Archive for April, 2019

The Voice of The Stop Bernie Crowd

April 29th, 2019 No comments

Glen Ford at Black Agenda Report absolutely nails what is going on within the Democratic Party, most recently revealed by the “front runner” candidacy of discredited “Credit Card” Joe Biden.

Ford wrote:

Bernie Sanders, in whose 2016 campaign AOC became an activist, is an austerity-buster, and therefore beyond the pale for the imperial ruling class. Austerity is the universal global policy of late stage capitalism. It is designed to cap any expectations the lower classes might have of a better standard of life in the future, and to squelch notions that society should be organized for the betterment of the masses of people. Under austerity, there is never any money to even think about that. Medicare for All would not only bust austerity wide open (even while lowering overall health costs), but would be a death sentence for a trillion dollar section of finance capital — the holy sanctum of the ruling class. Therefore, as the Wall Street Journal should know, the Lords of Capital have decreed: Stop Bernie — the corporate Democrats’ assignment from on-high. …

The corporate Democrats will thwart Sanders’ presidential bid — by any means necessary. The national security state folks may kill him. It is inconceivable that finance capital — which is to the Democratic Party what Big Oil is to the Republicans — will tolerate a financial industry-slayer in the White House, or accept Sanders opening up the Pandora’s Box of social spending on education and all the other “rights” he talks about. This is anathema to the ruling class in the 21st  century, and they will not allow such agitation to triumph in either of their houses: Democratic or Republican. The Lords of Capital have paid the cost to be the boss of these institutions, and will not be defied.  This season may be the final showdown between supermajorities of Democrats and the corporate party apparatus whose job is to betray them.

I don’t know what tricks and travesties the corporate Democrats will employ against Sanders and his supermajority issues, but it will be the ugliest political fight since the crackers bum-rushed Reconstruction in Dixie. At the end of the carnage, we’ll see if Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the millions that think like her still want to be Democrats.

We saw that in 2016 – nothing has changed, they’ve just gotten a little more sophisticated in their attacks.

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

Houston, We Have An “Air Draft” Problem

April 29th, 2019 No comments

Huge Blunder On Port Paulsboro Wind

A Sad Tale Of Powerbrokers

Yours truly debates NJ Senate President Sweeney (Earth Day 2005)

Yours truly debates NJ Senate President Sweeney (Earth Day 2005)

This morning, Democracy Now! had an extended interview with Robert Caro (listen), Pulitzer Prize winning author of, among other things, a series of biographies on LBJ, and a magnificent book on Robert Moses, “The Powerbroker”.

Caro shared one of the more outrageous and revealing stories about Moses:

In one of the book’s most memorable passages, Caro reveals that Moses ordered his engineers to build the bridges low over the parkway to keep buses from the city away from Jones Beach—buses presumably filled with the poor blacks and Puerto Ricans Moses despised.

Moses knew how high the bridges needed to be.

I was reminded of the bridge height aspect of that Moses story last week, after reading NJ Spotlight’s story touting:

port facilities across New Jersey that could function as hubs for economic growth as part of the Murphy administration’s ambitious agenda to create a robust offshore-wind industry.

The Spotlight story highlighted huge wind related investments already made in the port of Paulsboro:

More than $200 million already has been invested to upgrade the port of Paulsboro, a decision that has made it one of the likely choices to host some offshore-wind segments, advocates say.

I got a belly laugh out of that one – I Tweeted, calling it Magical Thinking – having already looked into and written about the failure of the Paulsboro Port to produce the jobs that were forecast, particularly wind manufacturing jobs, see:

If I might digress for a moment on the Russian angle – in addition to the failure to produce jobs and the Russian steel imports issues, like Bob Moses, the Russians also know how high the bridge needs to be (Wiki):

Ukraine has alleged that the bridge is being used by Russia as part of a creeping hybrid blockade of Ukrainian ports in the Azov Sea, …. The main span of the bridge is 33 to 35 metres (108 to 115 ft) above sea level; many ships are too tall to pass safely under the bridge

But let’s get back to our NJ story, and look at jobs and ask whether NJ economic development planners also know how high the bridges need to be.

In addition to the failure of over $200 million in taxpayer dollars invested in the port of Paulsboro to attract investment and produce the projected wind manufacturing jobs, the NJ Spotlight story flagged a huge planning blunder:

The sheer size of the wind turbines brings other challenges; the huge turbines are expected to be shipped offshore upright, making it easier to assemble them offshore. That would preclude using ports that necessitate having to ferry the turbines under the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge or the Delaware Memorial Bridge because the turbines would be too tall to make it through.

The port of Paulsboro is located on the Delaware River, upriver of the Delaware Memorial Bridge, and therefore essentially “precluded” from being NJ’s wind manufacturing jobs hub as a result of the “air draft” issue.


How could NJ Senate president Sweeney (the puppet of South Jersey “powerbroker” George Norcross)  – who twisted arms in Trenton to secure that $200 million and assured the public that wind jobs were coming to Paulsboro – have not considered the air draft issue?

Sweeney repeatedly fed this narrative:

The port will be designed to handle various cargos. For example, wind turbines—a proposed tenant—could arrive at the port for assembly and ship back out fully constructed. South Jersey Biz (February 2012)

“The New Jersey Energy Link will help move New Jersey on a path towards greater grid reliability and lower power costs,” said Assemblyman John J. Burzichelli. “This feasibility study shows what the South Jersey Port Corporation has been working so hard on for years, to make the Paulsboro Marine Terminal a driving force for creating jobs and becoming a manufacturing hub for the offshore wind industry for the state.” NJ Biz: (April 2013)

Gov. Christie is gone, so there’s no one for Sweeney to blame now.

Last week, the NJ Spotlight wind story quoted a former McKinsely Man. He now works for former Goldman Sachs executive Gov. Murphy.  And, whether or not he knows anything about wind, he clearly knows which way the political winds blow in South Jersey. He says there’s no problem:

“Paulsboro is one of the small handful of sites ready for the offshore wind industry despite the air draft issue,” said Brian Sabina, senior vice president for economic transformation for the New Jersey Economic Development Authority. (The “air draft issue” refers to the inability of the turbines, when vertical, to clear under bridges or high-power transmission lines.)


The answer my friend, is blown’ in the wind.

The answer is blown’ in the wind.


Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

Sedona To Flagstaff

April 27th, 2019 No comments


We left the gorgeous red rock desert of Sedona and headed north towards the higher elevation ponderosa pine forests of Flagstaff.


Here’s some of what we saw (and my cactus bloomed!)

Oak Creek overlook - midway between Sedona and Flagstaff, Coconino National Forest

Oak Creek overlook – midway between Sedona and Flagstaff, Coconino National Forest

Coconino National Forest - "thinned forest"

Coconino National Forest – “thinned forest”

We are required to camp in a "designated dispersed camping site" (wonder if this is another "urban - wildland interface" forest"?

We are required to camp in a “designated dispersed camping site” (wonder if this is another “urban – wildland interface” forest”?



Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

NJ Legislature To Conduct “By Invitation Only” Oversight Of NJ Climate Policy

April 17th, 2019 No comments

Testimony Limited to The Usual Suspects – Critics Need Not Apply

Forestry Group Advocates Questionable Logging Policies

[Updates below]

The Senate and Assembly Environment committees will hold a rare joint oversight hearing on April 25 – no doubt as part of an Earth Week PR celebration – with the following objectives (according the the Committee hearing announcement):

The committees will meet jointly to receive testimony from invited guests concerning climate change mitigation, with testimony focusing on what steps the State is currently taking, and recommendations for future actions, to address greenhouse gas emissions.

The “invited guests” are as follows:

·         Board of Public Utilities – President, Joseph Fiordaliso

·         Department of Environmental Protection – Deputy Commissioner, Deborah Mans

·         Rutgers University – Dr. Tony Broccoli, Department of Environmental Science  & Dr. Robert Kopp, Department of Earth & Planetary Sciences

·         New Jersey Climate Change Alliance Jeanne Herb, Alliance Co-Facilitator & Executive Director Environmental Analysis & Communications Group, at the Rutgers University Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy and Marjorie Kaplan, Alliance Co-Facilitator & Associate Director, Rutgers Climate Institute

·         NYU, Institute for Policy Integrity – Peter Howard, Economic Director & Denise Garb, Western Regional Director

·         America’s Forests – Jad Daley, President & CEO

I am deeply troubled, obviously, by the “by invitation only” format, especially at a time when the public debate is exploding over major movements and policy initiatives like The Green New Deal, Climate Strike, and Extinction Rebellion, where  a whole new generation engages the climate catastrophe and seriously questions a lack of real action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to avoid catastrophic and irreversible climate tipping points.

Now is absolutely the worst time to limit public testimony to the usual suspects, whose failures have brought us to the brink of catastrophe.

Given the timing of the Murphy Administration’s impending release of the Energy Master Plan, it is also not an appropriate time to give the BPU President a platform, with no opportunity for rebuttal by scientists or public advocates of a moratorium on fossil infrastructure (and phase out of fossil).

I’ve written critically many times about NJ climate policy, including what I view as the Murphy administration’s weak appointment of Debbie Mans as DEP Deputy Commissioner and the timidity, self censorship and failures at Rutgers on climate science (see this most recent post), so I’ll say no more about all that in this post.

Previously, I’ve also criticized toothless pending legislation that is purported to address climate change. The upcoming hearing is a continuation of that sham.

But, after reading the invitation list, I also was very troubled by the inclusion of American Forests, a group I was not familiar with and that seems to have limited NJ experience and on the ground presence in NJ communities and forests, at a time when “forest stewardship” is extremely controversial.

So, I did a quick Google and was troubled by what I found, particularly about their recommended forestry practices, which led to the following letter to Senate Chairman Bob Smith:

Dear Chairman Smith –

While I applaud your efforts to conduct legislative oversight of current failed policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to solicit testimony on new ideas to accelerate deep emissions reductions, I am writing for 2 reasons:

1) to object to the “by invitation only” format for the hearing and request that you open testimony up to all publics;

2) to raise concerns about the implications of the forestry policies advocated by American Forests, an invited guest with very limited NJ experience and to question the lack of balance on forestry policies.

Based exclusively on a review of American Forest’s website, they seem to be heavily corporate friendly, excessively pro-market, vague regarding regulatory frameworks, and advocate troubling forestry management practices.

While the policy toolkit includes “state land use” and “regulatory” policies, those policies are not identified with any specificity and are dwarfed by the market tools and troubling forestry practices promoted.

Below are some troubling excerpts from their “policy toolkit” regarding forestry practices that they claim sequester carbon –

I left out all the market oriented stuff about carbon pricing, cap and trade, RGGI, grants, landowner and logging incentives, subsidies, and carbon offsets etcetera which are even worse and suggest a bias and unbalanced approach, see:


Wood is an extremely effective material for storing carbon. Long-lived wood products provide long-term carbon storage for nearly 100 MMt/CO2e every year—more than 10 percent of the U.S. forest carbon sink—while the working forests from which they were derived continue the growth and sequestration process.11 The increased use of wood in buildings has the potential to sequester and store over 32 million tons of carbon each year in the United States.12 Harvested forest products offer an additional climate mitigation benefit in the form of avoided emissions that occur when wood products displace the use of fossil- fuel intensive building materials, like steel and concrete. Thisadditional emissions reduction benefit from wood products is not reflected in U.S. EPA’s national GHG inventory for the land sector.


Maintaining a strong base of healthy and resilient forests is the key to a reliable forest carbon sink. Several pathways are available to state and local policymakers to advance forest carbon mitigation while leveraging other forest ecosystem services such as forest products, air pollution abatement, drinking water supply protection, habitat preservation, and outdoor recreation. In the aggregate, the pathways below will keep forests as forests, expand forest cover, and promote forest health and resilience.


There are many ways in which forests can be managed to increase carbon sequestration, including carbon storage in wood products. Several forest management techniques increase the survival and enhance the growth of healthy trees that sequester the most carbon.19 Examples of forestry practices that strengthen forests and enable them to sequester and store more carbon include fertilizing soils; extending forest rotations to let carbon accumulate; accelerating restocking; managing competition to enhance overall growth; removing diseased trees in favor of species that grow faster and less impeded; and protecting climate-adapted tree seedlings that are most likely to thrive.

A range of forest management practices can increase forest resilience to forest stresses that are worsening with climate change, thereby reducing potential carbon emissions and loss of future sequestration capacity. These resilience-oriented practices include but are not limited to forest treatments designed to reduce the vulnerability of forests to wildfire, and practices designed to protect forests from disease, insects, and drought. In fire-prone systems, these practices include prescribed burning and thinning to reduce wildfire severity and irreparable damage. In other systems, the primary opportunities to promote resilience include forest treatments and restoration practices that manage vegetation density and overall health. This will in turn reduce vulnerability to stresses like drought and pests that trigger increased mortality. In some cases, the forest practices that enhance sequestration (above) and increase resilience are overlapping. In many cases, forest owners and managers will want to plan these actions in tandem for the maximum carbon benefit.


Wood products from well-managed forests store forest carbon andoffer lifecycle emissions benefits compared to alternative products thatare more fossil-fuel intensive, such as aluminum and steel. It is important that carbon accounting for forest practices described above fully credits the carbon storage accomplished through wood products. This can be enhanced by helping landowners and managers better understand the storage potential in different wood products, and how they might optimize the carbon storage potential within the forest products carbon pool as part of an overall management strategy. Further, promoting forest product utilization can provide a market-based incentive to stimulate forest practices where they are needed to achieve forest health and resilience, such as thinning overstocked forests to reduce fire risk. This includes actions such as adjusting building codes to increase wood utilization, providing tax or other financial incentives for wood utilization in construction, and marketing promotions that highlight the climate change benefits of wood.

The above policies and forest management practices advocated by American Forests are deeply troubling and would result in expanded logging of NJ forests under the guise of carbon sequestration and RGGI funding.

I strongly urge you to include alternative perspectives on forest preservation and climate change to balance these views.


Bill Wolfe

[Update 1: 4/18/19 – Here is NJ Senate Democrats cursory reply denying my request to open the hearing:

Hi Bill:

 Yes, we are sticking with the list of invited witnesses.  I suspect there will be more climate change hearings that will have a more open format. ~~~ end update]

[Update #2 – 4/22/19 – NJ Spotlight reports significant delay by BPU in releasing a draft Energy Master Plan (EMP). Climate emergency, fossil moratorium & phase out, and delay in EMP must be a critical focus of this hearing.

Green groups must focus on the fact that Gov. Murphy does not need to rely on the BPU EMP to impose a moratorium on new fossil infrastructure. Gov. Florio imposed a Moratorium on new garbage incinerators via Executive Order #8. That Order established an Emergency Task Force and gave them 120 days to issue recommendations to transform policy and regulations to make incineration an option of last resort and maximize source reduction, composting and recycling. Murphy can do the same on energy infrastructure and policy.~~~ end update]

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

NJ Attorney General Grewal Says News Reports Spurred Dupont Lawsuit, Not NJ DEP Referral

April 14th, 2019 No comments

Appears that DEP failed to refer Dupont to AG’s Office

At the end of a recent Bergen Record story about a controversial proposed municipal zoning change that would dramatically weaken applicable DEP cleanup standards and save the Chemours corporation millions of dollars in cleanup costs -as if all that were not bad enough – we were shocked by this astonishing admission by NJ Attorney General Grewal:

Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said the and USA TODAY NETWORK New Jersey investigative series “Toxic Secrets” spurred the Pompton Lakes lawsuit. The series showed how DuPont masked health risks caused by extensive contamination in the borough by refusing to test homes for toxic fumes.

How is it possible that news reports spurred the Dupont Natural Resource Damage (NRD) lawsuit and not recommendations by the NJ DEP’s NRD program?

That is a huge failure by NJ DEP Commissioner McCabe.

And it also suggests that politics and media played a larger role in the AG’s litigation decision than science and natural resource protection.

The NJ DEP has an Office of Natural Resource Restoration (ONRR) to assure that injuries to natural resources are restored and the polluters are held accountable.

The DEP ONRR mission is:

The Office of Natural Resource Restoration has the primary responsibility within the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection for responding to discharges and other sources of pollution that trigger the DEP’s obligations as the trustee for all of New Jersey’s natural resources for the benefit of all of its citizens, now and in the future.  This effort includes working with the persons responsible for conducting the remediation to return such natural resources to their pre-discharge quality, quantity, function, and value, and to implement restoration projects to compensate New Jersey citizens for the lost interim value or for the permanent loss of their natural resources.

The scientific and technical information to pursue an NRD lawsuit is generated by the NJ DEP ONRR.

Based on this scientific information, the policy recommendation to file an NRD lawsuit should originate in NJ DEP Commissioner’s office, via a formal referral to the Attorney General’s Office.

The DEP is the “client” in NRD litigation – the AG  is supposed to support NJ DEP’s enforcement policy.

There were plenty of grounds to re-open the prior corrupt DEP – Dupont NRD deal.

The fact that AG Grewal was “spurred” to file an NRD lawsuit against Dupont based on news reports is a stunning admission of a total breakdown between the NJ DEP and the Attorney General’s Office.

We sensed this weakness of DEP and a breakdown on NRD at the outset of the Murphy administration, and criticized NJ DEP Commissioner McCabe in this March 13, 2018 post:

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?

Our subsequent filing of an OPRA public record request confirmed our suspicions, which I documented and expanded upon in this followup post:

In a stunning admission, the Murphy DEP’s response to my MTBE Natural Resource Damage OPRA request claims that DEP has no documents that provided a basis to negotiate the recent $200 million settlement with Big Oil for contaminating groundwater and drinking water supplies across the state at thousands of sites with the fuel additive MTBE.

The settlement documents (i.e. the terms of the settlements) and the DEP websites suggested by DEP to provide background do not provide any technical information regarding the magnitude, location, degree, and extent of groundwater contamination; the number of facilities that released MTBE to groundwater; the DEP’s definition of “natural resource injury”, or the DEP’s economic methodology for quantifying natural resource injuries for the purposes of legally required compensation and/or restoration.

This is incredible.

How did the Attorney General negotiate and arrive at $200 million as an appropriate settlement to compensate the public, if there are no technical documents that factually define the extent of injury and quantify the economic value of the natural resource injury and/or natural resource restoration?

Did the AG just make up that number out of thin air? Pull it out of a hat?

How did the AG arrive at $200 million as acceptable public compensation if he did not know the extent of the damage? Or the cost of restoration?

Surely Chemour’s lawyers read the paper too – and these kind of comments by the AG will be used against him in a court of law, for sure.

Categories: Uncategorized Tags: