Home > Uncategorized > After Announcing Retreat On Climate Regulations, The Murphy DEP Is In Damage Control Mode And Trying To Change The Subject

After Announcing Retreat On Climate Regulations, The Murphy DEP Is In Damage Control Mode And Trying To Change The Subject

NJ Spotlight Prints DEP Diversion, Despite Publishing A Critical Conflicting Story Just Days Prior

False impression DEP aggressively responding to climate crisis, while – by DEP’s own words – they are actually retreating

[Update below]

Just days after Murphy DEP Deputy Commissioner Shawn LaTourette announced a massive retreat from climate regulations, the Murphy DEP released an update of a Report mandated by the otherwise toothless and ignored 2007 Global Warming Response Act (GWRA).

The timing alone reflects a desperate and obvious PR move by DEP to change the subject. News management 101. Orwell.

And the lame folks at NJ Spotlight took the bait hook line and sinker and went right along with the DEP game, and without providing crucial context for the Report that their own outlet had just reported days prior.

In what could be the worst headline ever, NJ Spotlight reported:

Spotlight presents a lot of DEP’s spin on DEP’s “progress” in that favorable story.

The DEP Report may call for “major action”, but DEP’s own Deputy Commissioner just announced that DEP was retreating and delaying even minor action. The contradiction is stunning.

So for now, let’s rehash a few of the lowlights of DEP’s retreat. DEP Deputy Commissioner said: (NJ Spotlight)

“We’re not at a point, nor do we think it’s our role, to tell people: ‘Don’t build here, you shouldn’t build there, you can’t do that,’” LaTourette said. …

He said the DEP wants to avoid being the “big, bad government” that imposes heavy-handed regulations.

officials have continued to gather input via a series of virtual meetings with stakeholders and aim to formally propose new regulations “early next year,” perhaps in the first quarter, LaTourette said.

(we will do a future post on our assessment of DEP’s Report and “progress” in implementing the GWRA. I assure you that we see far less progress than NJ Spotlight reporter Jon Hurdle does. For now, see:

Mr. Latourette’s should be help accountable for his astonishing remarks about DEP’s regulatory role, “big bad government”, “heavy handed regulations”, and an open ended delay on proposing regulations that conflicts with Gov. Murphy’s Executive Order and prior commitments to propose rules this fall.

The DEP retreat from climate regulations (specifically retreat in terms of delay, in scope, and in stringency) should be major news and fodder for followup coverage documenting the responses of real climate activists (not the Penn Foundation Funded hack source NJ Spotlight chose to represent the “environmental” viewpoint).

But instead of accountability for DEP and followup coverage of the implications of DEP’s retreat, Spotlight immediately allowed DEP to change the subject and create the false appearance that they were aggressively responding to the climate crisis (instead of, by DEP’s own words, actually retreating).

This journalistic malpractice is not an anomaly, but part of a disturbing pattern whereby every time Spotlight writes what might be perceived as a critical or edgy story, the immediately followup it with a puff piece of green cover or rehabilitation.

The examples are too numerous to present here, so I’ll just mention the most recent.

On September 23, 2020, Spotlight reported that the Murphy BPU had slashed energy efficiency programs proposed by NJ PSEG by over 61%.

Public Service Electric & Gas has reached a tentative settlement with state regulators over its proposed $2.5 billion plan to invest in energy-efficiency programs for its customers, accepting a scaled-back $970 million program instead.

Obviously, a $1.6 billion 61% cut in an energy efficiency program calls into question Gov. Murphy’s commitment to his stated climate and “clean energy” goals and undermines the policies of his highly touted recently adopted BPU Energy Master Plan.

That is clearly “bad news” for the climate and bad news for the Governor

But the very next day, on September 24, 2020, Spotlight reported exactly the opposite: good news, with no mention of the bad news context: (again, ignore the headline, which is the opposite of the story content. The State did NOT put “more muscle”, as reported just a day earlier, they slashed the muscle to the bone via a $1.6 billion cut):

The state’s utilities want to ramp up spending by hundreds of millions of dollars over the next three years to convince their customers to reduce their electric and gas use, complying with a new mandate to invest in energy efficiency programs.

The filings last week by six of New Jersey’s utilities have the goal of advancing the Murphy administration’s clean-energy ambitions by reducing pollution, potentially creating thousands of new green energy jobs, and saving customers’ money, be it homeowners or businesses.

Does reporter Tom Johnson, when he claims utilities want to “ramp up” spending (under a headline claiming the state puts “more muscle”) think we forgot that BPU slashed PSE&G’s energy efficiency program by $1.6 billion, over 61%, a fact he reported just the day before?

Obviously, he was providing cover for Gov. Murphy and BPU.

That is journalistic malpractice, and it is happening over and over again.

And that’s only when NJ Spotlight writes a critical story – which happens about once in a blue moon.

[Update – I failed to mention a very important point.

When DEP Deputy Commissioner LaTourette gave the interview to NJ Spotlight where he announced a major retreat on the regulatory front (using red meat right wing slogans), he knew exactly what the DEP Climate Report had found and the “major actions” that the Report would recommend. He knew they would be extremely controversial and strongly opposed by the business community.

Those “major actions” include a dramatic expansion of DEP regulations, which is taboo to powerful business interests and friends of Gov. Murphy.

So, in order to soften the blow and tamp down major opposition by the business community, he used NJ Spotlight to send a message:

“Don’t worry, we won’t regulate you. This is all just to appease the enviro’s and make the Gov. look good.”

In my next post, I will analyze just what that DEP found, what it recommended, and how the disastrously minuscule “progress” the DEP has made contradicts and destroys the credibility of the media and environmental cheerleaders, who have so grossly exaggerated and falsely praised Gov. Murphy’s fake “climate leadership”. Don’t miss it. ~~~ end update]

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