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Trump Border Wall Construction Blasting Sacred Sites – Native Ceremony & Protest Shames Trump Border Policy

February 15th, 2020 No comments

Native Lands And Organ Pipe National Monument Being Savaged

Solemn Protest At US Border Patrol In Why, Arizona

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About 25 Native Americans and 50 supporters held a protest and traditional Native American spiritual ceremony today in response to the destruction of sacred lands of the Tohono O’odham Nation, whose ancestral homelands and sacred burial sites are being blasted and desecrated to build Trump’s border wall.

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We’ve been camping in the Sonoran desert on the edge of Tohono O’odham lands near Ajo, Arizona, about 40 miles from the Border and Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument and Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge.

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So, I was proud to join the protest and stand in solidarity with the indigenous peoples whose lands were stolen to make way for the current militarized US – Mexican border region.

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After lining about 1/2 mile of Route 85 just south of the US Border Patrol’s station in Why, Arizona with signs and receiving support from passing motorists, the protesters split into two groups who stood in concentric circles.

The inner ring was comprised of native peoples who participated in a ceremony led by their Medicine Man.

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Supporters stood in solidarity and witnessed the ceremony in the outer ring.

I have never witnessed such a ceremony before, and it was very moving.

After the ceremony, the groups recombined and walked up the road to the US Border Patrol station.

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Ryan of The Intercept has been doing outstanding reporting here for awhile now. Read his most recent report: (read the whole thing!)

CONTRACTORS WORKING FOR the Trump administration are blowing apart a mountain on protected lands in southern Arizona to make way for the president’s border wall. The blasting is happening on the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, a tract of Sonoran Desert wilderness long celebrated as one of the nation’s great ecological treasures, that holds profound spiritual significance to multiple Native American groups.

Scenes:

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your author

your author – at “the Crossroads”, “All Along The Watchtower”

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Murphy DEP Narrowing The Scope of Climate Regulation – “Targeted” Reforms Designed To “Modernize” Regulations

February 13th, 2020 No comments

Murphy DEP “Listening to All Sides”, including polluters, developers, & deniers

DEP Adopts posture of  “Collaboration”, Not Leadership

[See End Note]

I recently wrote that the Murphy DEP was “running away from climate regulations“.

I based that initial assessment on over 35 years of DEP regulatory policy work, the Murphy administration’s climate record thus far, a cursory review of the Murphy Executive Order, and the framing of a NJ Spotlight story, particularly on how the DEP responded to very strong pushback from the business community.

Since then, DEP has formally announced their official climate regulatory rollout.

That regulatory process includes 3 discrete DEP defined topics and public “stakeholder meetings” as follows:

I) Monitoring and Reporting

At the outset, let me note that “monitoring and reporting” on greenhouse gas emissions was mandated 13 years ago by the 2007 global Warming Response Act.

Prior to passage of the GWRA, in 2005, DEP adopted regulations that defined greenhouse gases as regulated “air contaminants” (i.e. “pollutants”) under the NJ State Air Pollution Control Act and required monitoring and reporting of emissions.

Additionally, in the 2007 RGGI law, a subset of major GHG polluters in the energy sector were required to monitor and report emissions.

And prior to all that, in the mid 1990’s, Whitman administration DEP Commissioner Shinn established the first DEP greenhouse gas emissions inventory.

So, DEP has been involved in GHG monitoring and reporting for almost 30 years. DEP should be managing a robust GHG emissions monitoring and reporting program. If that’s not the case, then we’re really in trouble. And if it is the case, then Gov. Murphy and DEP Commissioner McCabe, by creating the public appearance that this program is something new and important is totally misleading.

Instead, DEP should be reporting to the public about the strengths and weakness of the GHG monitoring and reporting program, including making specific recommendations to make it more comprehensive, transparent, accurate, and reliable – and be able to be integrated with and technically support a GHG emissions reduction regulatory program, which the structure of current monitoring and reporting can not do.  

II) Reducing Carbon Emissions

The DEP’s public announcement lacks any specifics about the numeric emissions reductions and timetables that must be met to reflect “best available science”, or even define what “best available science” is.

That is a failure of leadership and it makes it appear that the fundamental GHG emission reduction goals and timetables are negotiable.

At a minimum, DEP should advise the public that the “best available” science includes the 2018 IPCC Special Report, that warned we must reduce emissions by 45% or more over the next decade.

Instead, the public must scroll through DEP’s rollout website to find a vague and weak “fact sheet”.

III) “Adapting Land Use Regulations to climate change”

By framing the issue this way, DEP has made and masks a HUGE policy concession.

DEP effectively has limited the scope of the land use climate program to adaptation, and not emissions reductions.

Development subject to DEP land use permit requirements not only must adapt to climate change, but that DEP regulated infrastructure, development and redevelopment also emit huge amounts of greenhouse gases that must be reduced.

The DEP land use programs must integrate missions reduction requirements.

New DEP permit requirements could mandate that developments subject to DEP land use permit requirements are:

1) zero carbon or carbon neutral;

2) offset any new carbon emissions;

3) planned, designed and constructed with energy in mind, from passive solar development layouts, preservation and planting of trees on and of-site, energy efficient insulation, building materials, and appliances, rooftop solar, smart metering, connectivity to micro-grids, off-grid storage, and accommodate electric vehicles at al.

But the DEP has defined that all away be restricting the scope of land use regulations to “adaptation”.

IV) “Stakeholder meetings” versus formal public hearings or negotiated rule-making

The DEP has chosen to develop the climate regulatory program via informal “stakeholder meetings”. That means that these meetings are not subject to the NJ Administrative Procedures Act or Gov. Murphy’s own troubling Executive Order on regulatory policy.

That decision has procedural and substantive consequences.

Procedurally, these meetings are informal. That means that the public is not guaranteed the protections that would be provided by “formal” procedures, like formal public hearings, where DEP is required to widely publish and publicize the public notices of the hearings. At these hearings, no one can be excluded and all voices must be heard on an equal basis. DEP is required to maintain a transcript of all public comments, DEP is required to respond to public comment, and the contents of the hearing form the “official record” of the rule making are transparent to the public and are subject to judicial and legislative review.

In contrast, DEP is under no such obligations in informal “stakeholder meetings”. That means that DEP can erect barriers that limit public involvement, like mandatory registration, limits on the duration of meetings and limited public notice of the meetings.

In addition to the above troubling DEP presentation of the regulatory framework, here’s how Murphy DEP Commissioner McCabe described the DEP climate regulation program: (emphases mine)

“As we work to modernize our environmental regulations to reflect the best available science, DEP is committed to a thoughtful and collaborative approach that engages stakeholders from across all sectors of our economy, non-governmental organizations, academia and local government. We are all in this together.”

There are a number of rhetorical and procedural red flags that tend to confirm my initial assessment.

First of all, the DEP is stressing problematic policy concepts, specifically “modernization, “stakeholder meetings“,”collaboration“, and individual DEP defined topics (AKA regulatory “silos”).

And here’s another troubling one:

Due to space limitations, the DEP is requesting attendees to RSVP. …To attend, you MUST RSVP to the event using the RSVP For This EVENT link on below right.

Let’s discuss these problems one by one.

I) “Modernization”

Modernization is a policy neutral concept. Modern is in the eye of the beholder: does it mean “efficient”? Does it mean “least cost”? Does it mean least regulatory burden? Does it mean deepest and fastest greenhouse gas emissions”?

For an example of the dangers of modernization”, consider that President Bill Clinton “modernized” financial regulation via the “Financial Services Modernization Act of 1999 and the Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000.

Those “modernization” laws deregulated Wall Street and led to the 2008 financial collapse.

Gov. Murphy was making his fortune on Wall Street and benefited hugely from this “modernization”.

So, beware whenever a Wall Street Neoliberal Democrat pursues a policy of “modernization”.

II) Stakeholder meetings

(see above)

III) Collaboration

This is going to be a fight with powerful economic interests and their friends in the legislature and media. The Murphy DEP needs tremendous public support, which can only be generated by a bold proposal.

But the concept of collaboration is troubling and it undermines the concept of leadership.

With DEP setting out seeking “collaboration”, that is a very soft stance and invites all kinds of compromise, even capitulation.

IV) DEP’s definition of the issues and structure of the regulatory framework

See the above discussion of how DEP narrowed the scope of the land use regulatory program.

DEP also has done this by breaking the public sessions into discrete topics, thereby perpetuating a “silo” based approach and undermining effective public involvement.

By doing this, DEP is avoiding and undermining a more compressive and synthetic approach that could integrate both emission reductions and climate adaption in a unified regulatory framework.

V) Discouraging public involvement

(see above).

There’s no reason why the public should be required to register to participate.

DEP has stated that there are “space limitations” (capacity). That is unacceptable.

I assume DEP also will impose time limits on the meetings and the length of people’s testimony.

All of the above are more troubling signs. Often, the process dictates the outcome.

If so, there are many signs that we’re headed for the rocks.

[End Note: the comment function doesn’t work, so an informed reader sent me an email criticizing this post, as follows:

The standards for all that are already predetermined by the EMP . RGGI  etc. Clean energy is incinerators , bio gas , bio mass subsidies nukes , CHP, and sequestration and off sets – the reduction electrical sector 30% 2030 by RGGI – 80% net reductions 2050 with offsets, carbon sequestration and bio gas.

I replied thusly:

I understand that – the post about all that substance is being written in my head. It’s coming. This is a series.

The point I’m trying to make in this post is that at the outset, DEP and the Gov. won’t talk about all that precisely BECAUSE the standards suck. They don’t mention lots of other stuff – like STATUTORY RGGI allowance caps, solar caps, et al that create barriers to even the Gov.’s weak emission reduction goals and timetables.

Failure to even MENTION all this substance in the Gov. Ex. Order 100 and at the outset of a DEP public process for regulatory development can only result in them getting even WEAKER in response to strong pushback by the business community and legislature – and with no fingerprints or even ability for the public to know what the hell went on.

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Another NJ Spotlight Corporate Roundtable Scam

February 11th, 2020 No comments

Panel on Delaware River Includes Corporate & Anti-Regulatory Advocates

Dupont, PSE&G, & Corporate Consultants Advance Agenda Behind The Scenes

Source: NJ Spotlight (emphasis arrow mine)

Source: NJ Spotlight (emphasis arrow mine)

My email in-basket was loaded with another invitation to a NJ Spotlight Roundtable, this one on the Delaware River, innocuously titled:

  • Health of the Delaware River: Where Are We Headed?

Having worked on water resources in NJ for decades – including drafting NJ’s Watershed Management Act, the Highlands Act, and DEP regulations regarding Category One waterbody designations and buffer protections – it was not difficult to immediately detect the scam, based on a cursory analysis of the topic, the usual suspects (i.e panelists), and the usual dishonest stealth tactics (e.g. masking anti-regulatory initiatives behind “green” sounding projects, advancing corporate interests via representation on Boards and funding of non-profits, and elite Foundation funding).

Let me explain all that, beginning with the topic.

There are two basic and conflicting policy approaches to protecting water resources:

A) The Clean Water Act based planning and regulatory model. This science and law based model is enforced by a host of programs implemented by federal, state, regional, and local government agencies, under formal transparency, accountability and public participation processes subject to judicial review and legislative oversight, and democratic public accountability.

B) The non-governmental watershed or estuary approach. This model is a private, voluntary, “partnership”, market driven, and local model, stressing individual consumer and lifestyle choices. It is a non-regulatory initiative overseen by corporate influenced and private elite Foundation and corporate funded non-profits, a program developed in the absence of democratic principles, and with no transparency, accountability, or judicial, legislative, or public oversight mechanisms. (If you think I exaggerate, just try filing a public comment, request for public hearing, or OPRA request for public documents with the WM. Penn Foundation about their $100 million Delaware River program!)

Obviously, corporations, developers, and polluters prefer Alternative B.

Historically, environmental groups preferred Alternative A.

But that preference has been undermined recently as certain corporate influenced and Foundation funded conservation oriented groups have sold out or co-opted the more aggressive regulatory oriented groups. At the same time, those formerly regulatory oriented groups have sold out for the Foundation grants, access to politicians, and Spotlight roundtable invitations (I’m talking about you, Doug O’Malley and “strategic science” communicator Dana Patterson, who surely knows better after battling Dupont in Pompton Lakes).

These are some bold claims, so let me be specific, to illustrate how NJ Spotlight is masking these fundamental policy issues and conflicts and thereby duping readers, violating journalistic norms, and betraying the public interest.

I)  Corporate Interests Advanced By Stealth and Co-Optation

The NJ Spotlight panel, on first impression, appears to be balanced, if not dominated by advocates of clean water.

But, the panel needs to be considered in context.

The panel includes Kathy Klein, Executive Director, Partnership for the Delaware Estuary (PDE).

PDE sounds like a public interest oriented group, and if you read their mission and vision statement, you could think that:

The Partnership for the Delaware Estuary, host of the Delaware Estuary Program, leads science-based and collaborative efforts to improve the tidal Delaware River and Bay,

But the word “collaborative” gives it away. That term opens the door to all kinds of “collaboration” and “partnerships”, including with major corporate polluters, like Dupont, in corporate efforts to dodge costly regulatory enforcement, like NJPDES permit and TMDL cleanup requirements.

PDE has killed the Dupont link on their “science” webpage – here’s why I get when I hit the link to the Delaware River Watershed Initiative (which I assume is the Penn Foundation $100 million project):

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This can only be understood as an effort to hide that as well as Dupont collaborations, which include:

Clear Into the Future: A DuPont Delaware Estuary Initiative – (DE / NJ / PA)

PDE has huge undisclosed conflicts of interest, including taking money from Dupont:

The DuPont Clear into the Future® (CITF) program has awarded grants and sponsorships totaling $123,000 to 15 organizations from Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Virginia and West Virginia in support of their work to improve and enhance the Delaware Estuary and other ecosystems where DuPont employees live and work. This is the first year that the program has considered applications in support of conservation work in communities beyond the Delaware Estuary.

Protecting and enhancing ecosystems like the Delaware Estuary through research, conservation education and environmental stewardship are central to our core values at DuPont,” said Linda J. Fisher, vice president, DuPont Safety, Health & Environment and Chief Sustainability Officer. “We are extremely pleased to play a role in supporting the important efforts of this year’s grantees and we thank them for their contributions to environmental conservation.”

Eight non-governmental organizations (NGO’s) and three universities received grants, including: Delaware Greenways, Inc., Delaware Nature Society/DuPont Environmental Education Center, James River Association, Nature Conservancy-Delaware Chapter, New Jersey Audubon Society, Partnership for the Delaware Estuary, Pennsylvania Sea Grant, Stroud Water Research Center, Rutgers-Haskins Shellfish Lab, Delaware State University and Drexel University.

Note that Dupont also has taken down the links to their cynical Clear Into The Future program (and they even Registered it! (R)). I blasted that Dupont scam, most recently in a May 10, 2018 post, when the Dupont link was working.

Also note that Drexel, where NJ Spotlight Panelist Carol R. Collier works and gets paid, also receives Dupont funding.

But, let’s also look at the PDE Board of Directors, where we find more corporate interests, conflicts, and stealth influence.

The entire Board of Directors of PDE is either corporate or has corporate funding or conflicts of interest.

These corporations have huge economic interests in the Delaware Watershed and huge incentives to divert public attention away from costly regulatory enforcement.

II)  The NJ Spotlight Topic Summary Biases Issues

NJ Spotlight, at best, naively and narrowly frames the issue with a focus on the Trump EPA:

But now the gains are threatened by the Trump administration’s final rollback of the Waters of the U.S. Rule that protects smaller wetlands and seasonal streams from pollution or development. Since those sources feed larger waterways like the Delaware River – whose watershed supplies drinking water to some 13 million people – the measure could set back years of progress, advocates say.

It is easy to bash the Trump EPA on what amounts to an exaggerated controversy over the WOTUS rule – that’a a convenient target and diversion from all the other real issues at play.

One would think NJ Spotlight reporter Jon Hurdle, who has written a lot about toxic chemical and regulatory issues, would understand that.

III)  Elite Foundation Funding Not Disclosed to The Public

The Wm. Penn Foundation has distributed $100 million to non-profits for work in the Delaware Watershed.

As I’ve written before, the Wm. Penn Foundation and the groups they fund are classic examples of advocates of Alternative B above.

Penn funded groups are on the NJ Spotlight panel and NJ Spotlight itself receives Wm. Penn Foundation funding.

At a minimum, these groups and NJ Spotlight have conflicts of interests, given that funding, the Wm. Penn policy agenda, and funding to NJ Spotlight who is sponsoring the Panel.

IV)  Delaware Estuary & Watershed Model Versus The Clean Water Act Regulatory Model

I don’t want to get too far into the weeds, but here is an EPA description of the National Estuary Program:

The NEPs are located in a variety of institutional settings, including state and local agencies, universities and individual nonprofits. In overseeing and managing the national program, EPA provides annual funding, national guidance and technical assistance to the local NEPs…. [Note: this does NOT include EPA or State regulation and enforcement]

The NEP challenges and priorities are defined by local, city, state, federal, private and non-profit stakeholders. [Note: Priorities are not based on science and law.]

Each NEP has a Management Conference (MC) that consists of diverse stakeholders and uses a collaborative, consensus-building approach to implement the CCMP. Moreover, each MC ensures that the CCMP is uniquely tailored to the local environmental conditions and is based on local input, thereby supporting local priorities.

A “collaborative, consensus building approach” may sound just great, but it abdicates government responsibility, outsources policy to private groups, and effectively provides control of the agenda and a veto power to corporate polluters and developers. Polluters and developers will never allow “consensus” to form around any science or regulatory mandate that will cost them money. Period.

The national estuary program was created and designed as an alternative to federal and state government enforcement of the Clean Water Act regulatory model.

Polluters, developers, and other “local” economic interests love it, including the elite Foundations and the well fed elite non-profits that are funded by EPA, States, Foundations and corporate polluters.

The NJ Spotlight panel, the panel’s topic, and the panelists themselves all are advocates of the national estuary model, or what I call Alternative B above.

Thus, readers and the public are being sold a corporate bill of goods that has little to do with clean water.

V)  The Corruption of Journalistic Standards And Duping Of The Public

NJ Spotlight is funded by the Wm. Penn Foundation. The Wm. Penn Foundation has an anti-regulatory and corporate friendly agenda. The Wm. Penn Foundation funds groups that are named by Spotlight to the Panel. Other Panelists are recipients of corporate money or governed by corporate interests on their Boards.

NJ Spotlight reports none of the above.

That failure to report – or even disclose the corporate interests and policy conflicts embedded in their Panel – violates journalistic standards of disclosure, transparency, ethics, and conflicts of interest.

In fact, the corruption goes beyond non disclosure. As I highlight above, there are efforts to mask the role, influence, and funding by corporate interests, including Dupont, and even mention the existence of a controversial policy debate between fundamental policy alternatives A and B.

Did I make the case?

Word.

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Down Orwell’s Memory Hole – Becoming An Invisible Man

February 10th, 2020 No comments

Another Expendable American

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Orwell’s brilliant book “1984” maintains relevance in these dark times.

But it’s not just Trump and his cult who deploy Orwellian tactics.

Here’s the original 2002 DEP official website and NJ Register Public Notice text that went down Orwell’s “Memory Hole” and became the “404 Error” you see above. That DEP website scrubbing erased me and my work from history. Here’s what DEP says you can’t know:

PUBLICLY IDENTIFIED WATERS FOR CATEGORY ONE (Don’t bother hitting the link – it’s another “404 error”)

To date, DEP has received over 47 public nominations from individuals, groups and public entities for Category One designations. These public nominations include approximately 337 named rivers and streams equaling 7,655 linear waterbody miles and 23 reservoirs, lakes and ponds representing 6,593 surface acres. A map of the public nominations is available at www.nj.gov/dep/antisprawl/c1map.html. (don’t bother, that link is down the Memory Hole too!)

DEP has not had the opportunity to fully evaluate all the public nominations for Category One but will seriously consider all public nominations over the upcoming months. DEP is continuing to accept public recommendations for Category One water designations. Public recommendations for Category One water designations should be sent at this time to Bill Wolfe.

View Map of PUBLICLY Identified Waters (Down the Memory Hole too).

I was reminded of the fact that I was discarded down Orwell’s memory hole in just now reading a terrifying must read piece (h/t Margo!) in The Atlantic about modern Orwellian disinformation & propaganda  campaign tactics, which are likely to deployed again in the 2020 election by the Trump campaign, see:

I only take issue with the inclusion of a Russian intervention angle. DNC corporate Democrats have beat that dead horse to a pulp as a means of avoiding having to deal with the sabotage of Bernie Sanders and real reasons for the Hillary Clinton loss and rise of Trumpism.

Anyway, that Atlantic piece used the term “sock puppet”, a phrase I had not heard in a long time. That jogged painful memories of going down Orwell’s Memory Hole and of when I was falsely accused of being a “sock puppet”. Here’s that story:

Back in 2009, I had multiple internet accounts and identities:

1. I was a columnist at the Star Ledger’s NJ Voices page under my real name.

2. I had a blog at Wolfenotes.com

3. I was a commenter on Star Ledger webpage news articles under the pseudonym “No Hesitation”.

4. I was a blogger at Blue Jersey under the pseudonym “Winston Smith”.

I frequently cross linked posts in all these sites. I never attempted to conceal my real identity.

At other internet sites, I commented under different names including Publican, Civil Society, and NewDeal. I assumed this was standard practice.

At Blue Jersey, I frequently criticized NJ and NJ Democrats – a taboo there – and got into arguments with the Editor, Rosi Eftim (spelling?) (BTW, if you search the Blue Jersey site for Winston Smith, the prior link is the ONLY post and working link for me you will find there.)

Rosi warned me several times about posting what I felt were truthful and fact based critiques of Democrats and other Blue Jersey posters.

Finally, she used the pretext of accusing me of being a “sock puppet” to ban me from Blue Jersey.

Since then, I have been banned at the Star Ledger and NJ Spotlight for similar fact based accurate criticism.

DEP has erased me and the media has banned me.

NJ Voices has taken down all the beautiful photos I posted in that column (thankfully, the text is still there).

The PEER DC Office has taken down 10 years of my work at NJ PEER (scrubbed completely and all the links are dead).

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I’m feeling like Ralph Ellison’s “Invisible Man” – guess I checked my white male privilege at the wrong door.

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Murphy DEP Already Running Away From Climate Regulations

February 9th, 2020 No comments

Contrary To Science, Gov. Murphy Sees No Climate Emergency

Huge Gap Between Press Release Rhetoric and Regulatory Reality Grows

NJ Spotlight coverage regurgitates fact free corporate talking points

You il not see a graph like this is the Murphy BPU Energy master Plan or DEP Greenhouse Gas Inventory Reports

You will not see a graph like this in the Murphy BPU Energy Master Plan or DEP Greenhouse Gas Inventory Reports

This is Part One of a series.

The ink was barely dry on Gov. Murphy’s Executive Order on climate before his DEP began running away from it.

Because I’ve been advocating for and writing about the failure of DEP to regulate greenhouse gas emissions and adopt rules necessary to adapt to climate change for over a decade, of course I’d been planning to write about NJ Gov. Murphy’s Executive Order #100, which directs DEP to regulate greenhouse gas emissions and incorporate climate adaptation in regulatory programs, and DEP Commissioner McCabe’s Administrative Order No. 2020-01.

Keep in mind that, way back on October 7, 2007, in a Sunday Star Ledger Op-Ed (see: “No Teeth in “Tough” Pollution Law” – sorry no link), while everybody – and I mean everybody – was cheerleading, we alone correctly called bullshit on the highly touted Global Warming Response Act. Our criticisms have been vindicated by history.

In fact, my previous post on Feb. 5 that was critical of Gov. Murphy’s Energy Master Plan’s approach to reducing greenhouse gas emissions from buildings – closed with this commitment:

We’ll be doing additional posts on the EMP as well as the Governor’s Executive Order and the DEP Commissioner’s Administrative Order.

This will take several posts – the Gov. has crafted a bizarrely complex byzantine bureaucratic exercise that requires cross-walks between four EO’s, DEP’s AO, IEP, EMP, DEP, BPU, DCA RGGI, & 3 recent energy laws – but let’s start today with the media coverage.

Just 2 days after I promised to write about DEP regulation, NJ Spotlight – the media outlet where “issues [used to] matter” more than Foundation funding and corporate advertising – weighed in with this openly hostile and incredibly biased spin (it actually gets worse after the headline):

As I’ve noted, this is another troubling story in what is now an obvious pattern in false framing, biased content, and reliance on highly questionable sources. A pattern I’ve called “journalistic malpractice” (note that “green” sources in NJ Spotlight stories are almost always the same groups funded by the same elite Foundations that also fund NJ Spotlight, i.e. Wm. Penn & Dodge Foundations and The Fund for NJ. That pattern is strong evidence of how elite Foundations abuse the public interest in how they:

1. define or hijack the policy agenda;

2. fund and co-opt “safe” “moderate” environmental groups to conduct “campaigns” on that agenda. Those campaigns are designed not to threaten existing corporate or political power;

3. Foundations then fund the media outlets to publicize that agenda; and

4. the media outlets then source stories on agenda issues with quotes from the Foundation funded groups or name them as Roundtable panelist and faux “experts”.

It’s one big self serving scam, reflecting Neoliberal ideology – a dynamic that others have called an “Elite Charade”. I call this “news management“. Ironically, when the right wing adopts similar tactics, it’s correctly denounced as disinformation, propaganda, an “echo chamber”, or “vast conspiracy”.)

While NJ Spotlight has published scores of stories, Op-Ed’s, “sponsored content” and held several issue “Roundtables” that focus almost exclusively on the alleged “high cost” of climate programs – from energy efficiency to renewable energy – stories that quote various corporate hacks, I can count on one hand the number of stories NJ Spotlight has published about the most recent IPCC “Special Report” and dire warnings from scientists that we have about a decade to act to deeply reduce GHG emissions to avoid irreversible and potentially catastrophic impacts:

The [IPCC] report finds that limiting global warming to 1.5°C would require “rapid and far-reaching” transitions in land, energy, industry, buildings, transport, and cities. Global net human-caused emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) would need to fall by about 45 percent from 2010 levels by 2030, reaching ‘net zero’ around 2050.

Ironically, while Gov. Murphy’s own Executive Order repeatedly cites the IPCC’s science, amazingly, it somehow ignores the policy implications of the IPCC warnings, i.e. a “rapid” 45% emissions reduction by 2030.

As we’ve written, Gov. Murphy’s Energy Master Plan assumes that GHG emissions will continue to grow and that significant emissions reductions will not BEGIN until after 2030. Just LOOK:

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Now, after the huge embarrassment of a 2 year energy planning process at BPU being made obsolete by the climate science, the Gov. has issued an Executive Order mandating climate regulations by DEP (read the Murphy press release).

Given that embarrassing BPU experience – and the dire warnings of science – one would think that the Gov. would have learned the lesson of delay.

One would be wrong: The Gov. Executive Order shows no sign of urgency and gives DEP two more years to adopt regulations (which would then take several more years to implement and enforce).

In contrast to that two year delay, Gov. Murphy could have declared a climate emergency in his Executive Order, invoking the Governor’s constitutional emergency powers. An emergency declaration would have had multiple benefits:

1) it would have reflected the science and aggressive timetables to produce real & deep greenhouse gas emissions reductions;

2) it would have enabled issuance of a moratorium on DEP and BPU approvals of  “more than a dozen” pending fossil infrastructure projects;

3) it would have authorized DEP to adopt regulations (effective on publication in the NJ Register) without going through the lengthy procedural requirements of Gov. Murphy’s own Executive Order and the NJ Administrative Procedures Act (see NJAC 1:30-6.5 Emergency rule adoption and concurrent proposal). Emergency rulemaking that provides streamlined regularly adoption prior to notice and comment also maximizes the role of science and the control of DEP experts, while minimizing political intervention in rule development by corporate economic interests;

4) it would have bolstered the validity and legal defensibility of any DEP regulations which are almost certain to prompt litigation; and

5) it would have sent a strong message about priorities and educated the public about the climate emergency.

But instead of a moratorium on new fossil infrastructure enforced via DEP regulations, the Gov. has opted for putting BPU in charge of more delay.

And get this: with respect to infrastructure, the BPU will not be evaluating a moratorium on infrastructure and the attainment of any 45% reduction in existing emissions by 2030. Instead, BPU will consider “the need for future expansion”!. Here’s the relevant text of the Murphy EMP:(@ page 189)

Goal 5.4.1: Develop a planning process to quantify and analytically assess the need for future expansion of the gas system and take appropriate action.

The last decade has seen unprecedented growth of the natural gas system, due largely to the discovery of domestic shale gas and subsequent low fuel prices. New Jersey currently has more than a dozen natural gas infrastructure projects under consideration at NJDEP and NJBPU, including pipelines, power plants, and a compressor station.

New Jersey would benefit from a comprehensive assessment of the gas system and its future needs. Consistent with recent deliberations, NJBPU will commission a study to assess if and where the system is approaching capacity limits, and where the system is being underutilized. Following this analysis and recognizing the importance of stakeholder involvement as an integral part of the process, including consumers, utilities, advocacy organizations, and others, NJBPU will undertake a stakeholder proceeding. The purpose of this proceeding is to take feedback from all interested parties as part of the Board’s evaluation of the analysis. Evaluation and consideration of the analysis along with the stakeholder feedback will inform future Board action on utility filings.

More process. More delay. While GHG emissions continue to increase. Pending “dozen” fossil infrastructure projects may receive regulatory approvals during at least 2 year period of delay due to BPU planning and DEP regulatory development. Ta da!

In addition to failing to declare an emergency and establish a moratorium on regulatory approvals of new fossil infrastructure, the Gov.’s Executive Order failed to direct his Department of Community Affairs to update building codes to reduce GHG emissions.

But, before I delve further into the weeds and wonking on the substance of the Gov.’s EO and DEP’s AO – which I will do in subsequent posts – let’s get back to the media coverage, and responses by DEP and environmental cheerleaders.

As previously noted, NJ Spotlight chose to ignore science and law and write its first story about DEP regulations from the business community’s perspective (as if the NJ Chamber of Commerce and the NJ Business and Industry Association lacked an effective voice in Trenton).

Of course, the business community savaged the idea of DEP regulation and invoked the same old tired spin and lies about alleged devastating impacts on jobs and economic growth.

One would think that professional journalists would be skeptical of all that jive. Again, one would be wrong.

So, how did the Murphy DEP respond? Diid they push back? Did they invoke science?

Nope.

They put their tail between their legs and ran, by recycling almost verbatim the slogans and mantras that date to the 1990’s Whitman “Open For Business” DEP: (Does anyone still recall Whitman’s “Green and Gold” slogan?)

“We’re at the beginning of the next chapter, and we’re inviting the business community to come with us in writing the next chapter,” LaTourette said in an interview with NJ Spotlight. “We’re going to be with them shoulder to shoulder,  just like we are with local governments and our partners in the advocacy community because we are really all in this together.” …

The regulations that will come out of the new process will be as much about economic vitality as about environmental protection, LaTourette said. “We don’t believe in that false dichotomy that you can have a clean environment or economic development — those two things go hand in hand.”

Jane Cohen, a senior adviser to Murphy on environmental affairs, also said the EMP process included economic development.

“The Governor has been very clear that part of what he is looking at when formulating his policies around addressing climate change are exactly around economic development,” she said. “He really wants to support economic development through clean-energy policies.”

Translation:

1. Economic growth and corporate profits are equal to or a greater priority than climate science and avoiding climate catastrophe.

2. The business community literally will be involved in drafting the regulations, i.e. “in writing the next chapter”.

This is the case because Gov. Murphy’s Executive Order on regulatory policy reinforced the Christie Executive Order #2 rulemaking process provisions, in terms of involving the business stakeholders early on in rule drafting prior to rule proposal. 

3. The DEP point person on this critical regulatory initiative, DEP Chief of Staff Shawn Latourette, is a former corporate lawyer.

Scroll down and review his professional experience and publications.

I was particularly impressed with this piece, which he wrote while still in Rutgers Law School – while located in a major petro-chemical state, at a time when DEP had just launched a new major Natural Resource Damage (NRD) enforcement program on toxic polluters. The piece amounts to a transparent flashing Bright Red Neon Sign solicitation that literally says to corporate polluters: “Hire me, I’ll help you get off the hook from punitive pollution damages and enforcement penalties

The colloquial phrase the “red light district” as a zone of prostitution has a factual basis – the whores would light red lamps in their windows to signal availability.

Mr. Latourette, via that “Exxon Valdez” publication, lit a bright red light in his legal window.

4. Former Wall Street Goldman Sachs man Gov. Murphy is sending a message to the business community: don’t worry, I’ve got DEP on a short leash and my office is directly involved, so any DEP rules will be more of the same: big on rhetoric, small on substance.

5. DEP views climate polluters as “partners” – not the arms length regulated community – with the same legitimacy, access, and influence as their environmental friends. This effectively maintains continuity with the “customer friendly” policies of the Christie DEP.

Finally, we close today’s post by a brief look at the “response” of the environmental community.

We note that predictably, sycophant and Green Cannibal Ed Potasnak (NJ LCV), who politically endorsed and funded Gov. Murphy’s campaign and has lied and spun to provide political cover for the Gov., was quoted in Gov. Murphy’s press release. 

So were incompetent boot lickers Tom Gilbert (Rethink NJ/NJCF) and Amy Goldsmith (who endorsed Chris Christie in 2009).

Amy Goldsmith was a member of the Empower NJ Coalition. That Coalition was demanding and waged a two year campaign seeking a moratorium on new fossil infrastructure. How the hell could she sell them out by publicly supporting and praising Gov. Murphy’s plans – in the Gov.’s press release – a policy and plan that destroys the concept of a moratorium?

The only surprise was Doug O’Malley of Environment NJ, whose recent actions on EV legislation, RGGI, the Delaware River, and lead in drinking water, among others, demonstrate that he’s joined the Green Cannibals and gone all in for the Foundation funding and NJ Spotlight panels that political sycophancy delivers.

Of course NJ Spotlight – funded by the same elite Foundations that fund the Green Cannibals and sycophants – quoted these fools in their coverage and ignored critics.

Over the last several weeks, aware that the Gov. would soon be releasing the Energy Master Plan and likely announcing a DEP climate strategy, I posted several times to set the expectations, policy framework, and to warn people of the abuses that were likely to occur.

I focused on 3 important things:

1) the media coverage:

2) the complete corruption and co-optation of the environmental community:

3) there is a huge gap between the Gov.’ climate rhetoric and the policy and regulatory content:

We warned you. And we predicted the current outcome.

So, once again, just like we called bullshit on the Global Warming Response Act over 12 years ago, we must call BS on Gov. Murphy.

Stay tuned for next installments, where we analyze the content of the Gov.’s Executive Order and the DEP Administrative Order.

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