Home > Uncategorized > Murphy Administration Emphasizes Existential Threats Of Climate Emergency, Then Runs Away From Any “Mandates”

Murphy Administration Emphasizes Existential Threats Of Climate Emergency, Then Runs Away From Any “Mandates”

Senate Environment Committee Hearing Is Pure Kabuki

Murphy Administration Far More Concerned About Business Community’s Attacks On “High Costs” And Regulatory Mandates Than Climate Scientists’ And Activists’ Criticisms

Murphy Relies On Incentives, Low Cost Tinkering, And Culture Change

The Senate Environment Committee heard testimony today from only 2 “invited guests” on the climate emergency and what State government should be doing about it. (listen to the testimony here).

NJ BPU President Fiordaliso and DEP Commissioner LaTourette were the only “invited guests” to testify. No scientists. No climate or energy experts. No climate activists or environmentalists. Pure political theater.

The hearing was actually worse than I expected, in terms of being a political show and opportunity for the Murphy administration to respond to critics. This was not legislative oversight, this was legislative press event.

Both Fiordaliso and LaTourette were far more sensitive and responsive to the business community’s attacks on their climate and energy policy on the grounds of imposing high costs on consumers and doing so via regulatory mandates.

Both denied and repeatedly ran away from any “mandates” – it was like the denial of Peter and the Cock crowing.

How can climate be an existential threat and yet the Murphy people are worried about costs?

When the house is on fire, you don’t conduct a cost benefit analysis and solicit voluntary neighborly response before calling the firemen.

Regardless, it will work. Expect NJ Spotlight to transcribe the Murphy talking points, with the same old complaints of high costs by Ray Cantor (NJ BIA) and/or Dennis Hart (NJ Chemistry Council).

I need to make a few specific comments on DEP Commissioner LaTourette’s testimony.

1. On climate adaptation, LaTourette misleadingly claimed that DEP’s stormwater rainfall runoff volume regulations were based on outdated 1999 rainfall data. (I think he said rainfall had increased 20-30% since 1999).

While that may be true, the real issue is the statistical design storm. DEP currently uses the 100 year design storm, when they should be using the 500 year storm. Science tells us that the future will not be like the past, so these statistics are no longer are reliable. LaTourette is obviously dodging that issue. The difference between the 100 and 500 year design storm volume is huge, far more significant than the alleged 20-30% increase in rainfall.

Basing various DEP regulations on the 500 year storm would have huge impacts, from expanding flood hazard zones to limiting the location and footprint of development, to increasing infrastructure elevations and capacity to reduce flooding.

He also failed to mention that even FEMA blasted DEP’s stormwater rules as totally inadequate in failure to reduce flood risks.

2. On upcoming DEP PACT REAL land use regulations, LaTourette again diverted from real issues and signaled more misguided reliance on market based information disclosure. He mentioned that NJ lacked a real estate disclosure law, while Texas had such a law. Chairman Smith then jumped in to clarify this issue.

So, look for more false solutions to emerge: Smith will sponsor a real estate disclosure bill, while he and DEP ignore issues like NJ’s right to rebuild laws and the need for strategic retreat planning and regulation.

3. LaTourette claimed – falsely – that the DEP CO2 proposal is an emissions “cap”. Not true.

4. On DEP’s current CO2 emission proposed rules, again LaTourette dodged the issues and misled the legislature.

LaTourette emphasized that this rule is just an incremental first step and that more rules would be forthcoming. He not only failed to respond to critics of that proposal, he created a completely false impression of how DEP regulations and the economy actually work.

DEP rules are in effect for 7 years and the private sector makes 30+ year investment decisions in reliance on them, so it’s not like small steps can gradually and quickly be ratcheted down on. In fact, the current DEP CO2 proposal would lock in current emission until 2035 and allow emissions to grow.

Finally, I and others have criticized the DEP proposal and the Global Warming Response Act as toothless and unenforceable.

LaTourette parenthetically referred to some of those legal issues. I objected in the below letter to him and Chairman Smith:

Dear Commissioner LaTourette and Chairman Smith:

I listened closely to the testimony today and therefore am writing to request that you clarify important issues.

In discussing DEP recent regulatory proposals – including the CO2 emissions proposal – DEP Commissioner LaTourette parenthetically and vaguely referred to DEP’s existing authority and the technology based approach of the federal Clean Air Act and NJ Air Pollution Control Act. To paraphrase, he stated that the laws are not driven by climate.

I assume that the Commissioner’s intent was to distinguish the DEP’s regulatory authority under the federal Clean Air Act and NJ Air Pollution Control Act from the aspirational emissions reduction goals of the Global Warming Response Act.

Regardless, these distinctions were not made in the background document for the DEP CO2 proposal. Just the opposite: that proposal conflated these laws and can reasonably be interpreted as asserting DEP authority under the GWRA to mandate emissions reductions to meet the goals of the Act.

This is woefully inadequate treatment of the legal issues I raised to your attention (and have since submitted on the DEP CO2 proposal) in the 1/28/22 email below.

Given these fatal legal flaws I flagged in DEP proposal, it is critically important that you clarify these issues. A vague allusion in testimony is totally inadequate and unacceptable.

I recommend that Commissioner LaTourette rescind the DEP CO2 proposal and not respond to public comment on that proposal.

That is the only way at this point to protect against litigation risk.

I am available to clarify at your request.

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