NJ Press Corps Has Always Been Soft On Political Abuses By The NJ State Police

November 19th, 2019 No comments

Journalism In a Bubble, As Climate Rebellion About To Explode

Dear NJ Press Corps: Naomi Klein is now at Rutgers. Giver her a call. Get a clue.

Dear Blind Boys of Trenton – Chris Hedges lives just up the road in Princeton

Protestor at Obama event, Scranton Pa.  (8/11/15)

Protestor at Albany NY anti-fracking event (8/11/15) He told me he was a real cop

Veteran reporter and NJ Spotlight co-founder John Mooney had a career first yesterday – and his own words reveal just how clueless, lame, and out of touch he and his profession are.

In today’s NJ Spotlight email distribution, Mooney wrote:

Just when we thought New Jersey’s lame duck session may not be that exciting after all, this happened. It was a first for me as a reporter to see State Police not just escort protesters out of a Statehouse hearing, but actually physically remove them — or at least one of them, in this case activist Susan Altman (pictured). And all at a hearing on corporate tax incentives, no less.

What the fuck is he talking about?

Let me break that lame bullshit down in the order Mooney presented it:

1. “Excitement”?

As if the Lame Duck session’s abuse of democracy and orgy of political corruption are some kind of sports event or reality TeeVee show?

We recently criticized NJ Spotlight for coverage that ignores the corruption and abuse of democracy that calls itself “lame duck”:

So, I must ask: Why are so-called “progressive” and “green” groups supporting ramming through controversial and deeply flawed legislation in the lame duck session? …

For many years, environmental groups have railed against lame duck legislation being rammed through after elections as a gross abuse of the legislative process and democratic accountability.

The public is shut out of the legislative process, there is virtually no legislative deliberation, dirty deals are pervasive, and legislators dodge electoral accountability for their often highly controversial votes.

Some of the worst special interest legislation gets passed in lame duck.

But this “excitement” meme is a bridge too far and reveals that even NJ Spotlight – “where issues matter” – is driven by entertainment values, consciously or not.

2. “First time”

A longtime NJ Statehouse and political reporter would have to be blind to not see NJ State Police in action in Trenton abusing people’s Constitutional rights.

Where the hell has Mr. Mooney been?

I’ve personally been the victim of and/or witnessed 3 egregious State Police political abuses in the last 5 years alone. That’s just the tip of a very large iceberg – and obviously it is not limited geographically to Trenton and the State House.

I sent Mooney this email note, with documentation – I’m sure I’ll get no response, just like the inquiry I made to Mooney asking why NJ Spotlight banned me from commenting on articles:

John – yesterday was your first time? Where you been? Here are 3 episodes, 2 of which I was the victim of and 1 I witnessed:

I was ejected from a DEP public hearing in the DEP building, and I was not protesting (I was talking to longtime DEP DAG George Schlosser). My mere presence – and photography of DEP’s “New World Order” powerpoint – was a threat to Christie DEP Commissioner Martin, who ordered my removal by 2 state police officers, one under each elbow, see:

DEP Commissioner Martin Uses State Police To Eject Environmentalist From Polluter’s Advisory Group Meeting

Again, in December 2016, a State Police officer ejected me from the State House, for which I filed a complaint with the SP for excessive force and violation of my rights, see:

State Police Officer Facing Complaint For Excessive Force In Improper Ejection From State House

And I witnessed and wrote about this:

Christie DEP Deploys State Police To Eject Mayor and Critics From Public Hearing on Pipeline Permit

The NJ press corps has always been soft on reporting abuses by State Police.

[Update #1: BTW, a NJ State Police officer actually trespassed on my property and poisoned my home – true story! How could he possibly have believed that was OK?

[Update #2 – Here is another example of political abuse by State House authorities – of course it was witnessed but ignored by the corporate media, because I was just a dirty blogger:

[Update #3 Tom Moran joins the Blind Boys of Trenton – like a virgin, he too was touched for the very first time]

3. “Corporate tax incentives, no less”

The “no less” gives it away.

How could Mooney be surprised that gross corruption and corporate power and corporate subsidies trigger citizen protest?

Is Mooney aware of “climate disobedience”? (now expanded as Sunrise Movement? Extinction Rebellion?

Where has Mooney been for the last decade or more, hiding under his desk in Trenton?

Mr. Mooney must be prepared for a radical escalation of non-violent direct action protest, as the climate emergency explodes into public view and millions engage in rebellion.

For an explanation of all that, see Chris Hedges column yesterday – it might be the most important thing you’ll ever read:

Police film protesters at Philadelphia anti-fracking event - 9/20/12

Police film protesters at Philadelphia anti-fracking event – 9/20/12 You never saw this abuse reported by corporate media

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South Jersey Gas Misled Investors And Regulators – Murphy Attorney General Grewal Urged To Investigate

November 18th, 2019 No comments

SJG Investor Briefing Based On Exaggerated Representations & Material Omissions

SJG Repeated The Lie That BPU “Ordered” Them To Build Pinelands Pipeline

“there may be massive securities fraud here.”

“The corrupt system is going to kill us all unless we rise up” ~~~  Roger Hallam, quoted by Chris Hedges

At the end of my previous post on the current fiasco on the Pinelands Commission, I raised a question, based on the remarks to the Commission by activist Agnes Marsala (People Over Pipelines) (emphasis in original):

[Agnes] claimed that SJG favorably advised investors of their intent to proceed AFTER the meeting with Wittenberg. That is an incredible situation that warrants investigation.

Agnes has since sent me and I had a chance to read the November 7, 2019 South Jersey Gas investors briefing she alluded to, see:

Before highlighting the facts and issues on South Jersey Gas (SJG), let me set the context.

I) NY State Exxon Lawsuit

The New York State Attorney General is suing Exxon for misleading investors and the public about climate change and how it impacts the financial health of the firm.

The NY Times reports: (emphases mine)

The case turns on the claim that Exxon kept a secret set of financial books that seriously underestimated the costs of potential climate change regulation while claiming publicly that it was taking such factors into account.

South Jersey Gas faces similar issues with respect to their investments in the proposed PennEast and Pinelands pipelines.

Again, a prior story in the NY Times framed those issues:

For example, he said, the investigation is scrutinizing a 2014 reportby Exxon Mobil stating that global efforts to address climate change would not mean that it had to leave enormous amounts of oil reserves in the ground as so-called “stranded assets.”

But many scientists have suggested that if the world were to burn even just a portion of the oil in the ground that the industry declares on its books, the planet would heat up to such dangerous levels that “there’s no one left to burn the rest,” Mr. Schneiderman said.

By that logic, Exxon Mobil will have to leave much of its oil in the ground, which means the company’s valuation of its reserves is off by a significant amount.

“If, collectively, the fossil fuel companies are overstating their assets by trillions of dollars, that’s a big deal,” Mr. Schneiderman said. And if the company’s own internal research shows that Exxon Mobil knows better, he added, “there may be massive securities fraud here.”

Since the Exxon lawsuit was filed, the science has become far more urgent, with most recently 11,000 climate scientists issuing a statement warning of “untold suffering”.

Similarly, political events are ramping up dramatically, with non-violent direct action protests worldwide by Extinction Rebellion and here in US by the Sunrise Movement, while Bernie Sanders’ Green New Deal Plan driving the 2020 Presidential debate.

II)  SJG Fails to Disclose That It Faces Existential Threats By Federal Courts and NJ Regulators

There are several significant developments that impact the fundamental economics and risks facing South Jersey Gas, none of which were disclosed by SJG to investors:

1. South Jersey Gas is faced with the termination of the Pinelands pipeline by the Pinelands Commission.

2. Required NJ DEP regulatory approvals and construction of their PennEast pipeline has been blocked by the federal courts and construction is opposed the the Murphy Administration’s Attorney General.

Accordingly, SJG investments in the development of those pipelines – over $80 million – is threatened, as are the multimillion dollar revenue stream, income and profits SJG expected from those pipelines.

3. Additionally, the NJ legislature recently enacted new laws designed to reduce the use and demand for among other things, natural gas through both direct demand reduction (fuel switching from fossil gas to renewable sources) and energy conservation.

4. The Murphy administration has committed to an energy policy of a transition to 100% renewable energy, thereby literally putting SJG out of business.

5. The Murphy Board of Public Utilities will soon adopt a new Energy Master Plan (EMP) that will dramatically revise the Christie Administration’s pro-gas policies.

New BPU EMP policies and regulations may include a moratorium on new pipeline construction, phase out of existing pipelines and power plants, a significant new “Social Cost of Carbon” assessment or “shadow price” – on fossil fuels, reduction in BPU approved recoveries or SJG profits on fossil investments, closure of prior revenue loopholes (e.g. SBC & RGGI exemptions) and elimination of incentives and subsidies for fossil gas, and replacement of existing heating, cooling, and other building equipment and uses of natural gas.

Such policies would dramatically increase the cost and reduce the demand for natural gas and thereby radically reduce SJG’s projected anticipated revenues and the value of their capital infrastructure and fossil investment portfolio.

[And SJG no longer has their lobbyist Richard Mroz as President of the BPU.]

6. Should NY State prevail in the Exxon lawsuit, SJG could be subject to new financial accounting rules that radically alter the fundamental economics of fossil energy, the value of the firm, and establish new contingent liabilities and stranded assets.

III) Compounding Omissions of Material Facts, SJG “Rosy Scenario” Misleads Investors

However, the SJG November 7, 2019 investors briefing failed to mention any of these major legislative, regulatory, public policy, and BPU planning initiatives and the implications of the Exxon lawsuit.

Just the opposite: SJG presented a rosy scenario: they claimed increases in demand for natural gas and said revenue and risk were consistent with expectations.

Here is the opening statement by Mike RennaPresident and Chief Executive Officer:

 I am pleased to report that our third quarter results were in line with our expectations. … We are encouraged by the continued strong demand for natural gas across the different regions we serve. … On the regulatory front as you know we have been busy this year planning and executing several important long-term initiatives for Elizabethtown…. Last on the financial front the sale of our noncore assets over the past year as well as our refinancing activities is steadily improving our balance sheet…. Throughout 2019 we’ve been focused on building a foundation of solid regulated performance. We are pleased with our progress and encouraged by the strong demand we continue to see for natural gas.

Of course, you remember the Renna affair.

By failing to note highly relevant and material facts on legal, regulatory and public policy and how they impact risks, liabilities and financial performance of SJG fossil investments – while instead exaggerating exactly the opposite allegedly favorable developments – SJG misled investors.

A vague allusion that investors review SEC filings, in this context, is totally inadequate and will not cover SJG’s asses (sic) and full disclosure responsibilities!

IV) SJG Misled Pinelands Commission Regulators

SJG also misled NJ regulators.

Specifically, Pinelands Commission Executive Director Nancy Wittenberg summarized a meeting between SJG and Commission staff at the Commissions’ November 9, 2019 Commission meting.

According to Wittenberg, among other things, SJG advised the staff that they were still interested in constructing the pipeline and that BPU had “ordered” then to construct the pipeline. 

This repeats a lie SJG told during the Pinelands Commission’s initial review of the proposed pipeline.

BPU has not “ordered” – as in “mandated” – that SJG construct the Pinelands pipeline. BPU approvals come in the form of a “Order” by the Board. That is BPU standard operating procedure. That BPU “Order” approving SJG pipeline is not the legal equivalent of a mandate that they construct it.

Accordingly, SJG also misled regulators at the Pinelands Commission.

There are similar issues raised by the PennEast pipeline that I have not mentioned here.

Via this post, I am calling on NJ Attorney General Great to conduct an investigation into the issues, along the lines of the NY State Exxon lawsuit.

I will back this up with a letter to AG Grewal – forthcoming.

In the interim, I urge the many securities experts and corporate lawyers out there who are far more familiar with and competent to advocate these issues to join my efforts and reach out to AG Grewal.

Of course, I’d be glad to do so for them on an anonymous basis – just drop me an email.

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The Right Way To Revoke The Pinelands Pipeline Approval

November 13th, 2019 No comments

Commission Wobbling On Putting The Final Nail In SJG Pipeline Coffin

Staff Incompetence or Sabotage?

Vote Postponed until a “physically present quorum”

Inability to get a quorum “Seems like a mess – which is what it is”

This is Administrative Law 101 – I can’t believe that the Commission’s Counsel and the Attorney General’s Office signed off on all this. So, is it incompetence? Or sabotage?

The Pinelands Commission is having a difficult time putting the final nail in the coffin of the South Jersey Gas pipeline they previously approved.

The pipeline is no longer consistent with the Comprehensive Management (CMP) plan due to the cancellation of the BL England re-powering, the primary purpose for the pipeline and the sole reason it was found to be consistent with the CMP and approved by the Commission.

Recently, I was advised by an official in a position to have first hand knowledge that the Commission can not reach consensus on clear language to kill the project, i.e. to determine that it is no longer consistent with the CMP and to revoke the prior approval, resulting in what was called a “weak” resolution. Worse, the leader of a conservation group was OK with the compromise language the Commission negotiated (emails provided upon request and assurance of confidentiality).

But a prior April 2019 Resolution concluded that the pipeline was no longer consistent with the CMP and was revoked. That Resolution was tabled. The current version rejected that April language and does not conclude that the project is inconsistent with the CMP and revoke the prior approval.

In addition to the language of a Resolution, the issue that is not getting any attention by the Commission and public is the procedure by which the Commission should act to kill the project.

SJG has raised these procedural issues, and based on my review of their April 12, 2109 letter, I think they raise valid issues. The Commission would be highly vulnerable to legal reversal if they try to act via Resolution in the absence of formal procedures. In an April 12, 2019 email to AC Press reporter Michelle Post – which I sent to conservation and environmental leaders as a warning – I wrote:

I think they are correct on both legal issues (jurisdiction and procedure).

This looks like a significant embarrassment to the Commission and the administration.

The proper course of action after BL England cancelled their project would have been: [1)]

2) for the Pinelands Commission to issue a formal public notice, and provide a public hearing on its decision to withdraw the prior approval and state the grounds upon which they base that decision.

The Pinelands Comprehensive Management Plan  (CMP) regulations appear to be silent on the procedures for revocation of an existing Commission project approval, like the South Jersey Gas pipeline.

But longstanding basic administrative law procedures on “final agency action” by the Commission under the CMP require formal procedures, i.e. a Report or statement of factual and legal basis, public notice, public comment and public hearing. These are basic and fundamental due process procedures.

The Commission was required to follow these formal procedures in issuing the original approval. Logically, they must follow the same procedures to revoke a prior approval.

Here’s one example from the CMP on revocation of prior county or municipal plan certification:

7:50-3.62  Notice and Hearing

Upon making a determination to initiate proceedings to revoke, suspend or modify Commission certification of a county or municipal master plan, regulation or land use ordinance, the Executive Director shall give notice and conduct a public hearing in accordance with the provisions of N.J.A.C. 7:50-4.

If notice and public hearing are required to revoke a local certification, then obviously killing a multi-million dollar pipeline requires formal procedures.

Here are examples from DEP’s regulations that mandate formal procedures. This is for revoking a water permit, but the procedural requirements are virtually boilerplate for revocations under all DEP permit programs:

For the suspension or revocation of an existing permit or the denial of an application for a new permit or permit renewal, issue a notice of intent to suspend, revoke or deny, as applicable, in accordance with N.J.A.C. 7:14A-15.7(a) setting forth the basis for the permit action; (emphases mine)

The notice and statement of basis require public notice and comment, see:

  • 7:14A-15.10 PUBLIC NOTICE OF PERMIT ACTIONS AND PUBLIC COMMENT PERIOD

So, not only must the current Resolution be tabled, but the Commission must abandon the entire Resolution based approach and instead follow formal procedures to revoke the prior approval, the same procedures they followed to issue the original approval. Anything less than that will not kill the project and instead will invite litigation by SJG.

This is Administrative Law 101 – I can’t believe that the Commission’s Counsel and the Attorney General’s Office signed off on all this. So, is it incompetence? Or sabotage?

Getting back to the Commission’s monthly meeting on November 8, 2019, where they considered a seriously flawed Resolution purported to kill the pipeline was difficult to watch – I was embarrassed for the Commissioners.

Before this meeting, I explained those flaws in this recent post:

You can watch video of the Pinelands Commission’s November 8, 2019 monthly meeting

I was not at the meeting, but after watching this video, my concerns are heightened.

The bumbling and lack of a quorum were humiliating.

After the public raised objections to Wittenberg’s actions – way to go Georgina Shanley, Agnes Marsala and Arnold Fishman ! – the Chairman defended what was egregiously improper behavior by the Executive Director Wittenberg and staff in meeting with South Jersey Gas and outlining options on how they could proceed under the CMP.

Chairman Prickett stated that the CMP encourages applicants to meet with staff and that the Commission was briefed by Wittenberg on the SJG meeting.

But Prickett failed to note that the CMP does not encourage the kind of meeting SJG was provided, under these specific and unique conditions – on remand from a court, with no formal policy position taken by the Commission. He also failed to note that being briefed AFTER a meeting occurred is not remotely equivalent to being asked permission to conduct such a meeting and receive policy guidance from the Commission BEFORE it occurs.

Wittenberg played exactly the same game in the prior dispute about a “waiver”.

During the Commission’s deliberations, Executive Director Wittenberg interjected to rebut public criticism about her role and pointed the finger at the Commissioners. She said:

“the language of Resolution was the Commissioners’ – agreed to at a meeting. It’s their language.”

Wittenberg expressed frustration about the inability of Commissioners to establish a quorum. She even implied that the technical difficulties with the phones were a sham, by claiming that the phones worked for all the other calls, except the Commissioners. Wittenberg then blurted out:

“(Lack of a quorum) seems like a mess – which is what it is”

It is remarkable – especially after the pattern of Wittenberg’s prior collaboration behind the backs of the Commissioners – that she still is allowed to get away with this crap and even bully the Commissioners.

Arnold Fishman summed it up nicely.

He criticized the Commission as being too slow and squandering a golden opportunity to “put a fork in it”.

Fishman warned that the pending Resolution was the equivalent of a “stop work order” and left the door open for SJG to proceed.

Agnes Marsalla raised an important issue. She claimed that SJG favorably advised investors of their intent to proceed AFTER the meeting with Wittenberg. That is an incredible situation that warrants investigation.

Agnes accused Wittenberg and staff of supporting the project, being captured by SJG, and of creating a backdoor for SJG to proceed.

Agnes was also the only one to raise the issue of Gov. Murphy’ pending Pinelands appointments. She advised to either table the SJG matter and wait until they are confirmed by the Senate, or kill the pending flawed Resolution.

Once again, the people are far ahead of the leaders.

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NJ Electric Vehicle Campaign Is An Astroturf Operation Driven By Corporate PR

November 12th, 2019 No comments

Hit links & note the news management and Astro-turfing at the core of lame duck campaign

I recently questioned the wisdom and criticized some members of the NJ environmental community for pushing a flawed and regressive bill through the lame duck session, see:

In that post, I cited the gas tax as an example and also criticized NJ Spotlight’s coverage for badly mis-framing the issues:

particularly given recent climate and energy controversies that are being falsely framed by media and corporate hacks as heavy new burdens on electric ratepayers.

For example, even “liberal” NJ Spotlight is falsely framing the issue that way, relying on spin and lies like this from the business community

Coincidentally? what does Spotlight do in the wake of that criticism?

Today NJ Spotlight doubles down, with a terrible story on electric vehicles, a manufactured non-problem which implies that electric vehicles are a threat with respect to funding the NJ Transportation Trust Fund.

In that twisted absurd logic, electric vehicles – less than 1% of vehicles on the road – become the focus of the problem, not the climate emergency and the carbon polluting internal combustion vehicles!

[Note For the math challenged: The NJ Transportation Trust Fund enjoys about $1.5 BILLION in annual revenues. To consider the impact of electric vehicles on the TTF revenues, assume a typical car drives 15,000 miles/year and gets 30 miles/gallon. That amounts to about 500 gallons of gas/year. At a little over $0.40 (41.5 cents)/gallon gas tax, that’s a revenue loss of about $200/year per EV. Current estimated are less than 25,000 EV’s on the road. So that means about $5 million/year revenue loss, or just 0.33% of the total TTF revenue. At the future legislative goal of 330,000 EV’s, that still just a $66 million revenue loss, about 4% of current TTF revenues (but less, as TTF revenues are projected to increase by the time there are 330,000 EV’s on the road.

In contrast, fossil fuels benefit from HUGE SUBSIDIES, conservatively estimated in US as over $20 billion/year. On top of that, internal combustion cars contribute to the climate emergency and also are subsidized far greater than any loss of TTF revenues associated with EV’s.

The price of gas also does not reflect the adverse climate and other economic impacts reflected in the “Social Cost of Carbon”. At $100/ton, gas prices would increase about $1/gallon.

The story NJ Spotlight printed is absurd on its face and the TTF EV Commission legislation is designed to derail EV’s. ~~~ End Note]

But I want to focus on a separate issue today.

In response to that EV post, a reader forwarded me an astonishing, embarrassing and smoking gun email.

The email was written by a PR flack at The MWW PR Group.

Here’s all I needed to know about the MWW PR group:

It headed up the ‘Stronger Than the Storm’ media campaign after Hurricane Sandy touched down in New Jersey in 2013 and the agency was later notated by Governor Chris Christie as having contributed to record post-storm tourism dollars in the state.

The MWW memo advises NJ’s EV “activists”, providing “social media guidance for the week”

From: Kathleen O’Brien (TNN-MWW) < kobrien@mww.com>
Date: November 11, 2019 at 11:28:25 AM EST
To: EF-NJcomms < ef-njcomms@mww.com>
Subject:Social Post Suggestions Week of 11/11

All,

Below please find social media guidance for the week. Please feel free to edit/revise as you see fit.

I would like to make special note that Environment NJ, along with Keep Middlesex Moving, is hosting a Ride and Drive event in New Brunswick on 11/14. A post to help amplify the event in included below.

Monday.@GovMurphy’s administration has set a goal of 330,000 plug-in #electricvehicles on the road by 2025. @SenatorGreenstein says: “We’re really on a path to make it happen.” #EVs4NJ https://bit.ly/36VLLUq

Tuesday.@SenatorGreenstein, @DanBensonNJ, @DeAngeloLD14 joined @EnvironmentNJ & @JerseyRenews last week to take #EVs for a test drive & call for passage of S2252/A4819, for cleaner & greener transportation throughout NJ #EVs4NJ https://bit.ly/33MBkRv

Wednesday.@SenatorGreenstein & East Brunswick Mayor Brad Cohen will join @EnvironmentNJ & @MiddlesexCmuter at a Ride & Drive on 11/14 to address the importance of legislation to promote #EVs & lower emissions from the transportation sector #EVs4NJ #ElectrifyNJ https://bit.ly/2Q8eTBW

Thursday– Watch Melissa Miles of the @IronboundCC discuss why Newark is adversely impacted by the effects of #climatechange #CleanEnergy4NJ https://njersy.co/2p3F69I

Friday– An average offshore wind farm with around 44 turbines is projected to add $702 million to NJ’s economy and to support 4,300 jobs- a huge win for the Garden State! #CleanEnergy4NJ #OffshoreWindNJ @DeAngeloLD14 @starledger https://bit.ly/2zsRDoR

Thank you,

Kathleen

Kathleen O’Brien |Account Director, Public Affairs | MWWPR | T: 609.503.8036 | M: 609.472.8035 | kobrien@mww.com

Hit the links and note the news management and Astro-turfing at the core of this lame duck campaign.

I was aware, only after the fact, that the Keep It Green Coalition spent $1 million on PR, including corporate PR hacks, on their open space campaign.

More recently, I became aware of the fact that the Renew NJ PennEast pipeline campaign was driven by a corporate PR firm.

Now the EV campaign. Strike three.

How pathetic the NJ environmental community has become that they now rely on corporate PR flacks to give them media and message guidance and organize events and lobby and communicate with the public.

Shame on them all.

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NJ Spotlight Relies On Climate Denier In Puff Piece Praising Murphy DEP Lighthouse Project

November 12th, 2019 No comments

Another “He said – She said” Story On Climate Chaos

Lighthouse Project Funded By Federal Sandy Disaster Recovery Funds

NJ Received Over $13 Million From This Federal Fund – No State Funding

Sometimes the ironies and contradictions pile up to the point that the situation becomes almost laughable – you can’t make this stuff up.

Today, following a pattern of Murphy DEP news management, finding another “good news” needle in the State DEP’s climate adaptation abdication haystack, NJ Spotlight ran a puff piece, praising the Murphy DEP on a project designed to defend a Delaware Bayshore lighthouse from coastal erosion, storm surge, and flooding caused by climate change, see:

And of course, the Murphy DEP was praised by the lapdog they provide state funding to – who used the opportunity to pitch for more DEP funding of his organization’s pet projects:

Tim Dillingham, executive director of the New Jersey-based American Littoral Society, welcomed the project but said it needs to be followed by a long-term solution.

“The state is to be commended for acting to protect the light, a wonderful, iconic symbol of Delaware Bay’s heritage,” he said. “This is a highly dynamic location which requires a long-term commitment to managing the shoreline changes to ensure the environmental values — horseshoe crab & shorebird habitats — are preserved.”

In addition to finding that good news needle in the Murphy DEP’s climate adaptation abdication and quoting sources with conflicts of interest (i.e. Dillingham, who is funded by DEP), Spotlight quoted a local source that flat out denied climate change and attributed the problem to “natural causes”:

Patterson rejected a suggestion that East Point’s problems are the result of sea-level rise, and argued that “natural erosion” is mainly responsible for eating away at the land surrounding the lighthouse.

“The threat facing East Point is primarily caused by natural erosion — the tide coming in and out around the land known as East Point through the decades,” she said. “Since nothing was ever done to stop the land and beach from washing away, with each tide and various storms through the many decades, the land has badly eroded, leaving the lighthouse susceptible to flooding and very little left to protect it from the waves of the bay.”

I don’t have data, but I suspect that there are a lot of climate deniers in rural Cumberland County that will be reading today’s story.

So why does Spotlight reinforce that ignorance and denial instead of educating the public?

On top of the needle in the haystack and quotes from a climate denier, Spotlight failed to provide critical details about the source of the National park Service funding.

Those details link the money directly to climate change. The damage was exacerbated by climate change. So, the local Cumberland climate denier is biting the hand that fed her (See those details below).

On top of all that, the Murphy DEP received praise, despite the fact that the funding for the project came from the National Park Service and the US Congress.

The National Park Service program that funded the project is called Disaster Recovery Grants:

On occasion, Congress appropriates Emergency Supplemental funding from the Historic Preservation Fund (ESHPF) for recovery from natural disasters, allowing State Historic Preservation Offices (SHPOs) and Tribal Historic Preservation Offices (SHPOs) to work on various recovery projects, including compliance activities, survey and inventory of historic resources in areas impacted by the disaster, recovery and repair of historic properties damaged during the disaster, and other disaster recovery related activities as approved by NPS.

The Disaster Recovery Program – and it was funded by Congress in response to Hurricane Sandy:

Hurricane Sandy Recovery
Grant Total:$47,174,958
SHPOs Awarded:Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, West Virginia, Virginia
THPOs Awarded:Narragansett Indian Tribe, Mashantucket (Western) Pequot Tribal Nation

In 2013 and 2014, the NPS awarded $47 million to 12 States and two Tribes in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions to assist in historic preservation recovery efforts from Hurricane Sandy in areas where FEMA issued major disaster declarations. The program is still active and final numbers will be posted as grants close.

Sandy damage was magnified by climate change: 1) warmer ocean waters increased the size and intensity of the storm, 2) climate driven sea level rise magnified storm surge, and 3) the path of the storm – i.e. the left turn onto the NJ coast – was influenced by arctic warming.

So the Sandy disaster funds to this lighthouse project were directly related to climate change.

Spotlight also failed to mention that NJ received $13.1 million in these funds, slightly less than New York, who received $13.6 million.

Where did this money go?

How did the Lighthouse project meet this requirement of the federal program?:

  • All funded repair work must substantially mitigate the threat and include steps to mitigate future damage.

The story called the project a short term “band aid”. How does such a “band aid” “substantially mitigate the threat” and “include steps to mitigate future damage”?

And finally, the icing on the cake, is that the National Park Service funding is derived from Outer Continental Shelf oil lease revenues, the very fossil fuels that are creating the disasters and climate chaos!

On occasion, Congress appropriates Emergency Supplemental funding from the Historic Preservation Fund (ESHPF) for recovery from natural disasters, allowing State Historic Preservation Offices (SHPOs) and Tribal Historic Preservation Offices (SHPOs) to work on various recovery projects, including compliance activities, survey and inventory of historic resources in areas impacted by the disaster, recovery and repair of historic properties damaged during the disaster, and other disaster recovery related activities as approved by NPS….

The Historic Preservation Fund (HPF), derived from Outer Continental Shelf oil lease revenues, was established in 1977 as the primary source of funding to implement the Federal Preservation Partnership program.

You really can’t make this shit up.

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