currently, 50 states and territories have been granted authority to implement the base, or initial, program. Many are also authorized to implement additional parts of the RCRA program that EPA has since promulgated, such as corrective action and the land disposal restrictions. State RCRA programs must be at least as stringent as the federal requirements, but states can adopt more stringent requirements as well.

NJ never sought delegation of HSWA from EPA. DEP Commissioner McCabe surely knows this.

NJ DEP managers didn’t want the program. DEP wanted “flexibility” to cut dirty deals with polluters under their State ACO based “voluntary cleanup” program (which has since been privatized).

RCRA HSWA was perceived as too regulatory and would subject DEP cleanup program to EPA oversight.

Finally, we note that DEP seeks compensation and restoration for trespass and public nuisance violations.

But we must note that DEP recently lost court cases on these very grounds.

While NJ AG Grewal is issuing over the top press releases about “dropping the hammer” on polluters, he and DEP just lost a MAJOR NRD case that will seriously reduce DEP’s ability to collect $ NRD damages.see:

So, the prior legal vulnerabilities resulting from lack of DEP regulations have been compounded by court decisions rejecting DEP trespass and nuisance claims.


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Tom Gilbert of Rethink NJ Is Lying About Climate Change Legislation

March 27th, 2019 No comments

Governor Murphy and the Legislature Are Not Serious On Climate Catastrophe

  • It was not the Department’s intent to establish CO2 emissions permitting and regulatory requirements through the proposed amendments. The Department has modified the rules on adoption to except CO2 from existing air pollution regulatory and reporting requirements. ~~~ NJ DEP, 2005

I preface this post with the DEP statement above to illustrate what would actually need to get done if the Governor and Legislature were serious about actually achieving reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

They would have to start with the reality that DEP currently has the statutory authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions – including methane and so called “short lived pollutants” – and the authority to mandate reductions and to impose meaningful GHG air pollution emissions fees (currently $122/ton – compared to a paltry RGGI allowance price of about $4/ton).

But instead of implementing and enforcing that authority to achieve the legislature’s GHG emissions reduction goals, the DEP explicitly exempted GHG emissions from regulatory requirements and air pollution emissions fees.

But instead of dealing with that reality, the Governor and the Legislature are intentionally denying that reality, misleading the public by creating fake solutions, and the media is knowingly allowing them to do so.

So, we begin with the latest fraud.

Shortly after he attempted to sabotage the campaign to call on Gov. Murphy to impose a moratorium on new fossil infrastructure, Tom Gilbert is now flat out lying about proposed climate legislation and NJ Spotlight is providing a platform for him to do so.

(We’ll jump the gun with this teaser:  do you recall that Chairman Smith initially justified this bill and NJ Spotlight swallowed that and originally reported this bill as “going after methane” and “short lived pollutants”? That was purported to be a big deal. Well, all that methane and short lived pollutant ‘comprehensive strategy” stuff in Section 6 has been quietly deleted from the amended version of the bill just passed by the Senate. In contrast to NJ Spotlight’s stenography, we called BS on that – and a decade of lies – at the outset. That’s why it was not mentioned by NJ Spotlight in today’s story – to do so would validate our criticism. But instead of admitting that they were duped and got it wrong, NJ Spotlight trots out Mike Catania and poses him as a critic. This is cynical and it misleads readers, as we explain below.)

I’ve previously written about the original introduced version of the proposed legislation to explain its flaws (see this and this). The Senate passed an amended version, S3207[2R], see below for the significance of those unreported amendments.

So today I want to drill down on a debate about the amended version of the bill passed by he Senate as reported in today’s NJ Spotlight story to illustrate Gilbert’s lies.

After finally criticizing the actual performance of the Murphy administration in walking the walk on their climate rhetoric about reducing GHG emissions, characterizing the performance record as “setbacks“, NJ Spotlight described the debate on the bill as follows:

The setbacks have drawn notice from New Jersey lawmakers. On Monday, the Senate approved a bill (S-3207) that aims to ensure the state is on target to meet the goals of its original 2007 Global Warming Response Act. It would require the DEP to monitor and report greenhouse-gas emissions, and within a year recommend additional measures to curb pollution to achieve the 2050 goal laid out in the act.

But some say the bill falls short. “This bill is a smoke screen when it comes to dealing with carbon dioxide emissions,’’ said Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “It does nothing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.’’

Other environmental advocates were more optimistic. “This is much needed legislation to ensure the state takes meaningful steps to reduce emissions,’’ said Tom Gilbert, campaign director of Rethink Energy NJ.

He cited provisions requiring the DEP to set benchmarks between now and 2050 for curbing carbon pollution and requiring actions to reduce emissions to achieve the targets if monitoring shows the state will fall short.

This is not about “setbacks” – it is about huge failure and consistently misleading the public about that failure.

This is not a question of optimism (Gilbert) versus pessimism (Tittel).

This is about legal, regulatory, and scientific facts. About what the bill actually says.

The “provisions” of the bill that Gilbert cited do NOT “require actions to reduce emissions to achieve targets if monitoring falls short”.

That is a flat out lie.

Here is what the bill actually says in Section 3:

No later than 18 months after the department prepares and transmits the report as required pursuant to subsection c. of section 6 of P.L.2007, c112 (C.26:2C-42), the department shall adopt, pursuant to the “Administrative Procedure Act,” P.L.1968, c.410 (C.52:14B-1 et  seq.), rules and regulations establishing interim benchmarks necessary to achieve the 2050 limit, and measures necessary to achieve the 2050  limit and the established interim benchmarks.

First of all, the legal and regulatory reality is that the Legislature knows how to use words.

There is a huge body of environmental law loaded with many words that the legislature could use if the legislative intent were to authorize DEP to establish GHG emission limits and enforce them. The legislature chose to ignore all those legal terms of art and the entire body of environmental law and  DEP regulatory frameworks.

The vague term “benchmark” is not a “standard” and by definition is not legally enforceable on any GHG emission source.

The term “Measures” are not GHG “emissions limits“, or GHG “control requirements“, or GHG “efficiency standards” or “building codes” or ZEV, or “state of the art in pollution control” or BACT, MACT, or LAER or any other legal and regulatory definitions or terms of art used for decades in the body of law under the federal Clean Air Act and the NJ Air Pollution Control Act.

These terms apply to no individual GHG emission source or to any GHG emission source category or GHG emission sector. They trigger no DEP permit requirements or ai pollution emission fees.

Just like “benchmarks”, “measures” are NOT enforceable.

DEP can not develop “benchmarks” and identify “measures” and then enforce them based on these provisions.

Gilbert is either ignorant of all this or he is lying. Either way, he should realize that he is in over his head and just shut the fuck up.

Similarly, this section of the bill would amend Section 5 of the 2007 Global Warming Response Act.

Section 5 of the GWRA authorizes DEP to do the following:

  • rules and regulations establishing a greenhouse gas emissions monitoring and reporting program to monitor and report Statewide greenhouse gas emissions
  • identify all significant sources of Statewide greenhouse gas emissions
  • monitoring and reporting of existing emissions and changes in emissions over time from the sources identified by the departments
  • reporting the levels of those emissions and changes in those emissions levels annually,
  • monitoring progress toward the 2020 limit and the 2050 limit
  • require reporting of the greenhouse gas emissions

Statutory authorization by Section 5 of the GWRA for DEP to inventory GHG emission sources and to conduct monitoring and and to require reporting is NOT AUTHORIZATION TO SET ENFORCEABLE STANDARDS AND ENFORCE GHG EMISSIONS REDUCTIONS FROM EMISSION SOURCES.

Finally, NJ Spotlight did not report that the bill was amended on the Senate floor by its sponsor (Chairman Smith) to delete the entire section (Section 6) that addressed the alleged intent of the bill, i.e. to authorize DEP to develop:

a comprehensive strategy to reduce emissions of short-lived climate pollutants in the State.

NJ Spotlight initially reported that as a big deal. Remember they reported about “going after methane”? We called bullshit on that:

NJ Spotlight makes a big deal about the fact that the bill purportedly applies to and “goes after” methane

Going after methane

Among other things, the bill would require the state Department of Environmental Protection to develop a comprehensive strategy to curb emissions of short-lived climate pollutants, such as methane. Methane, a component in natural gas that often leaks from pipelines, is much more potent that other greenhouse gas pollutants, such as carbon dioxide.

This is false and misleading.

Gilbert and cronies praised that. And Senate Democrats issued a press release touting that.

But we called bullshit on it and obviously have now been vindicated by the deletion of the entire section.

And just like that, the entire original focus and justification for the bill was completely deleted! With no mention of that in the NJ Spotlight coverage.

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Murphy BPU Appointment Opposed Off Shore Wind And “Partnered” With Donald Trump

March 26th, 2019 No comments

Controversial Pinelands Nominee Abandoned – Quietly Installed At BPU

Relationships with NJ Energy Companies Raise Conflicts of Interest Issues

It seems that Gov. Murphy has changed his mind.

Just weeks ago, Gov. Murphy nominated Kelly Mooij, the Trenton lobbyist for NJ Audubon, for a post as a Pinelands Commissioner. That controversial nomination required Senate confirmation.

We opposed that nomination and explained why Mooij was poorly suited for the Commission, see:

In a follow-up post, we went into great detail to explain why Mooij’s nomination opened a “fundamental policy debate”, why she had conflicts of interest, and why she was totally unsuited for the Pinelands Commission, see:

Mooij’s Senate confirmation hearings would have engaged what I described as a “fundamental environmental policy debate”.

Mooij would have faced opposition in Senate Confirmation hearings. Specifically, NJ Audubon’s role as shill for & relationships w/PSEG would have been outed.

So would have NJ’s Audubon’s “Corporate Stewardship” program of greenwashing for NJ’s largest corporations, developers, and polluters.

NJ Audubon’s “partnership” with Donald Trump – which Mooij tacitly supported – would have been part of the story and obviously would have embarrassed the Governor, see:

She never could have survived a public Senate Confirmation process.

So, while we were pleased to learn that Gov. Murphy recently quietly had withdrawn the Pinelands nomination – a win for the Pinelands – it seems that Murphy’s Pinelands nominee has gone from the frying pan to the fire.

According to Insider NJ (I could find no press release from the Gov.’s Office), Gov. Murphy quietly has installed Mooij at the BPU, not as a Commissioner but in a staff position, as Deputy Director of the BPU’s Division of Clean Energy, see:

Gov. Murphy used raw executive power to make an appointment of an individual – a policy making appointment which is not subject to public scrutiny – who could not have survived a public review process for Pinelands Commissioner. Shame on him.

But, just as Mooij was poorly suited for the Pinelands Commission, her credentials and experience are even worse for the BPU position.

First of all, Ms. Mooij recently opposed off-shore wind:

Kelly Mooij, vice president of government relations for New Jersey Audubon, said the project would have been built within the Eastern Seaboard’s “bird migration highway” and threatened species that fly along the coast. (State rejects wind project off Atlantic City’s coastPress Of Atlantic City (12/18/18).

Given that opposition, can she be independent and objective in her staff role at BPU?

How does a Gov. appoint a Deputy Director of Clean Energy that has opposed off shore wind?

Second, as we previously wrote, she and NJ Audubon have close relationships and have been funded by NJ energy companies that BPU regulates (see this for details).

Corporations that have financial and programmatic ties to NJ Audubon and Ms. Mooij, like PSEG , NJNG and SJG, all have business in front of the Board and the clean energy program she would manage.

Those relationships raise potential to trigger conflicts of interest issues – including the appearance of a conflict, which is the legal standard under NJ’s Ethics laws. These rules should apply, even to staff level positions, as staff have enormous influence and power to shape BPU decisions.

They also raise issues of Ms. Mooij’s judgment – or lack thereof – including her values, training, expertise, and policy orientation.

NJ Audubon – the group Mooij represented in Trenton – is notorious as a political accommodationist, as long as money is part of the deal (witness the “partnership” with Trump, the mitigation deals, the corporate stewardship, and the favorable relationship with the Christie Administration).

Many have criticized NJ Audubon’s “entrepreneurial” style, saying that they act more like consultants than conservation advocates.

NJ Audubon has engaged in many controversial projects – like logging Highlands Forests – that have angered local residents and fellow environmental groups.

When I tweeted that Mooij’s appointment at BPU was joke, an astute reader replied:

“You mean since NJA opposed off Shore wind & is funded by the gas industry? Or Sarah Bloom (sic), former BIA lobbyist who opposes renewables is head of clean energy. Or that the only enviro’s Murphy hires are from LCV that spent $200k dark money on behalf of Murphy. Which joke?

I really can’t top that – except maybe with the Trump Partnership.

Media needs to ask the Gov. Office about: 1) Ms. Mooij’s qualifications for the job, 2) whether she can be independent and objective on off shore wind, given her prior opposition, 3) what was the nature of her lobbying work and background at NJ Audubon and 4) whether her relationships with NJ Energy companies raise potential conflict of interest issues.

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