Archive for October, 2019

NJ Gov. Murphy’s “Climate Resilience Strategy” Perpetuates The Status Quo, Misses Huge Opportunities To Make Real Change, And Undermines DEP Power

October 30th, 2019 No comments

Hostages and Heavy Baggage In Hoboken

Yesterday, NJ Gov. Murphy issued Executive Order #89 and a press release. The Gov. held a press conference in Hoboken to announce his administration’s long overdue “Climate Resilience” initiative.

Once again, the Gov.’s rhetoric far surpasses the substantive reality of his policy.

But before we get to what the Gov.’s Executive Order actually does, let’s mention a few points on context and history, and describe what the Governor could have done, but failed to do. 

In Part I today, we highlight the context, outline what the Gov. failed to do and describe some of the opportunities he missed. Part II (forthcoming soon) will analyze the Gov.’s Executive Order.

I)  Past Is Prelude – Heavy Baggage In Hoboken

First of all, the choice of the city of Hoboken to announce the strategy and the naming of Dave Rosenblatt of DEP – Rosenblatt headed up DEP’s coastal engineering program for decades – as the “Chief Resilience Officer” is akin to a 2020 Democratic President Warren going to Tucson, Arizona to name Sheriff Joe Arpaio head of the US Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.

That’s right – coastal engineering is to “resilience” what Arpaio’s practices are to justice.

They say that people and places are pillars of policy. For example, there was a reason that Ronald Reagan made a key speech in his 1980 Presidential campaign in Neshoba County, Mississippi.

Along those lines of symbolism, people, and policy, there’s a certain heavy baggage in Hoboken – that city was ground zero in Gov. Christie’s “Bridgegate” scandal.

How could people forget THIS? (especially at a time when Trump is under impeachment inquiry for a political quid pro quo – as  The New Yorker wrote in “A Hostage To Christie In Hoboken?”:

“The bottom line is, it’s not fair for the Governor to hold Sandy funds hostage for the City of Hoboken because he wants me to give back to one private developer,” Mayor Dawn Zimmer told Steve Kornacki, of MSNBC, this weekend. By Sunday, she said she was meeting with the United States Attorney’s office, showing them diary entries and other notes she made last May.

Hoboken and DEP’s Dave Rosenblatt are also core elements of and Christie’s failed post-Sandy “rebuild madness” strategy.

Surely Gov. Murphy and DEP Commissioner McCabe must know this.

Surely they must know that their chosen “Chief Resilience Officer” Dave Rosenblatt was DEP’s point person in dealing with former Gov. Christie’s “Sandy Redevelopment Czar” Marc Ferdan.

Surely they must know that Dave Rosenblatt was involved in the Hoboken Mayor Zimmer – Rockefeller Development scandal and was interviewed by the Mastro Report.

Surely they must know that Dave Rosenblatt has spent a 30+ year career in the trenches of DEP’s coastal engineering program. During that time, he has shown zero leadership or vision – a yes man – while supporting and cheerleading for fatally flawed (literally) coastal engineering policies, plans, regulations and projects that greatly increased NJ shore vulnerability and magnified the disastrous impacts of Sandy (see: “A Dirge To McHarg”).

Screen Shot 2019-09-17 at 8.45.43 AM

Surely they must know that Dave Rosenblatt’s daughter Jane is Commissioner McCabe’s chosen “Deputy Chief of Staff” – a position she clearly is not qualified for by education and experience – making the administration highly vulnerable to a nepotism charge.

Hoboken and Rosenblatt are toxic – their selection demonstrates either gross incompetence or cowardice, or possibly lack of commitment or even intentional sabotage.

And the NJ press corps (that’s you Michael Aron) and the NJ environmental community surely know all this too – the fact that they unconditionally praised the Gov. and failed to mention any of this illustrates how craven and cowardly they’ve become.

II) Missed Opportunities – What Gov. Murphy Failed To Do

The climate emergency justifies major structural policy change – what the Gov. likes to call “transformational change” – not incremental reforms.

So let us consider whether the Gov.’s Executive Order measures up to the climate emergency.

First of all, the Gov. did not use his Constitutional Executive Power to declare an emergency.

The Gov. did not use his Constitutional power to declare a moratorium on DEP approvals of new development, redevelopment, or infrastructure construction in high hazard areas until the legislature acts to restrict such development and DEP adopt an enforceable plan and protective regulations.

The Gov. did not use his Executive powers to establish and articulate a policy and direct his administration to implement that policy and seek legislation to implement that policy..

Other NJ Governor’s – including Governors Byrne (Pinelands Protection Act), Kean (Freshwater Wetlands Act), Florio (garbage incineration), Whitman (Water Quality Management Planning rules – sewers) and McGreevey (Highlands Act) have used such executive powers to extract major legislative concessions and drive DEP planning and regulatory reforms.

The US Supreme Court has upheld such temporary moratoria pending development of a regional land use plan and adoption of implementing regulations (see:

The Gov. failed to direct DEP Commissioner McCabe to aggressively use her existing regulatory authority under NJ’s federally delegated Coastal Zone Management Act, Clean Water Act, and extraordinary Hazard Mitigation Plan powers.

The gov. failed to withdraw his DEP’s fatally flawed stormwater rule, that FEMA criticized, and directed DEP to re-propose a rule that reflects science, but he didn’t.

The Gov. failed to even coordinate with interstate regional bodies like the Delaware River Basin Commission and Interstate Sanitation Commission or adjacent state’s like NY, that are far ahead of NJ.

The Gov. failed to direct DEP Commissioner McCabe to aggressively use her existing regulatory and planning powers under NJ’s State Coastal Area Facility Review Act (CAFRA) or Water Quality Planning Act or direct actions under the Pinelands Act/Commission, Highlands Act/Council or Hackensack development law.

The Gov. didn’t even integrate his “Climate Resilience” initiative with his Energy Master Plan process being led by BPU.

Recall that DEP and Rutgers – and many others – have issued numerous Reports which identify specific DEP regulatory weaknesses and gaps and have made specific reform recommendations to strengthen regulations. If DEP Commissioner McCabe and Gov. Murphy would even read NJ federally mandated DEP’s “Coastal Zone Section 309 Assessment and Strategy – 2016 – 2020″ (see p. IV-28), they would and this:

New Jersey Climate Adaptation Alliance

Resilience: Preparing New Jersey for Climate Change

This report is a step toward developing policy recommendations to enhance climate change preparedness in New Jersey. It summarizes key gaps identified to date through a stakeholder outreach process. It provides context regarding New Jersey’s changing climate and vulnerabilities.

The Gov. ignored all this and treats these issues as if he invented the wheel – and a toothless one at that.

The Gov. failed provide his “Chief Resilience Officer” with any administrative powers or a specific charge to focus on CAFRA Coastal planning and DEP regulatory powers.  CRO Rosenblatt reports to DEP Commissioner McCabe and has no power on the InterAgency Council on Climate Resilience created by Murphy’s Executive Order #89. He’s not even Chair of that Council and the Council has only advisory powers.

Recall that Gov. Christie appointed “Sandy Redevelopment Czar” Marc Ferdan and gave him real powers – including an equivalent cabinet role and access to the Governor and budget authority. CRO Rosenblatt lacks any of these formal and administrative powers.

Recall that the legislature considered a bill to create a Coastal Commission – Gov. Murphy could have revived that proposal, but he didn’t.

Recall that the legislature considered a bill to create a “Catastrophic Fund” – Wall Street savvy Gov. Murphy could have revived that proposal, but he didn’t.

Recall that the legislature considered a bill to mandate that DEP update the State Coastal Protection Plan, which is implemented and enforced by DEP regulations – but he didn’t.

The Gov. could have announced a “one and done” policy and that he was seeking legislation to repeal the “right to rebuild” provisions under NJ coastal CAFRA and Flood Hazard Acts, which lead to filing multiple damage claims on the same property and rebuilding in high hazard areas, an abuse that NJ leads the nation on. But he didn’t. The Gov. is cluelessly unaware of his own DEP’s Section 309 Report on this issue: (see p. IV-28)

Repetitive Loss

According to the National Flood Insurance Program’s Claim Information by State report ( of November 30, 2014, New Jersey recently passed Texas as the second highest ranked state in FEMA total loss payments with $5,622,667,976.21 in losses. New Jersey is the fourth highest ranked state in the total number of losses at over 188,000.While these losses are not limited to New Jersey’s coastal zone, the statistics are indicative of the increasing risks to natural hazards.

In addition to no substantive policies or regulations, the Gov. made no commitment to funding or staffing the resilience program.

But, most importantly, the Gov. could have established a policy of “Strategic Retreat” – which DEP’s Coastal Zone Strategy has recommended for 20 years – but he didn’t.

Instead, Murphy’s EO89 is all process and no policy or legal substance and no resources (financial or human).

So, there is really no excuse for the Gov. to not pull any of these powerful & mandatory triggers – the fact that he hasn’t demonstrates that he is either too politically weak to take on the fight with developers, local governments, the business community, and his own party – or insincere – or grossly incompetent and poorly advised (that means you Catherine McCabe!)

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NJ Gov. Murphy’s RGGI Funding Plan Will Subsidize Fossil & Threaten NJ Forests

October 26th, 2019 No comments

Plan lacks critical details and funding priorities and gives short shrift to real solutions

Available Revenues Not Close To Matching the Scale & Scope of The Challenge

Allocation of RGGI funds (source: NJ DEP, BPU, EDA) - Red are my edits

Allocation of RGGI funds (source: NJ DEP, BPU, EDA) – Red are my edits

On Friday, the Murphy Administration released a draft “Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative Auction Proceeds Scoping Document”.

The scoping document, a joint product of NJ DEP, BPU, and the Economic Development Authority (EDA), outlines plans for the use of projected $80 – $100 million per year proceeds from the sale of carbon pollution allowance under the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) program.

Those RGGI revenues don’t scratch the surface of the cost of investment in the numerous programs outlined in the plan, which would be several billions dollars. So it is absurd for the Gov. to claim that the RGGI funds will spur “transformational investments” or “significant greenhouse gas emission reductions”.

According to the Murphy plan:

New Jersey will participate in the first RGGI auction of 2020 and proceeds will be available for investment shortly thereafter. Three state agencies receive auction proceeds, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP), the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (NJBPU) and the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA). NJDEP, NJBPU, and NJEDA will focus this initial three-year Strategic Funding Plan and investment of RGGI auction proceeds on two overarching priorities: (1) providing meaningful benefits to communities most affected by pollution and climate change; and (2) catalyzing the electrification of the various modes of transportation in the State. This scoping document seeks to provide residents, businesses and community leaders with a common understanding of the legal and regulatory framework surrounding the distribution of the RGGI auction proceeds and provides example initiatives for how the State could invest those proceeds. Seven example initiatives are explored within this document:

  1. Clean Transportation
  2. New Jersey Green Bank
  3. Community Clean Energy Microgrid
  4. Net-Zero Energy Solutions for Waste Management
  5. Beneficial Role of New Jersey Forests in the Carbon Cycle
  6. Sequester “Blue Carbon” in Coastal Habitats
  7. Strengthen Clean Tech Innovation

We have written numerous critiques of the greenhouse gas emissions side of the RGGI program, including detailed explanations of fatal flaws in RGGI, including: 1) why the so called “emissions cap” is not legally or functionally an enforceable cap on emissions; 2) how the “cap” is way too high and therefore the price of the carbon allowances (at $4/per ton, about 1% of what mainstream economists call the “social costs of carbon”) are way too low to drive the deep and rapid GHG emissions reductions scientists warn are required to avoid catastrophic irreversible warming; 3) the narrow scope of RGGI applies to only portions of the fossil power sector, addressing less than 25% of NJ’s total greenhouse gas emissions; 4) numerous loopholes and subsidies to powerful corporate carbon polluters; and 5) lack of effective GHG emissions quantification, monitoring, and enforcement by DEP.

So, in the best case, RGGI will drive very little if any reductions in total greenhouse gas emissions.

But it’s not just the emissions side of the RGGI program that is fatally flawed. So is the revenue expenditure side.

The supporters or RGGI have essentially conceded these fatal flaws on the emissions side and instead shifted the focus to the alleged GHG emission reductions associated with investment of the revenues from the sale of RGGI carbon pollution allowances, estimated to be $80 – $100 million per year.

The Murphy plan (on page 5), misleading grossly exaggerates NJ’s benefits, by citing a private group’s estimate of the lifetime benefits of RGGI across the entire region. (i.e. an economic estimate generated by RGGI Inc. itself, a self evaluation that lacks any credibility due to an egregious conflict of interest and bias.)

However, close examination of the RGGI funds allocation statute and the Murphy administration’s plan for proposed uses of these funds reveals additional major flaws that will have very little effect on reducing GHG emissions.

Equally, perversely, RGGI funds will be used to subsidize GHG polluters and threaten NJ forests. Here’s how:

While drenched in feel good rhetoric, the plan lacks internal coherence, rational priorities, crucial technical details, and, amazingly, is loaded with corporate subsidies and perverse incentives, including some to fossil fueled carbon polluters. (see red arrows above – those are mine).

Let me repeat: Sixty percent (60% – or perhaps $60 million/year)) of the funds from the sale of carbon pollution allowances, which are supposed to create economic incentives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, are instead going to be used to subsidize greenhouse gas polluters, including:

  •  “state of the art electric generation facilities” (which include natural gas power plants and possibly garbage incinerators and “biofuels” from logging forests);
  • combined heat and power and other high efficiency electric generation facilities” (these are fossil fueled industrial boilers); and
  •  “innovative carbon emissions abatement technologies” (this is the so called carbon capture technology, which does not exist at a commercial scale and is wildly expensive).

The allocation  formula and eligible uses of RGGI funds is set by law.

But Gov. Murphy didn’t even try to press the legislature to reform these perverse incentives in the awful 2008 law, strong armed by Senate President Sweeney and signed by Gov. Corzine. And of course, it is ratepayers that pay for all these subsidies to corporate fossil.

Even given these legislative constraints, overall, the Murphy administration RGGI plan amounts to a hodge-podge of conflicting policies, programs, and objectives. Here is how the plan was developed (my edits are in red to illustrate what really went on).

Red are my edits

Red are my edits

That corporate influence is reflected throughout the Murphy plan, including these disgusting subsidies:

EDA Grants to profitable private corporations:

  • Grants to private jitney companies operating in New Jersey’s urban corridor;
  • Grant/loan combinations to support deployment by private commercial companies of electric “last-mile” delivery vehicles;
  • Funding the deployment by port operators of electric cargo handling equipment (e.g., straddle carriers, gantry; and
  • Funding for establishments that regularly use electric medium and medium/heavy duty trucks (e.g., warehouses) to install DC Fast Charging (DCFC) capacity cranes) in the Ports of Newark and Elizabeth;

“Green Bank”

  • Provide loan guarantees to private lenders who extend credit to fund energy efficiency and power management measures by small to medium-sized businesses;
  • Take funding positions in a capital stack, financing clean energy and/or energy storage project(s);
  • Purchase, securitize and resell private loans, funding purchases of electric trucks on longer-than-customary truck financing terms; and,
  • Provide administrative support to parties participating in Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy (C-PACE) programs.

The public sector is starving – it is far more deserving of public funds than private corporations.

Grants to carbon emitting waste management incineration and sham “biofuels” (logging forests):

Beware these initiatives in the Waste Management section of the plan:

Under this initiative moneys from the Global Warming Solutions Fund could be dedicated to projects and programs to:

  • Maximize the use of source separated organic waste for energy production and encourage the use of biogas for electricity production or natural gas pipeline injections; and,
  • Encourage local municipalities to partner with waste facilities to collect organic waste from larger generators for use in energy production.

The plan lacks essential policy definition, weighted or hierarchical priorities, and technical details, like:

  • definitions, standards, criteria, and methodologies on how to calculate and measure real greenhouse gas emissions and determine “net” reductions;
  • how to reconcile conflicting objectives and programs;
  • how to balance competing interests and weigh priorities; and
  • how to measure relative emission reduction technical effectiveness in investments between various purported “net” reduction strategies

NJ DEP’s regulations are equally vague and prone to abuse.

It seems that NJ DEP has learned nothing from their prior “Open Market Emissions Trading” (OMET) debacle, where weak technical quantification protocols, lax DEP oversight and corporate polluter abuses forced DEP to withdraw and revoke the OMET program.

The Murphy plan ignores recent academic research that revealed huge flaws and perverse incentive in California’s cap and trade program. That research documented massive mis-measurement and fraud that grossly exaggerated alleged emissions reductions.

But there’s no need to take my word for it, just read this MIT Technology Review story (hereafter “MIT”):

And the Murphy Administration is poised to repeat exactly these same errors and abuses in NJ’s proposed forest carbon sequestration program.

Carbon Sequestration in Forests and Tidal Marshes

The NJDEP’s remaining 10 percent of the allocation from the Fund must be used to oversee efforts to enhance the stewardship and restoration of the state’s forests and tidal marshes *7, which provide important opportunities to sequester or reduce greenhouse gases. The percentage of funding allocated to forests versus tidal marshes is not defined in either the Global Warming Solutions Fund Act or NJDEP’s corresponding rule but will be determined in each Plan.

The scope of use for funding allocated for the restoration of forests is further limited by the Forest Stewardship Act, P.L. 2009, Chapter 256. Any RGGI auction proceeds designated by the Plan for forestry-based carbon sequestration would be transferred from the Fund to the Forest Stewardship Incentive Fund. Once in the Forest Stewardship Incentive Fund, those funds would be governed by the guidelines established by the Forest Stewardship Act (i.e., dedicated to working with private property owners to protect and enhance their forest land and to provide for the stewardship and management of state forests). Individual grants can be awarded to local government units, non-profits and private forest land owners to assist in the cost of developing and implementing approved forest stewardship plans.

Note how DEP – in a footnote, no less –  broadly interpreted Legislature’s use of the phrase “State’s forests” to include not just public lands, but privately owned lands, thereby providing subsidies to wealthy and corporate landowners and land speculators:

7  This is interpreted as all the forests and tidal marshes within New Jersey, not just those that are management and/or owned by the State of New Jersey.

Note also that “forest stewardship” is a far broader set of activities than “carbon sequestration”.

I fear that the arsonists and pyromaniacs at DEP will team up with the loggers at DEP to grab as much of the RGGI money to fuel their budgets, salaries and expand the scope of the current destructive activities they conduct under cover of “controlled burn”, “wildfire suppression” and “forest restoration” and “forest health” – plus the new “biofuels” program. All of these are eligible for RGGI money, which, could be almost $10 MILLION/year, a HUGE increase in the current budget.

Also note that the Murphy plan fails to include legislative caps on total “forest stewardship” grants – from just $2,500 to an individual forest plan to $150,000 per year statewide. Those caps make any sequestration program so small as to be ineffective and unworkable:

C.13:1L-33 “Forest Stewardship Incentive Fund.”
[a – c]
d. The department may award individual grants of up to $1,500 from the fund to pay for the cost of developing a forest stewardship plan pursuant to section 3 of P.L.2009, c.256 (C.13:1L-31). If the cost of developing a forest stewardship plan exceeds $1,500, the department may also award 80 percent of the cost that exceeds $1,500 to the owner, up to a maximum grant of $2,500. Grants from the fund may be made to local government units, nonprofit organizations, and private owners of forest land. …
e. The department may award individual grants through a cost-sharing program established pursuant to subsection c. of section 8 of P.L.2009, c.256 (C.13:1L-36) to private owners who have obtained a forest stewardship plan approved by the department pursuant to section 3 of P.L.2009, c.256 (C.13:1L-31). The department shall expend no more than $150,000 in any State fiscal year for grants awarded through the cost-sharing program.

Because the law allows RGGI funds to be used for “forest restoration” and stewardship” – two sham slogans that DEP has used to justify logging State forests in the Highlands –  the Murphy plan poses a serious threat to NJ’s forests.

A prior Report by Berkeley similarly found serious flaws – of particular concern to NJ – flaws that I have been writing about in the context of the Sparta Mountain logging scheme.

The MIT Technology Review paper spells it out by highlighting egregious flaws documented in the Berkeley analysis of the California forestry offset program: (MIT)

But the [Stanford] paper comes on the heels of an April report by the same lead author, Barbara Haya, who leads the Berkeley Carbon Trading Project at the Center for Environmental Public Policy. It found that California’s US Forest Projects protocol—which accounts for more than 80% of the credits issued to date—may have already inflated emissions reductions by 80 million tons of carbon dioxide. That’s a third of the total cuts that the state’s cap-and-trade program was expected to achieve in the next decade, and it suggests landowners could have earned hundreds of millions of dollars for carbon dioxide reductions that may not happen (see “Landowners are earning millions for carbon cuts that may not occur”).

Get that? Alleged GHG emissions reductions were inflated by 80 million tons! Landowners were paid hundreds of millions of dollars by ratepayers for no reductions. BOOM!

And the icing on the cake is the hypocrisy of the “overarching priority” of the plan, i.e on “environmental justice”.

For example, a real environmental justice climate program would be a massive investment in urban forestry.

Trees provide shade that cools cities (e.g. the heat island effect) and reduces energy demand and thus greenhouse gas emissions. More importantly, an urban forestry program would target these benefits to disproportionately impacted communities, purportedly an “overarching priority” of the Murphy plan and Gov. Murphy’s Executive Orders #7 and #23.

DEP outlines that in the plan (among six other competing sequestration programs, with no criteria to prioritize allocation between these competing uses):

  • Provide technical and financial assistance to local governments to implement urban and community forestry projects; including but not limited to increasing canopy coverage, reducing urban heat island effect, and strategic tree planting to reduce heating and cooling costs with a focus on projects in communities which have been disproportionally impacted by the effects of environmental degradation and climate change;

But, look at this table from the plan – see page 25 “Priority Ranking Summary Table” and note that Initiative #5 – which includes urban forestry – does not satisfy the “overarching priority” regarding “disproportionate impact” (Also note that sequestration does not meet another priority criteria to provide significant reductions in GHG emissions).

That means urban forestry will be a low ranking in competing for scarce funds.

A series of public meetings is anticipated. The first is sponsored by DEP ad scheduled for November 7 – check out the plan for details on how to submit comments or testify at the public meetings.

[End Note:

I forgot to mention that the 10% allocated to DEP for local government projects will likely be used for totally ineffective window dressing slogan feel good measures like voluntary Sustainable NJ bullshit.

And anything local governments could do with teeth on sequestration was pre-empted by the Legislature, something virtually no “home rule” NJ Towns even know:

“C.13:1L-34 Enactment of conflicting ordinance, rule, regulation prohibited.
6. No local government unit may enact, on or after the date of enactment of P.L.2009, c.256 (C.13:1L-29 et al.), any ordinance, rule, or resolution, as appropriate, that conflicts with, prevents or impedes the implementation of a forest stewardship plan approved pursuant to section 3 of P.L.2009, c.256 (C.13:1L-31) or impose a fee in excess of $100 in any calendar year for the cutting of trees on any land that is the subject of an approved forest stewardship plan. The provisions of P.L.2009, c.256 (C.13:1L-29 et al.) supersede any such ordinance, rule, or resolution, as appropriate, enacted or adopted on or prior to the date of
enactment of P.L.2009, c.256 (C.13:1L-29 et al.).”
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Dangerous Denial Is An Existential Threat To Human Civilization

October 20th, 2019 No comments

The Scientific And Intellectual Foundations Of The Extinction Rebellion Movement

“There is no greater crime against humanity”

So let us stop talkin’ falsely now

The hour’s getting late ~~~ All Along The Watchtower

I’ve long written about the cowardice of climate scientists’ failure to tell the truth about their science, to even discuss the implications of that science, and to engage the public policy process. (Some scientists and others at Rutgers have been a target).

The scientific community – including my hero Jim Hansen – has dodged this devastating reality of abject cowardice, instead calling it “scientific reticence” and “consensus building”.

I’ve also tried to convey the existential threats to human civilization of what I call “climate chaos”.

And I’ve harshly criticized the reliance on capitalism and commodity markets to “solve” the climate crisis through market based fake solutions like RGGI cap/trade and voluntary, non-regulatory, aspirational goals like those of  the NJ Global Warming Response Act.

So, it was a huge “I told you so” moment to read this superb must read paper:

After rigorously documenting major flaws in climate science, climate modeling, and risk management approaches of the policy-makers to the accelerating climate catastrophe – which I strongly urge you to read – this paper nails the root of the political/policy problem:

Rapid reduction of carbon emissions is still excluded from consideration by policymakers because it is deemed to be too economically dislocating. The fact that the present political path of 3°C or more of warming would result in a world overwhelmed by extreme climate impacts, leading to outright chaos, is avoided. The dominant neo-liberal framing of progress, through globalisation and deregulation, suppresses regulatory action which would address the real climate challenge because it undermines the prevailing political–economic orthodoxy.

Discussion around policy choices gives primary emphasis to the role of markets. The commodifcation of carbon pollution for the purposes of market trading, and the virtue of carbon pricing, are emphasised by policymakers as the most desirable method for achieving decarbonisation. However, these discussions have become unrealistic. They accept the continuing expansion of fossil counteracted by massive expansion of negative emission technologies, such as carbon capture and storage and BECCS — which do not even exist at scale — in the second half of the century to drawdown excess carbon from the atmosphere. But, by that time it will be too late to prevent irreversible, catastrophic climate impacts.

In so doing, policymakers are complicit today in destroying the very conditions which make human life possible. There is no greater crime against humanity.

After three decades of global inaction, climate change is now an existential risk to humanity. It implies large negative consequences, which will be irreversible, resulting in major reductions in global and national population, mass species extinction, economic disruption and social chaos, unless carbon emissions are rapidly reduced. The risk is immediate, in that it is being locked in today by our insistence on expanding and sustaining the use of fossil fuels when the carbon budget to stay below sensible temperature increase limits is already exhausted.


Read the whole thing and don’t just weep -rebel!

(watch this excellent video presentation, which highlights the science and connects the dots to the terrifying Road to Fascism we are on).

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Life On The Salinas River

October 15th, 2019 No comments
sea otter mom and recently born pup

sea otter mom and recently born pup

We’re at the mouth of the Salinas River, just north of Monterey.

Wonderful site to camp, right on the river, just outside the jurisdiction of a State Beach, and surrounded by the kind of farms John Steinbeck wrote about (we can almost taste the pesticides in the dust).

Here’s just some of what we saw today.

As I walked to the beach across a small bridge over the Salinas River, I looked down and saw a sea otter mom feeding and grooming her newborn.

I was stunned by the scene and absorbed in it.

I watched for 15 minutes or so in fascination as she fed and groomed her pup. She was continuously licking his anus and prodding his belly with her front paws as the pup fed (a seemingly knowledgeable fellow who also happened upon the scene told me that this is done by the mom to stimulate the pup’s nursing and digestion. He said the pup had been born in the last day or 2. He also told me that the pup is totally dependent for awhile and the mom floats on her back like this constantly nursing and sometimes abandons the pup to feed on land or in the water. The pup can not sink and apparently there are no predators, for what I saw as a vulnerable position to be in).

Every few minutes, she would move the pup off her teets to lick other parts of his body. The pup cried out loud when this occurred!

But she gently coaxed him back on the teet to feed after a few moments off.

Of course, I didn’t have my camera for all this!

But I walked back to the bus and returned a few minutes later and was luckily able to get these amazing shots (too bad I didn’t have my quality canon glass!):



Here’s the larger context:


Not to be outdone, there were tons of birds too:

Blue heron and possibly an egret (I'm no birder)

Blue heron and possibly an egret (I’m no birder)


And of course, that wildest of wildlife, Buoy loved the beach:


He also loved the bluffs at Davenport, where we also spent a few days exploring:



All for now –

PS – I still plan on posting photos from British Columbia across the Olympic pennisula and down the coast.

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California’s PG&E Out-Blackmails New Jersey’s PSE&G

October 12th, 2019 No comments

Climate Chaos Meets Corporate Blackmail In California

One again, we are reaping the whirlwind of deregulation

Climate Chaos Meets PG&E

Climate Chaos Meets PG&E – near Pescadoro, Ca.

[See Update below about a PSE&G Corporate Murder In Newark, New Jersey]

My NJ friends know all about corporate blackmail, as NJ’s PSE&G blackmailed the State Legislature and BPU by threatening to create chaos in energy markets by abruptly closing down 3 nuke plans unless they were given a billion dollar bailout.

(Meanwhile, California is phasing out nukes, which is something NJ Senate President Sweeney and NJ US Senator Booker worked hard to stop, when they teamed up to support nuke subsidies).

Following that PSE&G Blackmail model, now, the Wall Street backed corporate NJ solar sector (and soon wind) is threatening to leave the state if they are not provided adequate “subsidies” (i.e. “profits”).

As I’ve written, that’s why we have to have public ownership of “public utilities” (from Bernie Sanders’ “Green New Deal”)

Screen Shot 2019-10-09 at 10.04.34 AM

So, it will come as no surprise that California – the land of Enron corruption –  is now going through a similar corporate blackmail shakedown, as the State’s public utility PG&E shut down power for approximately 2 million people to avoid wildfires. (Sanders “Green new Deal)

Screen Shot 2019-10-09 at 9.58.09 AM

I’ve been in the belly of this California Wildfire – Climate Chaos – PG&E beast for the last weeks, as I’ve travelled down the northern California Coast and inland to Sonoma County.

The conditions are extremely dry.

Conditions very dry - London Ranch, Glen Ellen, Sonoma County

Conditions very dry – London Ranch, Glen Ellen, Sonoma County

I’ve been living the power shutdown s for the last few days. It was chaos. I stopped driving for a few days to make sure I could get gas. The grocery store in Half Moon Bay was almost out of food – it looked like locusts descended on the place. And the power outages are not limited to northern Cali – I’m just north of Santa Cruz (Davenport) and they were blacked out too.

My coastal campsite just south of San Gregorio was besieged by PG&E trucks, as I found myself surrounded and in their staging operation.

The Green New Deal will bring us public power - no more corporate blackmail

The Green New Deal will bring us public power – no more corporate blackmail

The California media has been all over this story all week – Gov. Newsome has made some harsh criticism about PG&E greed – and today the NY Times finally reports what amounts to a “failure to communicate” story.

But, of course, Greg Pallast gets the real story:

PG&E is a Crime Wave, Not a Power Company

Blackout is Blackmail
The PG&E Blackout Con is all about threatening the judge in the PG&E bankruptcy case. The victims have joined with the bondholders to eliminate the equity of the stockholders who deserve nothing. So in desperation, the power company pigs are turning off your lights. Hopefully, the judge will not be intimidated.
Leaving hospitals, schools and 1 million homes without power — and that means without water — in California is the endgame of deregulation mania.
Jerry Brown, Bill Clinton and other deregulation snake-oil salesmen, and the PG&E greedster bosses, should be imprisoned for the people already burned to death.
Where is the California utility commission?

PG&E is protecting the financial assets of investors from further wildfire liability – to hell with the rest of us.

[Update 10/13/19 – Lee Fang at The Intercept nails it.]

Pallast argues that for years, PG&E received billions of dollars in ratepayer money for system maintenance and upgrades – yet their system is still unsafe – so they either did a very bad job or failed to make them and instead diverting those revenues to excessive compare managers salaries, profits and investor dividends.

The same game is being played by Con Ed in NY with a moratorium on gas connections, as they blackmail NY Gov. Cuomo and NY regulators for killing gas pipelines

It is corporate hardball.

Greetings from the state where Enron blackmail worked so well.

[Update – A reader, @GreenStreet, Tweeted at me to provide a story about a man who was killed by the PG&E shutoff.

That reminded me of a NJ PSE&G murder of a poor black woman for not paying her electric bill. For details, see:

While PG&E is also guilty of murder, at least that had a plausible reason: to prevent deadly wildfires.

In NJ PSE&G murder, there was not even a plausible rationale: it was pure corporate greed and sociopathic bureaucracy.  ~~~ end update]

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