Beauty

September 10th, 2016 No comments

nights

 

Beauty I’ve always missed 
With these eyes before
Just what the truth is
I can’t say any more
‘Cause I love you 
Yes I love you
Oh how I love you ~~~ Nights in White Satin (Moody Blues, 1967)

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EPIC

September 10th, 2016 No comments

epic1

“End Poverty In California” (EPIC) was the motto of Upton Sinclair’s 1934 campaign for Governor of California. Sinclair is far better known as a radical writer than political candidate and the Jersey Guy he was (before he moved to California).

Sinclair wrote a wonderful book about that campaign – I, Governor of California – And How I Ended Poverty  – that told the story of how the media attacked him and the Democrats sabotaged him. For a current piece on the implications of that dirty campaign, see: The Traumatic Birth of the Modern Vicious Campaign.

(and if you ever want a good read on the press, who controls it, and how it operates, read Sinclair’s book “The Brass Check” – read it on line!)

For the “revolutionary” tone of Sinclair’s campaign, here’s an excerpt from his book – don’t you love this pledge: “There are going to be no lawyers and lobbyists for Big Business in my chambers”:

epic2

There are echoes of that campaign now, particularly how the Democrats derailed the Sanders campaign and the corporate media and Democrats have attacked the Jill Stein Green Party. Let’s hope the results are not similar (Google and find out how it turned out).

Here is the EPIC Platform:

  1. A legislative enactment for the establishment of State land colonies, whereby the unemployed may become self-sustaining and cease to be a burden upon the taxpayers. A public body, the California Authority for Land (the CAL) will take the idle land, and land sold for taxes and at foreclosure sales, and erect dormitories, kitchens, cafeterias, and social rooms, and cultivate the land using modern machinery under the guidance of experts.
  2. A public body entitled the California Authority for Production (the CAP) will be authorized to acquire factories and production plants whereby the unemployed may produce the basic necessities required for themselves and for the land colonies, and to operate these factories and house and feed and care for the workers. CAL and CAP will maintain a distribution system for the exchange of each other’s products. The industries will include laundries, bakeries, canneries, clothing and shoe factories, cement-plants, brick-yards, lumber yards, thus constituting a complete industrial system and a new and self-sustaining world for those our present system cannot employ.
  3. A public body entitled the California Authority for Money (the CAM) will handle the financing of CAL and CAP. This body will issue scrip to be paid to the workers and used in the exchanging of products within the system. It will also issue bonds to cover the purchase of land and factories, the erection of buildings and the purchase of machinery.
  4. An act of the legislature repealing the present sales tax, and substituting a tax on stock transfers at the rate of 4 cents per share.
  5. An act of the legislature providing for a State income tax, beginning with incomes of $5000 and steeply graduated until incomes of $50,000 would pay 30% tax.
  6. An increase in the State inheritance tax, steeply graduated and applying to all property in the State regardless of where the owner may reside. The law would take 50% of sums above $50,000 bequeathed to any individual and 50% of sums above $250,000 bequeathed by any individual.
  7. A law increasing the taxes on privately owned public utility corporations and banks.
  8. A constitutional amendment revising the tax code of the State, providing that cities and counties shall exempt from taxation all homes occupied by the owners and ranches cultivated by the owners, wherever the assessed value of such homes and ranches is less than $3000. Upon properties assessed at more than $5000 there will be a tax increase of one-half of one per cent for each $5000 of additional assessed valuation.
  9. A constitutional amendment providing for a State land tax upon unimproved building land and agricultural land which is not under cultivation. The first $1000 of assessed valuation to be exempt, and the tax to be graduated according to the value of land held by the individual. Provision to be made for a state building loan fund for those who wish to erect homes.
  10. A law providing for the payment of a pension of $50 per month to every needy person over sixty years of age who has lived in the State of California three years prior to the date of the coming into effect of the law.
  11. A law providing for the payment of $50 per month to all persons who are blind, or who by medical examination are proved to be physically unable to earn a living; these persons also having been residents of the State for three years.
  12. A pension of $50 per month to all widowed women who have dependent children; if the children are more than two in number, the pension to be increased by $25 per month for each additional child. These also to have been residents three years in the State.
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NJ Senate Takes First Step In Addressing Christie DEP Neglect of Drinking Water Protections

September 9th, 2016 No comments

A Lot of Work To Do After 7 Years of “Malfeasance”

The Senate Environment Committee released a bill (S-2468) to mandate DEP adopt the scientific recommendations of the Drinking Water Quality Institute (DWQI) on public health based drinking water “Maximum Contaminant Levels” ( MCLs), see the NJ Spotlight story:

I’ve been writing about and working on this issue for years, so it is heartening to see the bill move, but passage is questionable and Gov. Christie’s veto is certain. An over-ride is very unlikely.

Incredibly, to give you a sense of how egregious the DEP’s neglect has been, even conservative anti-regulatory Ocean County Republican and Christie loyalist Senator Thompson voted for the bill!

(see: DEP ACCUSED OF DELAYING CHEMICAL REGULATION A YEAR AFTER SCIENTISTS ADVISED LIMIT)

Bill Wolfe, a former DEP staffer who now monitors the department’s work on water quality, called the PFNA case “just the tip of the iceberg of neglect” by the DEP that he said did not adopt the DWQI’s recommendations for MCLs on a number of other chemicals that were under consideration before a four-year hiatus in the panel’s work starting in 2010.

“The Christie DEP has abdicated the DEP’s regulatory role in protecting public health and the environment — whether via failure to adopt standards or failure to monitor and enforce them,” Wolfe said.

This shameful legacy of Gov. Chris Christie and his DEP Commissioner Bob Martin will have to wait until the next administration to repair.

To begin to get a real drinking water protection reform agenda on the radar, I sent the sponsor Senator Lesniak and Chairman Smith the following note:

Dear Senators:

Thanks for for sponsoring and moving S2468, to mandate that DEP adopt MCL’s recommended by the Drinking Water Quality Institute.

I would like to suggest 3 amendments to perfect the bill and avoid this DEP politicization of science and abuse of discretion in the future.

The first amendment would be prospective in nature, such that whenever the DWQI recommended an MCL, DEP would be required to adopt it, just like the backlogged chemicals listed in the bill.

This would permanently eliminate political considerations from delaying MCL’s, ignoring science, and abdicating the DEP’s responsibility to protect public health.

The second amendment would incorporate all existing DEP groundwater quality standards that are based on the science of human health impacts, including “interim specific groundwater quality standards” (ISGWQS).

These DEP groundwater quality standards are just as scientifically rigorous as the MCL’s recommended by the DWQI and adopted by DEP. They are often developed by the same DEP scientists who staff the DWQI. The legal and scientific bases between and GWQS and an MCL are different, but not in conflict.

A good example of this problem is the recent discovery of 1,4,-dioxane at the Ringwood Superfund site, Pompton Lakes drinking water, and numerous public water supplies in north jersey.

The DEP has adopted an ISGWQS for 1,4,-dioxane of 0.4 ug/L (parts per billion). Yet that standard is being ignored in site remediation cleanup decisions and local drinking water treatment and public disclosure requirements for MCL’s.

I wrote about that issue here, and provide links to all the regulatory documents:

The third amendment – significantly broader in scope than the current bill – would require that DEP prepare a Report and hold at least 6 public hearings across the State regarding a strategy to address the more than 500 unregulated contaminants DEP has found in NJ drinking water supplies.

Developing a regulatory strategy to address the unregulated contaminant issue via a “treatment based approach” was a significant policy reform initiative of the Corzine DEP.

Here is the DEP Report that addresses those issues. The Report was prepared by DEP scientists who staff the DWQI and submitted to the DWQI back in 2010, but it was derailed by the Christie Administration, see:

Investigations Related to a “Treatment-Based” Regulatory Approach  to Address Unregulated Contaminants in Drinking Water

I am copying DWQI Chairman Dr. Keith Cooper of Rutgers so you can solicit his scientific expertise and input.

I appreciate your timely and favorable consideration – apologies for being unable to appear to testify on these issues yesterday.

Bill Wolfe

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Think Before You Litigate – Public Access Lawsuit Blunder Now Apparent

September 8th, 2016 No comments

sunrise-shore

The debate over public access to the shore and inland rivers has been re-engaged by the Christie DEP’s proposal of new rules yesterday intended to respond to an Appellate Court decision that found that DEP lacked legislative authorization to regulate public access requirements.

We have not yet reviewed the DEP proposal, but pending that review want to talk about the mistakes that got us to this point.

NJ Spotlight has a slanted story on the DEP proposal that leaves out how and why we got to this point and simply does not mention the strategic blunder made by the NY/NJ Baykeeper and Hackensack Riverkeeper in their lawsuit that forced the issue, see:

The lawsuit argued that DEP lacked legislative authority to regulate. The Court agreed.

In challenging the Christie DEP’s rollback of Corzine DEP public access rules, the environmentalists could have argued that the Christie DEP rules violated law by abdicating DEP’s public trust obligations by delegating control over public access to local governments. That would have taken the issue of State versus local power head on and been a strong defense of the public trust doctrine.

But they didn’t – instead they argued that DEP lacked legislative authority to regulate. They cowardly ducked the primary issue of local versus state power on the shore.

Did they think about the real world implications of success of that legal attack? What would happen if the Court struck down DEP’s rules for lack of legislative authority?

That legal attack and the Court’s agreement with it sent the issue to the legislature, requiring that they pass new public access legislation.

New legislation requires the signature of the Governor.

Did they think that Governor Christie would sign legislation that was broader in scope and more stringent that his own DEP’s weak regulatory initiative?

Of course Christie would veto any bill passed by the Legislature that was stronger than his own DEP’s rules.

The Democrats do not have the votes to over-ride the Governor’s veto, so the Gov. dictates the public access policy.

That’s why the legislature was duped into passing weak emergency legislation that basically codified the Christie DEP’s rules that were struck down by the Court.

As political cover for that surrender by Legislators, Senate Environment Committee Chairman Smith set up a Stakeholder group and tasked them with coming up with consensus recommendations for new public access legislation.

Of course there was no consensus reached – a consensus model gives business community and local government opponents of public access an effective veto over policy.

Those same groups on Smith’s Stakeholder group have significant political power to shape legislation and force compromise.

Which brings us back to the huge blunder that NY/NJ Baykeeper and Hackensack Riverkeeper made in their lawsuit.

Because by taking the public access issue away from DEP and regulatory power, they forced the issue into the Legislature.

By doing that, they handcuffed a future Governor and future DEP Commissioner from adopting stronger rules or simply re-adopting the Corzine DEP rules that were rolled back by the Christie DEP.

The next Governor must get a public access bill through the Legislature.

We are now witnessing the Legislative gridlock that the business community and shore local government interests can generate, effectively exercising veto power.

And even if the gridlock is ultimately broken by a Democratic majority, any bill that does pass will be a compromise (just read Smith’s Stakeholder Report to see how that compromise would be crafted. Good luck in “working out the details“.).

There is no way the legislature will pass a bill that was as broad and strong as the Corzine DEP rules.

And the Appellate Court decision and emergency legislation responding to it raise new legal questions about whether the public access requirements in thousands of existing DEP permits are enforceable. If DEP lacked legislative authority to regulate public access, as the Court found, then maybe all those permits with public access requirements are illegal too.

So, the next time the public access issue comes up, think about who is to blame – and to my environmentalist friends, think before you litigate.

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Developing A Strategy To Move A Climate And Green Jobs Agenda

September 7th, 2016 No comments

The larger Trenton based NJ environmental groups who do political work (endorsements, etc) have well over 100,000 members, tons of money, significant press capabilities, experienced lobbyists, and dozens of professional staff and field campaign organizers.

There is widespread public support in NJ for strong environmental protections. There are scores of local grassroots groups and activists – from watershed organizations to pipeline and bomb train and anti-frackers!

Yet, despite these political strengths, in the age of Christie and corporate & machine dominated Democrats (like Senate President Sweeney), we not only fail to make progress, but are losing ground and suffering rollbacks to existing programs.

Governor Christie will soon be gone, so now is the time to begin planning for short term and intermediate actions to block more rollbacks in the pipeline (pun intended) and to begin to develop a strategy and united front to frame the issues agenda for the already engaged Governor’s race.

So here’s my current revised strategic advice, as the climate catastrophe escalates and direct non-violent civil disobedience actions proliferate around the country (the latest example is the Dakota Access Pipeline battle, which is coming to a place near you! – PennEast to Pinelands):

1. Form A United Front

Form a united front with progressive labor unions, with the centerpiece a green jobs agenda to phase out fossil fuels and build a statewide energy efficiency and renewable energy economy.

With the current TTF layoffs, attacks on NJEA, public employee pension sellout, and a $15 minimum wage likely to be on the ballot in 2017, the politics are engaged and aligning to make this a realistic opportunity. Environmentalists must not be left out of the progressive coalition that will win these battles. A united front would dampen your primary opposition to progress and exponentially boost your political power.

2. Focus on Climate and Green Energy Jobs

The key program demands on the agenda should be:

  • implementation of the Global Warming Response Act via regulatory means (not subsidies, market based tools, or voluntary measures, all of which have failed)
  • a permanent moratorium on all new fossil infrastructure – no permits issued by State government
  • Passage of legislation mandating 25% energy efficiency and 100% renewables by 2030
  • BPU Energy Master Plan and regulatory powers to enforce GWRA emissions reductions and 100% renewable energy goals

Here’ an example of how that would actually work on the ground, politically, programmatically, and financially. The Linden NJ victory was huge, and it represents a missed opportunity to consolidate and institutionalize the kind of change required.

3. Target Gubernatorial Candidates and Do It Now!

Begin to target prospective candidates for next Gov. and begin to take actions right now!

Guadagno is a likely Republican candidate and is from Monmouth County. There is a lot of enviro support there and post Sandy experienced shore residents are very familiar with the tremendous powers of the NJ Governor.

But people and the media are completely unaware of the power of the Gov. to block pipeline projects using effective veto powers under the federal Clean Water Act and Coastal Zone Management Act.

There is a long history of Governors – responding to grassroots pressure – bolding using executive powers, a regional moratorium now in effect, and well known recent precedent a campaign could use as an illustration.

In perhaps his only positive environmental accomplishment, Gov. Christie killed an off-shore LNG proposal using his veto power under federal law.

If we brought 100 people to Guadagno’s house on a Sunday protest, demanding that she speak out in opposition to Gov. Christie’s horrific record on climate and renewable energy and define her own vision, that would make the news.

We could make similar argument demanding that Guadagno and all prospective candidates for Gov. support a ban on new fossil infrastructure, like pipelines, and use Clean Water Act to do it (like Conn. and NY State did!).

Fulup might be willing to jump on that kind of bandwagon, if we can put the issue on the political and media radar (it would be a great contrast with Sweeney, who is in the tank for pipelines and fracked gas plants).

4. Ramp Up Tactics – Direct Action, Non-Violent Civil Disobedience

Ramp up the tactics – Begin to sign up people to pledge to take direct action.

Where is this kind of conversation and strategic planning taking place?

[End note – the odds of this happening approach zero. The current groups, to be kind, do not work well together and the corporate foundations would never fund the work. So, the thought of even a coordinated campaign, never mind a United Front, is unthinkable right now.

The only way this dysfunction changes is either for the members of these groups or their funders to demand that their professional staff change, or for an alternative bottom up new grassroots organization emerge and bypass the dysfunction.

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