Home > Uncategorized > Climate Denial Is Alive And Well in Blue NJ – And Given A Prominent Platform By NJ Spotlight

Climate Denial Is Alive And Well in Blue NJ – And Given A Prominent Platform By NJ Spotlight

Just 2 Days Before Exxon & Fossil Industry Executives To Testify In Congress About Climate Denial Campaigns

The Murphy DEP’s Sister Souljah Moment

[Update: Pacifica network is live broadcasting the Congressional hearings on 10/28/21. My local station is KPFA, starting at 6 am PST/ 9 am EST.]

Under threat of subpoena, Congress demanded that executives of ExxonMobil, BP, Chevron, Shell Oil, the American Petroleum Institute and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce testify about their reported efforts to mislead the public about climate change.

That testimony will be presented in 2 days, on Thursday, see:

Congress acted in response to a huge scandal resulting from a sting operation and secret recording of Exxon’s Chief lobbyist. As I wrote:

In an historic sting operation, Exxon’s top DC lobbyists were duped – by Greenpeace UK of all people – into thinking they were talking to job recruiters. Please read this remarkable story and watch all the astonishing Zoom videos here (the expose is called “Unearthed):

The Washington Post wrote an overview of the proliferating national scandal, see:

An Exxon lobbyist thought he was in a job interview. Instead, it was a secretly recorded Zoom call. – 

Ray Cantor, NJ BIA (former DEP official)

Ray Cantor, NJ BIA (former Christie DEP political appointee

So, that’s the context for a controversial climate denying “conference” held by the NJ Business and Industry Association (NJ BIA) last Friday and shamefully reported today by NJ Spotlight.

NJ BIA imported a national fossil industry funded climate denier to attack NJ’s modest – and unimplemented – clean energy goals.

“The perception of crisis and level of alarm often portrayed in the media and by politicians is overblown,’’ Curry said. …

“It’s time to listen to the business, not the politicians and activists,’’ Curry said.

Just who the hell is Curry and the “Climate Forecast Applications Network”?

NJ Spotlight doesn’t tell readers anything about this unknown person and unknown organization who just magically parachuted into New Jersey.

So, here is some background on the climate denying, fossil fuel funded “source”, Judith Curry, the hack that NJ Spotlight provided a huge and unqualified platform to:

Climate scientists criticize her uncertainty-focused spiel for containing elementary mistakes and inflammatory assertions unsupported by evidence. Curry is a regular at Anthony Watts‘ denier blog, as well as Steve McIntyre‘s Climate Audit, another denier site. She has further embarrassed herself (and her university) by using refuted denier talking points and defending the Wegman Report, eventually admitting she hadn’t even read it in the first place.[1] Curry has agreed with Trump’s description of climate change as a “hoax”, writing in 2016 that the UN’s definition of manmade climate change “qualifies as a hoax”.[2]

Yet, NJ Spotlight didn’t tell readers about any of that.

NJ Spotlight presented Curry’s climate denial right up front, and reduced the whole debate to a fact free she said/he said with Murphy BPU President.

This kind of journalism is astonishing – and highly irresponsible – particularly in light of the known fossil industry funded climate denial campaign that is now under investigation by Congress.

But, that’s not all of what was so wrong with NJ Spotlight’s coverage.

NJ Spotlight has written literally dozens of highly misleading stories about the alleged “high costs” of renewable energy, but with absolutely no mention of the benefits, the costs of climate emergency, or the economics of investment in infrastructure (investments are not “costs”, as they have benefits, or internal rates of return). So called “costs” are only relevant in relation to benefits. And all this mis-focus on costs, with no mention of the distribution of costs (equity) or the moral flaws with the entire cost benefit analysis enterprise. And on top of all that, no mention of the billions of dollars in subsidies to fossil energy or the profits of the fossil corporations.

I’ve complained repeatedly to NJ Spotlight co-founder and editor John Mooney about this egregiously misleading journalistic malpractice. He’s refused to even reply.

But, in addition to the NJ BIA climate denial propaganda “conference” and the journalistic malpractice, the Spotlight article did reveal important news. Let me explain:

The NJ media has failed to cover the recent denial by the Murphy DEP of an important regulatory petition by NJ climate activists that would strengthen and accelerate the Murphy’s greenhouse gas emissions reductions goals to reflect current science, and impose a moratorium on new fossil infrastructure.

I think I’m the only one who has written about this, see:

shawn_latourette-newBut instead of reporting that petition denial story critically, NJ Spotlight gave a platform for the Murphy DEP Commissioner to brag about “telling advocates” that a moratorium on new fossil “is not going to happen anytime soon”.

Spotlight even mis-represented a moratorium on new fossil (the actual petition demand) with a “shut down of all fossil projects” or a phase out.

Commissioner LaTourette made this public statement not in an official document, but as he groveled before the NJ BIA climate denier conference.

That’s what’s known as a “Sista Soulja” moment! (Commissioner LaTourette’s a real tough guy, keeping those climate “advocates” in line!).

A Sister Souljah moment is a politician‘s calculated public repudiation of an extremist person, statement, group or position that is perceived to have some association with the politician’s own party.[1]

Here’s Murphy DEP Commissioner’s own words:

No immediate end to fossil-fuel use

Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Shawn LaTourette said he has told advocates pushing to shut down all fossil fuel projects that that is not going to happen anytime soon.

“We need carbon-based fuels to power our economy,’’ LaTourette said. “It is why we don’t see the DEP responding to calls for a fossil fuel moratorium.’’

Get that?

The Murphy DEP Commissioner publicly repudiated climate activists and he did so before a climate denial conference held by fossil funded climate denying hacks and business groups!

Bob Martin, former Christie DEP Commissioner

Bob Martin, former Christie DEP Commissioner

Finally, in the denouement of journalistic malpractice, NJ BIA and NJ Spotlight actually trotted out Gov. Christie’s thoroughly discredited former DEP Commissioner, Bob Martin, for a parting cheap shot:

The cost could run as high as $2.4 trillion based on a study by Princeton University, according to Bob Martin, a former DEP commissioner.

“The costs will be significant,’’ Martin said, although there is increasing private investment in modernizing the grid.


Spotlight co-founder and reporter Tom Johnson needs to retire.

Here’s the email I sent NJ Spotlight editor John Mooney:

John – TJ’s story gives extensive quotes to a partisan fossil fuel industry funded climate denier (Judith Curry) –  with no context on who she is or represents or who she is funded by. Look at her bio:


Curry’s views have been discredited and criticized by scientists.

TJ’s story places her quotes up front and makes them a she said/he said debate with BPU.

This is highly irresponsible journalism, and it comes just 2 days before Exxon and fossil industry executives will testify before Congress about their climate denial strategies.

You must do better.



Consider just how brazen this climate denial backlash really is:

The NJ BIA event was held the Friday before President Biden came to NJ on Monday to promote his climate & infrastructure bills. The story was published the day after Biden appeared – AND WITH NO MENTION OF BIDEN!  ~~~ end update]

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