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Longtime EJ Activist Backs Flawed EJ Bill In Truthout Op-Ed

The NJ EJ bill does not create any “right” to a “clean environment”

Truthout Analysis Gets It Badly Wrong

Political Set Up Piece For Gov. Murphy’s Bill Signing Tomorrow

Peter Montague (L) consults with Nicky Sheets, at DEP briefing (12/9/09)

Peter Montague (L) consults with Nicky Sheats, at DEP briefing (12/2/09)

My friend and longtime NJ based scientist and environmental justice activist Peter Montague wrote an opinion piece today at Truthout, supporting the seriously flawed EJ bill now on NJ Gov. Murpy’s desk, see:

I met Mr. Montague in the late 1980’s when I was a DEP policy analyst and when he and Madalyn Hoffman (founder of NJ Green Party) led the charge against garbage incinerators.

Montague coined the phrase “a billion bullets to the heads of Newarks’ kids” to describe the lead emissions from the Newark garbage incinerator, a dinosaur highly polluting facility that would be exempt from the EJ bill he is now strangely supporting. I took the photo above at a December 2, 2009 DEP EJ briefing.

So, it’s really sad that I have to call bullshit on his crap.

According to Montague, Gov. Murphy will sign the bill tomorrow – no doubt surrounded by his sycophants in the NJ ENGO and EJ communities (but will they be quoted in the Gov.’s press release, after I called out that abuse?) It’s not surprising that Gov. Murphy would sign the bill on a Friday (in late afternoon?) as a means of minimizing news coverage. The bill is opposed by the NJ business community and Wall Street Murphy doesn’t want to poke a finger in the eye of his corporate friends.

As I’ve been writing critical analyses of the bill for weeks and urging NJ EJ activist to withdraw their support and urge the Gov. to veto the bill, obviously I disagree with Mr. Montague.

But this goes way beyond a good faith disagreement over the merits and politics of the compromise bill.

The headline and the text of Montague’s analysis are factually in error. The NJ bill does not make or create any “right” to a “clean environment”. This is just totally wrong.

Worse, the bill totally ignores an actual directly on point US District Court decision that analyzed the NJ DEP EJ program with respect to DEP permitting, see: South Camden Citizens v. NJ Dept. of Environ., 145 F. Supp. 2d 446 (D.N.J. 2001).

I recently wrote about how that decision relates to the EJ bill, see:

This bill is NOT a national model, as Montague suggests, but is a national disgrace and sellout.

So, here’s the note I sent to Montague. I’ll let you know if he responds:

[Update – I just got this rapid and cryptic reply:

Thanks, Bill.  You may be right. –Peter.

I responded by asking Montague to correct or ask Truthout to take down the piece. He declined to do so. ~~~ end update]

Hi Peter – I’ve been writing for weeks now criticizing, in detail, the flaws in the EJ bill, so I was very disappointed by your piece today. There are so many problems with it:

1. The headline and your text talk about the bill establishing a “right”. That is totally false. You cite legislative findings which have no legal effect. Worse, in terms of civil rights law, the EJ bill ignores the Camden US District Court case on the civil rights issues.

2. the bill ignores climate, greenhouse gas emissions, and adaptation. That alone is a fatal flaw. Fatal, literally.

3. the bill ignores actual DEP permit regulations, Technical manuals, risk assessment methods, Guidance, prior science (Paterson cumulative impacts) etc

4. the local veto power was stripped

5. the 100 TPY air emissions threshold contradicts the entire concept of cumulative impact

6. there are a bunch of loopholes.

7. the compelling public need loophole arguably weakens all environmental laws

Here are some links to my analysis, if you are interested. I’m calling on activist to withdraw support and ask Murphy to veto the bill and start over.




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