Home > Uncategorized > Climate Activists Blast Gov. Murphy’s DEP CO2 Power Plant Rule Proposal

Climate Activists Blast Gov. Murphy’s DEP CO2 Power Plant Rule Proposal

But activists perpetuate the fraud of the Global Warming Response Act

Today, the Murphy DEP held the single public hearing on DEP’s proposed CO2 emission rule for certain power plants.

Given the climate emergency and DEP Commissioner LaTourette’s constant media remarks that the people of NJ need to be educated about climate issues, DEP should be holding at least 21 hearings, one in each county.

A single public hearing on a regulation and issue of this significance and magnitude can hardly be called a robust public participation process and it completely destroys the spin of DEP Commissioner LaTourette about educating the public and the need to build consensus (I still recall LaTourette’s “the people of NJ are “not culturally ready” comment).

The activists should have held a press conference yesterday to set up the hearing today (instead NJ Spotlight published a another economically flawed hit piece on solar yesterday and nothing today). And they should have held a huge protest event at the DEP building today. Playing inside baseball and submitting comments on proposed DEP regulations is not activism and is the epitome of “too little too late”, which I explained in this post.

DEP also required registration to testify remotely, further limiting actual public participation.

I assume that Gov. Murphy’s sycophants – NJ LCV and Rethink, NJ – will be supporting the rule with some minimal criticisms and urgings to make it “stronger on adoption” (which DEP can not do – a post forthcoming on that issue). I suspect Environment NJ will join these sycophants, so DEP and the Gov. have adequate political cover.

My internet connection here in the Sonoran desert is too slow to access, participate in, and listen to the proceedings, so I am speculating and can’t be sure about the cheerleaders’s support. But I was provided the climate activist criticisms of EMPOWER NJ.

Unfortunately, the critics ignored the two elephants in the room, and for the same reasons.

First, ironically, I recently warned climate activists:

Until you can admit that NJ’s climate laws are toothless aspirational frauds, nothing real can happen.

To back that up, I provided several posts here that laid out in detail exactly how and why the Global Warming Response Act (as amended) was gutted, was made toothless, and the goals are not enforceable. As a result, DEP rules were fatally flawed legally and highly vulnerable to legal challenge.

As I predicted, the climate activists ignored all that.

They did so because for the last 15 years they have been misleading the public about the GWRA. It is very difficult to admit that you were so wrong on such a basic issue and for so long. That applies to all involved: the legislature, Governors, activists, Rutgers (led by former DEP officials who know this history), Foundations, and media.

The aspirational goals and dynamics of failing to admit these fatal flaws are a LOT like the nasty debate over the toothless voluntary NJ State Development and Redevelopment Plan (State Plan) and it involves many of the same people and organizations.

My good friend Bill Neil called the State Plan the biggest fraud ever perpetrated on the people of NJ. Of course he was right, right that is until the Global Warming Response Act came along.

Second, the climate activists fail to note that the DEP proposal ignores methane. Again, they do that because they have misled the public about the 2019 amendments to the GWRA, which were supposed to regulate methane, among other GHG.

In large part, the activists criticism closely follow criticism I’ve already made – so here they are. In a future post, I will discuss the implications and regulatory and strategic options for going forward.

Talking Points

1. The rule does not come anywhere close to achieving the 80×50 greenhouse emission reduction goal. It says this is an initial step, but what are the chances of the DEP amending this rule fast enough to catch up with our climate emergency

2. There is no mention of the 50×30 goal established by Governor Murphy in Executive Order 274. This is quite ironic when President Biden’s Plan calls for net zero from the electrical sector by 2035

3. This rule only gets us 4% of the needed reductions to achieve the 50×30 goal and 3% of the reductions to achieve the 80×50 goal.

4. The rule is riddled with loopholes, including:

a) The rule only applies if 50% or more of fossil fuels are burned by the electrical generating units (EGUs).

b) The electricity generated by the EGU needs to go to the grid in order for the rule to apply. This means facilities like the proposed Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission (PVSC) backup plant in Newark and refineries that generate their own power “onsite” and don’t send it to the grid would be exempt.

c) The rule only tackles EGUs with a capacity of 25 MWe or higher, which allows for the construction of new power plants and the expansion of the existing ones.

5. This rule undermines renewable energy by promoting and relying on the usage of “cleaner” natural gas and “biogas” instead of reducing the use of fuels like oil and coal in order to reduce emissions.

6. This rule would allow for facilities like the proposed Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission (PVSC) backup plant in Newark and refineries that generate their own power “onsite” and don’t send it to the grid to continue operating and get new permits. This means that air permits for harmful facilities could continue to be approved, polluting the people of New Jersey not just with CO2 emissions but other harmful co-pollutants like NOx and PM.

7. It allows for new power plants to continue to be built.

8. EGUs classified as “industrial sector” sources, like refineries, are not included in this rule, but they should be. After all, they still generate power and emit greenhouse gases.

9. There is no Environmental Justice component in this rule proposal. It doesn’t evaluate the cumulative impacts to surrounding communities or include any language to protect communities that are already overburdened with pollution.

10. Sources like incinerators and co-generation plants slip right through this rule because they do not burn 50% or more of fossil fuels.

11. The rule allows for the burning of digester gas (a form of biogas) and landfill gas.

12. This rule does not consider fugitive emissions, oftentimes the biggest emission problem in a big facility like a refinery.

13. It grandfathers in over 90% of our existing plants, which means we will never be able to reduce our greenhouse gases.

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