Home > Uncategorized > Will “Degraded Forests” And Carbon Sequestration Become The New Cover For DEP Logging Projects?

Will “Degraded Forests” And Carbon Sequestration Become The New Cover For DEP Logging Projects?

Murphy DEP Tries To Take Credit For RGGI Funding For Carbon Sequestration

DEP’s “Active Forest Management” And “Forest Stewardship” Programs Do No Inspire Confidence

Prior Billionaire Funding To DEP & NJ Audubon Creates Huge Conflicts Of Interest

As part of their Earth Week media blitz, last week, DEP issued the following press release:

As Earth Week is celebrated this year with the theme of Invest in Our Planet, the Murphy Administration is launching a new blue and green carbon grant program that will invest $15 million in projects across New Jersey that create, restore and enhance salt marshes, sea grass beds, forests and urban parks that sequester atmospheric carbon in the fight against climate change.

The DEP called this a “new program” and created the impression that this is new money.

The “new program” claim is flat out false and the implied new funding claim is highly misleading.

The source of the funding is the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) carbon sequestration program.

That program and funding are not new.

They were created by the 2007 legislation – See DEP’s “RGGI Strategic Funding Plan”, specifically P.L. 2008, c. 340, commonly referred to as the Global Warming Solutions Fund Act. The Act allocates 10% of the total revenues from the RGGI allowance sales to DEP for, among other things, “forest stewardship” and “carbon sequestration”:

Ten percent [of RGGI revenues] shall be allocated to the department to support programs that enhance the stewardship and restoration of the State’s forests and tidal marshes that provide important opportunities to sequester or reduce greenhouse gases.

DEP adopted/updated regulations to implement the law in 2019 Global Warming Solutions Fund rules.

This is another example of how “good news” grant funding is used by DEP to divert from real climate problems, feed the media stenographers and manage the news, while marginalizing critics .


In addition to these climate and RGGI diversions, three potentially problematic things in that press release caught my eye:

1) John Cecil, former head of NJ Audubon’s “Corporate Stewardship” program and champion of controversial logging projects has been promoted to Assistant Commissioner. Cecil has been an aggressive advocate of “active forestry management” (logging). That means he has even more influence on DEP land management and forestry programs.

2)  Private landowners, like billionaire Peter Kellogg – a friend of Gov. Murphy – who owns elite Hudson Farm hunting club and who funded $330,000 to NJ Audubon’s “active forest management” and “Stewardship” programs run by DEP’s Assistant Commissioner Cecil – are eligible for funding:

  • Private landowners owning property in New Jersey (note: private property project applicants must provide matching funds)

Kellogg’s Hudson Farm has not only funded NJ Audubon logging projects, but Kellogg also funded a DEP staff junket. Those DEP staffers will make grant funding decisions.

Even more troubling, he is invested in and using Hudson Farm to generate revenues from private market based carbon trading schemes. Fake credits, double dipping, and all sorts of abuses and manipulation opportunities – like DEP allowed to occur in the “Open Market Emissions Trading Program” (OMET) – are likely.

Obviously, both DEP and Mr. Cecil have huge potential conflicts of interest, should Hudson Farm apply for DEP grant funds.

3) The DEP press release used a new and vague term for projects eligible for funding:

Eligible projects include those that:

  • […] Restore degraded forests or former agricultural areas with resilient native vegetation

I’ve asked DEP press office how DEP defines a “degraded forest”. That vague term is not used in the 2007 enabling law, DEP’s RGGI regulations, or DEP’s strategic funding plan. I’ve not seen it used in various DEP “Forest Stewardship” plans.

After several days of getting the runaround, I sent DEP press officer Larry Hjana this note:

Are you aware that DEP has found lack of “age class diversity” to be a condition that requires “active management” and “treatments” (logging) to restore forest health and ecological diversity?Is DEP taking a similar approach to carbon sequestration?

Then you wonder why DEP gets questions about what they consider a “degraded forest”?

I’ve never seen that term used before in various DEP forestry documents. Yet DEP is offering millions of dollars in grant money to address the condition. 

How can DEP evaluate grant proposals without a technical definition and performance metrics?

Sensing a new sham basis for more “active management” and “forest treatments”, I then filed this OPRA request:

I request the following public documents:

1. the grant application definition, application evaluation guidelines, and performance metrics for the field, forest, and ecological conditions that would constitute a “degraded forest”;

2. DEP regulations, technical manuals, guidelines, policies, plans, projects, standards, metrics, or other materials that define a “degraded forest”;

3. the scientific basis to support DEP classification or determination of the existence of a “degraded forest”

We’ll keep you posted. This smells like the same old sham and spin.

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