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NJ Has The Some Of The Worst Air Quality In The Region

July 23rd, 2024 No comments

Gov. Murphy’s DEP Just Approved Another Fossil Power Plant In Newark

DEP Seeking 9 Year Delay For Compliance With National Ozone Standards

Gov. Murphy & DEP Have A Poor Record On Clean Air And Environmental Justice

(Source: NJ DEP, 7/18/24)

(Source: NJ DEP, 7/18/24)

According to the Murphy DEP’s own data, NJ has the some of the worst air quality in the region.

As of July 17, 2024, NJ had exceeded the National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) for ozone 13 times, a number likely to rise to 15 or more in the next report this week.

Ozone is a serious threat to public health and has huge impacts on children and the elderly, leading to elevated hospitalization rates and deaths from asthma, respiratory distress, heart attacks, and stroke. Climate change driven extreme heat days will make this air pollution significantly worse.

Connecticut – a downwind State who’s poor air quality is impacted by air pollution from NJ – leads the tri-state region with just one more day.

Despite this seriously unhealthy air quality and violation of federal NAAQS, the Murphy administration is approving major new sources of air pollution, including huge expansions of capacity of the NJ Turnpike, Port Newark, and Newark Liberty airport and approval of new fossil power plant in Newark.

The Gov. also opposed the NYC congestion pricing program, which would have reduce air pollution from cars and trucks.

The Gov. also recently ended the electric vehicle tax incentives, which will slow the pace of EV conversion and has done almost nothing on building electrification, which also would slow the rate of growth of greenhouse gas emissions and ozone forming pollution from buildings.

According to environmental group EarthJustice, who recently submitted testimony that opposed the Murphy DEP’s request for a 9 year delay in compliance with the ozone NAAQS:

the State of New Jersey has been taking actions that would increase onroad emissions in the entire tri-state nonattainment area. This includes an expansion of the New Jersey Turnpike to the Holland Tunnel into New York City, which is expected to increase traffic on the roadway at least 22%, but with no corresponding expansion of the Holland Tunnel, so will likely result in an even higher emission increase given increased congestion as traffic from the widened New Jersey roadways waits to funnel into the narrow tunnel. The State has also filed a lawsuit to stop New York City’s congestion pricing program, which the federal government recognized would reduce VOC and NOx emissions in the nonattainment area, including in New Jersey counties.

New Jersey should not affirmatively take actions that increase NOx emissions, and then use that as an excuse to say that it needs a 6-year extension because NOx emission reductions are unattainable by the Clean Air Act deadline

Simply put, Governor Murphy and his DEP have a poor record on clean air and closely related climate and environmental justice issues.

Few people (and media and environmental groups) seem to recall that the Murphy DEP even went so far as to deny a formal petition for rulemaking that would have blocked the expansion of new fossil power plants, see:

That petition denial by DEP was a very clear signal that the Murphy administration is not serious about reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The rhetoric of the administration is not matched by policy and regulatory action. The Gov. and has DEP Commissioner have a big hat and no cattle.

The same rhetorical gaslighting applies to the Murphy and DEP commitments to environmental justice, a fact exposed to plain view by the recent DEP approval of another fossil power plant in Newark, one of NJ’s leading environmental justice communities, see:

As I’ve written many, many times, DEP Commissioner LaTourette has been gaslighting the community about the DEP’s environmental justice and climate programs for years.

Yet despite the poor record and obvious writing on the wall, remarkably, climate and environmental  justice groups have long aggressively supported the Gov. and his DEP Commissioner:

Kim Gaddy, Clean Water Action and Maria Lopez- Nuñez, Ironbound with First Lady Tammy Murphy

Kim Gaddy, Clean Water Action and Maria Lopez- Nuñez, Ironbound with First Lady Tammy Murphy

Yet, despite all this, they now somehow feel “betrayed” by Gov. Murphy.

Here’s Food and Water Watch’s recent rant:

Yesterday was an appalling and disgraceful day for the Murphy Administration.

The Governor’s DEP held a closed-door press conference to announce their approval of the inadequate, unjust and deceptive environmental justice review for the PVSC gas plant proposed in Newark…

Hours later the Governor’s Board of Public Utilities held a closed-door stakeholder meeting on their forthcoming new Energy Master Plan. In a Trumpian move, the Governor’s administration prohibited four of EmpowerNJ’s seven steering committee members from participating.  As you know, EmpowerNJ is our state’s largest climate coalition with over 140 organizations representing hundreds of thousands of collective members

So, what are they going to do about?

Don’t hold your breath waiting for real accountability, at least from the Trenton based groups who have backed and provided cover for the Gov. and his DEP Commissioner (e.g. Environment NJ, Clean Water Action, Sierra Club, NJ LCV, et al), non-existent legislative oversight, and a depleted and lazy press corps.

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Patterns And Rymes – A Photo Shoot

July 22nd, 2024 No comments

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s-l400

Next phase?

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How Political Cover Works

July 21st, 2024 No comments

Fake”Reforms” Legitimized By Naive Or Corrupt Non-Profits And Sold To The Public

Anti-fracking protest, Philadelphia, 9/10/12)

Anti-fracking protest, Philadelphia, 9/10/12)

[Update below]

I’m just now reading a fascinating piece on how police body cams were never intended to promote police accountability and transparency, but rather exactly the opposite: to repress and arrest private citizens and protesters, while increasing police budgets, police political power, and the profits of technology firms, see:

The public was duped into believing that the body cameras were a victory for police accountability.

How could something so egregious happen?

The story of the process that sold body cams to the public as “reform” is not limited to cameras, but is a widely abused process, particularly in environmental policy debates.

This paragraph explains not only the body cam sham, but many, many, many other things I’ve written about for years with respect to the environmental community providing cover for politicians and bad pro-industry policies:

“If it’s just the police and the companies that make billions of dollars off body cameras saying, ‘Hey, these things are really great, and they’re going to make the police more accountable and better,’ the public might not really believe that,” said Karakatsanis. “But if you’ve got civil liberties and civil rights nonprofits and fancy professors who run supposedly police accountability nonprofits who are validating this stuff, then now, all of a sudden, you’ve got a really effective propaganda operation.”

Boom!

The same thing happens all the time in the environmental policy debates, where naive or incompetent environmental “leaders” provide validation and political cover for all sorts of bullshit:

(L-R) Ed Potosnak, NJ LCV, Anjui Ramos, NJ Sierra Club, DEP Commissioner LaTourette

(L-R) Ed Potosnak, NJ LCV, Anjui Ramos, NJ Sierra Club, DEP Commissioner LaTourette

Gov. Murphy provided cover by NJ LCV

Gov. Murphy provided cover by NJ LCV

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The Stakeholder process and all sorts on inside collaborations work every time!

And this is the corrupt corporate model, shamelessly promoted by Mike Catania, part of the old growth forest of NJ green scams:

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[Update – I’ve just gotten properly taken to the woodshed by a longtime NJ activist who lambasted me with this rant, with which I completely agree:

Its not incompetence its total corruption- they sell whether its foundation money , state money or corporate money – this group of enviros come from the elite- Pringle legacy at Princeton,O’Malley Greenwich Connecticut and Harvard, they are there to protect the ruling  class  Candy Tim Michelle all the same – Posterdicks father was a devoloper (sic) – Anjuli an elitist

They were never activist they didn’t come from the grassroots

And so it goes. ~~~ end update]

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Why Would An Environmental Activist Try To Absolve A Major Corporate Toxic Polluter Of Responsibility?

July 20th, 2024 No comments

The Source Of Toxic Lead Slag On Keyport Beaches Is No Mystery

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(Source: Bill Wolfe, Raritan Bay Slag Superfund site)

Toxic lead slag has been found again on the beach in Keyport.

Apparently, how the lead slag got there is a “mystery” that the Murphy DEP is investigating.

This statement just blew my mind (NJ Spotlight news, emphasis mine):

The Raritan Bay Slag Superfund site sits just four miles away from the shore — and has tested positive for lead in the past — but Remaud said he believes the objects in Keyport were dumped there and the former National Lead company, which operated the Raritan Bay Slag site, is not responsible.

National Lead is not responsible? Say what?

Unless he knows exactly who dumped it and is a legal expert on liability (which he’s NOT), why would an environmentalist (Remaud) go out of his way to absolve National Lead as the source?

May I speculate that the source is in fact the National Lead Superfund site?

And it seems like very similar major mistakes are being repeated by the DEP, e.g.

  • there are no signs posted to warn the public about the risks of lead exposure;
  • there are no fences limiting access to the contamination; and
  • there is no monitoring and enforcement of environmental laws against the source of the problem.

For details of how that site has been badly mismanaged, check out this April 8, 2010 post (especially the photos):

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The Murphy DEP’s Approval Of Newark Fossil Power Plant Exposes The Sham Of NJ’s Environmental Justice Law

July 19th, 2024 No comments

The Alleged “Special Conditions” DEP Imposed Are A Bluff And Not Enforceable

DEP Commissioner LaTourette Continues To Gaslight The People Of Newark

This is the most political and dishonest action by DEP I’ve ever witnessed in almost 40 years of regulatory work. Follow closely.

The Murphy DEP just issued an approval of an “environmental justice review” of the proposed new gas power plant for the Passaic Valley Sewage Commission facility in Newark. The approval included what DEP calls “special conditions” (read the document here)

The DEP’s approval was issued pursuant to an Administrative Order issued by DEP Commissioner LaTourette. Legally, an Administrative Order issued by a DEP Commissioner can not establish binding and enforceable regulatory requirements on permit applicants. An AO can only bind DEP employees. It has no more legal effect than a press release.

Accordingly, the “special conditions” imposed by DEP in the EJ review approval document are not binding and can not be enforced by DEP.

The DEP’s approval was NOT approval of an air pollution control permit, in this case what’s known as a Title V Operating Permit Renewal And Modification.

If you closely read the fine print in the DEP approval document – which misleadingly conflates the Operating Permit and the EJ review – you can figure this out.

Even NJ Spotlight reported this, but they did so in a misleading way. They reported the permit issue only AFTER reporting on the “special conditions” and with no mention of the fact that those conditions were not enforceable:

LaTourette said DEP expects to release a draft permit in August that will be subject to a public comment period, and then subject to review by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. A final permit is expected to be issued early next year.

The DEP’s approval was NOT issued pursuant to the highly touted Environmental Justice law. As I’ve written several times, that law does NOT apply to the proposed PVSC power plant permit application, see these posts, where I drill down on that:

Repeat: The “special conditions” imposed by DEP in their environmental justice review approval document are not enforceable and they are not official permit conditions.

So, the PVSC permit and this DEP environmental justice review expose huge loopholes and the sham of the environmental justice law and Commissioner LaTourette’s lame efforts to close loopholes in that law via his Administrative Order and a similarly unenforceable DEP Guidance Document, see:

My guess is that DEP Commissioner LaTourette is not only gaslighting the public to avoid revealing those regulatory shams.

My guess is that he’s bluffing the PVSC Commissioners and attempting to generate public pressure on them to abandon the project.

In other words, LaTourette is putting a regulatory gun to the head of PVSC, but that gun is loaded with blanks.

My guess is that Commissioner LaTourette thinks that if the PVSC Commissioners are required to comply with the DEP’s “special conditions” and spend millions of dollars for a power plant they can not use, then they will realize that the economics don’t work and abandon the project.

But this stunt won’t work.

The PVSC has competent lawyers who know that DEP can’t back up and enforce those “special conditions” in a real Title V Operating Permit.

If the PVSC still wants to build the power plant, my guess is that they will wait until receiving the real DEP Title V Operating Permit that LaTourette said would be issued in August. That would call LaTourette’s bluff.

But, on the other hand, if the PVSC Commissioners are looking for a graceful face saving way out, they can blame the DEP’s expensive “special conditions” – and that would allow the Murphy DEP to declare victory too.

DEP also might include the special conditions in the draft Title V Operating Permit and then blame US EPA for striking them out.

So, this could all be some kind of complicated Kabuki dance.

My guess is that any DEP issued Title V Operating Permit will NOT include those “special conditions” – and if it does, the permit will be litigated and the “special conditions” struck down.

Word.

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