Home > Uncategorized > Environmental Leader Applauds Murphy DEP Retreat From Climate Regulations

Environmental Leader Applauds Murphy DEP Retreat From Climate Regulations

DEP denies role and injects another year of delay in adopting climate regulations

Given the opportunity to retract her support, Jennifer Coffey doubled down

While I was not surprised by the Murphy DEP’s recent retreat from regulations to respond – I hesitate to use the slogan “adapt”, as that tends to downplay the unmanageable severity of actual impacts –  to the accelerating climate emergency, I was shocked by how DEP publicly justified them. (see my prior post).

We followup on that with today’s post, in 5 easy pieces.

I)  Not My Job

Specifically, DEP Deputy Commissioner Shawn LaTourette (previously a corporate lawyer), claimed that it was not DEP’s role to regulate: (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.

Perhaps worse, LaTourette spouted the anti-government and anti-regulatory ideological drivel of right wing Republicans, which NJ Spotlight of course put under a bold faced banner – just what Ray Cantor and NJ BIA asked for:

Not a case of ‘big, bad government’

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

II)  More Delay, with No Firm Commitment

Additionally, a key issue that was obfuscated by NJ Spotlight is the schedule for the climate regulations. Initially, DEP committed to proposing regulations this fall. Without any comment, DEP just injected at least another 6 months of delay by saying rule might be proposed next spring – delay that went unreported by Spotlight. (Yet Spotlight did provide a platform to Ray Cantor of NJBIA to suggest even more delay:

When will new regulations be ready?

Still, 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.

Ray Cantor, vice president of government affairs at the New Jersey Business & Industry Association, argued that the timetable is too tight for far-reaching regulations that will be based on decades-long climate forecasts.

On top of all that backtracking by DEP, LaTourette again created a false impression that climate impacts and the need for a DEP adaptation regulatory response is somehow a new issue that is poorly understood by the public:

Even if mitigation now will only start to pay dividends in 30 years or more, it’s important to win acceptance of the idea from a public that doesn’t yet get it, LaTourette said.

This was a repeat of how LaTourette blamed the public for his Covanta Union County incinerator experiment lies.

III)  Worse than Christie

DEP Deputy Commissioner LaTourett’e remarks actually are worse than Gov. Christie, who  in the wake of Superstorm Sandy claimed that climate was an “esoteric” issue that the public didn’t “give a damn” about, see:

“I have no idea. I’m not a climatologist and in the last hundred days I have to tell you the truth, I’ve been focused on a lot of things, the cause of this is not one of them that I’ve focused on,” Christie said in response to a question about the role climate change could have played in fueling the Oct. 29, 2012 storm. “Now, maybe in the subsequent months and years, after I get done with trying to rebuild the state and put people back in their homes, I will have the opportunity to ponder the esoteric question of the cause of this storm. …If you asked of these people in Union Beach, I don’t think they give a damn.” NJ Gov. Chris Christie, Feb. 5. 2013

Just what does it take to get fired in a Murphy administration?

Why hasn’t DEP Commissioner McCabe or Gov. Murphy issued a public statement refuting and clarifying LaTourette’s remarks? That silence is deafening and confirms that LaTourette speak for the Gov.

All this is astonishing from an administration who claims to be a world leader in climate policy.

IV)  Environmental Leader Supports DEP – An Act of Climate Cowardice & Massive Green Cover

But what I was surprised by was that an “environmental leader” actually supported the DEP’s approach.

While I have often written about the fact that the DEP “Stakeholder process” is a corrupt form of regulatory capture and co-optation and harshly criticized NJ environmental groups (aka The Green Mafia) for their sycophantic false and damaging political green cover for Democratic administrations, this episode is by far the worst example of these abuses.

Jennifer Coffey, head of the Association of Environmental Commissions (ANJEC) said:

But Jennifer Coffey, executive director of the Association of New Jersey Environmental Commissions, endorsed the DEP’s approach to revising the regulations. “DEP is absolutely moving in the right direction in terms of addressing the impact of climate change and trying to reduce greenhouse gas emissions so that we can keep the impacts from getting exponentially worse,” she said.

(yes, this is worse than Ms. Coffey’s absurd statement that Most environmentalists have relationships with power companies”. Of course, that rhetoric reflects the ideology and corporate style of her Wm. Penn Foundation funders.)

V)  Ms. Coffey Doubles Down And Evades

How could an environmental group support a “DEP approach to revising regulations” that rejected DEP’s regulatory role, reflected a right wing attack on “big bad government”, and, after 3 years in office, injected even more delay in adopting regulations?

Surely, Coffey could not actually be supportive of what DEP’s LaTourette said, could she?

So, I contacted Ms. Coffey via email to confirm her quote and ask if she wanted to retract or clarify her comments in support, based on Mr. Latourette’s statements.

I also asked 3 specific questions, in an October 14, 2020 email, I wrote:

Jennifer – I am writing to confirm your quote in today’s NJ Spotlight story.

I assume your quote was offered without the knowledge of Deputy Commissioner LaTourette’s comments.

If so, would you care to revise or revoke it in light of what LaTourettte said?

Or do you support LaTourette’s claims about: 1) DEP’s regulatory role? 2) About the efficacy of a climate impact. statement and property deed approach as an alternative to traditional regulation? 3) About the state of public knowledge?

Ms. Coffey responded by doubling down in her support for DEP, evading regulatory issues, and failing to respond to my 3 specific questions.

Here is her full reply (emphases mine) – which is full of spin and bullshit I will address in a future post.

I’ll simply note here that, obviously, the DEP Deputy Commissioner’s on the record statement carries far more weight in terms of conveying DEP’s actual regulatory policy than Ms. Coffey’s impressions of a stakeholder meeting and comments by DEP staffers.

Thank you for reaching out, Bill.

As I said to Jon when we spoke the other day, my experience on the NJ PACT stakeholder group leads me to understand that the NJDEP is incorporating the best available climate data to continue to guide where we can and cannot build in NJ, as the DEP has for decades through the CAFRA, Flood Hazard and other rules that have quite frankly been too weak in protecting our environment and public safety. My understanding is that PACT rules will reflect newly available science models and the correlated expansion floodplains as a result of climate change.In short, we should not be building in floodplains or in areas that we know will be flooding in the near future. Incorporating the best available climate science data that we have now, and more as it continues to become available, is essential to becoming more resilient in the face of climate effects that we know we cannot stop. The effects of climate change are here now and are affecting NJ more than any other state. We will continue to see rising sea levels and increasing precipitation that will continue to exacerbate inland flooding as sea levels continue to rise along our coast. The best models we have show that NJ will have an 11 percent increase in annual precipitation by 2050, and 37 percent increase by 2100.  It is not okay to simply assess impacts of climate change for new development, but we need to adapt to reflect new floodplain mapping and enhance stormwater management as a result of known climate impacts. We need to change both the places and ways we develop, and my participation in the NJDEP stakeholder groups has led me to believe that the PACT rules require better planning, avoid areas we know will be floodplains between now and 2050, and improve stormwater management. We need to simultaneously become more resilient to the impacts of climate change that we cannot stop and do everything we can to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to keep those impacts from becoming exponentially worse.

Climate activists and all NJ citizens should be blasting DEP and Ms. Coffey for this cowardly and corrupt abdication.

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:
You must be logged in to post a comment.