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A “Beautiful Mind” Produced Some Ugly Results

May 24th, 2015 No comments

Dark Assumptions of John Nash’s Game Theory Infected Politics and Economics

Nash’s Concept of Individual Self Interest – Not Cooperation – Corrosive In Many Fields

Princeton University Nobel Prize winning mathematician John Nash, subject of the movie “A Beautiful Mind” was killed yesterday in a Turnpike crash, see

In a supreme irony, apparently Nash was not wearing a seat belt. The irony does not flow from his mathematician’s misperception of quantitative risk.

Seat belts were a government regulatory mandate – in contrast, Nash’s ideas reinforced radical free market economic theories like those of Freidrich Hayek, who viewed such government intervention – before the slogan “command and control regulation”  had been coined – as a step along  The Road To Serfdom.

So, I thought I’d take this opportunity to present how some of his most recognized ideas known variously as “The Nash Equilibrium”,  ”Game Theory” and “The Prisoner’s Dilemma” impacted various policy fields of politics and economics.

A very interesting effort to explore those ideas was the BBC intellectual history documentary by Adam Curtis: “The Trap – What Happened to Our Dream of Freedom?” Part One: Human Beings Will Always Betray You – You can Only Trust The Numbers.

Nash’s assumptions on human nature, reflected in game theory, were twisted: to Nash, humans were driven exclusively by ruthless and selfish individual self interest – a world where empathy, altruism, solidarity, the social contract, collective action, and cooperation did not exist.

These ideas poisoned other fields, leading to the madness of strategic nuclear deterrence, free market economics, public choice theory, and libertarian politics. 

Here is Curtis’ opening lede that describes the three part series:

The ultimate political goal at the heart of our age is the idea of individual freedom.

In Britain, our government has set out to create a revolution that will free individuals from the control of old elites and bureaucracies.

A new world, where we are free to choose our lives, not be trapped by class or income in predestined roles.

But if one steps back and looks at what has resulted, it is a very strange kind of freedom.

The attempt to liberate people from the dead hand of bureaucracy has led to the rise of a new and increasingly controlling system of management, driven by targets and numbers.

Governments that committed to creating freedom of choice in all areas, have actually presided over a dramatic rise in inequality and collapse of social mobility.

The consequence has been a return of the power of class and privilege.

This is a series of films about how this strange paradoxical world came into being.

It begins in the dark and frightening days of the Cold War.

And it will show that what we have today is a very narrow and peculiar idea of freedom that was borne out of the paranoia of that time.

It is based on an image of human beings as selfish, isolated, and suspicious creatures who constantly monitor and strategize against each other.

Our films will show how politicians and scientists came to believe that this idea of human nature could be the basis of a new type of free society.

But what none of them would realize is that within this dark and distrustful vision lay the seeds of a new and revolutionary system of social control.

It would use the language of freedom, but in reality it would come to entrap us and our leaders in a narrow and empty world.

Watch Part I  and follow the links to Part II “The Lonely Robot” and Part III “We Will Force You To Be Free” – I think you will love it.

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“New” Pinelands Pipeline Proposal Based on Brazen Lies

May 24th, 2015 No comments

It’s Still The Same Pipeline, Same Route, & Same BL England Re-Powering Project

Still The Same Violation of Pinelands Forest Standards

Sham re-submission a test of the integrity and independence of Pinelands staff

Cause you’re still the same
You’re still the same
Moving game to game
Some thlngs never change
You’re still the same ~~~~ Still The Same (Bob Seger, 1978 – yes, the Hippies and all the good music were all long gone by 1978)

On Thursday May 21, 2015, South Jersey Gas Co. (SJG) submitted an amendment to their application to the Pinelands Commission seeking approval of the pipeline as “private development” under the Pinelands Comprehensive Management Plan (CMP).

Remarkably, according to news reports, if staff concur with SJG’s “new” arguments, the Pinelands Commission will not vote on the project (see process for review of “private development“), which would be an arrogant and incredible abuse of democracy and law.

Staff decisions are under the control of Executive Director Wittenberg.

As we’ve noted, Executive Director Wittenberg – a former lobbyist for the NJ Builders Association appointed by Governor Christie – is in the tank for South Jersey Gas and following orders of the Governor’s Office.

Don’t be fooled by news reports, which unfortunately were spun by SJG’s new media consultant and got the story wrong.

From news reports we select the worst, being the Press of Atlantic City story. That paper has editorialized in support of the pipeline  and went along with SJG’s media strategy to embargo the announcement for maximum spin, but has since updated and revised that story, to include critics. To cover their tracks, the updated version conveniently deletes any mention of the embargo agreement:

Here are the other stories: NJ Spotlight; Star Ledger; Burlington County Times.

  • Part One – The “New” Spin

SJG offers a handful of talking points allegedly based on “new” information about why the “new” version of the pipeline meets the requirements of the Pinelands Comprehensive Management Plan (CMP).

SJG has blended the regulatory compliance demonstration points with media spin talking points.

  • A) Compliance Arguments

We start first with SJG’s formal regulatory compliance arguments:

  •  The contractual agreement between South Jersey Gas and RC Cape May Holdings requires the pipeline to be used to supply natural gas to the B.L. England plant, located in the Pinelands, on at least 350 days out of the year.
  • PJM Interconnection and the Department of Environmental Protection both have determined that absent significant electric transmission system improvements, repowering the B.L. England facility is necessary to avoid electric reliability violations inside the Pinelands and the surrounding region.
  • A repowered B.L. England plant will supply about 86 percent of its electric output to the Pinelands once the Oyster Creek Nuclear Plant retires in 2019.
  • A repowered B. L. England plant will help to reinforce electric reliability and reduce electricity congestion charges within the service territory of Atlantic City Electric, which supplies about 73 percent of all Pinelands residents, including the entire population of Atlantic and Cape May counties.
  •  A repowered B.L. England facility will dramatically reduce harmful air pollution within the Pinelands

We briefly rebut them in order:

1) The gas supply contract with BL England requires that SJG supply gas on 350 days/year – this allegedly shows that the pipeline “primarily serves” the Pinelands.

There is nothing “new” here. The supply contract was reviewed by the BPU 2 years ago.

In fact, BPU’s approval includes conditions that require that gas to the BL England plant be diverted from BL England plant and shifted to residential and commercial users under certain conditions, so this allegedly “new” information conflicts with an existing BPU Order.

Furthermore, the “new” information contradicts the prior justification for the pipeline, which was to provide “reliability” service to Cape May gas customers in the event of an emergency. This back up infrastructure was called “resilience”.

2) PJM and DEP reliability determinations, even if valid, are not “new” and have absolutely no legal relevance or factual bearing on the issue of whether the pipeline complies with the CMP Forest standards.

The forest standard requires that the pipeline “primarily serves” the Pinelands.

Aside from being irrelevant, the “reliability” arguments apply to the regional electric grid and gas infrastructure, which are located primarily outside the Pinelands region and therefore that argument contradicts the “primarily serves” argument.

3)  The retirement of the Oyster Creek nuclear power plant has nothing to do with whether the gas pipeline complies with the CMP. It is an energy planning and policy issue outside the jurisdiction of the Pinelands Commission and the CMP.

As previously noted, the Oyster Creek plant – and the BL England plant – both produce power that is connected to and distributed by the 13 state regional PJM power grid.

By definition, those plants do not “primarily serve” the Pinelands region. The grid does not work that way.

4) Increased electric reliability and reduced congestion charges in the Atlantic City electric grid, even if valid, have nothing to do with whether the gas pipeline “primarily serves” the Pinelands and complies with the CMP.

As noted previously, these are energy regulatory matters that are outside the scope of the Commission’s jurisdiction and the requirements of the CMP.

The fact that Atlantic Electric serves 73% of Pinelands residents would be a fact that would be relevant to the issue of whether  an Atlantic City electric infrastructure project “primarily serves” the Pinelands – but this is a South Jersey Gas Co. gas infrastructure project – wrong company, wrong type of project!

5)  Whether a repowered B.L. England facility would dramatically reduce harmful air pollution within the Pinelands would be a factual question that would be relevant to whether a BL England plant project, conducted by owner RC Cape May Holdings, was consistent with the forest standards and the CMP.

But again, first of all, this is not “new” information or a “new” argument.

The air quality benefit argument was presented by DEPin December 2013 (see also this post, and note that all the links to the DEP documents have been shut down by DEP):

Second, the argument is not accurate – as I noted, the so called “air quality analysis” did not validly compare existing emissions with repowered emissions in light of days of operation. The analysis was based emission rates.

A very different conclusion would result if total emissions were considered, based on peak plant (a few hours per day on 25 days per year) versus base load (24 hour per day, 350 days per year) operation.

Furthermore, the air quality analysis did not consider lifecycle, secondary and cumulative emissions of greenhouse gases, which are regulated pollutants under NJ DEP regulations.

Finally, the BL England plant air emissions argument does not apply to a SJG gas pipeline project – different companies, different energy infrastructures.

  • B)  Media Spin

South Jersey Gas Co. has hired a media consulting firm – here are some arguments they spun the press with:

1) There are “new” deed restrictions placed on connections along the pipeline route, thereby preventing new secondary development along the route through the Pinelands. Press of AC:

South Jersey Gas is also pursuing a deed restriction with the state Board of Public Utilities, so residents of the Pinelands Forest Area would not be allowed to tie into it, thus negating the fear it could spur development there.

“We are going to the BPU and asking them to tell us we are not allowed to connect unless ordered to do so by them,” Fatzinger said. “It puts teeth in a committment we already made.”

This also is an “old” argument.

In fact, the Pinelands Commission’s draft approval of the old MOA specifically included conditions that required such deed restrictions.

More importantly, the argument totally contradicts the “primarily serves the Pinelands” requirement. If connections in the Pinelands are prohibited, the pipeline clearly does not serve the Pinelands gas consumers.

2) There are design changes to the project – this was picked up by the Press of Atlantic City story:

The company has also changed some aspects of the pipeline design, Fatzinger said.

The interconnection station in Upper Township has been moved outside the Forest Area, and about four miles of pipeline would be laid using directional drilling rather than open-cut trenching to minimize surface impact, particularly in Forest Area, he said.

I got a kick out of this one –  first of all, removing an interconnect from there forest area is irrelevant to whether other portions of the pipeline project that remain in the forest area comply with the CMP.

But more importantly, by admitting that the prior project would have “surface impact” in the forest area, it completely contradicts the original arguments that the pipeline route would have “minimal disturbance”,  followed existing roadway right-of-way, and would haven little to no impact on the Pinelands!

  • Part Two – Background – how we got here

We restate this for context and so that people remember why the Pinelands Commission staff found that the pipeline was not consistent with the forest area standards and violated the CMP.

I always thought it was an obvious bold lie for the South Jersey Gas Corporation (SJG) – a private, for profit, corporation – to attempt to use the Board Of Public Utilities (BPU) to seek a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the Pinelands Commission to resolve conflicts with the forest standards of the Comprehensive Management Plan (CMP).

Under the Pinelands Commission’s CMP regulations, a MOA can resolve a conflict with a standard, if an “equivalent level of protection” of Pinelands resources can be demonstrated.

However, a MOA is limited to a “development initiated by a state or local public agency(see NJAC 7:50-4.52) - it is obvious that SJG is not a “public agency” and that the pipeline was not to be “initiated” by the BPU.

That big lie failed, ironically for other reasons, when the Commission deadlocked in a 7 – 7- tie vote on the MOA on  January 10, 2014.

But, as we repeatedly warned – particularly during the Assemblyman Fiocchi ethics challenge:

Wolfe also clarified that the matter was in fact still a live “contested case” as a result of the South Jersey Gas litigation, and the matter was still pending before the Appellate Division.

Despite the Commission’s 7-7 vote on the proposed MOA, the SJG pipeline application has never been withdrawn, thus the application technically still remains before the Pinelands Commission.

Although the MOA was defeated and SJG legally appealed that action by the Commission, SJG never withdrew their underlying original pipeline application, and it always remained before the Commission.

SJG now seeks to amend and revive Commission review

Under CMP rules, the pipeline is defined as “public service infrastructure”:

“Public service infrastructure” means sewer service, gas, electricity, water, telephone, cable television and other public utilities developed linearly, roads and streets and other similar services provided or maintained by any public or private entity.

“Public service infrastructure” is only allowed in the forest area under certain conditions.

The underlying reason that SJG try to rely on a MOA was because the pipeline would violate the forest standards of the CMP, which require that the pipeline (NJAC 7:50-5.23 (b)12)

Public service infrastructure intended to primarily serve the needs of the Pinelands

The Pinelands Commission staff found that the SJG pipeline project was not consistent with the forest standards of the CMP because the pipeline dod not “primarily serve” the Pinelands.

SJG agreed with and did not challenge that finding.

Nothing has changed – legally or factually – in the design of the project to alter that original staff finding.

The only thing that has changed is the political composition of the Pinelands Commission.

Staff must demonstrate their independence and integrity and reaffirm the original determination.

  • Part Three – Conclusions and Future Directions

Here are the only talking points you need to know:

  • There is nothing of legal or factual relevance that is “new”
  • The same original conflict with the forest standards of the CMP remains
  • The Staff’s credibility and integrity are on the line – they must not bow to political pressure and must reaffirm their original finding that the pipeline is not consistent with the forest standards because it does not “primarily serve” the Pinelands. 

If staff re-affirm the prior determination that the pipeline is not consistent with the forest standards, then the only option (short of denial) is for SJG to seek “waiver of strict compliance”.

As we’ve previously noted, the CMP requires that waivers may only be issued for projects with a “compelling public need” and for which there are “no feasible alternatives” – the SJG pipeline does not meet wither of these standards.

Take a look at what Pines rules require::

7:50-4.64  Standards for establishing compelling public need    

  1. (a)  An applicant shall be deemed to have established compelling public need if the applicant demonstrates based on specific facts and the Pinelands Commission verifies that one of the following conditions exist:
    1. The proposed development will serve an essential health or safety need of the municipality or, in the case of an application serving more than one Pinelands municipality, the county in which the proposed development is located, and:
      1. The public health and safety require the requested waiver;
      2. The public benefits from the proposed use are of a character that override the importance of the protection of the Pinelands as established in the Pinelands Protection Act or the Federal Act;
      3. The proposed use is required to serve existing needs of the residents of the Pinelands; and
      4. No feasible alternatives exist outside the Pinelands Area to meet the established public need and that no better alternatives exist within the Pinelands Area;

No way this project can meet these standards. NO WAY (see also 7:50- 4.62).

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The Visitor From The Sierra Madre

May 21st, 2015 1 comment

julien

Meet Julian Anguiano, from Saltillo Mexico –  (here is his tour website).

Julian lives in the Sierra Madre, a mountain range made popular in the US by the classic movie The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, starring Humphrey Bogart:

Gold Hat (Alfonso Bedoya): “We are Federales… you know, the mounted police.”

Dobbs (Bogart): “If you’re the police, where are your badges?”

Gold Hat (Bedoya): “Badges? We ain’t got no badges. We don’t need no badges! I don’t have to show you any stinkin’ badges!”

I was a Warmshowers host for Julian over the weekend and we had a wonderful time.

Julian is on a 1 year long tour from his home in Mexico.

For the last three months, he has toured about 2,400 km through Texas, along the Gulf Coast, across northern Florida and up the East Coast. He arrived at my house on Sunday afternoon and was heading to NY City, where he had a flight out of JFK to Manchester England.

He planned to spend at least 3 months in Europe and then fly to Japan for a 6 month tour there.

We really hit it off and were able to talk at length, sometimes incredibly closely.

Julian explained the reason for his tour: he’s a 42 year old man, with a wife and 12 year old son, but his job was high pressure, on call 24/7, and that he did not want to live his life that way anymore.

So, one day, despite the fact that he had never ridden a bike before and bicycle touring in not popular in Mexico, he decided to go on a world tour and began planning to do so.

He told me he wanted to be more to his son than just an example of a hard worker – he wanted to give him a legacy. In a very touching moment, Julian told me that now that he is away from home on his tour, he actually spends more quality time talking to his son and they have grown closer.

He enjoys the support of his wife and son, and told me the small hometown papers made him somewhat of a celebrity and gave him a grand send off on his journey.

Julian shared his joy in meeting people and especially talking to them about their hopes and dreams and their way of life and their families. He emphasized that he never labelled or judged people, he focused on learning about them and listening to their stories.

He felt that bicycle touring and Warmshowers hosts provided a unique opportunity to break down the barriers that exist between people. He said he was totally  in love with his US tour and all the great people he met along the way.

I took him to visit Liberty State Park, Statute of Liberty and Ellis Island.

When he left, I rode with him up the D&R Canal to Kingston.

We stopped to tour Princeton and the University – he was blown away by the architecture and beauty of the place.

It was the best time I’ve had in a long time -

I gave him a gift off my library shelf – I chose John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath – but that Library of America volume also had The Sea of Cortez, which I’m sure Julian will enjoy.

Be well, Julian my friend! A real treasure of the Sierra Madre!

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Chemical Industry Mounting Behind the Scenes Attack on Drinking Water Protections

May 21st, 2015 No comments

 NJ press ignores all that, while spinning history

Chemical Industry Continues Shameful 60 Year Legacy of Attacking Scientists, Science, Public Health & Environmental Protections

Soon after I first read Rachel Carson’s groundbreaking 1962 book Silent Spring, I changed my major.

It was 1975 and I was studying chemical engineering at Clarkson College of Technology. After learning of the devastating ecological and human health impacts, I wanted no role in manufacturing chemicals. Instead, I wanted to ban and regulate them, so I changed my major to environmental science.

So, to put it mildly, I was stunned – and disgusted – to read this huge revisionist whitewash in yesterday’s press clips:

Klipstein said his grandfather served as president of the chemical firm American Cyanamid in the early 1960s, and became increasingly concerned about the potential harm from chemical misuse.

“I think he was really struck by (environmentalist) Rachel Carson and her book ‘Silent Spring,’ ” he said. Prior to the creation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act, the senior Klipstein founded the New Jersey Chemical Industry Council [NJCIC] to share thoughts and concerns about chemical product development and educate students and teachers about advancements in the field of chemistry.

Yeah, I bet the President of American Cyanamid and founder of the NJCIC was “struck” by Carson’s book – as in struck by lightning!

But the CIC as about educating teachers and children? The reporter apparently lifted that historical spin directly off the Chemistry Council’s website.

So, lets get the history right.

Rachel Carson was viciously attacked by the chemical industry for writing Silent Spring – much of it personally directed at her as a woman.

Some of that attack was launched right here in NJ, by agricultural chemical and pesticide manufacturers like American Cyanamid and their NJ State government flunkies.

Attacks on Carson by the chemical industry were widespread, and no doubt shared by major NJ corporations like Cyanamid (see: Fifty Years After Silent Spring, Assault on Science Continues):

 “In any large scale pest program, we are immediately confronted with the objection of a vociferous, misinformed group of nature-balancing, organic gardening, bird-loving, unreasonable citizenry that has not been convinced of the important place of agricultural chemicals in our economy.”  ~~~ Director, NJ Department of Agriculture

Since its 1955 founding, the NJ Chemical Industry Council – precursor to today’s NJ Chemistry Council – has attacked science and scientists, elevated industry profits above protection of public health, and – by blocking, delaying or weakening  the effective regulation of dangerous chemicals – the CIC has contributed to needless suffering and death of perhaps thousands of people and the permanent poisoning of wildlife and ecosystems.

That’s hardly about a project to “share thoughts and concerns about chemical product development and educate students and teachers about advancements in the field of chemistry” and certainly not a legacy to be proud of.

Today, as we speak, that shameful legacy continues.

As I recently noted, the Chemistry Council is engaged in a classic campaign to “manufacture doubt” to block long delayed drinking water standards (see:

In a May 7, 2015 letter to the Drinking Water Quality Institute, the Chemical industry renewed and expanded those attacks:

Based upon available science and data, we have significant concerns that DWQI’s draft recommendations related to PFNA are needlessly low and costly to New Jersey, which cannot be supported by an objective analysis of the available science and data. As such, DWQI’s current draft MCL for PFNA should be held until such time that scientific evidence can support its recommendation.

In addition to their campaign to attack the science, manufacture false scientific uncertainty, elevate industry profits over public health protections, and use Gov. Christie’s “federal consistency” and anti-regulatory policies to block regulation, the chemistry council manufactured another straw man argument to serve as a hurdle.

NJ CIC now claims that DEP failed to consider what is know as the “occurrence rate” – e.g. how widespread the problem is:

First, we urge DWQI members to keep in mind the fact that the latest federal Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule 3 (UCMR3) reporting data for New Jersey does not support the need for a recommended maximum contaminant level (MCL) of 13 parts per trillion (ppt) or a practical quantitation limit (PQL) of 5 ppt. PFNA was detected in only 4 of 918 public water supply wells in New Jersey, an occurrence rate of less than .44%.  …  This low occurrence rate coupled with the fact that the existing scientific literature fails to establish any human health toxicity effects from PFNA at such low levels make it clear that DWQI lacks human health justification for its recommendation. 

First of all, in contrast to the federal Safe Drinking Water Act, which requires EPA to consider occurrence data in setting drinking water standards, under NJ law, the DEP and the DWQI are not required to consider or authorized to set drinking water standards based on occurrence data.

But CIC fails to note here that the federal EPA UCMR3 monitoring was based on a much higher screening value that used by NJ DEP.

DEP noted this problem in using federal UCMR data and compared federal EPA UCMR data to NJ results:

Under the USEPA Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule 3 (UCMR3; USEPA, 2012b), nationwide monitoring of finished water for 30 unregulated contaminants, including PFNA and 5 other PFCs, is being conducted in 2013−2015 by all U.S. public water supplies serving more than 10,000 people and 800 representative PWS serving less than 10,000 people. Comparison of the UCMR3 PFC occurrence data with other PFC occurrence studies is complicated by the fact that the Reporting Level for UCMR3 monitoring of PFNA (≥ 20 ng/L) is much higher than the Reporting Levels in the NJDEP studies and other monitoring data reported to NJDEP and in the drinking water occurrence studies reported in the literature (generally < 5 ng/L, reviewed by Post et al., 2013). In initial UCMR3 data from 3483 public water supplies outside of New Jersey reported to USEPA through January 2015, PFNA (20 ng/L or above) was found in only seven public water systems outside of New Jersey (USEPA, 2015; Table 1). As of January 22, 2015, PFNA was found in UCMR3 monitoring in three public water supplies sites in Gloucester County, NJ (Woodbury City Water Department, up to 56 ng/L; Monroe Township MUA, up to 28 ng/L; West Deptford Township Water Department, 30 ng/L) including one public water supply (Monroe Township MUA) which had not previously reported detections of PFNA to NJDEP. In all but two of the non-NJ public water supplies reporting PFNA in UCMR3, other PFCs were also present, while PFNA was the only PFC reported at the three Gloucester County, NJ, sites.

ucmr

In private well testing results reported to NJDEP as of July 18, 2014, PFNA (at > 2.5 ng/L) was detected in wells at 26 of 94 (28%) of residences tested in the vicinity of the West Deptford industrial facility. Fifteen of the wells had PFNA levels above 20 ng/L, and the highest concentration found was 1,500 ng/L. Point of entry treatment systems (POETS) have been installed on those wells with PFNA levels of ≥ 20 ng/L that are currently used for potable purposes.

Most of the chemical industry’s attacks are similarly false and misleading.

Certainly no legacy to be proud of.

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No Storm of Protest Over DEP’s Lack of Regulatory Controls and Privatization

May 20th, 2015 No comments

Lack of DEP Regulatory Standards Leads to Abuse By Private Engineers Who Work For Builders

Private “Consultants” Make Toxic Site “Cleanup” Decisions Too

[Update: 5/21/15 - There are hundreds of cases of abuse like this – a must read story:

Rutherford tenants upset with lack of notification about site contamination 

Tenants questioned why they weren’t notified about the investigation prior to three months ago, when the contamination was identified years ago.  ~~~ end update]

Bill Potter does a good job explaining a complex regulatory scheme for storm water in an Op-Ed running at NJ Spotlight today, don’t miss it:

The next time it rains, check out the water flowing down your gutters and into the street. Where all that rainwater — called stormwater or runoff — goes and who is responsible for taking care of it are big-time statewide issues, although you wouldn’t know it from the lack of public attention. Rather quietly, there’s a major storm brewing over stormwater — how to regulate it, who does the regulating and on what criteria.

As I’ve learned, it is difficult to present complex DEP regulatory issues journalistically.

Potter’s Op-Ed also correctly targets the determinative aspects of the issue – i.e private engineers, local governments, and lack of State regulatory standards – and makes recommendations for reforms.

So I thought I might latch on to Bill’s piece and make a quick comparison to similar problems with lack of DEP standards and privatization in the toxic site cleanup program.

To begin to address the water quality and flooding problems Bill correctly notes,  DEP needs to adopt “objective” technical standards to restrict some of the discretion the local governments and professional engineers now have.

Municipalities compound weaknesses in DEP regulations by granting conditional approvals that can essentially privatize the review process, another big problem Potter correctly notes.

But, with storm water management, at least the private engineer is working for the local land use board.

In contrast, under NJ’s toxic site cleanup program, the private “Licensed Site Remediation Professionals” (LSRP) works for the private polluter!!!

Yes, that’s right folks, under the 2009 Site Remediation Reform Act  - thanks to former DEP Commissioner Lisa Jackson and Gov. Jon Corzine and Democratic legislators sponsors Smith and McKeon – private consultants certify compliance with toxic site cleanup requirements with virtually no oversight by DEP [or the knowledge, review or consent of the public].

If you think that is not important, just consider that while the consultant who works for DEP found that there was $8.9 BILLION in pollution damages to natural resources from toxic dumping at the Exxon Bayway and Bayonne refineries, the consultants for Exxon said the damage was ZERO!

Curious that those now making the most noise opposing the Exxon settlement were the same folks who brought us privatization of the cleanup program.

And LSRP’s are “licensed” by and overseen by a board composed of fellow LSRP’s.

Worse, there are no longstanding academic curriculum, university degree programs, institutions, and professional traditions – like those that are strong in the field of civil engineering – for setting rigorous requirements for an LSRP license.

And toxic sites pose far greater risks to human health and the environment than storm water does.

Is that a formula for abuse or what?

So, how do you like ‘dem apples?

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