Archive for May, 2023

NJ Soil Conservation Service Says Clearcutting Wetland Forests Is Unregulated Agricultural Activity

May 31st, 2023 No comments

DEP Forestry Wetlands BMP Manual Exempts Forestry From Wetlands Permits

The Supreme Court’s decision to gut wetlands protections under the Clean Water Act has shone a bright spotlight on the importance of clearly defining the scope of what’s know as “regulated activity”, see: Sackett v. EPA

In response to this decision, many falsely claim that NJ’s wetlands are adequately protected under NJ State wetlands laws, see:

Belying those claims, the recent case of DEP’s clearcutting over 20 acres of forested wetlands illustrates huge loopholes in NJ wetlands and other laws and regulations.

Specifically, the DEP wetlands laws exempt forestry and the Soil Conservation Service says that “Woodland / Forestry Management is recognized as a form of agriculture” and exempt from soil erosion and sediment control and other environmental laws.

So, I wrote to Senate Environment Committee Chairman Bob Smith to demand that he conduct oversight on and close these loopholes in his upcoming forestry legislation:

Dear Chairman Smith –

I write to you in light of the US Supreme Court’s controversial decision on the scope of the Clean Water Act regulation of wetlands as “waters of the United States”, a decision that highlighted the critical importance of clearly defining the scope and applicability of regulatory requirements (see: Sackett v. EPA ).

Given that you are considering forestry legislation that involves wetlands impacts and regulatory issues, I thought it important to bring the important issue described below to your attention regarding the NJ Soil Conservation Service’s interpretation of regulated activity under NJ’s State soil erosion and sediment control act with respect to “Agricultural or Horticultural Activities” that adversely impact wetlands.

The Gloucester County Soil Conservation District, relying on State law and regulation, has found that the Act is “not applicable” to an over 20 acre clearcut of mature forest and forested wetlands. SCS found that “Woodland / Forestry Management is recognized as a form of agriculture.”

This determination (provided below) was made with respect to the DEP logging at the Glassboro Wildlife Management Area (WMA). SCS regulations apparently define that clearcut logging and wetlands destruction as unregulated “Agricultural or Horticultural Activities”.

As you know, DEP issued enforcement action for the wetlands destruction.

Soil Conservation standards and soil erosion and sediment control permit requirements include, among other things, delineation of wetlands. see Appendix 2

“Delineating of streams, wetlands, pursuant to NJSA 13:9B and other significant natural features within the project area.”

Had DEP’s “forest management” work been subject to SCS permit requirements, the Glassboro WMA wetlands would have ben delineated and not destroyed.

Therefore, the exemption of “Agricultural or Horticultural Activities” that adversely impact wetlands is an important issue, given the scope of that definition as applied to “forestry management”.

In addition, the DEP “Forestry And Wetlands Best Management Practices Manual” (1995) includes “Regulations and Procedures For Wetlands And Buffers”.


That DEP BMP Manual states:

“Forestry activities have been granted a conditional exemption of the requirement of needing a wetlands permit”.

The condition requires approval of a Forest Management Plan by the State Forester.

For private lands, even that approval is not required:

“Normal silvicultural activities, ongoing as of 1987, are exempt from the requirement of a wetlands permit without an approved forest management plan, as long as the practices are conducted in accordance with the BMP’s”.

I strongly urge you to conduct oversight of DEP and SCS regarding these issues and close these loopholes in your forestry legislation.

Bill Wolfe

c: DEP Commissioner LaTourette

———- Original Message ———-

From: Karol Blew <>

To: Bill WOLFE <>

Date: 05/24/2023 5:45 PM PDT

Subject: Re: EXTERNALRe: EXTERNALRe: Fwd: DEP staff false certification of soil conservation application

Mr. Wolfe –

In accordance with N.J.A.C. 2:90, Subchapter 1 – Soil Erosion and Sediment Control on Land Disturbance Activities

2:90-1.8 Clearing or Grading of Land

(a)    Except as provided in (b) and (c) below, a person proposing to engage in or who is engaging in clearing or grading of more than 5,000 square feet of land shall be subject to the act unless such land disturbance is for agricultural or horticultural purposes.  To demonstrate to the district that such activity is related to proposed agricultural or horticultural activities, the owner shall provide proof that the land is enrolled in a farmland preservation program, eligible for farmland assessment, qualifies for right-to-farm protections or possesses a farm conservation plan or forest management plan, timber harvest sale contract or other proofs deemed appropriate by the district.

Non-Applicable Activities

Agricultural or Horticultural Activities:

The Act is not applicable to clearing or grading of land for agricultural or horticultural proposes under certain circumstances.  Proof that the land is enrolled in a farmland preservation program, eligible for farmland assessment, qualifies for right-to-farm protections, or possesses a farm conservation plan or forest management plan, timber harvest sale contract or proofs deemed appropriate by the district must be provided to demonstrate that such activity is associated with agricultural or horticultural activities.

The project in question – habitat creation for the American Woodcock – consisted of clearing wooded/vegetated areas and replanting vegetation in those cleared areas.    The following documents were submitted to the District in support of the Request for Determination of Non-Applicability – U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service American Woodcock Population Status, 2022; USDA NRCS Wildlife Insight No. 89, American Woodcock: Habitat Best Management Practices for the Northeast; American Woodcock Conservation Plan – A Summary of and Recommendations for Woodcock Conservation in North America; American Ornithology Research Article – Migratory status determines resource selection by American Woodcock at an important fall stopover, Cape May, New Jersey; and Glassboro Wildlife Management Area Woodcock Habitat Creation document.

Woodland / Forestry Management is recognized as a form of agriculture.  The project is removing areas of vegetation and replanting other vegetation in those areas.  No impervious areas (parking lots, structures, etc.) are included in this project.

As previously discussed over the phone, a project that is “Exempt” from the Soil Erosion and Sediment Control Act is not required to obtain a Request for Determination of Non-Applicability.


Appeal Process: Any person aggrieved by a decision or action of the district shall first submit a written request for reconsideration to the District within 10 working days of the action taken.  The Request for Determination of Non-Applicability was approved on March 23, 2023.


Oversight: The State Soil Conservation Committee oversees the soil conservation districts.


Karol Blew

Gloucester Co Soil Conservation District

545 Beckett Road, Suite 107

Swedesboro, NJ  08085

(856) 589-5250



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How The Game Is Now Played (We’re Way Beyond “Rigged”)

May 20th, 2023 No comments

A Tightly Knit Circle Of Corporate Corruption And Abuse Of The Public Interest

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(Source: NJ Audubon Annual Report (2022)

One of my favorite writers on media, Caitlin Johnstone, wrote an excellent piece today about the propaganda function of US media:

To support her argument, she used an example of the Council On Foreign Relations (CFR), outlining the relationships between military defense contractors on the CFR Board, lobbying, Pentagon budgets, CFR research and Report topics, and propaganda in support of wars that create demand for military weapons spending to boost the profits of the weapons manufacturers on the CFR Board.

A Tightly Knit Circle Of Corporate Corruption And Abuse Of The Public Interest.

I submitted the following comment on Caitlin’s piece regarding issues I’ve often written about here and offered up an example that closely followed her CFR example:

It’s not just the war profiteers that engage the self interested propaganda game you outline.

Case in point: The NJ Audubon Society (publicly considered wealthy birders) are led by a former Exxon Mobil corporate scientist named Alex Ireland. Mr. Ireland appeared in a recent press release issued by the NJ Department of Environmental Protection announcing a sweetheart settlement deal with corporate chemical giant polluter BASF at a massive 1,400 acre toxic waste site in Toms River NJ that is known to have been the cause of a childhood cancer cluster where scores of children died of rare cancers (read the NJ Dept. of Health Cancer Cluster Report). Ignoring that historical tragedy, Mr. Ireland profusely praised this settlement in terms of its benefits to the local community (it involved creation of a small “nature park”). Mr. Ireland’s quote was widely printed by the media.

New Jersey Audubon enthusiastically supports this use of Natural Resources Damages to create forests and parks in Toms River. … NJDEP and BASF have worked together to clean up and restore a contaminated area for residents to enjoy. This project is particularly significant in that the funding is going directly back to the community that experienced the damages from contamination. said Alex Ireland, President and CEO of New Jersey Audubon. ~~~ DEP Press Release 12/5/22

(Mr. Ireland surely knows that neither BASF nor DEP are “creating forests” and that the site is nowhere near completely “cleaned up and restored” . Just the opposite: Even EPA admits that the site won’t be cleaned up for at least 20 – 30 years:

“The FYR has been prepared due to the fact that hazardous substances, pollutants or contaminants remain at the site above levels that allow for unlimited use and unrestricted exposure (UU/UE).” 

And the DEP BASF NRD deal explicitly allows BASF to sell and/or develop a 210 acre forested parcel which will reduce current total forested land cover. So he’s a liar too.) 

Two days before the deal was announced publicly, despite keeping the community in the dark, the DEP Commissioner met secretly with friendly hand picked environmental groups (including NJ Audubon) to request their public support for the deal, which they agreed to do.

Immediately after the deal was publicly announced, the local government passed a Resolution and the Mayor spoke publicly to condemn the dirty deal. Residents were outraged about it and blasted the NJ DEP at a public session held AFTER the deal was negotiated behind their back and executed without their knowledge or input.

Now here are the cherries on top: 

1) BASF (and Exxon Mobil) have been longtime “major donors” to NJ Audubon, a fact that is in NJA annual financial reports (see above and below tables) and not hard to find out, but never reported by media. Curiously, just prior to this BASF deal, NJ Audubon received an “anonymous” (in other words, dark money) “gift” of $6 MILLION, which they openly bragged about as the largest in their organization’s history; and

2) DEP Commissioner LaTourette previously represented BASF as a corporate lawyer, yet failed to disclose that conflict and recuse from BASF involvement.)

So there it all is: 1) revolving door; 2) propaganda; 3) regulatory capture; 4) undisclosed and unreported gross conflicts of interest; 5) dark money; 6) lapdog corporate media; 7) self serving schemes between corporations, so called non-profit public interest groups, and government (conspiracies); 8) secret government; 9) mutually reinforcing funding; and 10) corporate poisoning of people and violations of environmental laws that goes unpunished.

And this is just one example – the same organization NJA formed a partnership with Donald Trump at his Bedminster NJ golf course for which Trump got media praise and corporate tax credits (and preferential treatment – the personal intervention of DEP Commissioner Martin – and lax enforcement by the Christie DEP for significant violations of water allocation regulations and permits.)

Billionaire Peter Kellogg is a “major donor” to NJA too. That’s the same man who paid NJA $330,000 to draft the Sparta Mt. logging plan and bought off NJ DEP staff and conservationists.

And none of this is an anomaly – it’s how even the environmental groups now play the game.


I really can’t understand how a so called environmental organization can take money from a corporation and then advocate specifically for policies that benefit that corporation – and without disclosure – and then the media ignores these egregious conflicts entirely. The rest of the environmental community goes right along and has no problem with this. What the hell has gone wrong?

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Smoked Out On The Gallatin River

May 19th, 2023 No comments

Climate Chaos Becomes Inescapable

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[Update: 6/11/23 – Yesterday was my 66th birthday. The bastards in Port Townsend shut down my summer space, emulating the entire west coast by making life illegal. And it rained. Meanwhile, the climate chaos smoke hit the Northeast. Chris Hedges explores the meaning of that (far better than my despairing rant):

It rained really hard Wednesday night, with hail that covered the windshield and lightening that terrified the dog.

Given that I was parked on soft muddy ground before the rain even started and the Gallatin River – less than 20 feet away and maybe 12 inches below my rear wheels  – was running furiously fast bank to bank full with snowmelt, I started to worry if I would be flooded out or unable to get out of the mud in the morning. Oops!

This storm was the latest in a series of setbacks and disappointments in our spring migration.

It was too cold on Mingus Mountain. The heat drove us out of the valley in Cottonwood, Az. The tourists were thick in gorgeous Sedona so we drove right on through. Our gorgeous mature ponderosa pine forest campsite in the Coconino National Forest just outside Flagstaff was closed due to huge winter snowfall and mud. Heat drove us out of Marble Canyon. The north side of the Grand Canyon was closed until June 2 due to record snowfall. All the forest service roads into Kaibab NF were blocked by snow.

All symptoms of Climate Chaos.

But getting smoked out of Gallatin River in the National Forest was a whole new experience.

I’ve been extremely lucky over the last 7 years of rambling western lands in narrowly missing the western wildfires and smoke. (I was in Paradise Ca. just before the massive wildfire and we were lucky to not die in the record PNW 117 degree heat wave). Only once was I caught in smoke in Oregon, and a drive of 100 miles or so south got me out in a few hours.

But the Gallatin smoke is regional. Huge. Inescapable.

Little did I know that it originated hundreds of miles north in British Columbia.

For me, the smoke began in the Gallatin River valley (just north of West Yellowstone) on Wednesday night. I actually thought it might be morning fog on Thursday after a cold night of hard rain.

Thinking it was smoke from a local fire, I headed north towards Bozeman to get away from it.

For months now, I had been  slowly meandering north up the mountain, with plans to visit Banff (BC, Canada) and loop west across Canada down to the summer spot on Puget sound.

I don’t follow the news or the weather and was unaware of the massive wildfires in British Columbia just north of Banff.

Well, I sure found out the hard way. It was not a local fire.

The choking smoke on Thursday as I travelled Rt. 191 into Bozeman was incredible – you could not see any mountains and visibility was about a half a mile.

I overnighted in the Walmart and this morning it wasn’t any better. I didn’t even go into town. I just got the hell out of there.

I can’t tell you how horrifying this kind of smoke is.

And the physical effects – burning throat, shortness of breath, watering eyes, constant headache – are the smallest part of it.

It is incredibly depressing. It creates an overwhelming sense of oppression and inability to escape. An almost panic like sense of choking and helplessness (“I can’t breath!”). Everything beautiful and that you love just completely destroyed.

Not only no fun, but impossible to be outside. No escape. Living hell. Anger. Rage. Despair.

I drove over 200 miles west to Missoula to get over the continental divide in hopes of escape.

But it’s just as bad here right now, but even worse, because it’s 85  degrees and it will be 95 tomorrow in central Washington where I’ll probably end up before I can make my way west across and get some relief up on Puget Sound PNW Cascadia.

Climate Chaos sucks. And it’s becoming completely inescapable.

[End Note:  I listen to the BBC overnight and am usually half asleep, so can’t provide details, but I heard 2 incredible stories this morning:

1) Canadian researcher spoke about how arctic warming was causing a slow down in the jet stream and how that led to extended high pressure heat domes, which are contributing to the British Columbia record wildfires;

2) another scientist (U Florida) doing west coast Pacific Ocean work found that changes in temperature were leading to changes in stratification, which in turn has an impact on the deep deposit and storage of carbon from algae and small predators (krill). There also were changes in rates of photosynthesis, light penetration, and carbon sequestration. There could be a huge reduction in the role of oceans in storing carbon. Huge implications of that. (PS – This science is not new. Ocean warming, acidification, and changes in habitat, currents, and migratory patterns were primary reasons why we wrote legislation to create a science based Ocean Protection Council back in 2007, including public involvement in that science and policy).

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Legislative Whale Inquiry: Too Little, Too Late

May 18th, 2023 No comments

Coastal And Ocean Protection Council, Formed In 2007, Was Never Funded

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Today, the NJ Assembly Science Committee held a hearing on the whale mortality issue.

In case you are interested in relevant history, see my letter below to Chairman Tully. I wrote about the issue back in 2021, before the wind/whale controversy emerged, see:

Had this 2007 law been implemented and the Ocean Protection Council funded, we would have the science and data on marine mammals being discussed today in the Assembly hearing. [Full disclosure: I wrote the bill. Senator Smith can confirm that.]

———- Original Message ———-

From: Bill WOLFE <>

To:, asmmckeon <>, senbsmith <>, sengreenstein <>,,,, Benson Chiles <>

Date: 05/18/2023 9:43 AM MDT

Subject: Whale inquiry information

Dear Chairman Tully –

In listening just now to your hearing today, I thought you should be aware of an existing legislatively created mechanism to conduct scientific research and analyze the issues you are exploring.

In 2007, the NJ Legislature created the Coastal and Ocean Protection Council precisely to do this work, see: P.L. 2007, CHAPTER 288, approved January 13, 2008 

The Legislature found that:

The ocean is a public trust and in order to ensure the protection of the public trust, the governance of these ocean resources should be guided by principles of sustainability, ecosystem health, precaution, recognition of the interconnectedness between land and ocean, and public participation in the decision-making process;

The bill was sponsored by Senator Smith and I worked with him in drafting it (copied here).

The law established a Council to provide science based recommendations to DEP on ways to improve ocean protection

The council shall have the following powers, duties, and responsibilities:

 (1) to request from the commissioner any information concerning ecosystem-based management as it may deem necessary

     (2) to consider any matter relating to the protection, maintenance, and restoration of coastal and ocean resources;

     (3) to submit, from time to time, to the commissioner any recommendations which the council deems necessary that will protect, maintain and restore coastal and ocean resources;

     (4) to study ecosystem-based management approaches;

     (5) to study any policies, plans, and rules and regulations adopted by the department that impact coastal and ocean resources;

     (6) to study and investigate coastal and habitat protection;

     (7) to coordinate and develop plans for a research agenda on ecosystem-based management;

     (8) to consider data and any other relevant information on the overall health of New Jersey’s coastal and ocean resources in order to document how the State is meeting the goal of protecting, maintaining and restoring healthy coastal and ocean ecosystems; and

     (9) to hold public hearings at least once a year to take testimony from the public concerning ecosystem-based management approaches.

Second, it expanded DEP’s powers to include not only research, but implementation of “plans and programs”:

w.    Conduct research and implement plans and programs to promote ecosystem-based management.

Third, it provided a start up appropriation of $75,000 to get the ball rolling.

I recommend that you revive this Council and fund its work.


Bill Wolfe

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NJ Gov. Murphy’s Hagiography Of Bob Shinn Whitewashes The Failed Legacy Of Gov. Whitman’s “Open For Business” Attack On DEP And Environmental Protections

May 16th, 2023 No comments

The Ghost Of Whitman’s “Open For Business” Lives On At Murphy DEP

We Saw This Coming and our historical facts and warnings were completely ignored, see:

Today, Governor Murphy issued a tribute to Bob Shinn, see:

The press release is appropriately respectful and vague, but the accompanying EXECUTIVE ORDER NO. 330 goes to great lengths to falsify history.

EO 330 notes Shinn’s role as Chair of the Assembly Solid Waste Committee, and implies that he was a leader and “responsible for legislation protecting critical water supplies, establishing mandatory recycling, and addressing handling and disposal of medical waste“.

Let’s take those “achievements” one at a time.

1. That “protecting critical water supply” is a reference to the Tri-County Pipeline project, Shinn’s legislative reaction to DEP’s 1993 regulatory designation of groundwater water supply “Critical Area No.2″ and regulatory limitations on additional withdrawals of water.

DEP Water Supply Plan:

Based upon the low groundwater levels measured in 1983 by the USGS, the NJDEP determined that three aquifers, the Upper, Middle and Lower Potomac-Raritan-Magothy, were so depleted in southern New Jersey that designation of an area of critical water supply concern was warranted. Continued decline of water levels in these confined aquifers posed a threat of serious adverse effects to the water supply in some areas, including the depletion of groundwater supplies, saltwater intrusion, and reduction of groundwater flow to streams. Therefore in January 1993, by administrative order, the NJDEP designated Water Supply Critical Area 2 located in Burlington, Camden, Gloucester, and Atlantic; and small portions of Ocean, Salem, and Cumberland Counties.

The DEP “protected critical water supplies” by regulation. Shinn had zero to do with that.

The legislation to authorize DEP to designate “Critical Water Supply Areas” was the Water Supply Management Act, enacted in 1981, 4 years before Shinn entered the legislature.

DEP designated “Critical Area #1″ under authority of the 1981 Water Supply Management Act in the 1980’s, years before Shinn’s Tri-County pipeline bill amended the Act: (DEP)

Water levels in four confined aquifers in the New Jersey Coastal Plain within Water Supply Critical Area, the Wenonah-Mount Laurel (MLW), the Upper and Middle Potomac-Raritan-Magothy (PRM), and Englishtown aquifer system, have recovered as a result of reductions in groundwater withdrawals initiated by the State in the late 1980s.

DEP Order on Critical Area #2: (1993)

(a) The Department designated Water Supply Critical Area II by administrative order on January 15, 1993. Based upon a regional water supply study substantiated by United States Geological Survey monitoring and modeling, and following public notice and public hearings, the Department determined that the Potomac-Raritan-Magothy (PRM) aquifer system was depleted such that designation as an area of critical water supply concern was warranted.

The Shinn pipeline project (see his 1993 legislative amendments) was enacted AFTER DEP issued the 1/15/93 Order establishing critical area #2. That law was approved on and the effective date of that law, P.L. 1993, c.202 was July 24, 1993.  See: C.58:lA-6.b. Permit system; development of guidelines.

Those specific areas previously designated by the department as water supply critical and margin areas, considered as Depleted or Threatened Zones, respectively, prior to the effective date of P .L.1993, c.202 shall be considered to be areas of critical water supply concern for the purposes of P.L.1981, c.262 (C.58:1A-1 et al.) or P.L.1993, c.202 (C.58:1A-7.3 et al.).

That law created a complex water allocation permit credit and trading scheme to enable the Tri-County pipeline.

C.58:lA-7.4 Water Allocation Credit Transfer Program.

5. a. There is established in the department the Water Allocation Credit Transfer Program. The purpose of this program is to provide for the transfer of a privilege to divert water within an area of critical water supply concern, as designated by the com- missioner pursuant to section 6 of P .L.1981, c.262 (C.58: 1A-6), without adversely impacting the aquifer.

The amendments limited DEP authority and created a monopoly private water supply scheme that benefitted a private water company and land development scheme on a smaller scale version than the one described in the classic movie Chinatown. It had nothing to do with water supply protections and everything to do with economic development, privatization of water supply, and monopoly profits.

Shinn’s own 1996 DEP Water Supply Plan made that legislative history absolutely clear:

Water Supply Privatization Act (1993 N.J.S.A. 58:26 1-18)

An act concerning long term contracts between local government units and private firms for the provision of water supply facilities and water supply services, establishing a procedure for the negotiating, awarding, and review of these contracts. The Act provides an alternative means of funding the construction and operation of these facilities.

With respect to the Tri-County Pipeline, Shinn’s 1996 Plan again documented the legislative history:

a. Tri-County Project

The NJSWSP continues to support implementation of this project, as recommended by the 1982 Plan (as updated). The Water Supply Critical Area legislation (A-2250) which allows the NJDEP to restrict withdrawals on stressed aquifers should be implemented as expeditiously as possible. A critical aspect of implementation is the Tri-County Project (funded and owned by the NJ American Water Company) which is located in planning area 17. This project utilizes the Delaware River as the source of supply. The plans are to expand the treatment plant (constructed with a modular design allowing 10 MGD expansions) as needed based on contracts with water supply systems that must reduce their use of the PRM aquifers.

The DEP 1996 Plan acknowledged the flaws with taking more freshwater from the Delaware River:

While water supplies are available to New Jersey planning areas draining into the freshwater portion of the Delaware River (such as the Tri-County Project), DRBC’s regulatory program would strongly discourage new substantial allocations that are depletive in nature unless offsetting storage is provided, existing uses are proportionately reduced by conservation or abandonment, or the new water supply is offset by water imported from outside the Delaware Basin in order to meet the flow maintenance requirements.

The Tri-County project turned out to be a boondoggle: (DEP Water Supply Plan)

While many purveyors are purchasing water from the Tri-County Project, an intake and treatment plant on the Delaware River at Delran, others have yet to contract for the water. As a result, as of May 2007 only 14 million gallons per day (mgd) of the 30-mgd capacity of the Tri-County Project is currently under contract. To operate the project’s surface water treatment plant efficiently, the New Jersey American Water Company (NJAWC) has stopped the use of many of its wells within the Critical Area and is instead using water from the Tri-County Project to supply customers. This has resulted in approximately 2 billion gallons per year of NJAWC base allocation from the PRM going unused. Although water levels in the PRM aquifer system have shown a substantial increase, utilization of this unused ground-water base allocation would reverse the trend of increasing water levels seen in recent years.

2. To his credit, Shinn was involved in passage of the 1987 Mandatory Source Separation And Recycling Act (which established a low 15% – 25% recycling goal).

But Shinn was not a leader in this effort, he was a puppet and followed the policy and political lead of Gov. Kean and his chief environmental policy advisor Robin O’Malley. I worked with O’Malley at the time while I was at DEP and can tell you that he generated the policy ideas for Kean. Shinn had nothing to do with any of this.

Shinn later erased all that and used his legislative platform to OPPOSE Gov. Florio’s 1990 Executive Orders and DEP Solid Waste Plan that dramatically increased the original 1987 recycling goal to 60%; cancelled 15 garbage incinerators in almost every NJ county; put DEP in charge of County Solid Waste Planning decisions; and established the world’s strictest mercury emissions controls for garbage incinerators.

Shinn was pro-incineration and pro-county primacy is solid waste management. He OPPOSED DEP regulation of mercury emissions from garbage incinerators. He OPPOSED DEP leadership over Counties. All were retrograde positions.

(Note: the Kean DEP Solid Waste Plan approved incinerators in each of NJ’s 21 counties. The Florio DEP plan rejected that approach, deemed incineration a “technology of last resort”, and emphasized source reduction, composting, and aggressive recycling regulatory mandates, while putting the State DEP in a true supervisory role over County planning. Shinn rejected all that and restored the Kean plan. Shinn admitted that in a NY Times interview:

Q. Do you plan to build new landfills and incinerators in the state?

A. We’re going to need more disposal facilities for about half of our waste stream. We just can’t rely on Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia or whomever for our disposal capacity. …

… we’re going to try to provide capacity by the year 2000 in-state for the lion’s share of our waste stream — now, I’m not saying 100 percent, but it will certainly be in the 90 percentile by that point. In order to do that, you have to build facilities like refuse-derived fuel facilities, compost facilities, landfills and some incinerators. But that decision is really the counties’ decision.

I testified before Shinn to defend the Florio plan and withstand his attacks and have first hand experience and can tell you that Shinn was no environmental leader on solid waste.

The first thing Shinn did at DEP in 1994 was to support a Legislative Resolution to strike down the Florio DEP Solid Waste Plan and abolish the Florio DEP Mercury Task Force.

EO 330 also touts Shinn’s role at the Burlington County landfill (calling it a resource recovery facility is misleading). Omitted was the fact that, to fund that facility, Shinn used a $5 million portion of $17 million restored by the Legislature to offset Gov. Whitman’s massive cuts to DEP’ budget.

3. To his credit, Shinn was involved in passage of the 1989 Medical Waste Management Act.

This law again was a reaction to medical waste washing up on NJ beaches, which triggered public outrage.

But Shinn was not a leader in this effort, he was a puppet and followed the policy and political lead of Gov. Kean and his chief environmental policy advisor Robin O’Malley. I worked with O’Malley at the time while I was at DEP and can tell you that he generated the policy ideas for Kean. Shinn had nothing to do with any of this.

Omission of critical facts is a lie and a falsification of history.

And the above 3 points only related to critical omissions of facts that offset Shinn’s alleged accomplishments.

Totally ignored was Shinn’s implementation of Gov. Whitman’s wholesale attack on DEP as an institution and her dismantling of DEP programs and regulations under Executive Order #27.

So, let me reiterate some of that:

A comprehensive source of information on Shinn’s DEP record can be found in Christie Whitman’s US Senate Confirmation hearing transcript . That transcript provides testimony that documents that record, which was one of “failing a core mission”. Don’t miss my friend Bill Neil’s testimony.

There was extensive critical press coverage of Shinn’s record, so these facts are readily accessible.

The Bergen Record even won a journalistic prize in environmental reporting, based on Whitman’s own slogan that NJ is “Open For Business”. See the Bergen Record’s award winning expose series which won a national journalism award for “A New Genre of Environmental Reporting”  the John B. Oakes Award for Distinguished Environmental Journalism.

Bob Shinn was DEP Commissioner for 8 years under Gov. Whitman’s “Open For Business” administration. He presided over the huge (30%) downsizing of DEP’s staff and budget and his first priority and actions were to abandon the Florio DEP’s nationally leading Solid Waste Management Plan, dismantle the Mercury Task Force, and gut the implementation of the Pollution Prevention Act.

I have a written transcript of sworn testimony by former DEP Assistant Commissioner Richard Sinding stating that Shinn misled the Gov. and directed Sinding to flat out lie about the science, toxicity, and public health risks of mercury (Shinn fired me for blowing the whistle and leaking his memo to Whitman that put those lies and a cynical proposed PR campaign in writing).

He was the least qualified DEP Commissioner in DEP’s history.

I trust that DEP’s press release will accurately reflect this history and not be a hagiography.

Finally, EO 330 touts Shinn’s accomplishments at DEP. Again, total distortion and lies by omission and commission.

Shinn’s so called Climate Action Plan was linked to Whitman’s “Sustainable State Initiative”, which was pure PR cover for environmental dismantling under Whitman’s deregulatory EO #27, 20%+ budget and staff cuts, “Open For Business” campaign, and “Strategy For Regulatory Reform (STARR) initiatives.

Shinn’s climate plan was purely voluntary and set aspirational goals that were a joke, even at the time, not half of Kyoto’s modest goals: (DEP press release)

Shinn announced plans to reduce the emissions of carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, sulfur hexafluoride, hydroflurocarbons and fully fluorinated compounds by 3.5 percent below the 1990 levels by the year 2005.

Shinn’s alleged “leadership” on air quality was to point the finger at other States (long range transport) and thereby protect NJ polluters. He allowed consultants for NJ polluters to effectively privatize the DEP air permit program by allowing them to write permit regulations and technical manuals. (They called it “re-engineering”. It was done in response to withering criticism of DEP’s permit programs by the business community, primarily NJ BIA, Chemistry Council and Chamber of Commerce. The attack on the air program was successful and got no pushback from environmental groups and media. A similar attack was launched on the water programs, which was what drove the Whitman DEP’s “Mega-Rule” rollback. That attack failed and was defeated by environmental groups and critical media coverage.)

Shinn dismantled DEP enforcement across the board, with Grace periods, self disclosed immunity, voluntary compliance, technical assistance, dramatically reduced inspections and fines collected, et al.

Whitman/Shinn’s budgets cuts and continuing diversion of hundreds of millions of dollars of environmental money (larger than her predecessors) led to voter approval of the dedication of 4% of the Corporate Business Tax to DEP. (I did the research and was architect of that).

Whitman/Shinn deregulatory pro-business policies led to 1997 passage of the Brownfields law that weakened toxic site cleanup standards and the Watershed Management Act which created a voluntary locally based planning process as an alternative to Clean Water Act regulation. I was involved in drafting both bills with Sierra Club and am embarrassed to admit that I was duped and co-opted. Whitman later led the misguided legislative effort to deregulate energy. Whitman reversed Florio’s consolidation of energy into DEP to form DEPE, reverting back to DEP.

Shinn gutted the NJ Pollution Prevention Act and he bragged about it in a NY Times interview:

Q. Are you planning any specific reforms for pollution and toxic-release prevention?

A. We have been working on an emissions-reduction program to make it more of a planning function than an enforcement function. It’s not an area where we fine somebody for emissions; it’s a function to plan to reduce emissions from a totalistic standpoint.

All bad.

What’s even more appalling than Gov. Murphy (with the obvious input of his former corporate lawyer DEP Commissioner LaTourette) whitewashing and falsifying this history is that the NJ media will print it wholesale and ignore the history that they reported on at the time.

Specifically, as I previously wrote, the Bergen Record won a national journalistic prize for the critical series called “Open For Business” that exposed the Whitman DEP record for the pro-corporate sham it was. (see:

It will be remarkable if the Record goes along with Murphy and denies their own history and throws the work of their dead reporters under the bus.

The same goes for the Star Ledger.

Jim O’Neill and Tom Moran know better. Shame on them all if they do that.

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