Exposing Christie DEP lies is like shooting fish in a barrel
A friend just sent me Dave Levinsky’s Burlington County Times October 12 set up story for the pipeline public hearing (compressor station, freshwater wetlands permit).
The email’s subject was a provocative question: “They’re lying?”.
Have you seen this article? Read the very last sentence. DEP claims that the changes they made to the rules aren’t related to NJNG submitting a new application.
I previously wrote that the DEP had weakened the stream encroachment rules and that the NJNG permit by rule was directly related to those regulatory changes (boldface #4 is the specific relevant change):
The Christie DEP weakened regulatory standards and made it easier by: 1) eliminating a prohibition on disturbance of Category One stream buffers; 2) increasing the allowing disturbance of soils and vegetation in the “riparian zone”; 3) eliminating a cap on riparian disturbance and allowing mitigation; and 4) relaxing a restriction on eligibility for the “permit by rule” to exempt impacts from certain pipeline related construction activities that disturb vegetation and soils and negatively impact water quality.
I routinely let most DEP lies pass unchallenged, but because my own credibility was involved, I managed to find the October 13 dead tree version of the BCT at the local Library and read the story.
First of all, Levinsky left out the fact the DEP Assistant Commissioner Kopkash specifically testified before the Senate Environment Committee on SCR 66 and stated that – rebutting the testimony of Jeff Tittel of the Sierra Club – that a pipeline would require an Individual Permit (IP) and would not be eligible for a general permit (GP) or permit by rule (PBR).
The NJNG permit by rule specifically contradicted that pledge.
But at the end of Levinsky’s story, sure enough, the DEP press office denied that the rule change was related to the NJNG permit by rule:
You’re going under the stream, essentially under the protected zone,” [DEP press spokesman] Hajna said, adding that the changes in the flood hazard rules were not a factor.
“We did make changes to the Flood Control Act (sic), but this was not one of them,” he said.
Mr. Hajna of DEP is lying –
Below is the specific applicable language from the DEP’s FHA rule proposal to Permit By Rule #36 (at page 613):
“7:13-7.36 Permit-by-rule 36 – placement of an underground utility line using directional drilling or jacking
(a) Permit-by-rule 36 authorizes the placement of an underground utility line beneath a regulated water through directional drilling or jacking, provided the conditions at N.J.A.C. 7:13-6.7 are met and:
1. The regulated water is not disturbed in any way except for temporary disturbance associated with soil borings necessary to ensure that the project is viable
Prior to this rule change, it was very difficult to get a PBR for HDD because of the disturbance and impacts associated with soil borings, et al.
Here is the text of the proposal explaining why DEP made the rule change: (see page 322-323 – boldface mine):
“Permit-by-rule 36 (N.J.A.C. 7:13-7.36)
Proposed N.J.A.C. 7:13-7.36 incorporates with amendments existing N.J.A.C. 7:13- 7.2(c)3, which authorizes the placement of an underground utility line beneath a regulated water through directional drilling or jacking. An exception is proposed to be added to the existing requirement that the regulated water is not disturbed in any way as a result of activities under this permit-by-rule. It is sometimes necessary for a small amount of temporary disturbance to take place within or adjacent to the regulated water to accommodate soil borings to investigate subsurface geology in order to ensure that jacking under the channel is viable. Given the limitations of this permit-by-rule, allowing borings to be taken within or adjacent to the regulated water will not adversely impact flooding or the environment. The existing requirement that no manhole is constructed within 10 feet of any top of bank or edge of water (unless situated within a paved surface) is incorporated with two amendments. First, for the reasons discussed in the section of this summary that address the riparian zone, an exception is made for projects located adjacent to a lawfully existing bulkhead, retaining wall, or revetment along a tidal water. Second, the existing exemption for manholes in paved surfaces is not continued. Except for projects located adjacent to a lawfully existing bulkhead, retaining wall or revetment along a tidal water, manholes constructed within 10 feet of a top of bank are subject to damage and displacement during flood events, irrespective of the presence of pavement. Finally, the existing requirement that any manhole along a sanitary sewer must be constructed with a watertight cover in the flood hazard area is proposed to be expanded to cover all manholes proposed in the flood hazard area, in order to prevent leakage of material out of the system, or leakage of floodwaters into the system, during a flood event.”
Exposing Christie DEP lies is like shooting fish in a barrel.