Bordentown Halloween Parade

October 26th, 2014 No comments

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Today was a perfect fall day for the annual Bordentown Halloween Parade.

This year’s theme was “cemetery” (see above).

Ebola made the scene, but not the far scarier reality of climate chaos – check out some pics:

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The Teachers had some fun:

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Farnsworh Ave waits for the parade to begin

Farnsworh Ave waits for the parade to begin

folks enjoy the decorations

folks take pride in and enjoy the decorations

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NJ Democrat Praises Nixon and Reagan in Approving RGGI Trading Scheme

October 24th, 2014 No comments

[Update below]

Because you don’t get this stuff in the news coverage (and did you notice how the issue just shifted to “easing re-entry into RGGI”?), just a very brief note today just to let folks know what the rascals in Trenton are really up to and to provide an insight into how they think.

Yesterday, just prior to the vote on a Resolution that would block DEP’s proposed regulations to exit RGGI, Assembly Regulatory Oversight Committee Chairman Reed Gusciora (D-Mercer) said this (verbatim quote, and he was not joking):

To put this in perspective, cap and trade was initially envisioned by the Nixon administration after clean water and clean air, and first implemented by Ronald Reagan over leaded gasoline, and then George H. Bush (sic) over sulfur dioxide emissions. So it is a very good Republican program that has demonstrated its worth. So I am in favor of the cap and trade program and the concept.

Gee, I wonder who fed him that history?

I won’t go into detail here to lay out why I strongly disagree with that statement on policy grounds – you may want to read this Report “Bad Credit” by Food & Water Watch that examines some of those concerns.

However, politically, I will say that I am appalled when purportedly pro-environmental progressive Democrats – touting Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan – try to be ideologically more free market and anti-regulatory than Republicans.

[Update - I thought I'd provide just a little history on my involvement in NJ with the pollutant trading concept (I was well versed in the economic theory, law and policy of trading, having taken numerous economics courses in undergrad and graduate school, so my opposition is longstanding and well thought through):

I did this work while at Sierra Club back in 2001:

When I went back into DEP as Commissioner Campbell's adviser in 2002, in one of the first Whitman era policy reversals, we took delivery with this:

But we never got around to rescinding the pollutant trading rules that are in DEP NJPDES and TMDL programs.

What I hear from the current crop of environmental "leaders" makes me physically ill. - end update]
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Hopewell Is A Poster Child for Why Open Space Diversion is Fatally Flawed

October 23rd, 2014 No comments

Watershed Planning & Water Quality Management Tools Saved The Town From Massive Sprawl

Open Space Diversion Would Slash Funds For Those Same DEP Programs

No town in NJ provides a more compelling example than Hopewell of the value of watershed planning, water quality management, and DEP science and technical support programs.

I just read another highly misleading half truth Op-Ed in support of Open Space Ballot Question #2, this one by my friend Jim Waltman at Stony Brook Watershed Association., see:

Waltman touts prior efforts to preserve the rural character of Hopewell:

Unlike some surrounding communities, Hopewell Valley’s rural character has been largely preserved thanks to sustained efforts to protect open space and farmland. Hopewell Township’s residents have made a strong commitment to conservation and preservation and with tremendous results, but nearly 20,000 acres of undeveloped land remain open to development — that’s 50 percent of our total area. Voting yes will help protect our clean water and quality of life for generations to come.

But Mr. Waltman leaves something critically important out of his argument.

Hopewell lands were protected from sprawl development by the very watershed planning and water quality management programs that the open space ballot initiative would severely cut.

Hopewell, in the mid 1990′s, became the battleground and statewide focal point for what was then called the war on “suburban sprawl”. I was a resident of Hopewell at the time and was proud to be engaged in this fight.

These battles publicly revolved around massive development plans that involved extensions of sewer lines into Hopewell to support intensive development.

Millions of square feet of new commercial development and thousands of new residential units would have been served by the proposed massive increase in sewer infrastructure and capacity, including along Scotch Road/Merrill Lynch, the BMS campus in Pennington, and north along Rt. 31. These debates included expansion and upgrade of the Pennington treatment plant.

[and if those sewer lines were built, land values would have increase 10 times or more, making an acquisition strategy cost prohibitive.]

A few years later, there was another major development battle at the Berwind site – this one involved expanding an old package wastewater treatment plant and various regulatory restrictions imposed by a DEP Category 1 stream designation.

The common denominator and decisive factor in all these debates was the science and regulatory requirements of DEP’s watershed planning and the water quality management programs.

In fact, a group of residents I was involved with, represented by Bill Potter of Princeton, actually filed a lawsuit that successfully blocked the planned ELSA sewer capacity on the basis of violation of these DEP regulatory and planning requirements.

Those are exactly the same DEP programs that would be slashed by the Open Space ballot diversion.

As I’ve written, based on DEP’s budget documents, there would be 123 DEP staff positions in water quality monitoring and planning cut under Ballot Question #2 – with $16 million more from DEP’s science and technical programs that provide support and $18.1 million from DEP land use regulation that implements the science and planning.

Here is what those DEP staffers do that Hopewell directly relied upon – across the entire state:

Since 1996, 4% of the revenue annually derived from the tax imposed by the Corporation Business Tax Act (P.L.1945, c.162) has been dedicated to the Department. A portion of this dedication has been used for the following purposes: watershed-based water resource planning and management, financing the cost of water quality point and nonpoint source pollution monitoring, nonpoint source pollution prevention projects, Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) development and implementation, as well as lake restoration and grants. Conducts planning on watershed management, water quality, water supply, coastal zone management, nonpoint source control, stormwater management, and other planning requirements associated with the federal Clean Water Act and the New Jersey Water Quality Planning Act. Also administers the National Estuary Program and federal Section 604(b) water quality management planning.

It is incredibly disingenuous – and just flat out wrong –  for Waltman to ignore this history and regulatory realty in his arguments in favor of Question #2.

On top of all that, following these major battles that local environmentalists won, Hopewell built on that success by adopting perhaps NJ’s most innovative and science based Master Plan and zoning scheme, which is based on water resource capacity – both water quality and water quantity.

Again, it is exactly that science, watershed and water resource capacity based planning, and regulatory programs that preserved so much land in Hopewell that would be slashed under the Open Space diversion.

No town in NJ provides a more compelling example than Hopewell  of the value of watershed planning, water quality management, and DEP science and technical support programs.

It is extremely shortsighted and totally counterproductive to sacrifice those very effective programs on the mantle of a half baked, rob Peter to pay Paul, open space funding scheme.

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October Surprise! Bergen Record Provides a Platform For Dupont PR Stunt

October 23rd, 2014 No comments

Negligent Local Officials Portrayed As Aggressive Law Enforcers

Blatant PR Stunt Just Days Before Local Election

This could be one of the most outrageous examples of corporate propaganda and local politics I have ever seen.

Regular readers here know that the Dupont Pompton Lakes site is highly contaminated with a toxic brew of heavy metals and organic chemicals that poison soil, groundwater, Pompton Lake sediments, fish & wildlife, and about 450 nearby homes with industrial chemicals via “vapor intrusion”.

Dupont has dragged their feet for over 30 years in failing to completely cleanup the site and compensate homeowners for destroying their health and home equity.

At the same time, local residents have become increasingly frustrated by the failure of EPA, DEP, and local officials to “crackdown” on Dupont and enforce environmental laws to require that the site cleanup is expedited.

Residents repeatedly have criticized local officials for their cozy relationship with Dupont and failure to defend their interests.

There were two former Pompton Lakes Council members who took on Dupont, Ed Meakem and Lisa Riggiola. Both were quickly dispatched by the Dupont puppets.

The failed Dupont cleanup has become a big issue in the local election, which is less than 2 weeks away. One of the candidates if the husband of former Council member Riggiola. He too is fighting Dupont.

On top of all that, local officials recently were forced to shut down an un-permitted and illegal river dredging operation, after I filed a complaint with the US EPA.

So, with all that in mind, check out this extended quote from our good friends at Dupont in today’s Bergen Record story: Crackdown begins on DuPont property in Pompton Lakes

DuPont spokesperson Terry Gooding said the company is working with the police to help protect the people and the environment.

“Protecting people and the environment is a top priority,” said Gooding. “It’s in the interest of safety that we do not want the general public entering DuPont-owned property under any condition. We ask that people respect our property boundary. There are various types of wildlife present across the property, including coyotes, venomous snakes, and bears. If someone were to get attacked and/or injured on the property, we may not be aware of it in order to provide necessary assistance.

Gooding added, “ATV and dirt bike riders potentially can have accidents on the property. These vehicles also cause irreparable harm to the wildlife habitats and remove vegetation from areas that allow erosion to occur. In order to prevent this activity, we are working with the local police departments to complete a program in which trespassers will be arrested and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

First of all, the Record’s reporters and editors HAVE to know that this is a propaganda and political stunt. They can not possibly be that naive.

Protecting people and the environment is a top priority at Dupont? Are you kidding me?

People entering the property might get harmed by wildlife? How about poisoned by Dupont’s toxic mess that still hasn’t been cleaned up after 30 years.

ATV’s harm wildlife habitat? What about Dupont’s toxic mercury?

Dupont is concerned about erosion along the river? What about the illegal dredging and disposal operation the town is conducting that EPA just had shut down?

Local officials are “cracking down” on the Dupont property?

That might be the biggest absurdity and laugh of all -

I’ll close with a reader’s comment about that:

Where were the police when DuPont was poisoning the water?
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A New Cover Story on the Open Space Diversion of $100 Million Of Environmental Funds

October 22nd, 2014 No comments

How Did Cuts and Layoffs of This Magnitude Stay Under the Radar for So Long?

The debate I’ve been seeking on the open space Ballot Question #2 regarding the impacts of diverting funds from existing State parks and DEP environmental programs seems to be buzzing behind the scenes.

Reporters and editorial writers are looking into these issues as well.

So, in this fluid environment, I thought I’d report briefly on developments of significance or new information I come across.

I got a call earlier today from a longtime, well respected, and well placed conservationist, who wanted to ask me a few questions about my criticisms.

This person had called Board members and staff of KIG coalition member groups and asked for their response to my criticisms regarding the DEP & parks diversions, layoffs, etc

This person was told that early on, after Sen. Smith made an inquiry to DEP about use of the CBT, and after DEP refused to respond, then the KIG coalition members suspected and later assumed that the Christie Administration had diverted the CBT money into the General Fund!

This assumption appears to have morphed into some kind of urban myth.

See, if the CBT money was being diverted into the General Fund – just like Gov. Christie diverted over $1 billion of Clean Energy Fund revenues – then by definition there could be no harm to environmental programs or DEP if the CBT funds were diverted to open space.

Effectively, there would be no Peter for Paul to Rob.

I told this person that that story was not credible, because in April, during the budget review process, OLS asked, and DEP responded to, specific OLS question on the use of CBT money and DEP provided a written response.

I published those OLS questions and DEP responses in my prior post.

But this story could explain how they kept this whole set of issues quiet for so long – just accuse Christie of diversions and then KIG diversion for open space becomes a GOOD THING!

The truth will out on all this – the only question  is whether its too late to influence the Nov. *4 vote.

[Note - * means technical error corrected]

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