Archive for December, 2019

Impeach And Remove – From Ajo, Arizona

December 17th, 2019 No comments
Plaza, Ajo, Arizona (12/17/19)

Plaza, Ajo, Arizona (12/17/19)

We joined 20 other good folks from Ajo, Arizona (2010 census pop., 3,304) in what could have been the largest per capita vigil in the US to call for Trump’s Impeachment and Removal.

Here’s me and Bouy – the guy on the left is a musician originally from NH: (apologies for poor resolution, it’s highly cropped)

_DSC6022 (1)

Trump is right about one thing – some of us were calling for Trump’s Impeachment on Day One


Correction: Actually, make that even before the Inaugural:

2/17/17 - Oliver Street, Bordentown, NJ

2/17/17 – Oliver Street, Bordentown, NJ


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NJ Pays Polluters Not To Pollute – Provides Billions In Subsidies To Fossil Energy

December 16th, 2019 No comments

While Policymakers Fret Over Alleged High Cost of Renewables & Electric Vehicles

Facts To Reframe The Whole Trenton Debate

“Scientists warn that drastic action is the only way to avoid catastrophic climate impacts” ~~~ WaPo, 11/27/19

Screen Shot 2019-11-22 at 10.59.31 AM

[Update below]

The State of NJ pays polluters not to pollute, instead of making polluters pay.

This policy results in billions of dollars in subsidies to fossil polluters, while ignoring the costs of the climate emergency and the benefits of reduced energy consumption, energy efficiency, and renewable power.  

Paying polluters not to pollute is not only economically inefficient. It is deeply regressive and exacerbates economic inequality by transferring money from predominately low and middle income consumers to corporate profits and wealthy shareholders, where it perversely feeds profligate private consumption that increases  greenhouse gas emissions and expands corporate power, while frustrating democracy and reducing social investment.

In contrast, making polluters pay provides economic incentives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, generates public revenues to invest in energy efficiency and renewables that reduce greenhouse gas emissions,  increases democratic control, and equitably redistributes resources via investments and dividends that benefit low and middle income consumers.

But we never read about any of that in NJ media reports, because the Trenton climate and energy debate is dominated by special interests, self interested consultants, narrow minded technocrats like “Ratepayer Advocate” Brandt, and incompetent hacks, who have focused almost exclusively – in a constant media drumbeat, especially in NJ Spotlight coverage – on the alleged “high cost” and  “subsidies” to renewable energy and electric vehicles.  Follow me:

As has been widely reported by the media, the NJ legislature recently passed – and Gov. Murphy signed – legislation that pays PSE&G over $300 million/year for so called “zero emission credits” (ZEC’s) at their nuclear power plants. The ZEC payment is allegedly justified by avoided carbon emissions that would result if the nuke plants shut down and their capacity was replaced by out of state fossil powered sources.

But what has not been reported by media is that ZEC’s are the exact opposite of pollution fees – and that regulatory mandates are even more effective than economic tools (more on that latter point in a future post).

This ZEC policy is based on a dubious assumption, i.e. that all the power that replaced PSE&G’s nuke capacity would be fossil generated imports, not from in-state efficiency and renewables.

The ZEC subsidy amount ($300 million/year) has no publicly stated factual basis. But in what may be the stupidest on the record public comment ever made by a legislator, bill sponsor and Senate Environment Committee Chairman Bob Smith told Star Ledger editor Tom Moran that he got the number from PSE&G CEO Ralph Izzo. NJ Spotlight:

Yesterday, Sen. Bob Smith (D-Middlesex), who helped draft the law, told the Star-Ledger’s Tom Moran he decided to set the incentive at $300 million because PSEG CEO Ralph Izzo told him it was the right number.

But we can roughly estimate the price of a ZEC as follows:

assuming PSE&G nukes produce about 40% of NJ’s electric power and the current NJ power sector emits 18.6 million tons, this amounts to about $40 per ton of avoided carbon emissions. ($300 million/(18.6 MT X 0.4) = $40/ton *** (see below)

Regardless of details, this is paying polluters not to pollute.

In contrast, making polluters pay would require that they pay to pollute.

The price per ton of carbon pollution would be at least the $40/ton that PSE&G receives for ZEC’s which amount is effectively a surrogate “price on carbon”.

But there are many other ways to “put a price” on carbon and make polluters pay. (for example, I’ve compared the RGGI allowance price to the $122 per ton emission fee that DEP charges for traditional “criteria pollutants”, showing over $2 billion per year in subsidies to the power sector alone).

Which brings us to the table above, which is from NY State.

ZEC’s are not the only huge subsidy to polluters.

Imposing the Social Cost of Carbon (SCC) is being discussed in New York: (but not in NJ):

NYISO’s Carbon Pricing Proposal: The Essence

NYISO’s proposal would incorporate a carbon price in the NYISO- administered wholesale energy markets, in dollars per ton of CO2 emissions resulting from power plant operations. The carbon price would be based on the social cost of carbon emissions, established by New York State officials. …

The carbon charge would provide incentives to suppliers of power with low or no carbon emissions, including for innovative low- carbon technologies that may not yet be developed or be commercial in wholesale markets that do not provide compensation for the value those resources provide. Imports of power into New York would have a carbon adder, thus discouraging leakage of CO2emissions into neighboring regions.

Note the HUGE difference between the “Social Cost of Carbon” and the RGGI price.

In the first year (2020) its $40.74/ton. It only gets bigger over time.

NJ’s energy sector carbon polluters are only paying the small RGGI allowance fee for their carbon pollution.

That represents a $40.74/ton subsidy. On a statewide level, that amounts to $758 million/year subsidy.

So, just the PSE&G nuke subsidy and the RGGI power sector subsidy amount to over $1 billion/year in public subsidies to carbon polluters.

For statewide context, according to DEP,

New Jersey’s current annual [RGGI regulated power sector] emissions of CO2 are about 18.6 million tons

But according to NJ DEP’s most recent greenhouse gas emission inventory, the power sector is less than 20% of total GHG emissions.

If the transportation sector (40.6 million tons of GHG missions) were required to pay the SCC – via some form of fuels tax – that would amount to $1.65 BILLION.

So, the fuels industry is being subsidized by $1.65 BILLION/year (and that’s not counting $15 billion/year in federal subsidies nationally. Global subsides are even larger.).

Commercial and industrial buildings emit 16.6 million tons. That amounts to another $676 million subsidy.

These subsidies only grow over time.

So, think about these HUGE MULTI-BILLION DOLLAR SUBSIDIES to fossil polluters next time Rate Advocate, some legislator or NJ Spotlight complains about all the so called “high cost”, “burdens” and”subsidies”  to renewable power and electric vehicles.

And these “costs” are based only on traditional mainstream economics – not science –  which ignores the most significant “cost” implication of the climate emergency: the collapse of civilization, ecological collapse, and the suffering and death of billions of people.

Now how the hell does one put a price on that?

[*** I must have been doing inverse Izzzo math. I mistakenly adjusted the 40% nuke capacity by applying that to the RGGI powers sector. Actual data is available to provide a more accurate estimate, so I’m surprised that PSE&G didn’t make that part of the public debate. When my error is corrected, the ZEC price is closer to $25 per ton, not $40. But that doesn’t change the fundamentals flaws with ZEC’s.]

[Update 12/18/19 – The drumbeat goes on. Right on time, NJ Spotlight provides another example of false framing  to over-emphasize alleged costs & ratepayer burdens – 54 cents per month doesn’t even buy a cup of coffee!! See:

Remarkably, after 13 paragraphs that emphasize costs and subsidies to renewables  buried at the end of the 14th paragraph in a claim attributed  to the utility – – not even reported as as a fact –  we learn:

Atlantic City Electric said the cost of the program, if approved by the BPU, will be paid by a delivery charge on customers bills — roughly 54 cents a month for the typical customer.

NJ Spotlight Editor John Mooney, in his email distribution today, even wrote about costs being “foisted” on ratepayers:

For all the agreement on the need to promote electric vehicles, there is hardly consensus on how to pay for it. Even if the state’s utilities step up, will it just get foisted on the ratepayers in their electric bills?

Hey John – your bias is showing. See a dictionary for the pejorative definition of “foisted”:

transitive verb

1a: to introduce or insert surreptitiously or without warrant
b: to force another to accept especially by stealth or deceit when the statesfoist unnecessary expenses on local taxpayers— T. C. Desmond
2: to pass off as genuine or worthy foist costly and valueless products on the public— Jonathan Spivak… inferior caviar has been foisted on an unknowing public …— David Rosengarten
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NJ DEP & NJ Conservation Foundation Partner With Military To Burn NJ Forests – No Consideration of Climate Impacts

December 15th, 2019 No comments

Tentacles of Military Industrial Complex Extend Into Conservation Groups

Beware the REPI Man!

This is US Military's caption: Controlled burns help prevent wild res, which reduce visibility for air exercises. Photo credit: Dr. Walter Bien, Laboratory of Pinelands Research

This is US Military’s caption:
Controlled burns help prevent wildfires, which reduce visibility for air exercises. Photo credit: Dr. Walter Bien, Laboratory of Pinelands Research

File this one under “K” for “Know Your Partners”. Curious, maybe I missed it, but I don’t recall ever reading about any of this in an NJ DEP or NJCF press release.

According to the US Department of Defense, in order to “protect the military’s mission“, the US military spent over $16 million in NJ, including the preservation of over 9,000 acres of land via the “REPI” program:

The Readiness and Environmental Protection Integration (REPI) Program is a key tool used by DoD and its partners to protect the military’s ability to train, test, and operate in the state. DoD created the REPI Program in response to the development of lands and loss of habitat in the vicinity of or affecting its installations, ranges, and airspace that can lead to restrictions or costly and inadequate training and testing alternatives. Through REPI, DoD works with state and local governments, conservation organizations, and willing private landowners to address these challenges to the military mission and the viability of DoD installations and ranges. … Through FY 2018, DoD and its partners have spent over $44 million on REPI projects at 3 installations in New Jersey.

The military funding includes support for “conservation organizations”, as well as the Pinelands Commission.

REPI is a national program, operating in virtually every state. See the individual state REPI fact sheets.

The REPI program includes not only land conservation, but damaging practices like “controlled burns”, which were justified because they allegedly “help prevent wildfires, which reduce visibility for air exercises.”

But what military photo captions don’t tell you is that military training operations themselves cause fires, specifically “one fire every 14 days”.

Here is a project that NJCF partners on that admits creating fires:

One of the most heavily utilized Air National Guard training rangesin the U.S., Warren Grove Range is a key Northeast training asset for all four Services, with its remote location providing unique operational capabilities. However, its location in the New Jersey Pinelands is also one of the most flammable areas in the country. Every year training activities ignite one fire every 10-14 days,which are suppressed on-site.

When wildfires occur, the range must be totally shut down until theres are suppressed. To reduce the wildfire danger, controlled burns are necessary to manage forest undergrowth. Without buffer lands to properly address undergrowth and fire concerns, the military mission at the range is endangered. In May 2007, the range shut down entirely for more than a year.

It’s is very clear that the justification for these “controlled burns” has nothing to do with ecological science or forestry and everything to do with protecting the military mission. Period.

Imagine all that – and coming from the folks’ whose “air exercises” dropped bombs on an elementary school, see:

And, while we’re on the topic of “visibility”, let’s not forget this one:

The proposal is deficient in addressing [climate and] prescribed burn impacts.

Accordingly the DEP should impose a moratorium on prescribed burns until [climate and prescribed burn] impacts are assessed and regulatory control strategies in place.

The REPI program also conserves lands and prevents development, but again, the justification is grounded in the military mission, not science, land use, or conservation objectives.

Here’s another project at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst:

To ensure compatible land uses around the base, plans call for protecting a two-mile buffer that will preserve remaining open space and agricultural lands. Burlington and Ocean Counties and the state of New Jersey are helping to conserve lands that would threaten the military mission if developed, particularly within and around the Accident Potential Zones of the base’s runways.

Here are the program’s alleged “military benefits”:

  • Preserves off-installation night ying capability through the buffering of high-noise areas
  • Improves operational safety
  • Provides for multi-Service missions and future mission growth

Of course, there is no consideration of the military’s emission of greenhouse gases during their “mission” or from conducting these “training operations”, or the GHG emissions associated with “controlled burns” and routine fires these “training operations” create, or the impact on carbon sequestration in soils and vegetation.

And oops! Looks like I buried the lede: Did I mention that the US military is one of the largest emitters of greenhouse gases?

Research by social scientists from Durham University and Lancaster University shows the US military is one of the largest climate polluters in history, consuming more liquid fuels and emitting more CO2e (carbon-dioxide equivalent) than most countries.

The majority of greenhouse gas (GHG) accounting routinely focuses on civilian energy use and fuel consumption, not on the US military. This new study, published in Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, calculates part of the US military’s impact on climate change through critical analysis of its global logistical supply chains.

So, the next time you hear about the need for a controlled burn, especially in the Pinelands, look for the REPI man behind the curtain dangling military money.

And let’s hope the REPI man stays out of Highlands Forests.

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18 Years After Scathing Criticism By Federal Judge For Ignoring “Environmental InJustice”, NOTHING HAS CHANGED AT NJ DEP

December 12th, 2019 No comments

Climate Crisis Exacerbates Environmental Injustice


Over 18 years ago, US District Court Judge Orlofsky wrote in South Camden Citizens v. NJ Dept. of Environ., 145 F. Supp. 2d 446 (D.N.J. 2001) (emphases mine):

As described in greater detail in this Court’s Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law set forth below, the NJDEP granted the necessary air permits to SLC to allow its proposed facility to begin operations. In doing so, the NJDEP considered only whether the facility’s emissions would exceed technical emissions standards for specific pollutants, especially dust. Indeed, much of what this case is about is what the NJDEP failed to consider. It did not consider the level of ozone generated by the truck traffic to and from the SLC facility, notwithstanding the fact that the Waterfront South community is not currently in compliance with the National Ambient Air Quality Standard (“NAAQS”) established by the EPA for ozone levels, nor did it consider the presence of many other pollutants in Waterfront South. It did not consider the pre-existing poor health of the residents of Waterfront South, nor did it consider the cumulative environmental burden already borne by this impoverished community. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the NJDEP failed to consider the racial and ethnic composition of the population of Waterfront South.

BOOM! Hit the link above and Read the whole opinion. Orlofsky goes into great detail to document the specific failures of DEP review and show how the actual DEP regulatory review contradicts DEP rhetoric and spin. A must read.

Unfortunately, Orlofky’s legal decision was later reversed on legal grounds by the Third Circuit Court’s holding, in South Camden Citizens in Action v. New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, 274 F.3d 771 (3d Cir. 2001)

But Orlofsky’s factual findings and accurate criticism of basic and egregious failures by the NJ DEP were never challenged and remain valid.

[Of course, the Murphy DEP’s History of the EJ Program says NOTHING about all this embarrassing reality, but it does throw former DEP Commissioner Campbell under the bus under an absurd claim of lack of “user-friendly” regulation

Because the formula to determine environmental injustice was not user- friendly and it would require another rule to fix it, Commissioner Campbell withdrew the rule in May 2002 and began work on a new EJ Initiative, part of which resulted in the 2004 Environmental Justice Executive Order No. 96.]

Sadly, as most recently illustrated by the NJ DEP’s air permit renewal for the Newark garbage incinerator, despite Gov. Murphy’s Executive Order #23 on “environmental justice”, NOTHING HAS CHANGED – Orlofsky’s criticisms remain valid.

DEP still fails to consider what DEP failed to consider back in 2001 in Camden, NJ.

How is this tolerated?

Why is it not reported by media?

Why aren’t the “green”, climate and environmental justice groups even making these arguments?

Stay tuned as we try to find answers and report back soon.

[UPDATE: Proposed legislation (S1700[1R]) to direct DEP to designate EJ communities and specifically authorize DEP to deny permits for NEW or expanding facilities based on EJ and cumulative impacts  – even though it was gutted by amendments and even though DEP already has adequate legislative authority to act and even though the bill grandfathers all the unjust existing pollution – is going nowhere, blocked in Senate by Senate President Sweeney and languishing in the Senate appropriations Committee. DOA

[For example, over 15 years ago, Gov. McGreevy issued Executive Order #96 that, among other things, established a petition process to designate EJ communities:

Any community may file a petition with the Task Force that asserts that residents and workers in the community are subject to disproportionate adverse exposure to environmental health risks, or disproportionate adverse effects resulting from the implementation of laws affecting public health or the environment. …

In consultation with the Environmental Justice Advisory Council, the Task Force shall identify a set of communities from the petitions filed, based on a selection criteria developed by the Task Force, including consideration of state agency resource constraints;

[Update 2 –  A Trenton source tells me that Sweeney supported the original version and that the amendments that gutted the bill came from Gov. Murphy’s Office (with a perceived CV threat).  Someone should ask Sweeney. If we had a functioning press corps, someone would. Don’t hold your breath on that one.]

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Murphy DEP Science Board Repeats The Abuses Of the Christie Administration

December 11th, 2019 No comments

DEP Science Board Must Be Restricted From Any Role In Regulation And Policy

4. The issues upon which the Board deliberates shall be those that the Commissioner requests the Board, through the Department’s Office of Science, to consider, which issues shall be limited to specific scientific and technical issues, not policy or regulatory matters.  ~~~ Administrative Order 2009-05, Acting DEP Commissioner Mauriello

On numerous occasions, Murphy DEP Commissioner McCabe has emphasized the key role of science in DEP decisions. These decisions include: DEP priorities, budget and staff resource allocations, policies, programs, plans, regulations and permits. (DEP press release)

“I am excited to join the DEP and its thousands of expert professionals to help continue the Garden State’s leadership on the issues of climate change and renewable energy, sustainability with economic growth, and environmental protection based on strong science and facts.”

However, McCabe – in addition to mis-stating DEP’s mission to include a role in  “economic growth” –   is continuing the abuse of science at DEP, as practiced by the Christie DEP Science Advisory Board (SAB).

The DEP SAB was created by Corzine administration DEP Commissioner Lisa Jackson.

I am a longtime critic of the DEP SAB, particularly with respect to the membership, which includes industry representative and consultants who have clear conflicts of interests and scientific bias. I’ve objected to the SAB’s role, lack of ethical standards, lack of scientific integrity, and lack of transparency and accountability. Some of those criticisms have led to reforms, others have not.

When Corzine Commissioner Jackson left DEP to assume a role as Gov. Corzine’s Chief of Staff, she was replaced by Mark Mauriello, who served on an Acting basis.

Mauriello issued Administrative Order #2009-5 on May 28, 2009 regarding the mission, role, ethics, and composition of the SAB.

Importantly, Mauriello’s Order specifically restricted the SAB from any role in DEP “policy and regulations” (see paragraph #4).

But Christie DEP Commissioner Martin ignored that restriction and directed the SAB to attack DEP regulations.

Most notoriously, the Christie DEP SAB attack on DEP’s Highlands Nitrate Model – the basis for the Septic Density regulations – led to extreme controversy and a legislative veto of DEP regulatory rollbacks that were based in part on that SAB “science”.

Curiously, Gov. Murphy’s DEP Commissioner McCabe – who touts the importance of science – is repeating that abuse of the SAB.

I lay out and document the argument in the below letter to Senate Environment Committee Chairman Smith, seeking legislative oversight and reforms. I urge support of readers on this important issue:

Dear Chairman Smith and Senators Bateman and Greenstein:

I just reviewed Gov. Murphy’s proposed FY’20 DEP budget in light of NJ Spotlight’s report on a decade of deep budget cuts. In case you missed the important Spotlight story, see:

Funding for State Pollution Control Dropped 12% in Decade to 2018, Study Says

At any rate, aside from these critical funding issues, in reviewing the proposed DEP budget, I noted troubling language regarding the DEP Science Advisory Board (SAB).

As you may know, I have been a longtime critic of the SAB and some of my criticisms have been addressed by DEP reforms, particularly regarding conflicts of interest, ethical standards, and scientific bias. But others have not.

As you may recall, the SAB was created by former DEP Commissioner Lisa Jackson. Unfortunately, DEP’s SAB website does not include a link to the Jackson AO (see:

However, it does include a link to the subsequent Administrative Order 2009-05 of Acting DEP Commissioner Mauriello, who replaced Jackson when she went to Gov. Corzine’s Office See:

I specifically call your attention to paragraph #4 of that Order, which has not been repealed or superseded and remains in effect, which provides (emphasis mine):

“4. The issues upon which the Board deliberates shall be those that the Commissioner requests the Board, through the Department’s Office of Science, to consider, which issues shall be limited to specific scientific and technical issues, not policy or regulatory matters” 

I now call your attention to Gov. Murphy’s proposed FY’20 DEP budget, which on page D-123, directly contradicts paragraph #4 of Administrative Order 2009-05 regarding SAB involvement in regulatory and policy matters:

The Science Advisory Board (SAB) … reviews the quality and relevance of the scientific and technical information being used or proposed as the basis for Department regulations.”

Clearly, the SAB was NOT an is NOT authorized to review “the basis of Department regulations” as stated in the proposed FY’20 DEP budget.

Commissioner Mauriello’s AO# 2009-05 clearly restricts the role of the SAB with respect to any role in “policy and regulatory matters”.

Instead, the SAB’s mission, as AO #2009-05 clearly states in paragraph #1, is to:

“is to provide independent peer review and advice to the Commissioner, as requested by the Commissioner, on scientific and technical issues relevant to the Department’s mission (emphasis mine).

In contrast to offices such as the State Geologist, State Forester, and the State Climatologist, the DEP SAB was not established by legislation and has no legislative basis or authorization. It was a creature of Administrative Order.

Because the issue of scientific integrity is central to the protection of public health and the environment and the role of DEP regulations is to implement and enforce responsibilities delegated by the Legislature, I strongly urge you to enforce the DEP AO #2009-05 to limit the role of the SAB to restrict their involvement in regulatory and policy matters.

To do so would require, at a minimum, that the DEP FY’20 budget language cited above be stricken.

Preferably, legislation – or budget language – should establish legislative authorization and define the mission, role, ethical standards, transparency, accountability, and composition of the DEP SAB. I would be glad to work with you on that.

Sincerely, Bill Wolfe

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