Home > Uncategorized > Murphy DEP’s Latest Climate “Action” Plan [SCAP] Is A SCAM And Roadmap For More Delays

Murphy DEP’s Latest Climate “Action” Plan [SCAP] Is A SCAM And Roadmap For More Delays

DEP Keeps Vague Plans & Press Releases Coming, While Abdicating Regulatory Responsibilities

DEPplans to develop unspecified incentive programs”

DEP & BPU Application of the Social Cost of Carbon is “a process that would take at least five years

A few weeks back, I closed a piece that exposed the stealth DEP delay of the “extreme heat” plan with this prediction:

And you can be sure that the mitigation measures adopted in the DEP plan will lack regulatory teeth and funding required to implement them and that they will be delegated to local government and reliant on the voluntary actions of the private sector.

Those predictions were just vindicated by the release of Murphy DEP’s draft “State Climate Action Plan” [Because bureaucrats crave acronyms, its call SCAP. I’ll call it SCAM].

A reader does need to get farther than page 15 of the SCAP to document that, so let me excerpt the revealing text and then briefly translate its meaning:

“While it is clear that no state agency or set of regulatory reforms alone can bring about these necessary structural changes, the Department is proud to do its part to support, and as appropriate, help lead the State’s efforts in conjunction with its agency partners – with particular emphasis on climate change impacts as a threat multiplier for those communities that experience environmental injustices – by working to enhance the State’s resilience to those climate effects that cannot be avoided while simultaneously reducing emissions of climate pollutants in order to limit a worsening of adverse climate change impacts. (p. 15)

The Department recognizes that it alone cannot affect the structural, economic, and societal changes necessary to reduce the worsening effects of climate change. Rather, meeting the State’s climate goals requires deliberate and coordinated action by all levels of government, economic sectors, communities, and individuals. Therefore, as appropriate, the Department has identified and intends to offer its full support to its key partners in these efforts, providing assistance, guidance, and leadership wherever and in whatever form necessary to ensure the protection of our shared future. (p. 16)

This is more pure bureaucratic speak for abdicating DEP’s regulatory responsibilities and moral obligations.

It’s obvious that the culture war language about  “structural change” (DEP’s translation of “structural racism”) has now infected DEP’s regulatory policy.

The real term for environmental regulatory mandates that make dramatic change is “technology forcing” (this policy is currently distorted by the use of the term “technological innovation”, a not so subtle shift to attributing the source of change from government mandates and government funding to private sector research and market based incentives). There are multiple historical examples of technology forcing regulatory mandates, from regulatory bans and phase outs of chemicals (lead, PCB’s, asbestos, ozone depleting chemicals, etc), to vehicle mileage standards, to the acid rain program under the Clean Air Act, which was NOT a “market based approach” but actually the result of enforceable legal and numeric regulatory standards and timetables implemented in EPA issued air pollution control permits).

The Murphy DEP has thrown all these huge successes of regulatory mandates down Orwell’s Memory Hole in pursuit of a Neoliberal corporate ideology.

The DEP’s phrase “coordinated action by all levels of government” is a euphemism for DEP to continue to issue these vague and toothless “strategic” planning documents – backed by exaggerated self praising press releases – while:

1) abdicating DEP’s planning and regulatory powers,

2) delegating DEP’s responsibilities to local government, 

3) promoting privatization (e.g. the off shore wind program is heavily subsidized Wall Street and a corporate profit driven boondoggle), and

4) relying primarily on market forces, “incentives”, and voluntary actions by the private sector and individual consumers.

The term “providing assistance, guidance, and leadership” means more of the same rhetorical approach of the Murphy administration: press releases and toothless Executive Orders (few media reporters and “environmental leaders” seem to understand that an Executive  Order does not have the force and effect of law). By explicit omission of the word “regulation”, it’s a subtle capitulation to the corporate attacks on mandates (building electrification, EV’s, gas stoves, etc) and means that DEP will not regulate.

This latest DEP “Strategic plan” is a surrender – pure and simple – parading under the guise of “leadership”. (see also:

A close reading of the DEP SCAP also reveals that DEP admits that the 2007 Global Warming Response Act is toothless, something I criticized from day one in a Sunday Star Ledger Op-Ed (October 7, 2007):

1 (309)

The DEP subtly admits the fact that the GWRA is toothless – check out how they evasively did that (i.e. “limitations” … “in reaching the goal”):

As required pursuant to the GWRA and following New Jersey’s 2019 EMP update which set the blueprint for large-scale electrification and 100% clean energy by 2050, on October 15, 2020, the Department delivered to the Legislature NewJersey’s Global Warming Response Act 80×50 Report (80×50 Report), which builds upon the EMP and communicates the limitations of existing State legislation, policies, and programs in reaching the 80×50 goal by providing detailed recommendations, across eight distinct emissions sectors to assist policymakers in crafting new initiatives to bridge the resulting emissions reductions gap. (p. 16)

I’ll end this initial overview now and will review the complete DEP SCAP document in a subsequent post.

In closing, let me just say that it was embarrassing to read today’s NJ Spotlight coverage of the Murphy DEP SCAP.

First, I was embarrassed for Doug O’Malley, who again reveals himself as a Murphy Administration cheerleader:

Environmental groups rallied around the plan. Doug O’Malley of Environment New Jersey, praised it, saying it rightly focuses on the two main sources of climate-warming pollution — vehicles and buildings. The two contribute nearly 39% and 26% of the greenhouse gas emissions in New Jersey, respectively. 

The Murphy administration just repudiated “mandates” and ran away from the tepid move to electrify buildings in response to political attacks by the fossil fuel funded business community (“they’re coming to take our gas stoves”). The administration is backtracking on wind – at best, delays despite even more subsidies – the DEP might fold on the recently proposed California car program.

They are almost in full retreat, and put out another vague and toothless “Strategic plan”, and Doug ignores all that and praises them? Are you kidding me?

Second, NJ Spotlight – and Ray Cantor – are clearly responding to this recent criticism – there are several specific examples in today’ NJ Spotlight story:

Third, I was embarrassed for Tom Johnson, a veteran reporter who has simply given up and surrendered to “the political narrative”, facts be damned.

I sent the note below to NJ Spotlight editors and staff:

Maddi – I spent almost 15 years at DEP (at a policymaking level) and another 20 years in the environmental community (Sierra Club policy director, NJ PEER Director), so as an expert I can assure you that your blurb and Tom Johnson’s story today got the story exactly wrong. See below email for the dispositive quote from DEP’s Climate “Action” Plan.

Tom J. has been writing for as long as I’ve been in Trenton at DEP (1985), so I find it astonishing that a veteran professional journalist could write embarrassing sentences like this to support your “full steam ahead” “no compromise” “won’t back down” “double down” false narrative:

“Instead of natural gas or other fossil fuels, the plan suggests heating and cooling homes with electric heat pumps. It recommends the state Board of Public Utilities set goals and timelines for building decarbonization with the initial target addressing new construction and oil- and propane-fueled buildings.

The state plans to develop unspecified incentive programs to subsidize the cost of building decarbonization, including using federal money from a law passed by Congress in 2022. “

To be clear, what the highlighted text above actually means is for DEP is to continue  to do nothing. (I suspect you do not know that current NJ law obligates DEP to join the California car program (EV sales), so the DEP’ proposed California car regulation is not an achievement of the Murphy administration because they were legally required to do so).

Finally, I was pleased to read the closing lines that mentioned the social cost of carbon, but this caveat gives the game away:

“a process that would take at least five years. ”

The US EPA is already using the social cost of carbon in regulatory policy.

With respect to “extreme heat”, as I recently wrote, the DEP has delayed proposal of that plan as well, and will rely primarily on voluntary measures, market based tools, and local government, not DEP’s regulatory and permit authority that governs land use, see:

Despite Record Breaking Heat, Murphy DEP Quietly Delays Extreme Heat Action Plan


I closed that piece with this prediction, which was vindicated by the DEP SCAP “Action Plan”:

“And you can be sure that the mitigation measures adopted in the plan will lack regulatory teeth and funding required to implement them and that they will be delegated to local government and reliant on the voluntary actions of the private sector.”

You really need to talk to John Mooney and Tom Johnson, because they are destroying the credibility of NJ Spotlight.

Bill Wolfe

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