Home > Uncategorized > Did Littoral Society Bait And Switch The US Army Corps Of Engineers On Delaware Bay Resilience Project?

Did Littoral Society Bait And Switch The US Army Corps Of Engineers On Delaware Bay Resilience Project?

Source: ALS, published by NJ Spotlight

Source: ALS, published by NJ Spotlight – red line mine

[Update below]

I was intrigued by a recent NJ Spotlight story, which provided very, very favorable coverage of a proposed “coastal resilience” project on Delaware Bay proposed by The American Littoral Society (ALS), see:

I was intrigued because I’ve found that these projects are often token ineffective feel good measures or “green” cover (mitigation) for some related destructive or controversial engineering or development project, like contaminated sediment dredging and disposal to benefit commercial shipping, marinas, or recreational boating.

My skepticism was triggered by a map of the project, prepared by ALS, which showed several “containment cells for dredge disposal” (see above). But there was no mention of dredge containment cells in the news story.

Additionally, the Spotlight story noted that DEP was providing $7 million to fund the project, which I found curious from a number of perspectives. For example, the Christie DEP provided ALS with over $1 million in funding for sham stormwater management projects during the height of public criticism of Gov. Christie’s failed Barnegat Bay Management Plan. (Just to be clear, I find these “partnerships” to be a form of corruption. Government buys loyalty and environmental groups sell their soul.)

The story also was published after the close of the public comment period on a US Army Corps of Engineers permit, which I also found a questionable practice.

So I reached out to NJ Spotlight reporter Jon Hurdle to ask him:

Jon – what were those “containment cells for dredge disposal” on the map?
Where is the dredge material coming from? Is the disposal associated with this project or will it serve other dredging operations?
I didn’t see that discussed. Did I miss something?

Not surprisingly, he did not respond.

So I reached out to the US Army Corps of Engineers.

The Corps knew nothing about “containment cells for dredge disposal” or DEP $7 million in funding.

Here’s the Corps’ reply to my questions:


That’s plan is not the same plan that was submitted to the Corps. The only areas being permitted are Northwest Reach Breakwater and Basket Flats Breakwater. Here is the link to the public of the project that was submitted to the Corps: https://www.nap.usace.army.mil/Portals/39/docs/regulatory/publicnotices/Public-Notice-2020-00454-Public-Notice-with-Plans.pdf  I will forward the article over to ALS to see if there were changes made. As far as funding there was nothing said to the Corps about DEP funding.  No USACE does not deal with 401 WQC or CZM, however, we cannot issue our permit until the State has issued WQC and CZM for the projects that require either or both of those certifications.

Looks like the NJ Spotlight News covered something very different then what was presented to the Corps and other federal action agencies. Thanks for bringing this to my attention. I will be reaching out to the applicant to get further details.

XXXXXXXX (staffer’s name and title omitted)

US Army Corps of Engineers

Regulatory Branch

Wanamaker Building

100 Penn Square East

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19107-3390

To put it mildly, that is unusual and it raises a host of issues!

So, did Tim Dillingham of ALS pull a bait and switch on the Army Corps?

Is ALS segmenting a larger project that involves dredge disposal? Environmental groups are highly critical of segmentation of projects to skirt environmental reviews.

Or did he spin NJ Spotlight reporter Jon Hurdle?

Does the project involve dredging and disposal of sediments?

Why is DEP funding the project?

Does DEP have conflicts of interest in issuing permit approvals for a project they are funding?

Will DEP’s Water Quality Certificate actually apply and enforce NJ’s Water Quality Standards?

Will ALS’s WQC application to DEP be as rigorous in terms of scientific assessment of aquatic life and water quality impacts, i.e. as rigorous as the environmental groups’ criticism of WQC applications for pipelines, like the recent Raritan Bay NSE pipeline, denied by New York State DEC regulators?

And how does a small non-profit like ALS muster the resources to engage the engineering and legal work required for this kind of project? Who’s really backing this? What’s the total scope of the project?

We’re still trying to find out and will get back to you when we do.

[Update: 12/14/20 – The Army Corps responded this morning – but frankly, their response raises more questions than it answers.

One thing is clear, however: either ALS or NJ Spotlight flat out misrepresented this project.

Here is the USACE reply to my second inquiry to them, asking if they had followed up with the applicant (Tim Dillingham, ALS) and my reply back, in which I asked NJ Spotlight reporter Jon Hurdle to clarify the situation:

Good Morning,

Yes I did, ALS does not know where the newspaper got the map that they shared but that was an old map of the original project that was changed over time due to available funding. The plans that were posted in the Army Corps Public Notice are the most up to date and correct plans. Also, the State is not funding the project.

Whaaat? I’ve heard more credible “dog ate my homework” stories. Here is my response to the USACE:

Thanks for looking into this, but I gotta be honest – it sounds like a line of BS.

Tim Dillingham was directly quoted in the Spotlight story that NJ was funding the project and that he anticipated $7 million from DEP.

Am I to believe that Jon Hurdle (reporter for Spotlight) just made that quote up?

The map NJ Spotlight published is labelled that its source was ALS. Am I now to believe that ALS doesn’t know how Mr. Hurdle got that?

If the scope of the original project changed due to funding availability, why would Tim Dillinghan and NJ Spotlight not mention that and state the opposite? 

I am copying Mr. Hurdle in the event that he would like to clarify all this.

It looks like ALS is spinning the USACE and NJ Spotlight, or that Mr. Hurdle did some very poor reporting.

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