Archive

Archive for April, 2020

Earth Day At 50: Mid-Life Crisis. Collapse Accelerating, Democracy Broken

April 22nd, 2020 No comments

Everything Is Broken, The Game Is Rigged, And Everybody Knows

Rebellion Is The Only Solution

[Update: 4/26/20: even liberals at The Atlantic know:

Yes, everybody knows, even Princeton professors:

economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while average citizens and mass-based interest groups have little or no independent influence. ~~~ Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens (2014)

And here’s another Princeton man: (Democracy Incorporated: Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism):

Wolin portrays a country where citizens are politically uninterested and submissive — and where elites are eager to keep them that way. At best the nation has become a “managed democracy” where the public is shepherded, not sovereign. At worst it is a place where corporate power no longer answers to state controls.

If there is perhaps one positive thing to come of the coronavirus catastrophe, it’s that we don’t have to suffer all the Earth Day hype and bullshit this year.

So let us not talk falsely now, the hour’s getting late. ~~~ Jimi Hendrix

And there’s nothing worse, at this point in time, than a naive faux innocence (e.g. see Chris Hedges’ most recent book  (YouTube – watch “America: The Farewell Tour”):

I don’t share this country’s mania for hope. I think it’s very dangerous. (Listen to Hedges on WGBH interview)

Writer James Baldwin was perhaps the most compelling truth teller about the sham of American innocence.

[Update – 5/29/20 – Just found a perfect Baldwin quote in this Counterpunch piece:

…this is the crime of which I accuse my country and my countrymen and for which neither I nor time nor history will ever forgive them, that they have destroyed and are destroying hundreds of thousands of lives and do not know it and do not want to know it…but it is not permissible that the authors of devastation should also be innocent. It is the innocence which constitutes the crime. ~~~ end update]

In his classic book “The Irony of American History”, philosopher Reinhold Niebuhr explores the folly and tragedy of a demented US innocence.

More recently, the climate catastrophe – and what scientists say could mean the collapse of civilization and extinction of the human species – has spawned an explosion of literature about the dangers of illusion, false hope, naiveté, and faux innocence.

But remarkably, there are some in journalistic and political circles who still don’t get it – who desperately cling to and embrace the illusions, myths, lies, and magical thinking.

Has Donald Trump finally shattered our illusions, so that we can see clearly the forces—economic, political and technological—that are plunging the planet toward a man-made heat death? Is he, in fact, a kind of clarifying agent for the real state of things?

One can hope so.

Except one mustn’t hope.

As Kafka, the High Priest of Realism, admonished his readers, “There is hope. But not for us.”

Hope is an illusion, an opiate, an Oxycontin for the masses. Instead of hope, we need a heavy dose of realism. A realism as chilling as reality itself.

Case in point: today’s NJ Spotlight pretend muted celebration of Earth Day and lecture on democracy and government. For cluelessness, check this out – a criticism of which I hardly know where to begin:

The answer in a democracy is with clear, fact-based, courageous leadership that is willing to take on this difficult task of informing citizens of their available options in forming public policy that is in the public interest. Not always an easy job since it may entail taking on the status quo. And not for the faint-hearted.

An essential component is getting citizens engaged and informed. Engaged, because this is the way our system is supposed to work, with participatory democracy. The system does not work unless we all work at making it work. Informed, because you can’t fix a problem if you don’t understand the problem. Worse yet is if you don’t even know there is a problem.

Howard Zinn pretty much destroyed the myth of “courageous leadership” and top down approaches, by showing that social change is the product of movements and change comes from the bottom up – that “leaders” are educated by and follow the people.

The aforementioned Princeton professors destroyed the myths of participatory democracy and public policy in the public interest.

Covid-19 has exposed the rot of the rest of it.

But, we’ll let the artists take the rest of the critique from here:

Broken lines, broken strings,
Broken threads, broken springs,
Broken idols, broken heads,
People sleeping in broken beds
Ain’t no use jiving
Ain’t no use joking
Everything is broken. ~~~ Bob Dylan

Leonard Cohen got it right – and everybody knows:

Everybody knows that the dice are loaded
Everybody rolls with their fingers crossed
Everybody knows the war is over
Everybody knows the good guys lost
Everybody knows the fight was fixed
The poor stay poor, the rich get rich
That’s how it goes
Everybody knows. […]

And everybody knows that the Plague is coming
Everybody knows that it’s moving fast
Everybody knows that the naked man and woman
Are just a shining artifact of the past. ~~~ Leonard Cohen

Yes, the truth is bleak indeed:

There’s a Vietnam Vet with a cardboard sign
Sitting there by the left turn line
The flag on his wheelchair flapping in the breeze
One leg missing and both hands free
No one’s paying much mind to him
The V.A. budget’s just stretched so thin
And now there’s more coming back from the Mideast war
We can’t make it here anymore
And that big ol’ building was the textile mill
That fed our kids and it paid our bills
But they turned us out and they closed the doors
‘Cause we can’t make it here anymore.
You see those pallets piled up on the loading dock
They’re just gonna sit there ’til they rot
‘Cause there’s nothing to ship, nothing to pack
Just busted concrete and rusted tracks
Empty storefronts around the square
There’s a needle in the gutter and glass everywhere
You don’t come down here unless you’re looking to score
We can’t make it here anymore. 
High school girl with a bourgeois dream
Just like the pictures in the magazine
She found on the floor of the laundromat
A woman with kids can forget all that
If she comes up pregnant what’ll she do
Forget the career, forget about school
Can she live on faith? live on hope?
High on Jesus or hooked on dope
When it’s way too late to just say no
You can’t make it here anymore
Now I’m stocking shirts in the Wal-Mart store
Just like the ones we made before
‘Cept this one came from Singapore
I guess we can’t make it here anymore
Should I hate a people for the shade of their skin
Or the shape of their eyes or the shape I’m in
Should I hate ’em for having our jobs today
No I hate the men sent the jobs away
I can see them all now, they haunt my dreams
All lily white and squeaky clean
They’ve never known want, they’ll never know need
Their shit don’t stink and their kids won’t bleed
Their kids won’t bleed in the damn little war
And we can’t make it here anymore
Will work for food
Will die for oil
Will kill for power and to us the spoils
The billionaires get to pay less tax
The working poor get to fall through the cracks
Let ’em eat jellybeans let ’em eat cake
Let ’em eat shit, whatever it takes
They can join the Air Force, or join the Corps
If they can’t make it here anymore
And that’s how it is
That’s what we got
If the president wants to admit it or not
You can read it in the paper
Read it on the wall
Hear it on the wind
If you’re listening at all
Get out of that limo
Look us in the eye
Call us on the cell phone
Tell us all why
In Dayton, Ohio
Or Portland, Maine
Or a cotton gin out on the great high plains
That’s done closed down along with the school
And the hospital and the swimming pool
Dust devils dance in the noonday heat
There’s rats in the alley
And trash in the street
Gang graffiti on a boxcar door
We can’t make it here anymore. ~~~ James McMurtry
Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

From “Death Panels” to “Death Pits” – Government Matters. Collapse Exposed By Covid And Climate Catastrophes

April 18th, 2020 No comments

COVID Exposes The Rot Created By Neoliberal Finance Capitalism

The US Is A Failed State – Corporate Coup Consolidated

[Update: 5/11/20 Henry Giroux agrees:

In my view, the pandemic has revealed the toxic underside of neoliberal capitalism with its assault on the welfare state, its undermining of public health, its attack on workers’ rights and its affirmation of the economy and the accumulation of capital over human needs and life itself. […]

The pandemic crisis has shattered the myth that each of us are defined exclusively by our self-interest and as individuals are solely responsible for the problems we face. Both myths have completely broken down as it becomes obvious that as the pandemic unfolds shortages in crucial medical equipment, lack of testing, lack of public investments, and failed public health services are largely due to right-wing neoliberal measures and regressive tax policies that have drained resources from public health, public goods, and other vital social institutions. ~~~ end update]

[Update: 5/7/20 – Chris Floyd agrees. ~~~ ed update]

[Update: 4/30/20 – Chomsky agrees. ~~~ end update]

[Update: 4/26/20: For those who think I exaggerate, even liberals at The Atlantic agree:

[Update: 4/19/20 – In a Sunday NY Times Op-Ed Bernie Sanders notes collapse, but he leaves a lot out. The bastards at the Times give Sanders a platform only after he conceded and endorsed Biden. Bernie highlighted FDR, The New Deal, and FDR’s “economic bill of rights”. Way too late for that! He should have done a lot more of that during the campaign to discredit the “radical” criticism. And note that Joe Biden did not co-author that piece. So much for the Biden – Sanders Task Force bullshit. Has anyone noted that those Taskforces do NOT include healthcare? ~~~ end update]

I’ve been thinking about writing about how the COVID catastrophe shares many of the same dynamics as the climate catastrophe.

I actually made a list of shared features – e.g. 1) denial of science [update: 4/28/20 – even the NY Times agrees! ~ end update]); 2) the dominance of corporate power and greed; 3) deregulated finance capitalism; 4) global markets, deindustrialization, and “just in time” logistics and inventory management (or running a hospital as a business); 4) Neoliberal austerity policy for the public sector; 5) disinvestment, discrediting, and dismantling of government (“small enough to drown in the bathtub”); 6) rejection of planning in favor of markets to allocate resources; 7) abandonment of the public sphere, notions of the public good (including public health), and a progressive government obligation to redistribute wealth to promote fairness and equality and tame capitalism; and 8) the hollowing out of democratic institutions, consolidation of a corporate coup, and the rise of what Sheldon Wolin calls “inverted totalitarianism”.

But, as the COVID crisis exploded, I rejected the idea as un-necessary, because it was all becoming so blatantly obvious (read Chris Floyd’s devastating “Death of a Nation”).

But, today’s NY Times ran two major stories that drove me to make the argument, however briefly.

The first story is a shocking and horrific tale of how we warehouse the elderly in “death pits”. Reader warning: it could  prompt nightmares.

The title of the second piece caught my eye: “I am the portrait of downward mobility”.

For that story, The Times solicited and published life experience stories from readers about how they were doing in comparison with their parents.

The individual stories are compelling, but the NYT coverage and the stories themselves totally lack historical context, particularly on issues of political-economy. It is as if the weather caused all the problems in these peoples lives. The stories virtually ignore the role of public policy and government in shaping the outcomes and life prospects of the people they profile.

So, I felt compelled to submit a comment of my own story, told in the proper context, with examples of how government matters:

I’m 62. Both my parents were born in 1929 and grew up during the Depression. My mom loved FDR. They both benefited from the New Deal and the GI bill. My dad drove a public transit system bus for 40 years, a stable job with a decent salary, healthcare, and pension. My mom was an Ex. Assistant at an urban development focused planning and architectural firm. They both benefitted from massive government investments in transportation and urban redevelopment, particularly from JFK and LBJ’s Great Society. Neither had college degrees, yet they owned a home, 2 cars, and we never worried about if we could afford going to the doctor.

I was born the year of Sputnik, and benefitted from massive government investments in education, particularly science and math. My SUNY system public university was created and sustained by massive government investments (legacy of Gov. Nelson Rockefeller). My undergraduate education was affordable and funded by low tuition, federal Pell grants, and student work programs. My graduate University, Cornell, was built in an earlier era of massive government investments in “Morrill land grant” colleges (legacy of President Lincoln). I paid a small tuition and had a subsidized job as graduate fellow. My professional career was made possible by government regulation to protect the environment and promote the public interest. Virtually the same story for my wife.

My kids enjoyed a high quality suburban lifestyle and education, made possible by massive government investments in roads, water, sewer, education, and communications infrastructure. They too attended government subsidized world class universities for undergraduate and PhD degrees. Their careers are shaped by government investments and partnerships with the private sector.

Bottom line: Government matters.

The values, public institutions, and policies that made this possible have been dismantled by dark forces and replaced by a Corporate Coup, which COVID effectively has consolidated.

[End Note: this prescient 2018 essay explains a lot:

Donald Trump did not hijack American conservatism; in him it reached its logical culmination. The defining characteristics of post-1980 conservatism—its authoritarianism; denigration of reason and education; obsession with power at all costs; Manichean, black and white thinking; apocalyptic, religious fundamentalist mentality; paranoia and sense of being besieged even when in power; and gangsterish deceit, bad faith, and lack of principle, whether practiced by a transparent swindler like Trump or a supposed intellectual like Newt Gingrichmust lead to nihilism and mindless destruction. […]

If our institutions, flawed and wounded as they are, cannot check the present conservative assault on ethical principles, humanitarian ideals, and objective reality itself, we may be doomed all too soon to live—or die—in the second great nihilistic revolution of the past hundred years.

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

NJ Gov. Murphy Suspends Enforcement of Environmental Regulations During Covid

April 16th, 2020 No comments

Murphy Replicates Trump EPA Enforcement Rollback During Covid

WHEREAS, pursuant to N.J.S.A. App. A:9-47, the Governor is authorized to, among other things, suspend any regulatory provision of law when its enforcement is detrimental to the public welfare during an emergency; ~~~ Gov. Murphy Executive Order #127

[Updates below]

On April 14, Gov. Murphy issued Executive Order #127, which suspends and/or delays various regulatory deadlines for State agencies to make decisions and enforce various laws and regulations.

The Murphy Order applies across State government, but I want to focus on the implications for DEP. Under the broad authority asserted by the Gov., the Order authorizes DEP to “suspend” enforcement and disregard compliance with all environmental laws and regulations.

Previously, in Executive Order #103, Murphy issued a broad waiver of any regulation, which he emphasizes by repeating it in EO 127:

WHEREAS, in paragraph 6 of Executive Order No. 103 (2020), I authorized and empowered the executive head of any agency or instrumentality of the State government with authority to promulgate rules to waive, suspend, or modify any existing rule in accordance with the terms set forth therein;

Here is the core provision of EO 127 that expands EO 103, which, just like the Trump EPA, explicitly provides authority to “suspend” the enforcement of  “any regulatory provision”

WHEREAS, pursuant to N.J.S.A. App. A:9-47, the Governor is authorized to, among other things, suspend any regulatory provision of law when its enforcement is detrimental to the public welfare during an emergency;

On April 6, 2020, we blasted a major DEP regulatory proposal for, among other things, failure to provide a legally mandated public hearing and opportunity for public participation. We called for a moratorium on DEP regulatory approvals (we wrote):

VII) Public shut out due to COVID public health emergency

There should be a moratorium of on all DEP permitting and regulatory actions until the COVID crisis is over.

WTF is DEP Commissioner McCabe doing? Check this out – “IF” the DEP holds a public hearing…

Hello! Pubic hearings on major rules – which were exempted from the rule making calendar and therefore blindsided the public – are mandatory.

We then called out DEP for flat out lying about “postponing” a public hearing that they never scheduled.

It looks likes the Murphy administration listened to our criticism, but, remarkably, instead of imposing a moratorium on DEP regulatory approvals, Gov. Murphy just issued an Executive Order that suspended enforcement of DEP environmental regulations!

The Murphy Order, instead of placing a moratorium on DEP permit and regulatory approvals, provides a 90 day delay for the submission of various “reports”, thereby benefiting polluters and developers, not freezing DEP approvals.

The Murphy Order also extends the expiration date of DEP rule proposals – as far as I know, after checking the DEP rule proposal website, the only DEP rule impacted by the Order is the proposed rollback of toxic site cleanup rules. So, once again, the Order benefits major polluters.

The Trump EPA recently spawned public outrage and was slammed by environmental groups and media for a March 26, 2020 policy suspending the enforcement of environmental regulations during the COVID emergency.

Did you recall these screaming headlines?

Congress blasted the move as well, and on April 2, the Trump EPA doubled down and defended the policy in a letter to every member of Congress.

While Tump EPA’s move sparked a national outrage, last Tuesday, NJ Gov. Murphy quietly did virtually the same thing.

Will NJ environmental groups continue to pull their punches and provide cover for their friends in the Murphy administration and DEP?

Will the NJ press corps – especially NJ Spotlight – hold the Murphy administration accountable, like they do the Trump EPA?

We’re not optimistic.

[Update: 5/20/20 – Trump just did a very similar thing, but Trump’s Order is more honest and straightforward, while Gov. Murphy masks his economic objectives, see:

[Update: 4/30/20 – NJ Spotlight buried the statewide DEP enforcement rollback in a story today about the Newark garbage incinerator. That facility is the tip of a huge statewide iceberg. Read DEP’s statewide COVID air enforcement rollback. ~~~. end update]

Update: Read the Murphy DEP Enforcement Guidance – it is based on the same false rationale as the Trump EPA rollback regarding the impact of COVID on compliance and provides similar relief from compliance obligations and enforcement response. ~~~ end update]

 

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

NJ State Forests Closed To Hikers – Open To Loggers

April 14th, 2020 No comments

“Creative Destruction” In NJ Forests

amphibian egg masses found in ruts that logging equipment caused on Sparta Mountain (Source: NJ Forest Watch)

amphibian egg masses found in ruts that logging equipment caused on Sparta Mountain (Source: NJ Forest Watch)

Last week, NJ Gov. Murphy issued Executive Order #118, which closed State Parks and Forests to “the public”

All State Parks and Forests and county parks must close to the public as long as this Order remains in effect. The State Director of Emergency Management, who is the Superintendent of State Police, shall have the discretion to make additions, amendments, clarifications, exceptions and exclusions to the categories of parks subject to this Order.

Surprisingly, the move was unconditionally praised by the NJ Chapter of the Sierra Club, the nation’s oldest conservation group founded by a forest rambler and pioneer of the preservation of public lands known as John Muir.

I think Muir would have something to say about whether hiking in public forests is an “essential function” and whether such activity can be banned by government fiat (and a fiat issued with no publicly available articulated scientific basis or an ability for the public to participate in, review, object to, or appeal the unilateral fiat decision).

[Corey Robin explores these kind of issues of democracy during a pandemic:

Yet, if we cannot gather to assemble or vote, much less deliberate, in what sense can we have a democracy? How do we do politics in a pandemic, self-governance under quarantine? Is it possible to supervise the supervisors if we’re too sequestered—or sick—to vote?

[From a public health standpoint, closing State lands to hiking and outdoor exercise is a good example of what Trump rails about “the cure being worse than the disease”. COVID mortality is driven by pre-existing conditions – AKA co-morbidities. Major risk factors include high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. Exercise is the best preventative measure for each of these risk factors. Restricting public outdoor exercise can only make the problem worse in terms of health risks  It is possible that the increased risks from loss of exercise could have a greater impact than the number of cases of COVID that could be prevented via closure of State lands.

There are many related public health issues. People are animals. We need exercise and nature. Depriving people of the joy and comfort and exercise in nature seems a totally misguided approach, especially at a time when the economy is collapsing, insecurity and uncertainty abound, and people are legally forced to “shelter in place”. This is a formula for disaster, as isolated individuals and stressed out families try to cope, alone, cooped up, and with little support.  Of course this will lead to more “deaths of despair”, including spouse abuse, child abuse, alcoholism, drug overdoses, and heart attacks.]

Murphy’s broadly worded Executive Order ban is based on a vague reference to risks, and expressed in the passive voice:

public interaction and gatherings have been observed in a manner that is inconsistent with and threatens to undermine the social mitigation strategies necessary to limit the spread of COVID-19, creating risks to public health …

recent instances of non-compliance with Executive Order No. 107 have continued in the State Parks and Forests despite verbal warnings and orders to disperse gatherings, ejections from the parks, and the issuance of citations by law enforcement

This vague garbage from a Governor  – who was unprepared for and slow to respond to the science and implement State pandemic plans -who constantly touts that his policy is “data driven” and from a DEP Commissioner who continuously claims that she makes decisions based on “science”.

The Order applies to “the public” for all uses, including passive recreational uses like hiking – where it is easy to practice and enforce “social distance”.

The Order is silent on the private sector. Apparently private corporations and DEP contractors and staff are not subject to the order, and may continue to conduct destructive activities, like logging.

The silence of the Order with respect to these private use and logging issues is unacceptable and revealing, as DEP Commissioner McCabe, who was involved in drafting and reviewing the Order, is fully aware of the controversies surrounded logging on NJ public lands.

Silence amounts to tacit approval, or a green light to continue current logging.

In fact, it appears that logging continues on Sparta Mountain, where we recently posted photos of destructive logging practices, including destruction of vegetation and erosion caused by widening of roads.

Our friends at NJ Forest Watch more recently have documented an ironic new problem, thus the allusion to “creative destruction” in the headline.

“Creative destruction” is a concept from economics, attributed to Joseph Schumpeter. Basically, the concept celebrates the fact that the revolutionary force of capitalism destroys existing life, while creating new forms of life.

Joni Mitchell popularized the concept in her 1970 classic “Big Yellow Taxi”:

They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot
With a pink hotel, a boutique
And a swinging hot spot

Which brings us to Sparta Mountain, where the “destruction” of logging practices has ironically “created” new life.

Our friends at NJ Forest Watch sent me this communication to DEP:

We are still awaiting your response to our previous concerns but have an important issue to report.  We need your assurance that the contractor WILL NOT return to Stand 8 to collect more of the timber during this time as we have documented amphibian egg masses in the ruts that the logging equipment has caused.  These ruts are in very close proximity ( less than 100 ft)  from the vernal pool.  These obligate species, including spotted salamander and wood frog, are mistaking the ruts for the natal pool that they are trying to reach.  The attached photos show the actual ruts on the road and how these egg masses were found there.

There is a vernal pool in the area with the access road less than 100 feet away.  This demonstrates the need for and lack of adequate buffers, as now these amphibian species have been disturbed in their normal breeding and migration patterns.   We have submitted these findings to several biologists who have confirmed they are in fact obligate species.

This is a huge environmental concern and demonstrates how the introduction of logging equipment disturbs the lifecycle of these obligate species and how they are being negatively impacted. Some egg masses were found in drier areas of the road and luckily we were able to rescue them.  Because the contractor widened the road, there has also been an increase in not only ATVs but dirt bikes and trucks driving down the old woods road.

Oh, the irony!

Of course, DEP will never admit that logging on state lands is NOT SUBJECT TO DEP REGULATIONS and that their antiquated 1994 Wetlands Forestry BMP does not protect habitat or restrict the destruction of buffers.

But will the local press report on this situation and the DEP’s regulatory failures?

We’re not optimistic.

[End Note: We’re “sheltering in place” on public lands – certainly an “essential function” – most recently in Montezuma’s Canyon in Coronado National Forest (about 40 miles east – northeast of Nogales). We find ourselves in a COVID catch-22, where US Forest Service dispersed camping regulations restrict our stay to just 14 days (which we’ve already exceeded), but the Arizona Gov.’s Executive Order prohibits non-essential travel. What to do? Leave the forest and drive on Arizona roads? Right now, Catch-22: anything I do breaks some law. Hopefully, USFS won’t follow the misguided over-reach of Gov. Murphy! I spoke with USFS District Supervisors Office to request that they exercise enforcement discretion to essentially temporarily waive the 14 day rule during COVID emergency. They refused to do so. Take a look:

_DSC6139 (1)

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

Murphy DEP Flat Out Lying About Failure To Include A Public Hearing On Major Rollback Of Toxic Site Cleanup Standards

April 8th, 2020 No comments

DEP “Postpones” a non-existent public hearing

DEP caught trying to stealth a major rollback while public diverted by COVID

Yesterday, I posted a brief overview of flaws in DEP’s proposed rollback of toxic site cleanup standards.

I also immediately submitted a formal comment to DEP demanding that the proposal be withdrawn. I made this demand because DEP not only proposed this major rollback during a Gubernatorial declared public health emergency, but DEP also failed to include a legally required public hearing.

So, I was shocked to read an email from DEP providing a public notice that DEP was extending the public comment period and a “postponement of public hearing on proposal”:

PUBLIC NOTICE

Take notice that the Department of Environmental Protection (Department) is extending the comment period for the proposed new rules, amendments, and repeals at N.J.A.C. 7:26D, Remediation Standards, and postponing the public hearing. The remediation standards apply to contaminated sites throughout the State. […]

The Department is also postponing the public hearing on the proposal, which was originally scheduled for May 11, 2020.

Say what?

How can DEP “postpone” a public hearing that never existed?

There was no May 11, 2020 public hearing included in the original proposal.

They are flat out lying.

Here are the facts. Here is the language from the DEP proposal. Note that not only was there no public hearing scheduled, DEP never even made a commitment to hold a public hearing. They only “anticipated” a hearing, but then said they might not hold one:

The Department anticipates holding a public hearing on the proposal. The date and time of the hearing will depend on circumstances surrounding the COVID-19 public health emergency. If the Department holds a hearing, the public comment period will be extended until after the hearing.

Further information on a public hearing, if one is held, will be posted on the Department’s website at www.nj.gov/dep/rules/notices.html at least 15 days prior to the date of the hearing. Notice will also be sent to those who have subscribed to the Department’srulemaking listserv. To subscribe, go to www.nj.gov/dep/rules/subscribe.html.

DEP got caught and called out for trying to stealth a major regulatory rollback during a public health emergency.

The new public notice today is merely a CYA move and it is in response to my comment, where I blasted them (see also update #3 on yesterday’ post):

** Electronic Rulemaking Comment **

Submisison Date (sic): 04/06/2020 18:53:08

First Name: Bill

Last Name: Wolfe

Affiliation: citizen

Dear DEP:

As you know, Gov. Murphy has declared a statewide public health emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As you also know, the NJ Administrative Procedures Act requires that a public hearing be held on a major regulatory policy proposal.

It is totally inappropriate and unlawful for DEP to propose a major regulatory change during such a declared emergency, which the DEP itself admits makes it impossible for the public to participate, as required by the NJ Administrative Procedures Act.

The DEP admits this by failure to include a public hearing (“if” a public hearing is held).

This proposal was not subject to the calendar requirements of the NJ APA. That compounds the need for a public hearing on the proposal, as the public was blindsided.

Given the declared emergency, the APA calendar issue, and the lack of a public hearing, the proposal must be withdrawn immediately via public notice in the NJ Register.

I reserve my rights to submit additional comments on the proposal.

Categories: Uncategorized Tags: