Home > Uncategorized > NJ Spotlight Tries To Change The Subject To Mask Their False Reporting On DEP Regulation Of Methane Emissions

NJ Spotlight Tries To Change The Subject To Mask Their False Reporting On DEP Regulation Of Methane Emissions

We warned that Murphy climate law was a “fake solution”

We predicted DEP could not & would not regulate methane

DEP’s Proposed Climate CO2 Air Pollution Rule Does Not Regulate Methane

A little over 3 years ago, on 11/28/18, NJ Spotlight reporter Tom Johnson wrote an unusual story timed to the introduction of climate legislation (rarely is introduced legislation newsworthy before it is heard in Committee). Just days after the bill was introduced, before it was even heard, Tom (and Doug O’Malley) were cheerleading big time, see:

A central factual claim in that story was that the legislation was “going after methane”.

Under a boldface large font subheadline, the story claimed:

Going after methane

Among other things, the bill would require the state Department of Environmental Protection to develop a comprehensive strategy to curb emissions of short-lived climate pollutants, such as methane. Methane, a component in natural gas that often leaks from pipelines, is much more potent that other greenhouse gas pollutants, such as carbon dioxide.

On the same day, we wrote to debunk that lie, see:

Just like the failed GWRA  – which I criticized at the outset – Smith’s bill limits the scope of DEP regulations to emissions monitoring and reporting and merely directs DEP to prepare a Report. […]

Regarding actual GHG emissions, Smith’s bill merely requires DEP to develop a “strategy”. […]

A strategy is NOT an authority to adopt regulations to limit GHG emissions or impose emissions fees on GHG emissions.

NJ Spotlight makes a big deal about the fact that the bill purportedly applies to and “goes after” methane.

This is false and misleading.

It is a sop to naive and incompetent anti-pipeline activists (like Rethink NJ) and designed to create the false appearance that it would regulate methane emissions from proposed pipelines or gas fired power plants. This is false and cynical – a classic “fake solution”.

As I’ve written, [then current] DEP regulations do not regulate methane emissions from pipelines, or GHG emissions from any pollution sources, see: NJ Environmental Regulations Ignore Climate Change

The bill does not regulate methane and is NOT “going after methane”.

I followed that criticism up the next day with specific recommendations to Senator Smith on how to put teeth in the bill.

The false November 2018 NJ Spotlight story on the bill’s introduction was followed up additional false stories (alternately citing cheerleaders Doug O’Malley and Tom Gilbert as sources).

When the Senate passed the bill, Tom Gilbert said this: (NJ Spotlight)

Other environmental advocates were more optimistic. “This is much needed legislation to ensure the state takes meaningful steps to reduce emissions,’’ said Tom Gilbert, campaign director of Rethink Energy NJ.

He cited provisions requiring the DEP to set benchmarks between now and 2050 for curbing carbon pollution and requiring actions to reduce emissions to achieve the targets if monitoring shows the state will fall short.

When the Governor signed the bill, Tom Gilbert said this: (NJ Spotlight)

Gilbert argued the legislation makes clear the administration plans to regulate greenhouse-gas emissions before the end of Murphy’s term. Clean-energy advocates have long argued the DEP has the legal authority to do so but that the department has been reluctant to do so.

“We are going to see the regulation of greenhouse gas emissions before the completion of the Governor’s first term,’’ Gilbert said. “There couldn’t be any more urgency for us to get it done.’’

When the Gov. signed the bill into law in July 2019, Gov. Murphy issued a highly unusual signing statement:

Today I am pleased to sign Senate Bill No. 3207 (Second Reprint) into law, establishing new timeframes and requirements for the implementation of the Global Warming Response Act. I commend the sponsors of this bill for providing the Department of Environmental Protection with the tools necessary to ensure the State meets our greenhouse gas emission reduction goals by 2050. ….

Although this bill was amended to remove black carbon as a greenhouse gas, black carbon continues to be a short-lived climate pollutant, and will be a part of the State’s comprehensive emissions reduction strategy. Furthermore, I am directing the Department of Environmental Protection to use its existing legal authority, in addition to the authority provided by this bill, to administratively address the reduction of short-lived climate pollutants such as black carbon, which will provide short-term air quality benefits while also reducing climate warming pollutants.

I called Bullshit on that and explained why the law did not regulate methane and the Gov.s signing statement was absurd, see:

… The introduced version of the bill defined methane as a “greenhouse gas” and applied to methane as a part of a program governing “short lived climate pollutant” in Section 6.

Section 6 “short lived climate pollutant” DEP authority and program was deleted in its entirety. That section also included a provision preserving DEP’s “existing authority”.  Elimination of those provisions creates a very strong legislative intent argument that the DEP doesn’t have any “existing authority” and now lacks statutory authority and legislative intent to regulate methane.

But NJ Spotlight refused to report that truth and again falsely reported on the methane issue, see:

As I noted, Tom Gilbert was not the only useful idiot cheerleader. Here’s another, in a Bergen Record  story:

“These are all important moves, but we need to make sure that DEP develops rules to regulate black carbon,” Goldsmith said. “They have the power to do this. They need to do this.”

Well, as we warned and predicted, among several other fatal flaws (i.e. see this and this), the DEP’s proposed climate air pollution rule only regulated CO2 and DOES NOT REGULATE METHANE EMISSIONS.

I revealed that huge flaw and explained how it would enable DEP to continue to rubber stamp methane infrastructure, including pipelines, gas power plants, and gas compressor stations, see:

First, the DEP proposal fails to regulate methane emissions.

Methane is 86 times more potent a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide (in the short-run, over a 20 year period).

In 2020, Governor Murphy signed into law P.L.2019, c.319 that requires DEP to use a 20-year time horizon and most recent IPCC Assessment Report when calculating global warming potential to measure the global warming impact of greenhouse gases.

Yet here is how DEP (under)estimated the warming potential of methane (top of page 30)

Direct methane emissions released to the atmosphere (without burning) are about 25 times more powerful than CO2 in terms of their warming effect on the atmosphere.

So, the DEP not only failed to regulate methane emissions, they are ignoring a State law mandate and misleading the public about  the warming potential of methane.

DEP originally defined methane as a regulated greenhouse gas way back in 2005, but did not regulate methane emissions (see DEP rule adoption, @ p. 66)

New Jersey’s decision to expand its emissions statement rules to require reporting for CO2 and methane resulted in Maine and Connecticut following suit, and other states are actively considering comparable requirements

In 2019, the NJ Global Warming Response Act was amended to address methane: (revealing their cheerleading role, Gov. Murphy’s press release is actually posted on the NJ Conservation Foundation website!)

The Legislature further finds and declares that, while carbon dioxide is the primary and most abundant greenhouse gas, other greenhouse gases known as short-lived climate pollutants, including black carbon, fluorinated gases, and methane, create a warming influence on the climate that is many times more potent over a shorter period of time than that of carbon dioxide, and have a dramatic and detrimental effect on air quality, public health, and climate change; and that reducing emissions of these pollutants can have an immediate beneficial impact on climate change and public health.

But DEP defied the legislature’s findings and mandate on how to calculate methane warming potential.

The failure to regulate methane allows DEP to rubber stamp permits for major fossil infrastructure like LNG export plants, gas pipelines, gas power plants, and compressor stations without considering GHG emissions, climate impacts or the emission reduction goals of the Global Warming Response Act or the Governor’s recent Executive Order 274.

According to a petition for rulemaking submitted to DEP by the EMPOWER NJ coalition, there are multiple major proposed natural gas pipelines, compressor stations, power plants and an LNG export project pending DEP permit review. Those projects, according to the petition, would increase current greenhouse gas emissions by more than 30%. (see point #64, p. 19-20)

These projects emit both methane (directly and by leaks) and carbon dioxide (by combustion of the methane natural gas fuel).

Because DEP is not regulating methane, the methane emissions from these projects (lifecycle, from the fracking gas well to the point of use) would not be considered or regulated.

The carbon dioxide emissions from these projects, e.g. for gas fueled power plants, would be below DEP’s promoted CO2 emission standards for individual sources, and therefore would be permitted by DEP.

So, one would think that now that the facts are on the public record, that NJ Spotlight would correct their prior false reporting about methane and Tom Gilbert and Doug O’Malley would criticize this DEP failure.

One would be wrong.

Instead of owning this huge reporting error on methane and reporting on the DEP’s failure to regulate methane, NJ Spotlight today tried to change the subject – again citing the useful idiot Tom Gilbert – and imply that methane restrictions were under development, see:

The Murphy BPU’s release of that pipeline capacity Report is obvious news management to divert from Murphy’s DEP’s failure to regulate methane. (FYI, the BPU Energy Master Plan doesn’t begin to implement electrification of buildings until 2030, while NJ Spotlight reports an assumption that half of building electrification could be in place by 2030!)

NJ Spotlight went right along with it and used it to mask their prior reporting errors.

Shame on NJ Spotlight. This is not an accident. It’s part of an obvious long-standing pattern I’ve repeatedly criticized. Time for Tom Johnson to retire.

Tom Gilbert should be shunned by climate activists and people should stop donating to NJ Conservation Foundation, who employs Gilbert.

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