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NJ LCV Op-Ed On Liberty State Park Is Disgusting Hypocrisy

June 6th, 2024 No comments

NJ LCV Led The Campaign That Took Over $250 Million Away From State Parks

Potosnak Steals The Work Of Sam Pesin, A Legendary Leader In Protecting The Park

Ed Potosnak is the guy in the pink tie

Ed Potosnak is the guy in the pink tie

NJ Spotlight published an Op-Ed today by Ed Potosnak of NJ LCV in support of DEP’s proposed Liberty State Park Plan, see:

Potosnak is perhaps Gov. Murphy’s and DEP Commissioner LaTourette’s lead cheerleader, see:

Potosnak not only has done very little of the real grassroots work of protecting Liberty State Park – which has been done for decades by Sam Pesin of Friends of LSP – he led the Statewide campaign that diverted over $250 MILLION from State Parks maintenance, leading to the current $720 MILLION unfunded deficit in State Parks maintenance.

Potosnak has done more harm to State Parks than anyone.

I was so disgusted I fired off this note to NJ Spotlight and DEP Commissioner LaTourette:

———- Original Message ———-

From: Bill WOLFE <b>

To: “ferencem@njspotlightnews.org” <ferencem@njspotlightnews.org>, “jonhurdle@gmail.com” <jonhurdle@gmail.com>, “ed.potosnak@njlcv.org” <ed.potosnak@njlcv.org>

Cc: Sam Pesin <pesinliberty@earthlink.net>, “shawn.latourette@dep.nj.gov” <shawn.latourette@dep.nj.gov>, “wparry@ap.org” <wparry@ap.org>, “tmoran@starledger.com” <tmoran@starledger.com>

Date: 06/06/2024 8:59 AM EDT

Subject: Potosnak Op-Ed LSP

Dear NJ Spotlight:

Your Op-Ed on LSP left a lot out, including the fact that the author led a statewide campaign that stole previously constitutionally dedicated Corporate Business Tax funds – specifically $32 million per year to State Parks maintenance – and reprogrammed that money for other purposes. (other CBT proceeds dedicated to DEP water resource and toxic waste cleanup CBT funds were stripped as well).

At the time (2014), there was a $400 million backlog in State Parks maintenance projects. That deficit is now $720 million and it is unfunded.

The head of the NJ State Parks system at the time wrote:

“Mark Texel, head of the New Jersey Division of Parks and Forestry, called it a “massive blow” and said in a Facebook post soon after the vote that it was “the darkest day I have faced in my professional career.”

No need to take my word for it, read the Bergen Record story:

https://www.northjersey.com/story/news/environment/2017/06/28/archive-budget-cuts-doom-state-parks-disrepair/400817001/

It is the height of hypocrisy for this author to now pretend to be some kind of leader on State Parks.

And he usurped the real leadership of a true hero, Sam Pesin, who has led campaigns to protect LSP for over 40 years.

Do better.

Bill Wolfe

ps – if you want all the details, read this piece:

  • An Open Letter To Gov. Murphy’s Environmental Lapdogs

http://www.wolfenotes.com/2024/05/an-open-letter-to-gov-murphys-environmental-lapdogs/

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From The “Big Map” To NJ ADAPT

June 5th, 2024 No comments

A Legacy Of Opportunism, Careerism, Incompetence, & Cheerleading

The Revolving Door Also Opens To Rutgers

I just got a belly laugh from this note from Rutgers’ NJ Climate Change Resource Center, which struck dissonant cords of historical memory (emphases mine):

In consultation with the NJDEP, the NJ Climate Change Resource Center at Rutgers University prepared a new data layer for non-regulatory planning purposes consistent with the new 2023 DFE for inclusion in its NJADAPTsuite of data visualization and mapping tools. The new data layer provides a crucial understanding of where Design Flood Elevations will change for new construction and redevelopment and can support local efforts to safeguard critical facilities and community assets.

It is important to note that the new data layer is meant to be used as a non-regulatory planning tool for reference only and should not be relied upon for site-specific flood impact analyses, permitting, or other legal or regulatory purposes. The accuracy of this dataset is limited by the data and methods available to create it. This dataset is not based on survey-quality data and must not be used in replacement of survey data.

Why is Rutgers, an academic institution, cheerleading for the Murphy DEP? (while training the development community engineers and planners).

Looking at Rutgers staff heading up the project – could that be a result of the DEP revolving door?

PANELISTS

NJ Climate Change Resource Center:

Jeanne Herb

Lucas Marxen

Jonathan DeLura

Pritpal Bamhrah

Marjorie Kaplan

NJ Dept. of Environmental Protection:

Kunal Patel

1 (249)Jeanne Herb has no training or experience in hydrology, planning, engineering, GIS mapping, oceanography, law, or any other relevant field to manage this climate adaptation program.

Herb began her political career at DEP as a democratic administration political operative who first capitalized on her husband’s (Jeff Scott, then CWA 1034 DEP Union Rep.) relationships with the Florio administration. Based on those connections – not academic credentials and experience – she was installed as the Bureau Chief of the new Pollution Prevention Act program.

Full disclosure: Jeff Scott sold me out in my whistleblower administrative hearings by directing – behind my back – my CWA paid lawyer to go easy, not subpoena DEP Commissioner Shinn, sell me out, and settle without litigation and discovery, which would have revealed his dirty hands and cost him his union job and jeopardized union negotiations with the Whitman administration on DEP’s budget.]

Prior to that, Herb used her well developed bureaucratic manipulator skills to leverage power and influence across the entire Department via administration of DEP’s Spill Act research grant money. She administered the program funding – she did not do scientific work.

[Full disclosure: I represented the DEP Divisions of Hazardous Waste Management and Solid Waste Management on Herb’s grant application funding  and”peer review” team.]

After a total failure and the corporate capture and collapse of the Pollution Prevention Program, she served as a management hack for Gov. Corzine’s DEP Chief Lisa Jackson.

[Full disclosure: I was at NJ PEER at the time and was a harsh critic, among many other things, exposing a “Gag Order” on DEP scientists issued by Herb.]

Failing up again, Herb was later promoted to the head of DEP’s Office Of Policy and Planning under Gov. McGreevey’s DEP Commissioner Brad Campbell.

[Full disclosure: I was hired by Campbell and worked in that Office.]

In that role, Herb was the Cheerleader in Chief for Campbell’s misguided and disastrous failure known as “The Big Map”. For the policy wonks out there, see:

[Update: sorry, DEP killed that link. So I just filed an OPRA for the document. I hope DEP doesn’t sue me for “interfering with government operations” now that Gov. Murphy just signed into law a bill that guts OPRA.]

[Full disclosure: I was a strong internal critic of the Big Map, and warned Campbell multiple times – in memo’s and in the presence of Gov. McGreevey’s staff; the DEP Management Team, and even external Environmental Groups – that the Big Map was fatally flawed scientifically, legally, and politically and would destroy DEP’s credibility and his leadership.

This infuriated Campbell. For doing that, Campbell threatened (twice) to fire me for undermining his leadership and sabotaging his highest priority and legacy project.]

Remarkably, one of the prime reasons for warnings of failure was based on the verbatim qualification in the Rutgers NJ ADAPT mapping exercise. Specifically, that the Big Map:

should not be relied upon for site-specific flood impact analyses, permitting, or other legal or regulatory purposes

Herb and Campbell completely ignored my multiple warnings, which were based on DEP GIS experts.

Campbell was determined to use the Big Map for “permitting and regulatory purposes”.

Just as I predicted, the Big Map was viciously attacked technically, legally and politically; multiple mapping errors were exposed; DEP’s credibility suffered a major blow; Campbell’s leadership was destroyed; and the project collapsed in flames and had to be withdrawn, humiliating Campbell (as the NY Times reported (6/26/05).

  • These Days, a Commissioner Is Under Siege

“The guy talks out of three sides of his mouth,” said Bill Wolfe, an aide to Mr. Campbell for two years who is now organizing a campaign against the fast-track law.

So, life is not fair, the truth does not always prevail, and the revolving door doesn’t always open in the corporate world.

Sometimes, for well connected people like Herb, it opens in cushy “academic” slots – as long as loyalty comes first.

[End note: Email from a friend who was there:

I would change to from Big Map to more pro development crap

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Murphy DEP Proposal To Delist Bald Eagle Raises Important Questions

June 4th, 2024 No comments

Delisting Eliminates Regulatory Protections Of Habitat That Could Set Back Progress

Decision Based On A Narrow Scientific Consensus Process With Conflicts Of Interest 

No Role For The Public Or For Policy and Value Judgments

Kootenai River, northern Montana about 40 miles from Canadian border

Kootenai River, northern Montana about 40 miles from Canadian border

As we warned back in February, the Murphy DEP just proposed new rules that would delist the Bald Eagle from threatened and endangered species program status, and thereby eliminate regulatory protections of habitat, see:

I guess the conservation community failed to weigh in and nip that in the bud as I recommended.

In a bizarre and Orwellian move, the Murphy DEP issued a press release yesterday touting their efforts and this “milestone” (as if this was no big deal or policy decision, just a routine progression). I guess they think that going on offense is the best defense, see:

I am not a conservation biologist, but I have strong views and strongly oppose this misguided decision.

So, before I write to criticize the DEP decision, because I lack the expertise, I just posed these questions to a real PhD conservation biologist I trust: (note to readers: please email me with your thoughts):

XXXXX – I’m writing about this [bald eagle delisting]. I’d like your thoughts on the following questions I have:

1) The Clean Water Act has a concept known as “anti-backsliding”. Basically, that means that when water quality improves (and would allow more pollution), polluters can not relax current permits and get less stringent permits, even though less stringent permits otherwise would meet water quality standards.

As applied to endangered species, that would mean something like that when populations are restored, you can’t relax protections that might jeopardize the progress. In this case, elimination of habitat protections for bald eagle could wipe out the progress made.

Suppose EPA said that it was OK to start using DDT again because the bald eagle recovered?

Does conservation biology have a similar concept as anti-backsliding?

Same question on the “precautionary principle” (which I assume you understand).

2) What is the role of science in listing decisions? Is it acceptable for decision-makers to be more conservative (protective) than warranted by science based on public preferences or policy judgements?

3) I note the bald eagle delisting recommendation was made pursuant to the Delphi consensus process. Do you support the concept of consensus as a basis for decision-making?

4) I note that the delisting recommendation was made by a DEP selected small group of NJ based scientists. Do you feel that this is an adequate scientific review process?

5) I note that there was no role for the public (or other scientists, experts, or interested parties) in the delisting recommendation (science) and DEP regulatory proposal to implement that delisting. Are you OK with that?

6) I understand that the final decision was made by Commissioner LaTourette. Do you think he is qualified and properly motivated to make that decision?

I’d prefer quick written replies, because whenever I get on the phone, my mind wanders all over the place.

Wolfe

[End Note: The NJ Builders Association website lists this DEP proposal as a “helpful link”. That’s really all you need to know:

Helpful Links

Find Your State Legislator

NJ Board of Public Utilities

NJ Department of Community Affairs

NJ Department of Environmental Protection

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Murphy DEP Puts Oil Industry In Charge Of Toothless “Climate Resilience” Plans At Hazardous Chemical Plants

June 3rd, 2024 No comments

DEP Notes “Catastrophic Risks” Of Climate Change At Oil And Chemical Plant Accidents

Proposal Ignores Environmental Justice Issues At 250 Oil And Chemical Plants

DEP Eliminating Significant Regulatory Protections For “Nominal Concentrations” Of Hazardous Chemicals

1 (166)

The Department is using the high-end sea-level rise because the damage or loss due to a discharge, as a result of failed planning for these types of facilities, may have a catastrophic impact or debilitating effect on human health and the environment. ~~~ DEP proposal, page 18)

The Murphy DEP today proposed to update current regulations on the safe storage and prevention of discharge of petroleum and hazardous chemical substances. The rules include emergency response planning and cleanup (read the proposal here).

These regulations are known as the “Discharge Prevention, Containment, And Counter-Measures (DPCC) program rules:

The rules at Discharges of Petroleum and Other Hazardous Substances, N.J.A.C. 7:1E
(the DPHS rules), implement the Spill Compensation and Control Act, N.J.S.A. 58:10-23.11a et seq. (the Spill Act or the Act), which sets stringent standards for discharge prevention and emergency response requirements for facilities storing or handling hazardous substances. The DPHS rules establish standards for emergency response in the event of a discharge of a hazardous substance. The DPHS rules also establish standards for discharge prevention for
major facilities storing or handling hazardous substances.

1 (240)

Today, I will highlight several significant flaws, including:

  • Failure To Consider Greenhouse Gas Emissions And Global Warming Response Act
  • Failure To Consider NJ’s Environmental Justice Law And Regulations or EJ Risks
  • Putting The Oil and Chemical Industry In Charge Of Toothless “Climate Resilience Plans”
  • Eliminating Significant Protections For Low Concentrations of Hazardous Chemicals
  • Failure To Address Lessons Learned By Prior NJ Chemical Accidents
  • Lack Of Transparency And Failure to Provide For Effective Public Participation

1) Global Warming Response Act And Greenhouse Gas Emissions Are Ignored

1 (242)

Although the rules apply to the oil industry and facilities that directly and indirectly are responsible for huge greenhouse gas emissions, the DEP proposal does not mention the Global Warming Response Act or emissions reduction goals. DEP selectively ignored this state law, but did apply other State laws, including the Flood Hazard Act.

How do you ignore GHG emissions when regulating oil and gasoline storage?

2) Toothless Climate Resilience Plans

The proposal is limited to “adaptation” (what DEP calls “resilience”). The resilience standards are flawed, because they ignore extreme heat (which creates risks at these facilities due to expansion, evaporation, explosive risks et al) and are based on the FEMA 100 year storm event (coast) and the similarly outdated DEP inland flooding standards (100 year event plus additional height).

According to the DEP proposal, the risks posed by approximately 250 regulated oil and chemical facilities are significant, and “may have a catastrophic impact or debilitating effect on human health and the environment.

Those are DEP’s words.

Yet despite “catastrophic” risks, the DEP climate resilience plans are toothless, have no implementation requirements, and allow the oil and chemical industries to self regulate – and with zero public notification or involvement.

Here is the DEP summary of the Climate Resilience Plans: (page 16)

In general terms, in order to prepare the CR plan, the owner or operator of a major
facility must evaluate the facility in light of rising sea level, increased rainfall, extreme weather events, and increased flooding, and identify and consider potential protections against discharges that may be caused by these events.The proposed rules do not require the owner or operator to immediately implement mitigation measures. Instead, the Department intends that the proposed requirement to prepare a CR plan will promote resiliency awareness and resiliency planning at these facilities.

The impacted host community has zero input on these plans.

3. Environmental Justice Risks And Impacts Are Ignored

1 (241)

According to the DEP proposal, these 250 facilities were not mapped in terms of location in environmental justice communities or proximity to “sensitive receptors” like schools, daycares, hospitals, or housing developments.

Instead of informing the public about where these facilities are located and whether they have environmental justice impacts, the DEP proposal merely stated:

Major facilities subject to the DPHS rules are widespread over the State’s 21 counties at urban, suburban, and rural sites. There are approximately 250 facilities presently defined as major and, therefore, subject to the DPHS rules.”

The proposal does not even mention the concept of environmental justice.

Yet scores of regulated facilities are located in designated environmental justice communities.

How can DEP get away with that?

4. Rollback Of Protections For Facilities That Have Low Concentrations of Hazardous Chemicals

Granting a long time oil and chemical industry request that DEP has denied historically, the Murphy DEP is proposing significant regulatory relief for what they call “nominal concentrations” of hazardous substances (1.0% and 0.1% for carcinogens).

These “nominal” facilities are allowed to submit “abridged plans”.

“Nominal” includes concentrations of 1,000 parts per million of chemical carcinogens. These chemicals have risks in the parts per billion range.

DEP conducted no environmental fate and transport or risk assessment of this entire exemption. There is no public notice or community input in the “nominal” relief process granted by DEP.

Here are the significant regulatory protections that DEP is eliminating for these “nominal” facilities, virtually the entire technical guts of the program:

The abridged plan also does not require a drainage and land use (DLU) map or topographic maps delineating environmentally sensitive areas.

An abridged DCR plan does not require a description of off-site response measures, including a description of the protection and mitigation measures for off-site residential, environmentally sensitive, or other areas prioritized based on use, seasonal sensitivity, or other relevant factors. Nor must the abridged DCR plan describe provisions for an environmental assessment of the impact of any discharge, include a certification by a marine biologist or aquatic biologist or ecologist or freshwater equivalent and ornithologist describing the procedures for determining the recycling or disposal options for hazardous substances or contaminated soil, debris, and so forth, gathered during housekeeping or cleanup and removal activities; or include a copy of a current agreement with the local emergency planning committee or committees that coordinates the emergency responses of the parties to the agreement. Otherwise, the requirements for an abridged plan are the same as for a full DCR plan

5. Failure To Address Lessons Learned By Prior NJ Chemical Accidents

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The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) issued a scathingly critical report on numerous failures during the Paulsboro toxic train derailment that forced evacuation of the community. That Report was not even mentioned.

There have been many other major oil and chemical spills, explosions, fires, and other accidents in NJ and nationally that provide lessons and examples of lax regulation, oversight, and enforcement. All were ignored.

6.  Lack Of Transparency And Failure to Provide For Effective Public Participation

In general, this program is opaque, and much of the information is confidential based on Homeland Security and other corporate secrecy protections.

Local Emergency Planning Committees are ineffective, given little information, and manipulated.

There is little public awareness or media coverage of these “catastrophic” risks.

The DEP proposal actually makes the current situation worse by allowing huge loophole to operate under the nominal exemption process and the industry controlled “climate resilience” plans.

Also, the DEP is holding only 1 “virtual” public hearing on June 11 at 9 am. A virtual hearing frustrates meaningful public involvement and the June 11 date is far too early to allow the public to analyze the proposal.

We will be submitting comments to the DEP and encourage readers to do so as well. Hit the link to the proposal above to get info on how to submit comments.

It will be interesting to see how the EJ and climate activists respond – Will they give the Murphy DEP another pass?

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Trump Is Now Marketing “Project 2025″ – Promises $110 Billion Deregulation & Tax Break Deal To Big Oil And Gas

May 31st, 2024 No comments

We Warned About The Washington Post’s “Bombshell” Story Months Ago

More media Coverage Of Porn Star Payments Than Multiple Existential Crises

Trump is now actively marketing and fundraising off his “Project 2025″ Plan, pledging $110 BILLION in regulatory rollbacks and tax cuts to Big Oil and Gas in exchange for a $1 BILLION campaign contribution.

The Guardian reports:

Trump promised to scrap climate laws if US oil bosses donated $1bn – report

Donald Trump dangled a brazen “deal” in front of some of the top US oil bosses last month, proposing that they give him $1bn for his White House re-election campaign and vowing that once back in office he would instantly tear up Joe Biden’s environmental regulations and prevent any new ones, according to a bombshell new report.

According to the Washington Post, the former US president made his jaw-dropping pitch, which the paper described as “remarkably blunt and transactional”, at a dinner at his Mar-a-Lago home and club.

In front of more than 20 executives, including from Chevron, Exxon and Occidental Petroleum, he promised to increase oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, remove hurdles to drilling in the Alaskan Arctic, and reverse new rules designed to cut car pollution. He would also overturn the Biden administration’s decision in January to pause new natural gas export permits which have been denounced as “climate bombs”.

We told you this was coming last August, when I wrote:

The Right Wing’s New Long Game Plan – “Project 2025″

The billionaire backed corporate Right wing think tanks have generated a new long game plan for the next Republican administration.

The Plan is explicitly designed to “dismantle the administrative state”.

It’s name is “Project 2025″.

Chapter 13 provides a radical agenda to dismantle EPA and virtually all regulatory, science, and climate programsread it here:

But the US media has spilled more ink over Trump’s hush payments to a porn star.

And that explains why we face multiple existential crises, including climate catastrophe, ecological collapse, nuclear Armageddon, Genocide, and another “Gain of Function” global pandemic.

Listen to Professor Jeff Sachs explain the history of how we got here.

His warning about the ongoing gain of function research and lab leaks that caused the COVID pandemic are jaw dropping and being ignored by mainstream media.

 

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