Archive for November, 2020

Murphy DEP Admits That Pipeline Construction Regulations And DEP Oversight Are Lax

November 21st, 2020 No comments

A Series Of Pipeline Construction Accidents Illustrate The Dangers of Deregulation

DEP just lifted suspension of permits and authorized resumption of Horizontal Direction Drilling

sinkhole collapse on River Road, Montague, NJ (7/9/13)

sinkhole collapse on River Road, Montague, NJ (7/9/13)

You are about to read a very rare story. A story of a bureaucracy strongly suggesting – almost flat out admitting – that they made mistakes and their regulations are lax. This is virtually unheard of. Follow.

For years, we have been documenting serious failures during construction of NJ pipelines and explaining how these events expose lax regulatory oversight and enforcement by NJ DEP,  (and be sure to hit the links to awesome photos!)

DEP made no regulatory changes in response to these disasters.

During the Christie Administration, we warned that loopholes in current laws (like the Highlands Act exemption for linear utility development) and DEP’s continued efforts to expand the use of and rely on cursory regulatory oversight of pipelines via mechanisms like “General Permits” (GP’s) and “Permits-By-Rule” (PBR) would result in future environmental disasters.

And we criticized the Christie DEP’s rollbacks of lax freshwater wetlands, stream encroachment, and stormwater management rules because, among other things, they further weakened DEP’s regulatory oversight of pipeline construction.

During legislative oversight hearings on those DEP regulatory rollback proposals, DEP’s Deputy Commissioner Ray Cantor and Assistant Commissioner Ginger Kopcash flat out lied to legislators, to the media, and to the public and strongly denied our claims.

All those rollbacks have not been revoked by the Murphy DEP.

So, we were not surprised by the most recent accident by NJ Natural Gas this summer:

In response to that disaster, environmental groups filed a motion to stop construction.

But we were surprised by the failure of the media and environmental groups to analyze the underlying cause of the failure.

We were disappointed by the failure to investigate DEP’s lax oversight and educate and focus public outrage on the fact that pipeline construction is governed by lax DEP regulations, including Freshwater Wetland General Permit #2 (“Underground Utility Lines” (p. 63) and Flood Hazard Act Permit-By-Rule #36 (“placement of an underground utility line using directional drilling or jacking”  p. 74)

FWW GP#2 completely deregulates HDD:

(b) If a utility line is jacked or directionally drilled underground, so that there is no surface disturbance of any freshwater wetlands, transition areas, or State open waters and there is no draining or dewatering of freshwater wetlands, no Department approval is required under this chapter.

[Important context: keep in mind that the FWW regulations are where DEP codifies its authority under Section 401 of the Clean Water Act to issue a “water quality certificate”. Several other States – but not NJ – have used that authority to kill proposed pipelines. HDD under wetlands is not regulated so not subject to a 401 WQC review.]

FHA PBR #36 – for HDD under rivers and streams – is basically a self certification by the pipeline company, with NO DEP or public review.

This is crazy. Insane. Irresponsible. Reckless. Dangerous. Foolish. Stupid. Obscene.

Nor were we surprised that – despite the fact that even the lax DEP regulations gave DEP the power to revoke the GP and PBR permits and require a more rigorous site specific “Individual Permit (IP), – that via letter of November 9, 2020, DEP lifted the suspension of permits and authorized resumption of pipeline construction and “Horizontal Direction Drilling” (HDD). (and I saw no criticism or media coverage of this).

So, we thought we’d ask DEP what their rationale was.

In a November 20, 2020 email to DEP, I wrote: (I’ve omitted DEP staff names):

Greetings – I was recently forwarded the Department’s November 9, 2020 letter to NJNG regarding suspension and reinstatement of FWW and FHA approvals and have a few questions.

I read the applicable regulations (freshwater wetlands and stream encroachment) and understand that the Department had the option of revoking the GP and PBR and mandating a new site specific individual permit.

Given the circumstances, I’m curious as to what the Department’s rationale is for not mandating an IP.

Is that written down anywhere?

I noted that NOV’s were issued. Has the Department finalized those and imposed enforcement fines and/or penalties?

Finally, I’m curious about the DEP “request” that DEP compliance and enforcement staff be on site for HDD resumption. Why was this made as a “request” and not a formal permit condition or enforcement Order?

Appreciate your timely response.


But what we were shocked by was – after years of being ignored and sometimes even personally attacked by DEP – the rapid response we got from DEP.

We were shocked not only by how quickly DEP responded, but by what they admitted. DEP replied, not with obfuscation weeks or days later, but just hours later. DEP wrote:

Mr. Wolfe

The Division evaluated the strategy for the remaining HDDs submitted by NJNG and consulted with technical experts within the Department and with New Jersey Geologic Service.  Based on our review and the oversight that will occur with the Department’s Enforcement bureau, the Department felt it was appropriate to re-instate the permit.  The current regulations essentially deregulate HDD under freshwater wetlands so there were certain limitations on the actions that the Department could take.  However, based on information that we have received from multiple interested parties, the Department is evaluating the rules to see if changes to the regulations are necessary.

I don’t have a lot of information on the status of the NOV.  That is being handled by our Enforcement group.  If you would like information on the status of that, you can reach out to xxxxxxxxxxx

Last, the Department will have oversight over the HDD resumption.  The letter mentions a “request” but we conveyed to NJNG in meetings that we wanted to have representatives onsite.

Let me emphasize and repeat that.

According to the Murphy DEP:

“The current regulations essentially deregulate HDD under freshwater wetlands so there were certain limitations on the actions that the Department could take. However, based on information that we have received from multiple interested parties, the Department is evaluating the rules to see if changes to the regulations are necessary.

We look forward to DEP’s upcoming “Climate PACT” rules closing these loopholes and strengthening the current broken regulations and regulatory oversight.

In the meantime:

  • I hope that Senate Environment Committee Chairman Bob Smith reads this. Maybe he could dust off his failed legislative veto Senate Resolution SCR 66 to declare even more DEP regulatory rollbacks “inconsistent with legislative intent”.
  • I hope that Ray Cantor (now at NJ BIA) and Ginger Kopcash (who is still at DEP!) read this and reflect upon their lies and that their credibility suffers for it.
  • I hope that the NJ fake green groups, who signed off on the Bob Martin/Senator Sweeney “compromise” to avoid legislative veto and insisted that pipelines could be stopped and adequately regulated under DEP regulations are ashamed of their ignorance, weakness and corruption.
  • And I hope the NJ press corps – especially NJ Spotlight – who wrote this as a “he said she said” story hold the liars and dangerous fake green fools accountable.

[End Notes:

1. This post is limited in scope to pipeline construction and DEP’s land use regulations.

There are far more significant flaws in DEP’s regulations – which DO NOT CONSIDER OR REGULATE GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS from major fossil infrastructure projects, like pipelines (and the fracking wells, the pipeline transmission & distribution network, or the business, industry and residential consumers of the gas/fossil fuel).

This is why – at a minimum – there must be a moratorium on pipeline and fossil infrastructure approvals until these regulatory flaws are fixed.

2. There is a  “public interest” (see p.114) provision that Ray Cantor sold to the Green Mafia and Senator Smith as the solution to “fix” the Category One stream buffer loopholes and thereby dodge a legislative veto (they called it the “concurrent proposal” at the time) (June 20, 2016 proposal)

Proposed N.J.A.C. 7:13-11.2(d)3 requires the applicant to demonstrate that the proposed regulated activity is in the public interest. The Department will determine if a proposed activity is in the public interest by considering the factors proposed at N.J.A.C. 7:13-11.2(d)3i-vi

Obviously, it was a diversion, will not work, and did not address there real regulatory flaws. Cantor is good a duping dupes.

The same”public interest” deal that was negotiated and signed off on by the Green Mafia is now also included as a massive loophole in the environmental justice bill Gov. Murphy just signed into law.

That Zombie “public interest” provision does not close the loopholes in DEP stream encroachment (buffer) regulations. (see p.114 above link) and now it guts the EJ law.

That “public interest” provision the Green Mafia agreed to now serves as a massive loophole in the EJ law.

It allows DEP to over-ride a factual finding that pollution causes disproportionate burdens (which triggers mandatory permit denial) and instead issue the permit if it is in the “public interest” (it must be a “compelling” public interest, whatever that means).

As I recently wrote:

Worse, the DEP permit denial authority is destroyed by an “exception” – a huge loophole provision that allows DEP to waive the mandatory permit denial and issue the permit if a polluter claims that there is a “compelling public interest” for the industry or facility seeking the permit, even if there are disproportionate and unjust impacts.

There is gross incompetence and political cowardice in some quarters of the environmental community.

It is astonishing that these same useful idiots were able to sabotage the C1 buffer rollback legislative veto and years later insert a Trojan horse in the environmental justice law.  That just proves there are no consequences for incompetence and no accountability for lying.

3. I failed to note that environmental groups Pinelands Preservation Alliance and Sierra Club quietly met with DEP on September 8 and their lawyers wrote a “please, pretty please, do the right thing” followup letter on October 2, 202o.

Stunningly, that letter failed to even mention the above applicable flawed DEP regulations – which govern the pipeline and strictly limit DEP’s powers – or demand that these regulations be revised. WTF?

Instead, they focused on what amount to legal platitudes, closing with this nothing burger:

Screen Shot 2020-11-22 at 12.08.00 PM

How can something like this happen (when the lawyers had the DEP suspension documents so knew what regulations applied?) ~~~ end]

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The Pinelands Commission Finally Takes A First Baby Step On Climate Policy

November 20th, 2020 No comments

Vague Aspirations, No Specific Policy Commitments, Actual CMP Amendments Postponed Indefinitely

Abdicating Leadership, The Commission Bows To BPU and DEP Lead On Climate Policy And Program

Looks like my controversial snarky and frustrated foray into “Fake News” has become a reality!

We’ve been pounding this issue for a long time, see:

After over a decade of demands for climate action by the public – including bruising battles over fossil infrastructure pipelines – the Pinelands Commission will consider a Resolution (see Draft Resolution) to address climate change at their next meeting scheduled for Friday December 11, 2020. (see correction)

[Correction – I was working off the Commission’s October Management Report, which I received today. The dates are wrong. Here’s the accurate info from the Pinelands Commission:(my emphasis)

That resolution was actually passed at our meeting last week; it’s not a draft. It recognizes the science behind climate change and directs the Climate Committee (LUCIS Committee) to develop climate mitigation amendments to the CMP, among other things, so now the real work comes. Your comments can now be used in that amendment drafting process, and I’m grateful to have your input.

It’s been a long time coming (and Executive Director Wittenberg actually tried to derail it).

As I wrote most recently, over 6 years ago, the Pinelands Commission, in The Fourth Progress Report on Plan Implementation (September 2014), first directed staff to develop climate policies and amend the Comprehensive Management Plan (CMP) to address climate risks and impacts. (see Action Plan Table on p. 166):

The Commission will evaluate what options are available to address climate change through the CMP and in cooperation with other agencies.

In that post, I reiterated a broad climate policy framework for the Commission:

There are many things the Pinelands Commission could do to address climate change, including:

1) establish and fund phenology, forest management, climate impact science, and monitoring programs, including incorporating climate driven rainfall/drought into their similarly long delayed and seemingly stalled “Kirkwood-Cohansey” project on restricting water allocation to protect ecological functions and ecosystems;

2) mandate and promote energy conservation, energy efficiency, renewables (including installation of EV charging stations, public transport, bicycles, and zero carbon development), and distributed publicly owned local power, micro-grids, etc – including requirements for new development applications and to retrofit of existing development;

3) prohibit new fossil infrastructure, like pipelines and power plants, and phase out existing fossil infrastructure, including ecological restoration of disturbance associated with that infrastructure;

4) regulate greenhouse gas emissions, including mandatory offset and mitigation requirements and net zero development;

5) establish a pro-active adaptation program (not just reactive fire suppression).

Call it a Green New Deal for the Pinelands!

Unfortunately, the Commission’s Draft Resolution does not do any of that.

There are no binding schedules or timetables for adopting necessary amendments to the Pinelands Comprehensive Management Plan (CMP).

There are no specific greenhouse gas emission reduction goals snd timetables.

There are no specific research, monitoring, policy, planning, program, staff, or funding elements or commitments.

On the positive side, the draft Resolution does build scientific and legal/regulatory bridges (in legal jargon, a “nexus”) between climate and the Commission’s regulatory jurisdiction under the Pinelands Protection Act and the provisions of the CMP: (emphases mine)

WHEREAS, these measures have not only protected the Pinelands ecosystem but have significantly benefited air and water quality, while protecting agricultural lands and vast wildfire-prone forests that serve to sequester carbon in the entire region when properly managed; and

WHEREAS, wetlands comprise approximately one-third of the Pinelands, and they play a critical role in filtering sediments, pollutants and nutrients from water, while also capturing and storing carbon, providing a buffer against sea level rise, and reducing the impacts of flooding and droughts;

Recall that Commission legal Counsel Stacy Roth and ED Wittenbeg denied that this jurisdiction existed. So, there is some progress on this important and fundamental issue.

But the way the Resolution is drafted raises other problems.

For example, there is no specific and direct linkage between climate and energy policy, energy infrastructure (like pipelines), and building and construction standards and practices, which are currently addressed under the CMP.

This lack of detail undermines the Commission’s ability to establish critical energy efficiency, renewable energy, electrification, and zero carbon standards and technologies. It weakens the Commission’s ability to discourage and/or phrase out fossil infrastructure, to impose retrofit requirements, and to impose CMP standards and conditions on land use and development approvals that greenhouse gas emissions are offset.

The forest related Whereas clause opens the door to destructive forest management and “forest stewardship” logging practices that actually increase carbon emissions and reduce carbon sequestration. Forests, just like wetlands, naturally store/sequester carbon without any active management (note that the wetlands whereas does not include the “properly managed” clause).

Here are the highlights of what the Commission Resolution would do. (Resolved): (emphases mine)

[1. – 2.]

3. The Pinelands Commission further acknowledges that substantial and sustained reductions in greenhouse gas emissions are required, together with adaptation measures, to limit the risks of climate change.

[4. – 7.]

8. The Pinelands Commission shall evaluate all proposed CMP amendments in terms of their potential impacts on greenhouse gas emissions and shall seek to include measures that will mitigate adverse impacts on the Pinelands environment.

What are “sustained reductions in greenhouse gas emissions”? What agency and what specific regulations “requires” those reductions?

No numeric greenhouse gas emission reduction goal is stated (in #3) and no timetable to achieve those reductions are specified and no regulatory  agency is assigned responsibility.

It also appears that the scope of the climate review (#8) is limited to future “proposed CMP amendments”, not the current provisions of the CMP. This must be redrafted and clarified.

It also appears that the review is limited in scope to “mitigate adverse impact” – as opposed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, phasing out fossil, and transitioning to a 100% renewable energy system.

That confused conflation of greenhouse gas emissions reduction (sometimes referred to as “mitigation”) and traditional impact mitigation is present throughout the draft Resolution and really needs to be re-written.

The climate emergency is more than a threat – there are actual current adverse impacts on the Pinelands resources right now. This whereas should be revised to make that clear:

WHEREAS, the Pinelands Commission acknowledges there is ample scientific evidence documenting that climate change poses a new and severe threat to the Pinelands environment;

Finally, the Commission would defer to DEP and BPU and other state agencies on the substance of the statewide climate and energy policy:

5. The LUCIS Committee shall coordinate with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, the Board of Public Utilities and other state agencies and departments on their efforts to mitigate the impacts of climate change in New Jersey.

This “coordinating” role contradicts the Commission’s role under the Pinelands Protection Act (Act) and conflicts with decades of leadership.

The Act authorizes and directs the Pinelands Commission to protect the Pinelands and adopt a CMP with standards that are more stringent than those adopted by other state agencies.

Most of the Pinelands’s CMP environmental and land use standards are far more stringent than the DEP’s statewide standards.

The Commission must not abdicate its statutory leadership role.

I urge readers to contact the Pinelands Commission and strongly urge that they strengthen the draft Resolution to address the significant flaws I outline above (and more!)

It’s taken so long to get here, better to do it right, redraft the Resolution, and delay another month.

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More Misdirection From NJ Spotlight On Toxic Chemicals

November 19th, 2020 No comments

The Pallone bill is an excuse and the cover for a Biden EPA to do nothing

NJ Spotlight has written another story on the family of chemicals known as PFAS, or “forever” chemicals, see:

Once again, the narrative misleads and diverts readers and activists about a host of issues. We’ll try to correct the record.

First, let’s start with the headline: it does mention “regulation”, but the story is about legislation, i.e. the Pallone bill.

EPA does not need new federal law to define PFAS as a “hazardous substance” and regulate it under Superfund. EPA has that authority under current law.

EPA does not need new federal law to require cleanup of PFAS contamination and make polluters pay for cleanups and natural resource damages under Superfund. They have that authority under current law.

EPA does not need new federal law to establish national drinking water standards for PFAS. They have that authority under the current federal Safe Drinking Water Act.

EPA does not need new federal law to establish water quality standards and pollution discharge permit (NPDES) limits for PFAS. EPA has the authority under the current Clean Water Act.

The reasons Democrats, like Frank Pallone, are pushing new legislation right now is:

1) to take the heat off the Biden administration and lower expectations and divert environmental activists and media away from focusing on and making regulatory demands of the Biden EPA.

Now that Democrats control EPA, Pallone should be focused on regulatory solutions available under current law, not new laws that have zero chance of passage; and

2) to make House Democrat’s look good and blame Senate Republicans for inaction.

During the last Congressional session, it was easy to sponsor legislation because Pallone and Democrats knew that the Senate would block it and/or Trump would veto it (and keep in mind that last session, Frank Pallone took the lead on opposing and derailing the Green New Deal).

Now that Democrats control EPA – and especially while Republicans hold veto power in the Senate on any new legislation – they should focus on EPA regulation.

The fact that Pallone and other Democrats are ginning up a national legislative strategy (in a press event coordinated with national environmental groups) is proof positive that they are playing political games and are not serious about protecting public health.

The Pallone bill is a diversion and an excuse and the cover for a Biden EPA to do nothing.

Second, The Pallone bill is another example of flawed, piecemeal, narrow, single chemical, and single issue/objective regulation.

There are perhaps 100,000 toxic chemicals being manufactured, used, and discharged to the environment that are either not regulated at all or are under regulated.

The last thing we need is more politically driven flawed legislative initiatives like Frank Pallone’s bill. Even within drinking water protections, it makes no sense to address chemicals one by one, with risk assessment and cost benefit analysis based standards. As we’ve written many times, a “precautionary principle” and “treatment based approach” would be far more protective and effective.

Third, NJ Spotlight fails to even mention the underlying federal law that EPA has authority to enforce and is failing to implement, despite its serious flaws.

That underlying flawed federal law is what allows corporations to keep information about the use and safety of toxic chemicals “secret”.

That law prohibits federal EPA regulators from disclosing “secret” information publicly, including information about the manufacture, use, discharge, and safety of toxic chemicals, and the development and manufacture of alternative new chemicals.

That law pre-empts more stringent and protective State law and muzzles State DEP regulators.

That law fails to enforce the “precautionary principle” and instead imposes a heavy scientific burden on EPA regulators. 

That law erects numerous legal and procedural burdens to effective regulation of chemical safety.

That federal law is known as the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA)

The Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976 provides EPA with authority to require reporting, record-keeping and testing requirements, and restrictions relating to chemical substances and/or mixtures. …

Various sections of TSCA provide authority to:

  • Require, under Section 5, pre-manufacture notification for “new chemical substances” before manufacture
  • Require, under Section 4, testing of chemicals by manufacturers, importers, and processors where risks or exposures of concern are found
  • Issue Significant New Use Rules (SNURs), under Section 5, when it identifies a “significant new use” that could result in exposures to, or releases of, a substance of concern.
  • Maintain the TSCA Inventory, under Section 8, which contains more than 83,000 chemicals. As new chemicals are commercially manufactured or imported, they are placed on the list.
  • Require those importing or exporting chemicals, under Sections 12(b) and 13, to comply with certification reporting and/or other requirements.
  • Require, under Section 8, reporting and record-keeping by persons who manufacture, import, process, and/or distribute chemical substances in commerce.
  • Require, under Section 8(e), that any person who manufactures (including imports), processes, or distributes in commerce a chemical substance or mixture and who obtains information which reasonably supports the conclusion that such substance or mixture presents a substantial risk of injury to health or the environment to immediately inform EPA, except where EPA has been adequately informed of such information.  EPA screens all TSCA b§8(e) submissions as well as voluntary “For Your Information” (FYI) submissions.

Given that TSCA is the source of all these problems, has far broader application than the Pallone bill, and who could provide significant solutions – including lack of strict EPA regulation and enforcement, a problem that can be partially remedied by an aggressive Biden EPA why is it never even mentioned by environmental groups and media coverage?

TSCA is an egregious example of law and regulation being used to protect corporate interests, not to protect the public and public health and the environment.

I’ve made NJ Spotlight reporter Jon Hurdle aware of these issues numerous times – here’s my latest attempt today:

Jon – the underlying federal statute whose flaws are exposed by Paulsboro PFAS and the use of more toxic “secret” alternatives in the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).

If it were fully enforced across the board, it would be far broader and more effective than a single drinking water standard for PFOA.

Why is NO ONE reporting about TSCA regulation and what it is supposed to do? Why are ENGO’s not even mentioning it? NJ Senator Booker was lead sponsor of “reforms” that have proven ineffective.

Here’s EPA press release:

“WASHINGTON (June 22, 2020) — Today, as part of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) Action Plan, EPA is issuing a final rule giving the agency the authority to review an expansive list of products containing PFAS before they could be manufactured, sold, or imported in the United States. This action, issued under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), means that EPA is prohibiting companies from manufacturing, processing, or importing products containing certain long-chain PFAS, which persist in the environment and can cause adverse health effects, without prior EPA review and approval. As part of the agency’s review, EPA could place restrictions on these products to protect public health.”


Despite all this, I have never seen any NJ press corps ever report substantively on TSCA (other than to praise prime sponsors former Senator Frank Lautenberg and current Senator Cory Booker).

Booker has bragged about his role in “reforming” TSCA and celebrated the passage of that weak law, so one would think he would be accountable for TSCA’s blatant failures.

What explains that news blackout?

[Personal Endnote:

While at Cornell graduate school (1983-1985), I wrote a paper on TSCA for Professor Ted Lowi’s government class. (Ted died in 2018)

As somewhat of an aspiring expert in the interface of administrative law, environmental law, and science, I was able to write in depth about the various nuanced scientific and legal burdens and administrative and rulemaking procedures under TSCA, how they had been interpreted by the US Supreme Court, and explain how they handcuffed EPA and represented a strong pro-industry bias.

Professor Lowi provided both the highlight and the humiliating lowlight of my short lived academic career.

On an exam paper, he blasted me for “spewing drivel and parroting lectures”. Of course I was crushed by that!

But on the TSCA paper, he wrote that it was very good, good enough to be published!

Had I any ambition and run with that, things would have worked out very differently. ~~~ end note]

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During “Environmental Justice” Panel, NJ Gov. Murphy’s DEP Rep. Brags About Corporate Investment Background

November 17th, 2020 No comments

DEP Deputy Commissioner Pledges That DEP Regulations Will Not Deter Corporate Investment

Echoes of Biden’s Pledge To Wall Street: “Nothing Will Fundamentally Change

Look, I’m wasted in the Sonoran desert and absolutely terrified by the night sky, so I must be brief.

For tonight, a very quick note – which I will followup on soon with details when I can work off the transcript – regarding the NJ Spotlight Roundtable on the so called “landmark” environmental justice legislation recently signed into law by NJ Governor Murphy.

I’ll admit that I’ve never watched a NJ Spotlight panel discussion before, and was especially skeptical of this one, given how much I’ve written about the flaws in the EJ law, the panelists, and the last minute participation of NJ Gov. Murphy and NJ’s US Senator Booker.

No doubt, the NJ Democrats are trying to make this an important NJ state and even a national issue – and Gov. Murphy is using it as a second term electoral issue –  which has relevance in light of the Biden transition.

Let’s just say that I was deeply disappointed by the discussion.

The climax of the discussion came when NJ Business and Industry (NJBIA) VP Ray Cantor – formerly the Christie DEP Deputy Commissioner – claimed that the legislation would create uncertainty that would discourage private corporate investment in NJ.

Challenging that assertion – not on its merits, but from the Wall Street corporate right – was Murphy DEP Deputy Commissioner Shawn LaTourette, who bragged about his own prior private sector experience in the investment community and pledged that DEP’s regulations would in no way impede Wall Street or corporate investment.

Get that? A DEP Deputy Commissioner was more supportive of corporate investment than the business community’s lobbyist.

Given that extraordinary, unprecedented, and and absolutely jaw dropping DEP claim, I wrote the following to NJ Spotlights’ editor John Mooney:

John – 2 quick comments/requests on the EJ panel roundtable:

1) your sponsor (engineers union) spent over 1 minute of their 5 minutes on spewing factual falsehoods. Specifically, the EJ law explicitly exempts site remediation (and therefore brownfields and their cleanups).

DEP LaTourette and one EJ panelist vaguely alluded to this falsehood as “misinformation”, but did not explicitly correct it.

Because they were a sponsor, it is incumbent on NJ Spotlight to either publicly correct the record, or request that the engineers’  union correct it.

2) I urge you to post a link to the entire unedited video and to post a transcript as well.

DEP made some extraordinary statements about regulation and private sector investment that demand accountability. What DEP’s LaTourette said – especially about his prior career with private investment community – was unprecedented and highly revealing, particularly coming from a Wall Street Governor’s policy spokesperson.

The same holds for Ray Cantor’s grossly misleading statements about 250,000 manufacturing jobs lost since 1990 – clearly a false insinuation that environmental regulation caused those job losses.

Obviously, I don’t need to tell you that – as Senator Booker’s participation signaled – this is an emerging national issue with transition to a Biden administration underway.

Spotlight owes full disclosure not only to its NJ readers, but to a national audience.



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Questions For Senator Booker and EJ Advocates At NJ Spotlight’s Roundtable On NJ’s “Landmark” EJ Law

November 16th, 2020 No comments

Huge Flaws Render Scientifically Credible And Protective DEP Regulations Impossible

NJ Spotlight is holding a virtual roundtable on Friday afternoon, on what they call NJ’s “Landmark Environmental Justice Law”, to register, see:

NJ’s US Senator Cory Booker is scheduled to make opening remarks, so I decided to register and see what he has to say.

I suspect that Booker’s political interests in EJ are similar to his interests and role in talking the lead sponsorship of “reforms” to the federal Toxic Substances Control Act enacted in 2016.

That role would be to co-opt and marginalize the activists, derail and weaken aggressive regulatory requirements, and put a fake veneer of progressive and black EJ cover on what will amount to protections for corporate polluters (something Booker has done before with his colleague NJ Senator Sweeney).

Upon registering for the event, I noted an opportunity to submit questions for the panelists, so I submitted the following: (which I guarantee will not be engaged, so I urge readers to submit similar questions):

The NJ EJ law does not apply to greenhouse gas emissions & climate adaptation

It also does not apply to “extraordinarily hazardous substances” (i.e. to facilities subject to NJ’s Toxic Catastrophe Prevention Act and federal Clean Air Act Sect. 112 Risk Management Planning requirements).

It also exempted contaminated sites & air pollution sources that emit less than 100 tons/per year (including industrial emissions of hazardous air pollutant (HAP)s, many of which are carcinogens and create unacceptable risks in far lesser quantities).

NJ DEP’s own prior “cumulative risk” research in Paterson NJ (funded by US EPA) found, among other things, that small air pollution sources, particularly HAP sources close to sensitive receptors (scientific jargon for vulnerable kids in daycares and schools), create unacceptable health risks and pollution “hot spots” (see:

In light of these flaws, how can DEP conduct scientifically credible cumulative impact, climate justice, and EJ reviews?

Maybe NJ US Senator Booker, who is making opening remarks, can answer them.

After all, Booker did such a great job in sponsoring “reforms” of the federal Toxic Substances Control Act, reforms that are working so well in Paulsboro, NJ, see:

I left out a whole bunch of other stuff.

For those interested in going into the weeds, see:

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