This Is What Commercialization of State Parks Looks Like

July 21st, 2016 No comments

Events, Weddings, Concerts – anything to raise cash

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The DEP just unveiled a new Gazebo at Barnegat Lighthouse:

It will be used as a location for weddings and other special events, as a bandstand for summer concerts, as well as for general visits.

How does that gaudy Gazebo integrate with the Park’s passive recreational function and navigational history?:

Long Beach Island in Ocean County was regarded as one of the most crucial “change of course” points for coastal vessels. Vessels bound to and from New York along the New Jersey coastline depended on Barnegat Lighthouse to avoid the shoals extending from the shoreline. The swift currents, shifting sandbars, and the offshore shoals challenged the skills of even the most experienced sailor. The park is included as a maritime site on the New Jersey Coastal Heritage Trail.

In addition to the historic, aesthetic and visual impacts, the Gazebo took out the lovely picnic benches that were along the fence.

I like it lot better without the cheap Gazebo:

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PS – Someone must have a big State contract on those Gazebo’s – they just dropped THREE of them in Bordentown Parks:

Lime Kiln Park, Bordentown, NJ

Lime Kiln Park, Bordentown, NJ

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Oversight Of Toxic Site Cleanup Is Not A Local Government Responsibility

July 21st, 2016 No comments

Cleanup Decisions Are The Responsibility of Government Regulators, Not Corporations

Christie DEP Supported EPA capping scheme

Activist Political Pressure Must Target The Actual Levers of Power

This stuff makes me nuts.

To be clear, I think it’s great that local residents in Ringwood are petitioning their local government to nix a dirty deal with Ford that would allow Ford to cap the Superfund site there and avoid millions of dollars in cleanup costs.

Bergen Record:

The EPA had been poised to order a full removal when the borough decided to build a recycling center on the site, causing the EPA to agree that placing a barrier over the pollution would be an appropriate solution. The move lowers Ford and the borough’s cleanup bill from $32.6 million for excavation to $5.4 million for the capping plan. Ford will pay for the recycling facility.

But in doing so, the role of local government in cleanup decisions is distorted and the press coverage makes corrupt corporate “negotiations” appear legitimate.

Ford should have no role – none – in choosing the cleanup plan. Ford’s only role in the cleanup plan should be to pay for it.

Government regulators should make cleanup decisions on the basis of protecting public health and the environment and should ORDER  – not negotiate with – Ford to implement cleanup plans.

The press coverage muddies the water on these fundamentals and fails to convey the regulatory reality and target and clearly hold the actual decision-maker accountable.

For example, see this, from the Bergen Record:

Chuck Stead, a professor of environmental studies at Ramapo College, told the group that Ford had removed 97,000 tons of toxic material from Rockland County because local officials put pressure on the company.

“It’s more than a doable thing,” he said of excavating Ringwood. “To me the only difference between the New York and New Jersey side of the state line is the political will.”

No doubt local officials – who just so happen to pay Professor Stead – put pressure on the company.

But local officials and the company did not make the cleanup decision.

The cleanup of the Ford Rockland County site was conducted under the State of New York’s cleanup program and oversee by the NY State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).

The DEC made the decision, not local government. (read it here)

NYSDEC developed the proposed remedy after reviewing the detailed investigation of the site and evaluating the remedial options in the “feasibility study” submitted under New York’s State Superfund Program by Ford Motor Company.

Next Steps

NYSDEC will consider public comments as it finalizes the remedy for the site. The selected remedy will be described in a document called a “Record of Decision” that will explain why the remedy was selected and respond to public comments.

The cleanup of the Ford Ringwood NJ site is overseen by US EPA under the federal Superfund program.

EPA is in charge of making the cleanup decision in Ringwood.

But EPA has effectively abdicated that responsibility by allowing the Ringwood local government to collude with Ford to alter the EPA’s preferred cleanup plan (excavation) and allow the site to be capped.

This is a gross abuse of the Superfund cleanup law.

If Professor Stead were honest, he would blast EPA for allowing this to happen, instead of creating the false appearance that local officials in NY drove the NY DEC’s cleanup decision.

In terms of political will, of course the correct comparisons are between: 1) NY DEC and New Jersey’s DEP; 2) NY DEC and US EPA and 3) local governments in Ringwood, NJ and Ramapo, NY.

The Christie DEP would look very bad by this comparison – but once again, NJ DEP escapes any accountability for the fact that the Christie DEP SUPPORTED the corrupt EPA capping plan.

The NJ DEP concurred with the EPA approved Ford scheme (see Appendix V of the ROD for DEP letter),

DEP should get just as  strongly criticized as EPA.

In practice, States are given a far stronger role in Superfund cleanup decisions than the law and EPA regulations actually provide for, i/e

State concurrence on a ROD is not a prerequisite to EPA’s selecting a remedy, i.e., signing a ROD, 

Under EPA policy, State’s are asked to concur with EPA proposed Superfund decisions – and EPA almost always bows and defers to State preferences. (After my criticism, EPA has taken down links to their concurrence policy – searching for fresh links now. Here is EPA model State concurrence letter for NPL listing decisions.).

That is a another bad EPA policy that also escapes any accountability in the news coverage.

If the policy flaws and decision-makers are not identified, they are not likely to be fixed and held accountable.

That’s why it’s important to get this stuff right.

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(In Search Of) Civilization

July 20th, 2016 No comments

Notes on Cleveland

Rockefeller Center, NYC, NY

Rockefeller Center, NYC, NY

Morris Berman, from “The Twilight of American Culture”:

If we can pull together the threads of this discussion so far, it would seem that four factors are present when a civilization collapses:

(a) Accelerating social and economic inequality

(b) Declining marginal returns with regard to investment in organizational solutions to socioeconomic problems

(c) Rapidly dropping levels of literacy, critical understanding, and general intellectual awareness

(d) Spiritual death—that is, Spengler’s classicism: the emptying out of cultural content and the freezing (or repackaging) of it in formulas—kitsch, in short.

The New York Times, reporting on Day 1 of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland:

We’re in grave danger

The lineup of speakers presented a United States in danger, threatened from abroad and from within, a once-proud nation on the very brink of chaos and dystopia. Six of the speakers were military veterans, including Marcus Luttrell, the celebrated former Navy SEAL, who bluntly warned that “the enemy is here.” A half-dozen more were relatives of Americans murdered by foreign terrorists or illegal immigrants — threats to the nation’s safety and cohesion that often mingle in the Trump worldview. Another was the former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, who likened the country to a circa-1980s New York in need of a strong hand. “There is no next election,” Mr. Giuliani warned. “This is it!”

Quoted in Berman:

Sallust’s description of Rome in 80 B.C.—a government controlled by wealth, a ruling-class numb to the repetitions of political scandal, a public diverted by chariot races and gladiatorial shows—stands as a fair summary of some of our own circumstances….

—Lewis Lapham,Waiting for the Barbarians

No need to wait any longer – the Barbarians are at the gate.

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A Brief Note To Those Who Report On The Weather

July 20th, 2016 No comments

Heat Waves Are Evidence of and Influenced By Climate Change

Thought I’d post this after reading anther inane story about the current heat wave – failure to mention this science is a not so subtle form of climate change denial.

How is it possible that news reporters and editors don’t know this? I realize that many in media flunked the non-college track High School science courses – and didn’t even take statistics and probability courses – but the Google does all the work now.

Why are they self censoring the issue? Are they afraid of criticism of the climate deniers? Or is money involved? What explains their professional journalistic negligence? Where is the State Climatologist?

From US EPA (boldface mine)

Key U.S. Projections

  • By 2100, the average U.S. temperature is projected to increase by about 3°F to 12°F, depending on emissions scenario and climate model. [1
  • An increase in average temperatures worldwide implies more frequent and intense extreme heat events, or heat waves. The number of days with high temperatures above 90°F is expected to increase throughout the United States, especially toward the end of the century.[1] Climate models project that if global emissions of greenhouse gases continue to grow, summertime temperatures in the United States that ranked among the hottest 5% in 1950-1979 will occur at least 70% of the time by 2035-2064. [1]

EPA climate

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Trump’s NJ Partner

July 19th, 2016 No comments

Trump7

trump8

 

“I take great pride that the US Fish and Wildlife Service and NJ Audubon recognizes and validates the environmental contribution we have made with the original design of our two world class golf courses in Bedminster. They currently provide for over 200 acres of habitat for indigenous and migratory grassland birds. With this partnership we look forward to their professional guidance in further improving and expanding the habitat at this wonderful property.” said course owner Donald J Trump.

“Trump National is demonstrating an outstanding commitment to sustaining native wildlife populations.” said Eric Stiles, President for New Jersey Audubon. “They are solidifying a symbiotic relationship with the surrounding community to foster environmental awareness and a conservation ethic while enhancing wildlife and natural systems in New Jersey.”

Link to full text

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