Home > Uncategorized > NJ Spotlight Completely Reversed A Critical Narrative On Murphy DEP Climate Rules In Just 9 Days

NJ Spotlight Completely Reversed A Critical Narrative On Murphy DEP Climate Rules In Just 9 Days

From  Public “Disappointment, Outrage, Incredulity” To DEP Leadership

A Classic Example Of A Story Down Orwell’s Memory Hole

How is it possible for a news outlet to write a story – by the same reporter – that cites multiple sources – including a Rutgers Professor – in flat out denouncing a DEP climate rule, and then just 9 days later forget all that and write a story that praises DEP’s climate leadership?

On February 2, 2022, NJ Spotlight co-founder and veteran reporter Tom Johnson wrote this story:

That story absolutely and correctly slammed DEP’s proposed CO2 emission climate rule. A reader could not be confused by the narrative or the damning facts and multiple hostile quotes:

Here’s the lede:

At a 3 ½-hour public hearing hosted by the Department of Environmental Protection on the proposed regulation Tuesday, environmentalists, consultants and academics panned the 165-page proposed rule, saying it would do little to decarbonize the state’s electric generation sector. The rule, they said, would allow most of the existing gas-fired power plants to continue to operate and would permit new plants to be built.

“DEP has squandered what will likely be the last opportunity we have to meaningfully reduce greenhouse gas emissions to avoid climate catastrophe,’’ said John Reichman of Blue Wave NJ. “The rules could have been written by the fossil fuel lobby.’’

Tom reported the following absolutely killer facts – not as an activists’ opinion, but as damning facts:

If adopted, the proposal also would achieve only 3% of reductions in greenhouse-gas emissions of the 80% drop in carbon pollution required under the state’s Global Warming Response Act. The rule also fails to mention, or even come close to meeting, Gov. Phil Murphy’s executive order that set a goal to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions by 50% by 2030.

That story closed with this equally harsh conclusion:

Whether the entire rule will result in substantial reductions in greenhouse-gas emissions left many doubtful. ‘’This rule is seriously flawed; it just has too many loopholes,’’ said Jeff Tittel, a former director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “It has too many loopholes to be fixed.’’

David Hughes, a professor at Rutgers University, agreed, saying the DEP failed to protect lives endangered by the climate crisis. “You need to start over,’’ he told DEP officials, blaming them for favoring economic interests over tackling the climate crisis.

Yet just 9 days later, on February 11, 2022, Tom Johnson forgot all those damning facts and valid criticisms of DEP.

He wrote this story, with exactly the opposite narrative, which portrayed DEP Commissioner LaTourette in a leadership posture warning legislators of the need to move more aggressively and quickly (just days after being condemned for a lax proposal):

The state needs to do a lot more and act much quicker to avert the worst impacts of climate change, lawmakers were warned Thursday as they began assessing what new steps must be taken to speed up reductions in pollution from greenhouse-gas emissions.

“There is too much at risk to not push further and do more,’’ Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Shawn LaTourette told the Senate Environment and Energy Committee. “We are not ready. Ida showed us that.’’

Act fast?

Push further and do more”?

“Push further and do more”?

“Push further and do more”?

Are you kidding me?

LaTourette says that after he proposed a DEP rule that does virtually nothing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and would allow current emissions to significantly increase?

Here’s how Tom contextualizes and alludes to that prior negative story, which correctly condemned DEP:

Their appearance before legislators comes at a time when there are signs the Murphy administration’s ambitious goal to transition to 100% clean energy by mid-century is beginning to encounter stronger opposition from business and other interests, who worry about the cost of phasing out fossil fuels and the reliability of new power sources. 

Beginning to “encounter stronger opposition from business and other interests”? Say what?

There is no mention of the DEP public hearing 9 days prior (or the DEP’s denial of a climate petition that has spawned a lawsuit, another story that Tom Johnson wrote that contradicts LaTourette’s self serving spin and finger pointing deflection of responsibility).

Tom completely changes the subject from DEP’s failure to achieve meaningful greenhouse gas emissions reductions, to the business community’s propaganda about high costs and suspect reliability (of “new power sources” – a euphemism  for renewables).

Climate scientists, environmentalists and climate activist are not even mentioned, but vaguely alluded to as “other interests”.

Not one climate scientist, environmental spokesperson, or climate activists was included in the story to push back agains t DEP Commissioner LaTourette’s Orwellian spin. Not one. He was given a platform to spout total bullshit.

If the state is going to achieve its climate goals, LaTourette said it will require help from every sector — government, economic sectors, communities and individuals. “It requires everyone rowing in the same direction and fast,’’ he said.

“Rowing fast”? After DEP was just denounced for slow walking?

What the hell was Tom Johnson thinking?

How can something like this possibly happen?

[End Note: I listened closely to that hearing NJ Spotlight reported and here’s what I heard and wrote:

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