Archive for August, 2019

Bernie Sanders’ Climate Plan Is Superb – The Program And Politics Of The Green New Deal

August 22nd, 2019 No comments
Green New Deal in Wisdom Montana - what a great juxtaposition!

Green New Deal in Wisdom Montana – what a great juxtaposition!

Bernie Sanders just released his climate plan, and it is truly superb. Hit this link and read the whole thing!

I am hugely impressed by the obvious scientific, policy, and political expertise, vision, commitment to justice, and sense of history that informed that plan.

A few bulleted thoughts, on what is both an extremely comprehensive and detailed roadmap.

The Plan begins with critically important observations and principles that ground a vision of the future in the Green New Deal, with a look back to continuity with and building upon the original New Deal.

That historical recognition – and the plan’s future focus and programmatic framework – can help build the movements and political coalitions necessary to make the Plan a reality. In that sense, the Plan will survive regardless of whether Bernie Sanders is elected President.

I was slightly put off with how the plan initially mentions the FDR crisis as of “the 1940’s” (not the 1930’s depression) and legacy in light of the mobilization for WW II – while of course we need a national mobilization driven by the leadership, resources, and regulatory power of the federal government, I dislike war metaphors.

But that shortcoming is overcome by extensive arguments that are framed in light of the original New Deal and the outline of modernized programs that are based on New Deal, like the CCC.

Importantly, the Sanders Plan openly acknowledges and confronts the shortcomings and racial injustices of the original New Deal, by making a commitment to an “explicit choice to include black, indigenous, and other minority communities”. Multiple program elements of the plan explicitly recognize historic injustice, disproportionate burdens, and the need to incorporate justice in everything from the design of the programs to the allocation of resources and hiring of people.

If these commitments are communicated properly, they can go a long way to advancing the objectives of the reparations, Black Lives Matter, and environmental justice advocates, while maintaining a universalist philosophy that is insulated from attacks as just more divisive “identity politics”.

Similarly, the plan does not break down on urban versus rural grounds – there is plenty in the plan that benefits rural and agricultural regions and economies. This is not an elite coastal urban plan.

The Plan avoids and resolves contradictions between economic policy and cultural policy – for a superb discussion of that dilemma, see: The End of Progressive Neoliberalism and From Progressive Neoliberalism to Trump—and Beyond. This is a political minefield, but the Sanders plan brilliantly navigates these issues.

The Sanders plan recognizes that we are in a climate crisis, but that crisis provides a huge opportunity “to build a just and equitable future”.   The plan declares a “climate emergency” and emphasizes that we must “act immediately”.

The plan’s focus on the future invites democratic dialogue and inspires imagination, ideals, hopes, the public interest, solidarity and collective action over fear, resentment, despair, alienation, and private individual competition and economic self interest.

These are democratic socialist values of particular importance to the younger generation, who will be more heavily impacted by climate chaos. This is the essence, internationally, of Extinction Rebellion and domestically, the Sunrise Movement, the youth group who we all owe a great debt of gratitude to for putting the Green New Deal on the political agenda. (The Green Party first released a “Green New Deal” program over a decade ago.)

Programmatically, the plan is comprehensive and it synthesizes multiple climate, economic and social problems and outlines concrete solutions. The plan is very detailed – as Sanders has said, it “puts meat on the bones of the Green New Deal”

And there is a lot of meat there!

The plan would “transform the energy system” to 100% renewable energy – publicly generated , profit free and democratically controlled.

The Plan seeks a carbon free economy, would create 20 million union jobs with good pay and benefits, phase out fossil fuels and nukes, regulate greenhouse gas emissions, fully electrify and decarbonize the transportation sector, greatly expand public transportation and high speed rail, pledge a world leadership role, invest in justice, rebuild crumbling infrastructure, create a national material recycling program based on corporate “buy back” (this could be better presented as source reduction), build publicly owned broadband, build 7.4 million units of affordable housing, conserve public lands, including creating a new CCC, hold fossil polluters accountable and make them pay for pollution, eliminate fossil subsidies, keep fossil fuels in the ground (but this is limited in scope to public lands), end fossil infrastructure permits, ban fracking and mountaintop removal coal mining, ban imports and exports of fossil fuel, fair transition: guarantee incomes and jobs for displaced fossil workers,  ensure justice for frontline communities, extend civil rights protections to environmental justice communities in recognition of disproportionate burden and cumulative impact, invest in urban parks, empower and provide incentives to farmers, foresters and ranchers, transition to organic agriculture, regulate factory farm pollution, invest in family farms while breaking up huge corporate farms, ensure justice for dispossessed black farmers (reparations would have been a better thrust), promote local based farms/markets, and promote co-operatives and community owned land! Whew!

And that’s just some of the program. A discussion is far too much for a Wolfenotes post – we are, after all, merely “notes”. That’s why we suggest you read the plan yourself – and pass it on.

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

Murphy DEP Fails To Consider Climate Or Public Health Risks Of Multiple Toxic Air Emissions From Paulsboro Refinery

August 21st, 2019 No comments

Paulsboro NJ is a “sacrifice zone”

refinery adjacent to Paulsboro High school just one part of massive metro-chemcial complex

refinery adjacent to Paulsboro High school just one part of massive petro-chemical complex

The Murphy DEP just issued an air pollution permit making a significant modification to the permit for the Paulsboro Refining Company LLC refinery.

That refinery has a troubled history of “plant upsets” that poison the nearby community, see:

The refinery was targeted by EPA enforcement and the company entered into a 2005 settlement agreement for significant violations of the federal Clean Air Act and EPA and NJ DEP regulations – a lawsuit joined by NJ DEP.

According to DEP, that refinery is a massive source of air pollution emissions, including greenhouse gases: 

The Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions from this facility are 4,038,574 TPY CO2e and there is no GHG emission increase.

The DEP did not impose any limitations on greenhouse gas emissions.

Repeat: despite emissions of over 4 MILLION TONS of greenhouse gases, the Murphy DEP again did nothing.

Those air pollution emissions also include hazardous air pollutants that cause cancer:

The facility is classified as a major facility based on its potential to emit 1476 tons per year of volatile organic compounds, 1448 tons per year of nitrogen oxide, 762 tons per year of carbon monoxide, 3614 tons per year of sulfur dioxide, 553 tons per year of PM10, 553 tons per year of PM2.5 and 352 tons per year of particulates (TSP).

It is also classified as a major hazardous air pollutant (HAP) facility. A major HAP emitting facility is designated as major when the allowed emissions exceed 10 tons per year of any individual hazardous air pollutant or 25 tons per year of any combination of individual hazardous air pollutants that may be emitted simultaneously.

This permit allows individual hazardous air pollutant to be emitted at a rate not to exceed: 27.2 pounds per year of acrolein, 12,657.7 pounds per year of benzene, 17.8 pounds per year of cadmium compounds, 30,000 pounds per year of carbon disulfide, 2,822.4 pounds per year of formaldehyde, 38,500 pounds per year of hexane, 17,200 pounds per year of hydrogen chloride, 486,000 pounds per year of hydrogen cyanide, 6 pounds per year of lead, 800 pounds per year of phenol, 3,000 pounds per year of ethyl benzene, 3,000 pounds per year of naphthalene, 8 pounds per year of polycyclic organic matter, 17,200 pounds per year of toluene, and 7,600 pounds per year of xylene.

Despite those massive toxic air emissions, the Murphy DEP did not conduct a review of the health risks and impacts from the refinery, in light of not only that facility’s emissions, but the cumulative emissions or multiple toxic pollutants from other nearby sources:

A Facility-Wide Risk Assessment was conducted on 12/6/16 and health risk was determined to be acceptable to the Department consistent with NJDEP Technical Manual 1003. A revised Health Risk Assessment was not conducted with this permit modification, since no changes were made to Air Toxics (including HAPs) emissions or risk parameters since the last risk assessment.

The Murphy DEP merely rubber stamped the flawed Christie DEP review back in 2016.

That Christie DEP review did not consider cumulative impacts or cumulative risks to what are euphemistically referred to as “sensitive receptors”, like children in nearby schools.

No town in NJ is more threatened and adversely impacted by the cumulative toxic chemical emissions to air, water, and land from a massive petro-chemical industrial complex than Paulsboro, NJ.

No town suffers exposure of their kids, in schools literally on top of those petro-chemical facilities (see:

No town has seen more toxic disasters, including those that force evacuation (see:

And no town has been more neglected and abandoned by DEP regulators than Paulsboro (see:

Local police in Paulsboro detained, photographed, and questioned me for trying to take photos of the refinery behind the High School (see above photo).  That incident led to investigators from the FBI, Homeland Security and Hunterdon County Prosecutors Office questioning me at my home, in the course of what they called a “terrorism” threat.

*I recall being astonished by this, because at the time I had a column at The Newark Star Ledger, NJ’s largest newspaper. I was engaging in three forms of classic constitutionally protected activity: free speech, political activism, and journalism.

I am almost certain that I was placed on a domestic terror watch list as a result of that episode.

I also travelled to and was in Paulsboro during the evacuation of the town during the toxic train derailment.

I’ve written about these disasters in Paulsboro many times.

So, I’ve got a lot of “skin in the game” when it comes to Paulsboro.

Which explains why I was appalled to read that DEP issued a permit without considering the cumulative public health risks of all the toxic pollutants issued by the surrounding petro-chemical complex.

And again I will bet that all this was done by stealth,  under the radar, and the community was totally unaware of the situation.

I smell Senate President Sweeney.

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

NJ Gov. Murphy’s Statement On Signing Climate Bill Into Law Recalls George W. Bush’s Controversial Signing Statements

August 20th, 2019 No comments

Legislative amendments jeopardize DEP’s authority to regulate methane

Gov. Murphy Invites Legislative Veto of DEP Climate Regulations

In my prior post, I explained how DEP’s recent renewal of a natural gas power plant’s air permit completely ignored climate change, perpetuated fossil energy infrastructure, and belied Gov. Murphy’s purported commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

But, the situation is actually far worse than that.

Today, I’d like to raise some troubling questions about Gov. Murphy’s recent signature of climate legislation.

Before I get to that set of issues, however, I’ll start off by linking the Gov.s signature of that law with DEP’s recent approval of the natural gas power plant permit. My intent is to expose a long running campaign of deception – which we have dubbed an “elite charade” – by illustrating how the recent DEP natural gas plant permit also contradicts Gov. Murphy’s recent approval of legislation alleged to accelerate the emission reduction goals of the Global Warming Response Act.

NJ Spotlight reported on the Governor’s signing of that law on July 24, 2019, see:

The Spotlight story highlighted a strong difference of opinion on the bill:

One activist calls measure to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions in New Jersey ‘really significant’ while another says it falls far short of efforts by other states

The one “activist” who finds the law “really significant” is Tom Gilbert of Rethink NJ and the other is Jeff Tittel of Sierra Club.

I wouldn’t call Gilbert an “activist”. He’s a timid, compromised, corporate styled insider political dealer.

And Spotlight obfuscates the issues and went easy on both the Gov. and Gilbert in framing the disagreement. They always go easy on Gilbert, because he is part of the “cool corporate kids” funded by the same Foundations that fund Spotlight.

Tittel didn’t say the law “falls far short”. He actually said it  is “just spin without any substance”. And Tittel was NOT referring to “efforts by other states”. He was referring to NJ and Gov. Murphy.

There is a huge gulf between “really significant” and “just spin without any substance“. What explains that?

NJ Spotlight – funded by the same corporate dominated foundations paying Gilbert’s salary –  won’t go there, but we will.

We previously called that legislation a “fake solution” and prior to that we blasted Tom Gilbert of Rethink NJ for his incompetence and dishonesty (see: Tom Gilbert of Rethink NJ Is Lying About Climate Change Legislation), so its pretty clear where we stand.

But let’s look at what Tom Gilbert actually said about the critical issue of DEP’s regulatory authority over greenhouse gas emissions, particularly in light of the DEP’s most recent permit that fails to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.

When the Senate passed the bill, Gilbert said this: (NJ Spotlight)

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.

When the Governor signed the bill, Gilbert said this: (NJ Spotlight)

Gilbert argued the legislation makes clear the administration plans to regulate greenhouse-gas emissions before the end of Murphy’s term. Clean-energy advocates have long argued the DEP has the legal authority to do so but that the department has been reluctant to do so.

“We are going to see the regulation of greenhouse gas emissions before the completion of the Governor’s first term,’’ Gilbert said. “There couldn’t be any more urgency for us to get it done.’’

Notice how Gilbert uses the word “us”, as if he’s part of and speaking for the Murphy administration.

Notice how Gilbert moved the goalposts: from now to the end of the Gov.’s first term. That’s “urgency”?

By then, DEP will have issued permits to all the pending natural gas pipelines and power plants.

The PennEast pipeline just submitted permit applications to DEP. Other pipelines and power plant permit applications are under DEP review. Under longstanding legal principles of administrative law, permits are reviewed under the regulations in effect at the time of permit application is deemed complete. 

The PennEast and other pipeline and power plant permits will be reviewed under current DEP regulations, not those adopted at the end of Gov. Murphy’s first term. 

They will be reviewed and issued under current federal EPA rules, not Trump’s EPA’s proposed changes to Section 401 of the Clean Water Act that Gilbert and others are focused on.

How stupid and/or incompetent is Gilbert?

I went into great detail in my “Fake Solution” post to explain why Gilbert’s assessment was false and to outline what a “real solution” would look like:

Regarding actual GHG emissions, Smith’s bill merely requires DEP to develop a “strategy”.

A strategy is NOT an authority to adopt regulations to limit GHG emissions or impose emissions fees on GHG emissions. … (and “benchmarks” and “targets” are not enforceable regulatory standards)

A real solution would be to repeal those 2005 [DEP regulatory] exemptions, close those loopholes, and direct DEP to regulate GHG emissions like other major pollutants (in addition to there policy tools I outlined in that post).

Chairman Smith’s bill does not do any of that and instead proposes the same failed non-regulatory policies of the 2007 GWRA, while diverting attention from real solutions.

Now follow the sequence of events:

Governor Murphy signed the bill on July 23, 2019.

And just days later, on August 5, 2019 – in a move that flat out contradicts the purported intent of the legislation the Gov. signed – DEP issued the permit renewal to the Eagle Point Power Generation LLC plant.

As I’ve written, that permit completely ignored climate change and imposed no restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions (as CO2 or methane).

Yet, Tom Gilbert seems to be the only fool in NJ who can’t seem to understand that he’s been screwed and that he’s been exposed as – at best a cheerleader – and at worst a flat out liar.

On top of all that, Gov. Murphy issued a highly unusual signing statement with that bill:

Today I am pleased to sign Senate Bill No. 3207 (Second Reprint) into law, establishing new timeframes and requirements for the implementation of the Global Warming Response Act. I commend the sponsors of this bill for providing the Department of Environmental Protection with the tools necessary to ensure the State meets our greenhouse gas emission reduction goals by 2050. ….

Although this bill was amended to remove black carbon as a greenhouse gas, black carbon continues to be a short-lived climate pollutant, and will be a part of the State’s comprehensive emissions reduction strategy. Furthermore, I am directing the Department of Environmental Protection to use its existing legal authority, in addition to the authority provided by this bill, to administratively address the reduction of short-lived climate pollutants such as black carbon, which will provide short-term air quality benefits while also reducing climate warming pollutants.

First of all, it is absurd to issue a signing statement regarding a substantive policy disagreement with the Legislature. If Gov. Murphy were serious (instead of spinning) he would have conditionally vetoed the bill and specified language to amend it to satisfy his policy. He didn’t do that (avoiding a legislative battle or expending any political capital).

In essence, what Gov. Murphy is saying to the legislature here is “screw you, I’ll do what I want via executive authority”.

That was a very bad move – both politically and legally – particularly given the fact that the Legislature has power to veto any agency regulation.

Now that Gov. Murphy has stuck his finger in their eye,  the Legislature would be justified in exercising that veto power, should DEP propose future regulations on “short lived climate pollutants”, importantly which are not just “black carbon” but also include methane.

Here is why DEP’s authority to regulate methane is now in jeopardy.

The introduced version of the bill defined methane as a “greenhouse gas” and applied to methane as a part of a program governing “short lived climate pollutant” in Section 6.

Section 6 “short lived climate pollutant” DEP authority and program was deleted in its entirely. That section also included a provision preserving DEP’s “existing authority”.  Elimination of those provisions creates a very strong legislative intent argument that the DEP doesn’t have any “existing authority” and now lacks statutory authority and legislative intent to regulate methane.

(Recall that the introduced version of the Global Warming Response Act also included authority to DEP to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. That provision also was stripped from the final version of the bill passed by the Legislature and signed by Gov. Corzine. Under the GWRA, DEP is not provided authority to regulate all GHG emissions, not just black carbon and methane.

A standard method of statutory interpretation is to look at what legislatures do after courts decide or regulatory agencies act on a specific issue. If the legislature passes laws that narrow, restrict, or revoke an agency’s regulatory powers – or not recognize or affirm those powers – or establish alternatives to those powers – after the agency has asserted those powers, that is concrete legislative intent that the agency does not in fact possess those powers.

There are now 3 laws on the books – all passed after DEP asserted regulatory authority over greenhouse gas emissions back in 2005 – that limited DEP authority, or stripped DEP authority, or established alternative policies to DEP regulation with respect to DEP authority to regulate GHG emissions. Therefore, that strongly suggests that DEP lacks authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions and that NJ’s sole policy approach to reducing these emissions is the joint DEP-BPU RGGI allowance trading program or BPU GHG emission portfolio standards (which BPU has NOT implemented.) 

The Gov. signing statement doesn’t change these legal facts – it only makes it all worse by providing a political impetus to legislators to defend the integrity and power of the legislative branch. (and Senate President Sweeney opposes DEP regulatory authority on greenhouse gas emissions and would love to embarrass the Gov.)

So, Tom Gilbert is cheerleading for a law that may have crippled DEP’s power to regulate methane, including from pipelines like PennEast. What a damn dangerous fool.

In issuing that signing statement, Gov. Murphy is redolent of George Bush’s signing statements and a warped theory of Executive Power (AKA “The Unitary Executive”).

Here’s what the Brookings Institution concluded about Bush’s signing statements (see: The Threat of Bush’s Signing Statements):

This use of presidential signing statements seems to us clearly to violate the Constitution. Article I of our founding document gives Congress, not the president, the power to make the laws. Article II requires the president to take care that the laws be faithfully executed. The Constitution also gives the president the authority to veto laws that he finds objectionable. And if he does, the Constitution states that Congress may either “override” the veto, in which case it becomes law, or it may sustain it, and the bill will fail.

By signing a particular bill into law and then issuing a signing statement that declares that he will not give effect to it, or to a provision of it, the president effectively circumvents these constitutional requirements, as well as displaces the courts as the final expositor of the Constitution.

Of course, all of this went over the head of the lame NJ press corps and environmental activist, who have serious competence issues.

But, I would have thought that a so called progressive liberal democratic governor acting like a right wing imperial republican in the exercise of this executive power would have attracted the attention of the political press corps or republican legislators.

Guess I expect too much. Ignorance, opportunism, and cowardice rule.

PS – and Tom Gilbert is not the only useful idiot. Here’s another, in a more ritual Bergen Record  story:

“These are all important moves, but we need to make sure that DEP develops rules to regulate black carbon,” Goldsmith said. “They have the power to do this. They need to do this.”

[End Note – another legal factor supporting these concerns is the failure of a RGGI bill introduced this session – which would have reformed the program – to be enacted into law. That bill seems to have fallen into a black hole. I’ll track down the details and update this post when I do.

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

Murphy DEP Renews Air Pollution Permit For Major Fossil Gas Power Plant – Permit Has No Limits On Greenhouse Gas Emissions

August 19th, 2019 No comments

Facility Emits Over 1 MILLION TONS Of Greenhouse Gases – Emissions Increasing

DEP Permit extends reliance on fossil power

old closed Sunoco Coastal Eagle Refinery, site of power plant

old closed Sunoco Eagle Point Refinery

The Murphy DEP just renewed the air pollution permit for Eagle Point Power Generation LLC plant, located at 1250 Crown Point Rd, Westville, NJ 08093 (Gloucester County). The 237 MW plant consists of two cogeneration gas turbines (the plant is owned by politicly connected Rockland Capital, who also owns the BL England fossil plant, where DEP also ignored climate change and failed to impose any GHG emission limits. An April 29, 2013 BPU Order exempted the BL England from RGGI requirements to purchase allowances – multi-million dollar subsidy).

[Note: 8/20/19 – Cogeneration plants were exempted from the RGGI GHG emissions trading program under the RGGI law. The exemption was sponsored by Senator Sweeney. That giveaway and other loopholes prompted environmental groups to oppose the bill and many NJ newspaper editorials in opposition to the bill]

[Note: 8/22/19 – Jeff Tittel writes that the plant is no longer a licensed cogeneration plant.]

According to the basis for the DEP permit:

The Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions from this facility are 1,028,070 TPY CO2e and the GHG emissions increase is less than 75,000 TPY CO2e.

Despite Gov. Murphy’s repeated public statements about his commitment to address climate change and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the DEP rejected this opportunity to ratchet down on or phase out greenhouse gas emissions from fossil power plants. The Murphy DEP permit made no changes from the Christie DEP permit, with respect to reducing GHG emissions. Just the opposite: the Murphy DEP permit actually allows GHG emissions to increase 75,000 tons per year.

Despite emissions of over 1 million TONS of greenhouse gases – which are allowed to increase under the Murphy DEP permit renewal – the Murphy DEP permit does not regulate greenhouse emissions (see: NJ Environmental Regulations Ignore Climate Change)

The DEP adopted a regulation back in 2005 that classified greenhouse gas emissions as regulated “air contaminants” (air pollutants) under NJ State law. Despite this regulatory authority to limit greenhouse gas emissions, the DEP has refused to impose any restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions.

The NJ Global Warming Response Act, adopted back in 2007, mandates an 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. DEP continues to ignore this law.

The DEP permit includes a “shield”, which protects the polluter from challenges for failure to control or reduce greenhouse gas emissions:

This operating permit also includes a permit shield, pursuant to the provisions of N.J.A.C. 7:27-22.17. A permit shield provides that compliance with the relevant conditions of the operating permit shall be deemed compliance with the specific applicable requirements that are in effect on the date of issuance of the draft operating permit, and which form the basis for the conditions in the operating permit.

The Eagle Point plant is also a major polluter for other traditional “criteria” and “hazardous air pollutants”:

The facility is classified as a major facility based on its potential to emit 247 tons per year of nitrogen oxide (NOx).

This permit allows individual hazardous air pollutant to be emitted at a rate to not exceed: 152 pounds per year of benzene, 73 pounds year of acrolein, 8071 pounds per year of formaldehyde and 36 pounds per year of polycyclic organic matter (POM).

Despite significant hazardous air pollutant emissions and the proximity of dense population – including sensitive receptors like schools and hospitals – the DEP found that health risks were “negligible”:

Health Risk Assessment was conducted as part of the review of this permit application and health risk was determined to be negligible consistent with NJDEP Technical Manual 1003.

Red Bank Elementary School, nearby Eagle Point

Red Bank Elementary School, about 1/2 mile away

The Murphy DEP permit actually weakens the Christie permit conditions, including these “significant modifications”:

  • DEP extend the deadline for compliance with performance testing requirements
  • DEP weakened the restrictions on TSP by allowing averaging of stack emission tests
  • DEP weakened the carbon monoxide emissions monitoring by allowing averaging
  • DEP allowed the polluter to add NEW FOSSIL (oil) backup power fuel
  • DEP allowed the polluter to install a second steam generator

DEP also made minor improvements to the permit, reducing the allowable NOx and particulate emissions.

I have not adequately researched the permit process, but I would bet that (readers, please correct me if I’m wrong):

1) the DEP didn’t not hold a public hearing in the community and the community was not made aware of the opportunity to comment on and force changes to this permit;

2)  NJ environmental groups did not submit comments opposing this permit renewal or otherwise pressure the Murphy DEP to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from the plant;

[Update: this comes at a time when the “Empower NJ” campaign is pressing Gov. Murphy to impose a moratorium on new fossil infrastructure. This DEP permit exposes key flaws in that campaign, i.e. 1) a failure to address existing fossil infrastructure. which must be phased out; and 2) failure to understand and follow the regulatory arena and hold the Murphy DEP accountable. ~~~ end update]

3) there was no media coverage of the permit or the regulatory issues and missed opportunities I highlight above; and

4) there was no legislative oversight or concerns expressed about allowable GHG emissions.

The regulatory system in totally broken.

We warned legislators about that and urged that they conduct oversight during DEP Commissioner McCabe’s Senate confirmation hearing:

… 11. Will Gov. Murphy & DEP incorporate climate change reviews, backed by enforceable standards, retrofit requirements, and offsets, to meet the emission reduction goals of the Global Warming Response Act in all land use, infrastructure, air quality, and water resource permits? ”’ […]

31. Will the Murphy DEP adopt new rules to mandate risk assessment – based on cumulative risk to the most vulnerable populations – and more stringent “advances in the art” (NJ’s legal standard) air pollution controls for Hazardous Air Pollutants (HAPs)

We again explained that and called for reforms at the outset of the Murphy administration (see: Murphy DEP Again Maintains Continuity With Christie DEP Policy):

The Murphy administration reforms must inform and involve the public, ratchet down on greenhouse gas emissions, and reduce public health risks of hazardous air pollutants and catastrophic chemical risks (and what ever happened to toxics use reduction through the Pollution Prevention Act? )

The DEP is broken, perhaps beyond repair.

Gov. Murphy and DEP Commissioner McCabe are not serious about addressing climate change and reducing greenhouse gas emissions to avoid climate catastrophe.

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

Trump’s Attacks On Science And Regulation Amount To Murder

August 17th, 2019 No comments

Sorry, I couldn’t think of an appropriately outrageously inflammatory headline to adequately capture the vile nature of this quote I just read by Mick Mulvaney, acting Trump White House chief of staff, which I feel compelled to share.

Check this out: (read the whole article)

“You’ve heard about ‘drain the swamp.’ What you probably haven’t heard is what we are actually doing,” he said. “I don’t know if you saw the news the other day, but the USDA just tried to move, or did move, two offices out of Washington, D.C…. Guess what happened? More than half the people quit…. What a wonderful way to sort of streamline government, and do what we haven’t been able to do for a long time.”

I lack words to describe the depravity of people who would openly brag about relocating a government office as a tactic of dismantling science and essential government protections of public health and the environment.

The facts of the matter include this:

Today’s EPA offers a stark example of the Trump administration’s crusade to dismantle science-based agencies. Nearly 1,600 employees left the EPA during the first year and a half of the EPA administration, while only 400 were hired, according to data obtained by The Washington Post through a Freedom of Information Act request. Of 1,600 employees who left, at least 260 were scientists, 185 were “environmental protection specialists” and 106 were engineers. The total number of employees at the agency today — 14,172 — is the lowest in 30 years.

And this:

The EPA is not the only agency pushing scientists out the door. The same day the EPA made its chlorpyrifos announcement, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that nearly two-thirds of 395 Washington, D.C.-based employees in its Economic Research Service, which provides analyses on a range of issues, and National Institute of Food and Agriculture, which oversees $1.7 billion in scientific funding, will quit rather than relocate to Kansas City.

I’m not an ag guy, so I was not familiar with the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture. But check out their mission and the crucial role they play in things like food safety, nutrition, and natural resource protection.

On top of this across the board attack on science and scientists, Trump is slashing regulatory agency budgets, rolling back regulatory protections, installing corporate lobbyists and lawyers to head regulatory agencies, stacking science advisory boards with industry hacks, privatizing and outsourcing government responsibilities, et cetera.

Boeing plane crashes are just the visible tip of a very large iceberg (I know, that’s a horrible metaphor in a time of climate chaos).

Make no mistake about it, many people are dying as a result of Trump’s systematic dismantling of government and science. It’s just hard to see the body count.

How is that any different than the mass murders we are seeing on an accelerating basis?

Categories: Uncategorized Tags: