Home > Uncategorized > An Expanding Pattern Of Greenwashing And Incompetence

An Expanding Pattern Of Greenwashing And Incompetence

Governor Murphy, DEP, Legislature And Now “Green Groups” Rebrand The Past

Three Recent Examples Highlight A Disturbing Pattern

“Who controls the past controls the future: who controls the present controls the past,” ~~~ George Orwell, 1984

I’ve criticized multiple examples of how Governor Murphy and his “first openly gay” (Gov. Murphy’s words) corporate lawyer led DEP very cynically simply recycle and rebrand watered-down versions of prior initiatives to create the false and misleading appearance of leadership and advancement of novel and progressive policies. The  Governor and Murphy DEP use slogans very effectively in their public relations and manipulation of the media and faux green groups.

But when one scrutinizes the actual policy, it becomes obvious that just the opposite is the case: we are going backwards, not forwards. Historical laws, regulations, plans and programs are actually being weakened, not strengthened.

That damaging phenomenon is now expanding into the Legislative arena and is being praised by the current crop of NJ “environmental leaders”.

I’d like to offer 3 recent illustrations of this very damaging dynamic.

The first and latest example comes in an email this morning from a friend who urged me to participate in the upcoming “teach in”“Reduce Plastic Pollution And $ave Taxpayers (sic) Money In NJ”.

Well, let me offer a few lessons from history.

First of all, the message is all wrong – it is not the environmental community’s role to focus on saving taxpayers’ money.

That message simply plays into and reinforces the right wing anti-tax – anti-government – anti-regulation – austerity sentiment.

In 1991, the Florio Administration crafted and the legislature passed the NJ Toxic Packaging Reduction Act.

That same year (1991), we worked on and passed the Dry Cell Battery Management Act.

Both laws were the start of holding manufacturers accountable for the environmental and public health impacts and costs of their products’ waste and mandating reductions in volume and toxicity.

(Contrast that with Gov. Murphy, who is running away from regulatory mandates as fast as he can.)

In 1993, we were working on a “source reduction” legislative package with mandates on a far broader array of consumer products sponsored by Assemblywoman Maureen Ogden (R-Essex – A973), but it was killed by Whitman and consumer products industry lobbyists. (I still recall that Tom Johnson wrote a page one Star Ledger story on that bill that had me quoted in direct contradiction to a quote by new Whitman DEP Commissioner Bob Shinn. I sense that Tom got a perverse kick out of that.)

The DEP Solid Waste Plan of 1993 had a source reduction policy that DEP never implemented.

At that time (and earlier in the late 1980’s) we also started policy research on material and energy lifecycle analysis as the technical basis for regulatory policy.

Florio integrated BPU energy planning into DEP, forming DEPE. He created a mercury Taskforce that set a DEP standard for mercury emission from garbage incinerators and had plans for other major sources, like coal plants, smelters, and sludge and medical waste incinerators.

Whitman DEP killed all that too – and she deregulated energy.

But now, 30 years later, the bar is set so low that the Biden EPA gets praise for reinstating a weak mercury rule repealed by the Trump EPA!

The lifecycle and “regulatory bubble” research we did provided the scientific basis for the 1991 Pollution Prevention Act and the facility-wide permitting program. (The FWP program also borrowed heavily from the 1984 RCRA/HSWA law’s “Facility Management Plans”. I drafted 45 FMP’s in 1985-86 under the EPA RCRA Grant).

The Pollution Prevention Act’s first priority was “toxics use reduction”. Mandated by DEP regulation.

Chemical and Pharmaceutical industry lobbyists radically opposed and ultimately gutted  that law too.

DEP never implemented the authority to mandate reductions from pollution prevention plans in DEP’s air, water, and hazardous waste permits. That provision of the law is still on the books, but is not implemented.

Current leaders are clueless. They should petition DEP for rulemaking to mandate lifecycle analysis (the road to carbon footprint) and incorporation of Pollution Prevention plans in all permits.

You have to find this stuff in the state library, because it’s “Down the Memory Hole”.

The current crop of NJ “leaders” are clueless about this history and arrogantly think they are progressive. That attitude also gives DEP and Democrats a HUGE pass.

The DEP head of Solid Waste Planning at the time (Kean – Florio DEP) was Gary Sondermeyer. He was a huge barrier and supported incineration and backed County planning powers. He viewed DEP role to rubber stamp County plans. He suppressed data requested by Gov. Florio’s Office (they drove all the policy). I made them aware of that data because I possessed it. But I had to provide it covertly to them in after hours meetings 3 nights a week in the Governor’s office. I was issued disciplinary actions twice for insubordination for this (got a 1 week suspension). My third strike was leaking Whitman’s mercury fish tissue coverup memo, which got me forced out. Yet today, Sondermeyer is portrayed an “advocate” in NJ Spotlight stories. So pathetic. Total amnesia. Orwell rules.

The second example is perhaps worse.

These faux “green” leaders are so bad that, last week, Ed Potosnak at NJ LCV issued a press release praising the Senate Environment Committee and Senator Greenstein for advancing a bill to mandate consideration of climate in the NJ Hazard Mitigation Plan.

But the NJ Hazard Mitigation Plan ALREADY considers climate and has done so for over 10 YEARS!

Over 10 years ago, myself and Jeff Tittel used to go to County public heatings on the County Plans and we were the only ones in the room! Look at this one from a 2013 post:

During the public comment period on this Ocean County plan, I stopped at the County planning office for maps that were referenced in the Plan. The County planners said they never even heard of the plan!

The flaw with the NJ Hazard Mitigation Plan is not failure to consider climate, it’s that they are NOT implemented in any state or local planning or regulatory program. So they are toothless and essentially meaningless. They are prepared by Sheriffs and police agencies who are out of the policy and planning loop.

When idiots like Ed Potosnak praise cynical fake legislation, they obscure this fundamental  flaw and provide cover for the status quo.

The third example is similar to this fake bill and the Murphy DEP rebranding project.

The NJ Senate Democrats pulled a similar stunt a few months ago, when I called out Bob Smith for sponsoring a bill to require that DEP conduct a study on what DEP called a “treatment based approach”, i.e. mandatory carbon treatment to remove unregulated chemicals from drinking water.

The clueless idiots –  “U-Turn” Anjuli Ramos of Sierra Club and corporate NJ Audubon – praised Smith for that bill. (So, again we must ask: What The Hell Is Going On At NJ Sierra CLub?)

NJ Spotlight drank the Kool-aid too and wrote a puff piece headlined “NJ steps up fight….

But DEP CONDUCTED THE STUDY “Required” by the bill OVER 10 YEARS AGO!


As a result the people of NJ have needlessly and unknowingly been drinking water laced with over 500 unregulated chemicals.

But the current crop of NJ “green” leaders know nothing about any of this – while they cheerlead for fake solutions, some of which actually weaken current policy and regulation and provide cover for DEP abdication and failure to protect public health and the environment. 

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:
  1. No comments yet.
  1. July 18th, 2023 at 11:21 | #1
  2. August 7th, 2023 at 02:15 | #2
  3. August 7th, 2023 at 23:41 | #3
You must be logged in to post a comment.