Archive for February, 2022

Big Corporate Polluters Quietly Veto Natural Resource Damage Compensation Standards

February 28th, 2022 No comments

Senator Smith’s Legislative Task Force Failed To Reach Consensus Or Deliver Recommendations

Smith Just Quietly Noted A Billion Dollar Failure  – Yet A Virtual News Blackout

It’s Exxon All Over Again – On A Statewide Basis

[Updated below]

During the February 10, 2022 meeting of the Senate Environment Committee, Chairman Bob Smith quietly and very casually noted that his previously formed Legislative Task Force on Natural Resource Damage (NRD) Standards had failed to reach consensus and deliver recommendations to the Committee (listen, starting at time 3:30):

And by the way, we also did one Task Force that didn’t work, and that was for natural resource damages (NRD). We appointed co-Chairs; they met, they met, they met, they met, they met and then they came back a few months later and said “we can’t agree on anything”. So that happens too.

Presumably, that means that he has abandoned his multi-year effort to enact legislation to establish NRD monetization and compensation standards.

I almost fell off my chair when I heard this, but, incredibly, Smith’s major admission was virtually ignored – no media reports and no howls of protest by environmental groups. This is astonishing. Let me explain, briefly:

In the wake of the Christie Administration’s scandalous settlement of a DEP $8.9 BILLION “Natural Resource Damage” (NRD) lawsuit against Exxon for just pennies on the dollar, Senator Bob Smith announced that he would form a legislative Task Force to develop enforceable standards to prevent recurrence of that scandal.

Long prior to the Exxon scandal, we had been warning for over a decade that DEP’s failure to adopt NRD regulations was the cause of courts rejecting DEP lawsuits and the reason why DEP was forced to settle for pennies on the dollar, thus letting polluters off the hook for billions of dollars in liability, see:

Our analysis was finally reported by the NJ Law Journal, see:

But some lawyers and environmental advocates said the state’s failure to adopt a methodology for calculating damages for harm to natural resources through the formal rule-making process—as it committed to do more than a decade ago when it settled another suit—weakened its negotiating position and led to a lower settlement in not just the Exxon case but in other natural resource damage suits it has brought. […

Wolfe said the lack of valuation rules leaves the state vulnerable to challenges on the amount of damages.

The state “knows it has a weak legal hand,” making it reluctant to push too hard and more willing to settle, Wolfe said.

Exxon’s lawyers are “sharp enough to know this” and to assume the state knows it is legally vulnerable, Wolfe said.

“There’s this wink and a nod going on where the DEP is saying, ‘We won’t squeeze you too hard if you just come to the table and settle,’” Wolfe said.

It’s been “a quiet little dance for 10 years,” with the state knowing it can’t get more than pennies on the dollar”, Wolfe said.

Finally, in response, NJ Spotlight reported: (6/12/18)

The state is seeking ways to shore up how it assesses damages to natural resources when polluters contaminate New Jersey’s waters, wildlife, and land.

By establishing clear and objective standards, the state would have an easier time of prying the money needed to restore drinking-water supplies, habitats, and other natural resources from the companies whose spills and other actions harmed them, environmental advocates say.

To that end, Sen. Bob Smith, the Democratic chairman of the Senate Environment and Energy Committee, said he plans to set up a stakeholder process to try to come up with a workable mechanism that would set such standards.[…]

The staff of the Office of Legislative Services has been trying to come up with standards to assess damages in natural resources cases for the past two years, according to Smith.

“It’s a struggle. It’s a tough, tough area,’’ Smith said. So he is turning to a process he used to help reach consensus on another contentious environmental issue —guaranteeing public access to the state’s beaches and waterfronts. That stakeholder group agreed on a bill that is now making its way through the Legislature, Smith noted.

Smith’s NRD Task Force immediately set off loud alarms and warning bells at NJ Business And Industry Association (NJ BIA) and all the State’s major corporate law firms, who knew that billions of dollars of corporate pollution liability was at stake.

NJBIA warned its members:

Natural Resources Damages

Smith  had put together one of his task forces to make recommendations on how to get those who have “polluted the land” to financially compensate the state for the loss of environmental resources. That task force, however, has not been able to develop consensus legislation. He said he will now develop his own legislation with the goal to establish some objective standards for damage assessments.

Looks like Senator Smith has failed to “develop his own legislation with the goal to establish some objective standards for damage assessments.”

Archer Law firm:

The timing of the NRD lawsuits is interesting.  Unlike the federal government, New Jersey has declined to enact regulations that govern NRD claims.  The State therefore pursues NRD on an ad hoc basis, which often leads to complex and protracted litigation.  Recognizing this issue, the chair of the New Jersey Senate’s Environment and Energy Committee, Sen. Bob Smith, recently convened a NRD Task Force to develop suggestions regarding possible NRD legislation or regulations, including approaches for valuing injury to natural resources.  The Task Force includes NJDEP officials, industry representatives, NRD practitioners (including Archer attorneys), and individuals from many of the State’s environmental advocacy organizations.  This week’s NRD lawsuits were filed one day after the first meeting of Sen. Smith’s NRD Task Force.

Manko Gold law firm

Some of the anticipated legal challenges may be addressed through ongoing legislative efforts focused on developing objective standards for evaluating and calculating recoverable NRDs. Specifically, Senator Bob Smith convened an NRD Task Force comprised of NJDEP officials, industry representatives, NRD practitioners and environmental advocacy groups in the summer of 2018. The purpose of the Task Force was to develop suggestions on topics such as NRD policy and how to value NRDs. Although the state developed a formula to calculate groundwater injury previously in connection with its first NRD initiative launched in the early 2000s, it has been rejected by the courts (see NJDEP v. Exxon, Mer-L-2933-02 (N.J. Super. Law Div. Aug. 24, 2007)) and there are currently no regulations regarding how to calculate NRDs. At the December 2018 NJICLE Annual Review of New Jersey Environmental Law, representatives of NJDEP publicly announced that that they are working to finalize an objective formula for calculating NRDs, at which point NJDEP intends to vigorously pursue NRD claims.

The BIA and corporate lobbyists obviously went into high gear and effectively killed this NRD legislative Task Force work behind the scenes.

And they did so with no fingerprints and no accountability!

Billions of dollars of public compensation, killed. Just like that.

And no press reports.

And no protests from environmental groups.

I was told that environmental groups were represented by Tim Dillingham of ALS and Doug O’Malley of Environment NJ (see update below, this may not be correct). I contacted them both and they both refused to even respond.

They sold you out and you don’t even know it. They lack the courage to even call out the corporate polluters who killed the Task Force and effectively vetoed legislative recommendations.

[Update: 3/1/22 – I tried hard to document the work of this task force, but found nothing. Only 2 people responded to my questions, but provided very little reliable information. But I just received this email from an OLS staffer to the Senate Environment Committee – I may be wrong about Tim and Doug, but am surprised that Tittel has apparently done nothing:

Hi Mr. Wolfe,

I was unable to find much information about this task force, unfortunately. If it did issue any final report, it was not submitted to the OLS. And the OLS was not involved in any of the meetings or correspondence of the task force. The previous OLS committee aide to SEN remembered that Jeff Tittel (formerly) of the Sierra Club and Dennis Toft of CSG Law were on the task force. She also recalled that Senator Smith did not end up introducing a bill on the topic. ~~~ end update]

Ironically, before I was aware that the NRD Task Force had been sunk by corporate veto power, upon formation of his Forestry Task Force, I warned Senator Smith that his “consensus based approach” was doomed to failure because it gave private economic interests veto power.

On 2/2/22, I wrote to Smith:

2. Consensus based approach

I heard you suggest the need for consensus based recommendations for forestry management and legislation.

By definition, a consensus based approach results in the least common denominator.

Given the tremendous values (ecological, public interest, and economic) inherent in NJ’s forests, it is – at best – naive to assume consensus can be a realistic or desirable goal or model.

Selfish private economic and political interest simply must not be allowed to block sound management in the public interest by blocking formation of consensus. Consensus gives these interests an effective veto power. That is an unacceptable model.

As a longtime legislative leader, you know that effective public policy requires choice – sometimes hard choices. A consensus based Taskforce must not be allowed to provide cover fort such hard choices

I guess I was right. And here we are now.

NRD is dead.

And the law firms and corporate polluters are laughing all the way to the bank as they just dodged billions of dollars of NRD liability.

Of course, this was all predictable, especially given the fact that a corporate lawyer who successfully litigated a damaging precedent setting NRD case against DEP is now DEP Commissioner. As I wrote to expose a larger gaslighting fraud:

One case LaTourette litigated, however, stands out for its harm to the environment, DEP, and the public interest. And that case is:

Alan E. Kraus argued the cause for respondent (Latham & Watkins, L.L.P., attorneys; Mr. Kraus, Kira S. Dabby, Kegan A. Brown, and Shawn M. LaTourette, on the brief).

LaTourette Essex Chemical victory case was one of three major inter-related court cases involving DEP’s attempts to collect what are known as natural resource damages (NRD). See:

It’s Chinatown, Jake!

[End Note: I just fired off the following note to Smith, with a copy to NJ Spotlight reporters and editor.

Dear Senator Smith – I was quite surprised to hear you casually note during the February 10, 2022 Senate Environment Committee hearing that your Natural Resource Damage (NRD) Standards Task Force had failed to reach consensus and deliver recommendations.

As you know, as illustrated by the Christie Administration’s Exxon NRD settlement, literally billions of dollars are involved in these standards. As you also know, DEP has failed to adopt NRD regulatory standards and NJ Courts continue to reject State NRD lawsuit claims as a result.

You have been quoted by others that you planned to pursue an NRD bill that monetized and established enforceable standards despite a lack of consensus by the Task Force.

I excerpted some of those quotes in the following essay, which I provide for your information, see:

Big Corporate Polluters Quietly Veto Natural Resource Damage Compensation Standards

I look forward to learning of your legislative plans on NRD and reading your NRD bill. I am available to provide additional information at your pleasure.


Bill Wolfe

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Conservation Groups Must Stiffen Their Spines And Raise The Bar PUBLICLY In Forestry Debate

February 28th, 2022 No comments

Reliance On The Inside Game And Trenton Politics Are A Sure Losing Strategy

Former DEP Commissioner McCabe’s “Pause” And “Policy Review” Is Precedent

DEP Commissioner LaTourette Is On Thin Ice After Being Called Out For Wildfire Spin

In yesterday’s post, I challenged leading NJ conservation groups – NJ Conservation Foundation, Sierra Club, NJ Audubon, and the Highlands Coalition – to ramp up public pressure to stop DEP from conducting more logging on public forests:

I am also publicly calling on Senator Smith and all 4 Co-Chairs of the Smith Forestry Task Force to join in this demand.

I even provided a letter to DEP Commissioner LaTourette and Senator Smith as a model for the winning arguments they should make.

I backed that up with private emails.

I did not expect NJ Audubon and Senator Smith to respond favorably, as NJ Audubon has been the architect for the DEP logging program and they worked closely with Senator Smith on his disastrous package of “forest stewardship” (pro logging bills). John Cecil, formerly the head of NJ Audubon’s logging team, is now at DEP as Director of Parks and Forestry. Eileen Murphy, former DEP Director of Science and Research is now at NJ Audubon as head of Government Affairs.

So that incestuous set of relationships is obviously not going to publicly advocate for a U-Turn in their disastrous logging policy.

I also did not expect a favorable response from DEP Commissioner LaTourette, because bureaucracies rarely admit error, because John Cecil is not going to admit error and honestly brief the Commissioner on the science and policy choices, because DEP is moving aggressively forward unilaterally on forestry policy despite public opposition, and – as I illustrated on the wildfire exaggeration issue – the Commissioner and his DEP staff are obviously working closely with Senator Smith in support of the joint DEP and Smith logging program.

That DEP logging program does not require passage of new legislation, so Senator Smith and DEP and Forestry Task Force Co-Chairs NJ Audubon and Forestry Assc. have absolutely no incentive to do anything. They are all fine with the status quo.

They would be fine if the Forestry Task Force deliberated indefinitely or if it failed to reach consensus. It’s called a strategy of “co-optation”. In fact, Smith, DEP, and Company actually would prefer to keep conservation groups busy in the room and diverted on Task Force negotiations, instead of mounting controversial and aggressive public campaigns to protect NJ’s last remaining forests and farms, as I’ve recommended, see: 

So, strategically, it is going to take significant pressure to get anything done on forestry issues.

Unfortunately, NJ conservation groups apparently fail to understand all this and fail to acknowledge how little leverage they have in playing the inside game (with the Forestry Task Force) and in private negotiations with Senator Smith or DEP Commissioner LaTourette.

They fail to realize that Senator Smith actually strongly resents them for blocking his forestry legislation for over a decade and for what he feels were false attacks on him for promoting logging. Smith takes this personally. He is thin skinned and doesn’t take criticism well at all. And, like all politicians, he can be vindictive and bear a grudge. Smith has zero interest in satisfying the requests of these conservation groups (other than his friends at NJ Audubon).

Despite all this, signals are that the conservation groups are planning to work privately behind the scenes with Senator Smith on this. That is a guaranteed failing strategy.

Their only leverage is to make strong public demands and mount maximum public pressure on DEP Commissioner LaTourette.

Imposing a moratorium on DEP approvals of logging on public forests in a climate emergency is a very light political lift.

There would be virtually no negative economic impact and there would be no political opposition from the NJ business or corporate community, donor groups the Murphy administration caters to.

This is NOT some major policy decision that LaTourette would need the Gov. to sign off on.

Plus, there is a precedent for doing so.

One of the first moves by incoming former Murphy DEP Commissioner McCabe was to impose an administrative “pause” on DEP’s logging program, in response to strong public opposition. As I wrote:

The local  Sparta Independent reported:

The state Department of Environmental Protection announced last week that the Sparta Mountain forest management plan has been halted pending a review from the new commissioner.

Forestry activities at two different sites on the Sparta Mountain Wildlife Management Area were set to begin in February and end in April, but new Acting Commissioner Catherine McCabe wants to review the project before it proceeds any further.

“We’re going through a change of administrations,” said NJDEP Spokesperson Larry Hajna. “We have a new acting commissioner and so she is getting up to speed on various issues across the state and this is one that she wants to review. So we’ve decided just to hit the pause button and allow her to review the plan and then we’ll take it from there.”

I’m fairly sure that John Cecil has not briefed DEP Commissioner LaTourette about this action by his predecessor (LaTourette was not with DEP at the time, he was serving as a corporate lawyer for the Fortress Energy LNG export project. So he may not be aware of McCabe’s prior pause).

In addition to all this, Commissioner LaTourette is on very thin ice and vulnerable to public pressure of forestry issues after he was humiliated and exposed in the media for grossly exaggerating wildfire risks. He is looking to put that behind him and garner public support, not more public opposition. So he is ripe to leverage on this issue.

If NJ conservation groups are unwilling to publicly fight for forests and can’t stop really bad stuff from happening – like DEP (a State agency, not a corporate pillager) logging public forests – how can they even hope to get anything positive done?

If they fail this test, they should all resign. The whole state is watching.

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Renewed Logging On Sparta Mountain Sparks Demand That DEP Impose A Moratorium Until Legislative Forestry Task Force Recommendations Are Enacted

February 27th, 2022 No comments

DEP Logging Undermines The Work of Senator Smith’s Legislative Task Force

DEP Forestry Program Ignores Climate Science And Lacks Regulatory Protections

NJ's publicly owned and purchased forests are "wood products" sold to the highest bidder (only $8,500 for 210 oaks!)

NJ’s publicly owned and purchased forests are “wood products” sold to the highest bidder (only $8,500 for 210 oaks!)

Despite Senate Environment Committee Chairman Smith’s recent formation of a Forestry Task Force to craft recommendations to improve current DEP forestry management policies and practices in light of the climate emergency, DEP is continuing to log NJ’s public forests.

Current DEP forestry plans, policies, regulations and practices completely ignore climate science and are riddled with loopholes, in terms of protection of water quality, stream buffers, and natural resources. That’s why Senator Smith formed his Task Force, such that long needed reforms could be developed. (Even DEP recognized these flaws and recently has crafted a “Natural and Working Lands Initiative” to begin to consider climate science and policy.)

DEP’s effective defiance of legislative oversight and reform efforts is a flagrant and intolerable abuse by DEP that can not be allowed to stand.

I submitted the letter below to DEP Commissioner LaTourette, demanding that he issue an Administrative Order halting all DEP approvals of plans, contracts, or permits that involve logging of NJ’s public forests, with a limited public emergency exception.

Given the current ongoing deliberations of the Legislative Forestry Task Force and DEP’s own administrative policy review and reform, it is highly inappropriate – bordering on bad faith – to continue to authorize logging of NJ’s public forests.
I strongly urge you to immediately issue an Administrative Order that halts all ongoing DEP work on issuing any form of planning, contracting, or regulatory approvals of forestry work, with a very limited public safety exception.

I am also publicly calling on Senator Smith and all 4 Co-Chairs of the Smith Forestry Task Force to join in this demand.

Ideally, the Commissioner’s Administrative Order should be codified and strengthened by Gov. Murphy’s Executive Order, which should extend the moratorium until Senator SMith’s Task Force recommendations are enacted into law.

If DEP is allowed to continue the current broken logging program during this period of legislative oversight and reform, it will make a mockery of their work.

Dear Commissioner LaTourette:

I understand that the Department recently approved another controversial logging contract on Sparta Mountain WMA.

As you know, the current DEP approved “forestry management” policies, regulations, and practices do not consider climate science or policy (e.g. sequestration) and do not adequately protect water quality or natural resources.

That is one of the main reasons why Senator Smith created the Forestry Task Force on February 10, 2022 to recommend ways to improve current practices.

That is also one of the reasons that DEP itself has created the Natural and Working Lands Initiative and Forest Action plan. Both initiatives have recently undergone public comment and have not been finalized. Similarly, DEP climate PACT REAL land use regulations, and RGGI renegotiation are currently underway, and they too will have significant impacts on NJ’s forest resources and climate policies.

Given the current ongoing deliberations of the Legislative Forestry Task Force and DEP’s own administrative policy review and reform, it is highly inappropriate – bordering on bad faith – to continue to authorize logging of NJ’s public forests.

I strongly urge you to immediately issue an Administrative Order that halts all ongoing DEP work on issuing any form of planning, contracting, or regulatory approvals of forestry work, with a very limited public safety exception.


Bill Wolfe

c: Senators Smith and Greenstein

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Murphy DEP Caught Blowing Smoke On Wildfires

February 25th, 2022 No comments

DEP Commissioner LaTourette’s Exaggerated Wildfire Risk Warning Belied By Data

Average NJ “wildfire” is less than 2 acres in size – number declining by 33%

DEP’s Pathetic Exaggeration and News Management Exposed

I’m shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!

–Captain Renault, from the classic scene in Casablanca (1942)

[Update below]

Back on February 10, 2022, DEP Commissioner Latourette testified to the Senate Environment Committee that he was “shocked” by wildfires in NJ.

Just before that, Senate Environment Committee chairman Bob Smith set the stage for that gross exaggeration: (listen, starting at time 2:05):

Our forests are at risk. I’m sure you’ve seen the footage, two or three years ago, of half the country burning down. It wasn’t just California, it was really like from the center of the country – west. And we could be in that same situation. And you also need healthy, sustainable forests so that we can mitigate the impacts of global climate change.

I was extremely skeptical of the wildfire remarks of Commissioner Latourette:

How do you waltz into a legislative hearing and casually drop that kind of bomb, with no supporting evidence, and get zero questioning from stunned legislators?

900 wildfires in such a small and densely populated urbanized state? Really? If so, that is shocking. Is DEP counting backyard grills, roadside grasslands, and dumpster fires? (or maybe book burnings! – that’s snark!)

I called out that grossly exaggerated risk and warned that DEP was using wildfire risk in a coordinated campaign with Senator Smith as a pretext to continue to “actively manage” (mismanage) NJ forests:

So, be forewarned.

Trenton policymakers will try to use the fear of wildfire to justify continuing mismanagement of NJ’s forests.

I will go into additional detail in future posts. There is a lot of scientific disagreement that active management techniques are the solution to wildfire prevention or adaptation to climate change:

In order to expose DEP’s exaggeration scheme and their failure to even properly prevent and manage wildfires, I filed an OPRA public records request on February 15. I requested the following data:

  • the data that the Commissioner used to support the Commissioner’s factual claim of 900 wildfires
  • the location, size (acreage), duration, and date of each of these 900 wildfires.
  • Reports, data, or documents submitted to the Commissioner regarding the existence and suppression and prevention of these wildfires, submitted from January 1, 2020 until the present.
  • the Department’s definition of “wildfire”.”

DEP’s legal deadline for responding to that OPRA request is 5 pm TODAY.

So, it is no surprise that DEP held a press briefing YESTERDAY to be sure to spin NJ Spotlight’s lame reporter Jon Hurdle, so he could publish their spin today, BEFORE I got the data and exposed them.

But it gets much worse.

DEP was not merely engaged in cynical news management to do damage control and get out in front of a “bad news” story. That is standard operating procedure at DEP now.

In addition to exposing DEP’s scheme to exaggerate wildfire risks, there are serious flaws in DEP’s wildfire program and recent amendments to NJ law that very few people know anything about and would be outraged to learn.

I wrote about them on February 15:

  • Where are these wildfires occurring?
  • Is DEP doing anything to restrict development in the areas of highest wildfire risks?
  • Why did DEP support legislation that exempted wildfires from air permit and air quality reporting?
  • With 900 wildfires, why is DEP suppressing air pollution data?
  • Why did DEP support legislation that eliminated liability for wildfires caused by poorly managed “prescribed burns”?
  • How many “escaped prescribed fires” caused wildfires?
  • Science suggests that prescribed burns and thinning don’t work to prevent wildfire

DEP wanted to keep all those flaws and controversies quiet and of course lapdog transcriber Jon Hurdle did not report them.

Hurdle’s NJ Spotlight story today did NOT respond to one of those critical questions. Not one.

Once again, instead of writing a critical story to hold DEP accountable, Hurdle provided a platform for DEP to spin and evade critical issues.

And, failing to follow his own data, he completely mis-framed the story, from “DEP exaggerates wildfire risks” to “DEP not doing enough prescribed burns” (for a negligible risk!). Another page in the upside down Orwellian world of NJ Spotlight reporting!

But even the data Hurdle did report exposed DEP Commissioner LaTourette’s “shock” as a gross exaggeration.

It turns out that wildfires were – as I suspected – grossly exaggerated by Commissioner LaTourette:

1) They are nothing like what the public thinks of as a “wildfire” in terms of size and intensity. The average was LESS THAN 2 ACRES IN SIZE:

New Jersey last year saw nearly 1,000 wildfires, damaging 1,972 acres.

2) “Wildfires” are not only very, very, very, very small in size, but declining  in number:

the exact cause of the decline has not been clearly identified, but said the annual total has fallen to around 1,000 from a previous average of some 1,500.

So far this year, there have been 88 fires, most of them small, over 67 acres [My Note: that’s LESS THAN 1 ACRE average size!)

To summarize:

1) DEP was exposed grossly exaggerating the risks of wildfire to justify “active management” of NJ’s forests

2) DEP Commissioner LaTourette’s credibility is shot.

3) The NJ wildfire prevention and response law and DEP program are seriously flawed and the public is totally unaware of that because “news outlets” like NJ Spotlight get spun by DEP and fail to report the facts and the law.

[Update: 3:15 pm, EST –  DEP just sent me this notice that they need more time – they had enough time to spoon feed selective data to NJ Spotlight, but not answer the tough questions I posed:

Dear Mr. Wolfe,

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, Office of Record Access received your Open Public Records Act (OPRA) request on 2/15/22 to which the above tracking number was assigned. As such, the seven (7) business day deadline (due date) to respond to your request is 2/25/22.

Your request requires additional time beyond the due date because of the time required to search for the responsive records. Your request requires an extension of time until 3/4/22.

Yeah, right.

[Update – 3/3/22 – DEP replied to my OPRA on 3/1. I will be writing specifically. For now, they asserted OPRA exemption under “deliberative privilege” for any Reports, emails, documents, maps, etc. They provided no maps, but gave “wildfire” location data by longitude and latitude, which is useless to me. The overwhelming majority of the fires (75%??) were only 0.25 acres! The response times seemed excessive, e.g. 12 hours at a 1/4 of an acre fire! More to follow. ~~~ end update]

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EPA Funds Murphy DEP To Study Salt Marsh Ponds – Not Man Made Pollution – As A Cause Of Harmful Algae Blooms

February 24th, 2022 No comments

This one really requires no comment.

EPA Region 2 press office just sent me this press announcement of grant funding for NJ DEP of $102,509 to study harmful algae blooms.

Harmful algae blooms are caused and driven by excessive loads of man made nutrient pollution (i.e. polluted runoff from development, farms, fertilizers, septic tanks and leaking sewer lines etc) and warm water, which is exacerbated by the climate emergency.

DEP has done a terrible job on all aspects of regulation of HAB’s; from failure to adopt enforceable numeric water quality standards for nutrients; to failure to track and quantify nutrient pollution; to failure to limit over-development that is a source of excessive nutrients; to failure to mandate reductions in nutrient pollution sources.

DEP has even weakened HAB standards.

As a result, HAB’s are proliferating and so are risks to human health and ecosystems, forcing closure of recreational activities.

But instead of studying the sources of and ways to enforce reductions in man made nutrient pollution that is causing HAB’s, EPA and DEP are targeting natural salt marsh ponds as sources!

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection was awarded $102,509 in grant funding to provide baseline documentation for salt marsh ponds as potential reservoirs of harmful algal blooms (HAB) for New Jersey coastal ecosystems due to climate change.  Certain environmental conditions in water bodies can intensify algae growth, causing algal blooms. Blooms with the potential to harm human health or aquatic ecosystems are referred to as harmful algal blooms or HABs. The project includes sampling of salt marsh ponds on the Tuckerton Peninsula for HAB species through laboratory analysis, performing DNA sequencing, interpretation, and the analysis of results, and developing a website to host project results and distribution maps.

“Certain environmental conditions in water bodies”? WHAAAT?

You mean like too much pollution from over-development?

And lax DEP regulatory standards and weak enforcement that allow that to occur?


And what are they going to do if they find a “reservoir” of HAB’s in a salt marsh pond? Nuke it with chemicals?

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