Archive for June, 2020

Gov. Murphy’s “Environmental Justice” Legislation Would Do Nothing To Reduce Current Pollution or Unjust Disproportionate Burdens In Minority Communities

June 20th, 2020 No comments

Bill would grandfather existing pollution sources that cause current injustices


[Update – the bill was amended to address renewal of permits for certain existing sources, so not all are grandfathered. Read more recent analysis if the version signed into law.]

I need to respond to Gov. Murphy’s Friday afternoon highly misleading press release touting:

Before I get to the details, let me begin by noting that the timing of the Gov.’s announcement deepens the cynicism and manipulation of his misleading press release.

Some call similar largely symbolic gestures “virtue signaling”, while some use the older phrase “pandering”.

But there’s much more going on here, perhaps best illustrated by the recent PR stunts where police take a knee with Black Lives Matter protesters and literally minutes later violently assault them.

[Update: 6/27/20 – see even worse cynicism in Rhode Island]

During a recent interview on Chris Hedges’ show “On Contact, I heard Glen Ford, editor of Black Agenda Report, refer to such PR stunts as “Co-Opaganda” – a perfectly apt amalgam of “Co-optation” and “propaganda”. Sickeningly, many NJ environmental groups have been co-opted by the Gov.’s propaganda.

[Note – Reading Maureen Dowd’s column just now, and realize I may have mis-heard Mr. Ford. Apparently, the word is “copaganda” – so, I guess I’ll claim ownership of coining “Co-opaganda!]

Here’s why Gov. Murphy’s press release is misleading and manipulative.

The bill would grandfather existing sources of current pollution levels that are causing disproportionate burdens in NJ’s minority communities.

Could you imagine the response to a politician who supported a “Defund the police” policy, but then defined that to apply ONLY to reducing the rate of increase of future police budgets?

Well, that is what Gov. Murphy is calling for in his “Co-Opaganda” stunt.

The Senate Committee substitute bill (S232[SCS]) grandfathers existing pollution from current polluters and the existing disproportionate burdens on poor and minority communities in a subtle and technical way – of course legislators and the Governor could not just come right out and say this is what they were doing. They have to do it in the fine print (note: the original Senate bill, S-1150, sponsored by Senator Weinberg way back in 2014, applied to DEP “permits” (which include permit renewals), and not limited to “new or expanded” permits. I wrote about that bill in this post.

The media rarely reads the fine print and the Gov. has co-opted the environmental cheerleaders – who have failed for years – so this crap often works.

Here’s how they do it: the bill would limit DEP’s authority to act upon an “environmental justice impact statement”, by denying a permit or imposing additional conditions in a permit only for “new or expanded” facilities. Here’s the text, from Section 3. c. (at page 4-5)

the department may, after review of the environmental justice impact statement prepared pursuant to paragraph (1) of subsection a. of this section and any other relevant information, including testimony and written comments received at the public hearing, deny a permit application for a new or expanded facility located in whole or in part in an overburdened community, upon a finding that approval of the permit application would, together with the cumulative environmental or public health stressors posed by existing conditions located in or affecting the overburdened community, result in a disproportionate impact to the overburdened community when compared to the impact and risk born by other communities in the State.

So there it is.

DEP’s powers are limited to “new or expanded” “facilities”.

That means the renewal of DEP permits for existing polluters are grandfathered. The Newark incinerator – and all the rest of the polluters – can keep on polluting. The bill will not affect their current permit or renewals of them.

This grandfathering also holds for all those toxic sites, whose flawed and weak and privatized “cleanup” plans have already been approved by DEP – which  like all those current air and water pollution and solid waste facility permits – were all approved with no consideration of cumulative impacts or disproportionate burdens (and toxic sites are not even “facilities” as defined in the bill).

This takes us to the definition of “facility”.

The DEP’s ability to consider and reduce unjust “disproportionate impacts” is limited to “certain permits” DEP issues to “certain facilities” (beware weasel words like “certain“).

Here’s how Gov. Murphy’s press release mentions but does not explain that:

TRENTON – Standing alongside Senator Troy Singleton, Assemblyman John McKeon, and environmental advocates Kim Gaddy, Dr. Nicky Sheats, and Dr. Ana Baptiste, Governor Phil Murphy today announced his support for key environmental justice legislation for overburdened communities. The legislation (S232) requires the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection to evaluate environmental and public health impacts of certain facilities on overburdened communities when reviewing certain permit applications.

This gets us to the question of how DEP is going to regulate impacts from a single facility, in light of the “cumulative impacts” of surrounding facilities, including mobile sources (cars and truck) and toxic sites, all of which are not regulated “facilities” (and there are very, very few “new or expanded” facilities that might even be regulated by the bill).

There are currently no DEP or US EPA approved scientific methods, regulations or enforceable standards for doing this kind of analysis (multiple pollution sources, multiple pollutants, and pre-existing health and socio-economic conditions present in the community).

Even worse, DEP political mangers have actually acted to block the development of cumulative risk science and regulatory methods.

As US District Court Judge Orlofsky wrote, over 18 years ago – and despite Executive Orders, DEP press releases, and hundreds of hours of meetings and discussions with certain environmental justice activist over many years – nothing’s changed since then:

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.

Aside from a parenthetical allusion to asthma and elevated blood lead levels, that bill does not authorize DEP to “consider the pre-existing poor health of the residents”.

Obviously, any “new or expanded” facility subject to any new regulations by DEP would strongly oppose them and file lawsuits to block them. Thus, the vague policies in the bill are very unlikely to be translated into the necessary future enforceable standards and regulations by DEP.

It’s been over 18 years since Judge Orlofsky excoriated DEP’s regulatory failures and yet DEP has done nothing to remedy the flaws he found. The bill Gov. Murphy touts directs that DEP “shall” adopt regulations, but provides no deadline to do so. So, we can expect many more years of DEP foot dragging, as they engage corporate “stakeholders” in endless rule development meetings.

Regardless of all these legal and scientific flaws, current asthma and high blood levels in poor and minority communities are caused by current pollution sources and cumulative pollution levels, all of which are grandfathered and not addressed by the bill!

EJ activist (co-opted Murphy cheerleader) and Newark mom Kim Gaddy doesn’t seem to understand this (here’s Gaddy’s quote in Gov. Murphy’s press release):

“As we celebrate Juneteenth today and the freedom of Black people, it is necessary to free residents in front line communities, like mine, from the environmental and related health injustices we suffer each and every day,” stated Kim Gaddy, Newark resident and Environmental Justice Organizer, Clean Water Action. All three of my children are asthmatic and if S232 becomes law as written, the state will have the power to ‘just say no more’ polluting facilities in my neighborhood. Governor Murphy and Senator Singleton are not just demonstrating their commitment to S232, but building momentum for its passage, bringing us that much closer to having the strongest EJ law in the nation. Environmental justice communities like mine have suffered for far too long because of the zip code we live in.”

Just say “NO”? Or just say “NO MORE”?

Defund the police? Or reduce the rate of increase in future budgets?

Obviously, Ms. Gaddy does not understand the legislation (or is spinning). The pollution that causes or contributes to her kids’ asthma is grandfathered – i.e.not regulated by – the bill.

So, it’s a cruel and dishonest joke to dupe black mothers in Newark into thinking that this legislation would alleviate harms to their children caused by pollution.

And some readers here may recall that last year’s original introduced version of the bill included a local veto of bad projects. That veto has been eliminated. The bill was gutted.

Finally, the bill says and does nothing about climate crisis, energy, or greenhouse gas emissions.

And that adds insult to the injustice.

[End Note: A knowledgeable reader sent me a detailed note, blasting the corruption of the environmental justice advocates (funded by Dodge, Hess, PSE&G, and Covanta (Newark garbage incinerator) and loyal to Cory Booker and Joe D.’s Essex County machine, while slamming Ms. Gaddy as a hypocrite progressive poser who supports charter schools and sends her kids to private schools.

I’ve previously written about most of that (e.g. see: If You Can’t Beat ’em Buy ’em) and don’t go for personal attacks, so in response, here’s a justice oriented view of charter schools for Ms. Gaddy, by Cornell Professor Noliwe Rooks).

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

Bad Credit Is Effectively A Crime

June 19th, 2020 No comments

Finance Terrorism – Corporate “Homewreckers”

Stay in the Streets and Shut it Down!

As a “homeless” nomad enjoying his 4th year on the road (who lost his house due to an Obama HUD multi-billion dollar bundled mortgage sale to a Hedge Fund for pennies on the dollar), a thought just crossed my mind as I read news reports of the pending “housing apocalypse” and the “tsunami” of evictions and foreclosures are triggered as over 42 million unemployed people go broke, can’t pay the rent or mortgage, and the CARES act protections expire.

Obviously, this will explode the currently totally outrageously large homeless population.

I’ll admit that sometimes I research the real estate and rental markets as I travel.

After more than 3 years on the road, this had led me to consider an affordable home purchase, as a sort of base camp.

Recently, I even attempted a home purchase, but the financing failed due to my credit history (which includes the Obama HUD foreclosure – so much for liberal “hope and change”).

Aside from the lessons I learned about mortgage financing, one thing that struck me in doing real estate market research was conditions that corporate owners of even rental properties place on prospective tenants (you can read about this and many other major housing finance abuses in Aaron Glantz’s excellent book “Homewreckers”).

I got my first taste of the rental market over 40 years ago in college. Basically, you checked the local newspaper want ads, called the landlord, toured the place, and if you liked it, wrote a check (with a month’s deposit) and moved in. No internet search, no realtor, no credit background check, no problem. (I had similar positive results with an individual – not corporate – landlord more recently, in renting a cabin on a farm West Amwell).

But now I note that owners require detailed credit checks for prospective renters and expressly prohibit even application for rentals to people with bad credit.  That’s me. 

I was aware of prohibitions on providing public housing to former convicts (which I obviously strongly oppose and is obviously another example of structural systemic racism), but had no clue that people with bad credit scores were treated the same way with respect to private rental housing.

So, effectively – from a housing standpoint – I am in the same category as a convicted felon who served jail time (and let me be clear, the restrictions on felons are wrong).

Only in Capitalist America.

BLM and other protesters, please stay in the streets and shut this shit down!

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

AIM High

June 12th, 2020 No comments

Screen Shot 2020-06-12 at 5.50.53 PM

In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue.

His statue went down in Minneapolis yesterday.

Listen to interview with spokeswoman for the American Indian Movement on KPFA’s Dennis Bernstein’s show “Flashpoints”, who explains the history and context.

Then Watch the video.

For anyone who has a problem with this “destruction of property” (or history, art, or culture), just recall the cheerleading for the propaganda stunt staged during the US invasion of Iraq, when US national security folks arranged for the takedown of Sadaam’s statue in Baghdad, and the how the US media cheerleaded for that. Then think of US destruction of cultural resources.

Many people of good faith have been Fighting Domestic Terrorism Since 1492: (photo below of testimony at PSE&G Salem nuclear power plant permit hearing (August 2015)PSEG-nuke2 (1)


Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

California Corner On The Madison River, Montana

June 10th, 2020 No comments



And I love to live so pleasantly
Live this life of luxury
Lazing on a sunny afternoon
In the summertime
In the summertime. Sunny Afternoon, The Kinks

Reminded me somewhat of the Delaware Watergap. But river flow much higher and water temperature much cooler.

For BLM details on this place, see this.

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

No Money For Clean Water To Protect Public Health, While Private Water Companies And Their Environmental Friends Seek Bailout For Lost Profits Under The Guise Of A “Relief Program”

June 10th, 2020 No comments

NJ environmental groups have their heads up their asses – again

So busy providing cover for Gov. Murphy they’re blind to corporate power

Perhaps folks missed a critical point that was buried in all the platitudes, but just yesterday, a broad coalition, which includes NJ environmental groups – Jersey Water Works – was given an Op-Ed platform at NJ Spotlight, see:

That Op-Ed opportunistically and cynically used COVID as a new found justification for their longstanding Foundation and corporate funded self serving project that seeks investments in clean water infrastructure.

That COVID opportunism alone is bad enough, but buried in all the platitudes, was a shameless attempt to obtain a publicly funded bailout of lost corporate revenues and profits.

Adding insult to injury, that shameless corporate bailout proposal was wrapped into a program purporting to benefit low income people:

The recommendations would first ensure that everyone can access water by extending the suspension of water shutoffs until 120 days after the end of the declared health emergency, waiving late fees, reconnecting service, and helping low-income water users pay arrears after the shutoff moratorium ends.

Note that JWW wants those “arrears” paid. They are not letting poor people off the hook.

And here’s the way those “arrears” would be paid, including a bailout of ALL the revenue and profits water companies lost during the COVID shut down, under the guise of a “relief program”:

The recommendations also proposed a relief program for water and wastewater utilities. State leaders could use a portion of available state and federal COVID-19 relief funds to offset water and wastewater utilities’ lost operating revenues.

Did you get that?

Let me repeat: private water companies, acting through a broad “collaborative” which includes NJ environmental groups, are using a public health crisis as justification for a “relief program” that would guarantee their revenues and profits would not be reduced as a result of the COVID emergency shutdown.

Did the environmental groups that are members of the Jersey Water Works coalition sign off on that corporate “relief program”?

This corporate bailout proposal – a recommendation to Gov. Murphy – seems to have generated no pushback.

I say this because just one day after this Op-Ed ran, NJ Spotlight today reports that Gov. Murphy has abandoned his commitment to provide $80 million for lead line replacement, see:

After they signed off on the JWW coalition’s corporate bailout request, NJ Future had no problem with this:

“The short-term outlooks pretty bleak,’’ conceded Gary Brune, policy manager at New Jersey Future, an organization that has been in the forefront of having the state better manage its issues with water infrastructure. “Obviously, the lead proposals haven’t gone anywhere.’’

After they signed off on the JWW coalition’s corporate bailout request, Environment NJ had no problem with this:

“The budget crunch is painful and it’s going to hurt everybody,’’ said Doug O’Malley, director of Environment New Jersey. “Everything has changed. It does feel like lead isn’t on anyone’s radar screen.’’

Clean Water Action is a member of the JWW collaborative. Their consultant Dave Pringle had no problem with this:

“It’s really a tough situation,’’ said Dave Pringle, a consultant for Clean Water Action. “We clearly don’t have the money for the things that need to be funded.’’

WTF are these people thinking?

They make no demands for progressive ways to finance budget deficits caused by the COVID emergency – like special one time tax increases on the wealthy and corporations – or progressive ways to allocate any necessary austerity measures – like cuts to police and prisons and corporate subsidies – yet they swallow, with no resistance, cuts to public health programs targeted at poor and black people while they endorse a private water corporation bailout under the guise of a “relief program”.

What world do they live in?

Categories: Uncategorized Tags: