Home > Uncategorized > Murphy DEP Commissioner McCabe Uses Industry Dominated Clean Air Council To Divert From Major DEP Failures to Regulate Air Pollution

Murphy DEP Commissioner McCabe Uses Industry Dominated Clean Air Council To Divert From Major DEP Failures to Regulate Air Pollution

A Sickening Tale of Capture, Cooptation, and Diversion

WHEREAS, the cumulative impact of multiple sources of exposure to environmental hazards in low-income and people of color communities, and the roles of multiple agencies in addressing the causes and factors that compromise environmental health and quality of life in these communities require an interagency response; ~~~ Executive Order #96, Gov. McGreevey, 2/18/04

There is still much more to be done, and especially focusing on injustices to a lot of the communities that are overburdened by air pollution. ~~~ Christie DEP Commissioner Bob Martin, testimony to the Clean Air Council, 4/3/11 (Chaired by Nicky Sheats)

I just got a Google heads up from “Planet Princeton” that tomorrow – the same day that advocates are urging the Assembly to pass a controversial and seriously flawed environmental justice bill –  the DEP Commissioner McCabe will speak at a public hearing of the Clean Air Council on “strategies to improve air quality near ports and airports.”

The Clean Air Council meets annually to make recommendations to DEP. Typically, their annual public hearing is focused on a discrete topic.

Given the increasing urgency of the climate crisis and Gov. Murphy’s Executive Order directing DEP to adopt regulations to address greenhouse gas emissions (known as PACT), one would expect that the Clean Air Council would focus on strategies to regulate and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

One would be wrong – instead, just another diversion.

DEP has long neglected enforcing clean air requirements at Port Newark, so it might be interesting to monitor what’s said at that hearing (in fact, the Council held a public hearing way back in 2008 on that same topic!)

I’ve been away for awhile, but I was shocked by the fact that DEP has actually published a document of the “etiquette tips” the public should follow for the meeting.

Are you kidding me? DEP prescribed Etiquette for a public hearing? One just must be civil to the exalted ones from the Chamber of Commerce, Petroleum Council, and Chemical and Gas Industry – and elite DEP Commissioner McCabe! FUCK THAT!

Substantively, I note that the Agenda includes presentations by 3 environmental justice advocates – the same folks who constantly falsely praise the Murphy administration’s EJ and climate initiatives and are supporting a seriously flawed compromise EJ bill.

Maybe if those environmental justice warriors really believed that the EJ legislation was critical, they’d be over on the other side of State Street, lobbying legislators in the Assembly to pass their shitty bill, instead of serving as tokens at another DEP – industry sponsored diversion.

This is how co-optation works – it’s how the game is played. It”s how “advocates” are bought off and settle for symbolic gestures like being invited to speak at DEP events. Ego Uber Alles!

It’s disgusting.

Just take a look at the Council.

John Valeri- a lawyer and key advisor to Gov. Whitman in rolling back DEP regulations and on convincing the Christie administration to ram a gas pipeline through the Pinelands- is Chair of the Clean Air Council and is making an introductory statement on behalf of the Council.

The Vice Chair has a degree in economics.

One “public” member – “representing the public” – is lobbyist for major polluter South Jersey Industries (aka South Jersey Gas, the folks who build gas pipelines through the Pinelands, whose CEO has gross ethics violations as a result of his wife’s role in the Christie Gov.’s Office,  and get DEP permits and Pinelands Commission approvals expedited).

The other “public member” – “representing the public” – is a lawyer who represents the NJ Petroleum Council. Yup, petroleum, as in fossil fuel.

Mike Egenton, of the Chamber of Commerce is the Co-Chair of the Clean Air Council.

The only person with technical expertise on air pollution control regulatory matters represents industrial polluters and makes big money as a consultant to major polluters.

There are no environmental groups or “Mom’s for Clean Air” representatives on the Council.

You really can’t make this shit up.

I sent this note to the folks over at Planet Princeton:

Hi there – just read your public notice on tomorrow’s Clean Air Council hearing.

DEP Commissioner McCabe and that group, dominated by industry and their consultants, does NOT want to talk about controversial air quality issues (especially as an “environmental justice bill is up in the legislature tomorrow), including:

Murphy DEP Updates Air Pollution Cancer Risk Levels, Ignores Cumulative Impacts And Environmental Justice Considerations

Murphy DEP Urged To Close Regulatory Loopholes On Climate Change, Risk Assessment and Hazardous Air Pollutants

Murphy DEP Fails To Consider Climate Or Public Health Risks Of Multiple Toxic Air Emissions From Paulsboro Refinery

As He Touts Climate & Environmental Justice Policies, NJ Gov. Murphy’s DEP Proposes Renewal of Newark Garbage Incinerator Air Permit

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

Just a few of the major air quality issues these guys get paid to divert the press and public and environmental groups from focusing on.

Perhaps you might want to cover these issues?

Bill Wolfe

  • former DEP policy analyst (13 years)
  • former Policy Director NJ Sierra Club (7 years)
  • former Director NJ Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (10 years)

End Note on Etiquette:

According to the DEP “etiquette tips”, the public is limited and may not ask questions of presenters:

Can I ask questions of the scheduled presenters?

No. Consistent with prior public hearings, presenters are selected by the Council to provide information and clarifying perspectives about the hearing topic. That information, as well as written comments submitted to the Council, form the basis of the Council’s hearing recommendations report, which is presented to the Department of Environmental Protection’s Commissioner for her consideration and use. While the Council members can ask questions of the presenters to better educate themselves before developing those recommendations, time constraints don’t allow for audience members to also question the presenters.

This is totally unacceptable and inconsistent with prior Clean Air Council hearings.

I’ve engaged in detailed questions and answers with presenters at Clean Air Council meetings.

There was never this prohibition on public questions. Shame on Murphy DEP.

And while I’m on the topic of the history of the Council, here is a real environmental justice advocate testifying to the Council, 22 years ago in 1998:

JOSEPH PARRISH – RECTOR ST. JOHN’S CHURCH, ELIZABETH

We are very involved in clean air issues because Elizabeth is the smoke shade capital of New Jersey. When the air in Elizabeth is filtered through a piece of filter paper and weighed, it weighs more that air anywhere else in New Jersey as measured by the NJDEP. Elizabeth has the highest concentration of airborne particulates in the state.

Since 1990 five incinerators have been installed within a radius of six miles or less of our church and the New Jersey Turnpike has been widened to 14 lanes. The Bayway Texaco refinery immediately upwind has had three life threatening incidents since 1990. Fishing has been banned at the Elizabeth Marina and in Newark Bay due to the toxicity of the waters.

The results of all this environmental degradation are staggering. Since 1990 forty percent of our Sunday School children have been hospitalized for asthma, eight times the national average. Asthma deaths in Elizabeth are 25 times the national average.

The State of New Jersey needs immediate and thorough remediation to stop the air, water and land pollution. Controls on cars and buses are essential. The development of rail links should be the highest priority. Waste incineration should be ended. Technologies for composting should be used. Refineries should be closed and fishing in polluted waters prohibited. Medical treatment should be made available to all community members suffering from the effects of pollution. New projects should be suspended until these environmental measures are undertaken.

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