Tag Archive: Department of Environmental Protection

Epiphany or Miracle?

The solutions to the world’s environmental problems are numerous and inextricably related. There’s no silver bullet, but rather a set of choices – some easy and some more difficult – that have to be made if this planet is to remain habitable.

Solutions involve combinations of environmentally efficient energy sources like CHP, totally clean non-fossil solutions like wind and solar, and reduction of energy usage through conservation.

The issues are not only technical, but they have a large political component as well.

While some of our elected officials, mostly but not exclusively from the Republican Party, still look backward toward fossil fuels and subsidies for the obscenely rich oil barons, others are promoting more sensible approaches.

One approach to alleviate some of the environmental damage is to improve the way we construct our buildings. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, in the United States buildings consume 40% of our energy and produce 39% of our carbon emissions. Yet the technology exists to significantly reduce energy, CO2 emissions, water use, and solid waste.

Assemblymen McKeon, Chivukula, Barnes, and Conaway are among legislators who have promoted realizable solutions to our energy and environment crisis. Despite their effort, Governor Christie has vetoed green building initiatives in the past, using his veto message to excoriate the Democrats in the legislature. Those four assemblymen have re-introduced a green building bill (A-1966) this session.

I spoke yesterday with Assembly McKeon outside of the Trenton office of the Department of Environmental Protection. I asked him why the bill is being re-introduced despite the governor’s opposition to investment in jobs and the environment. In the short conversation, posted below, McKeon said he hoped the governor would have “an epiphany” and consider signing the bill this year.

Certainly, the governor has occasionally changed his mind on issues – as he recently did with internet gambling. But given the fact that the Koch Brothers are pulling the governor’s strings and the governor relies on dirty energy money to further his political ambitions, I suspect that more than an epiphany is needed. We need either a miracle or a new governor to advance the cause of clean energy in New Jersey.

There’s a New Sign in Trenton

No, despite the Governor’s assertion of bipartisanship, that’s not what the new sign is. Rather, it’s a billboard just outside of the Department of Environmental Protection featuring images of two of the state’s prominent environmental legislators, Senator Bob Smith and Assemblyman John F. McKeon. It’s sponsored by the New Jersey Highlands Coalition and the Pinelands Preservation Alliance through an organization SaveH2ONJ.org

While Governor Christie has kowtowed to his anti-environmental benefactors and the anti-science right wing of his party, legislators like Smith and McKeon have been undeterred and continue to work on bills to preserve our land, air, and water for the next generations.

I spoke with Smith and McKeon about the environment this afternoon as they unveiled the new billboard.

Necessary But Not Sufficient

Nuclear power, once viewed as the panacea that would wean us from fossil fuels, is starting to show some of its hidden costs. Despite the fact that they will impact Japan’s economy and quality of life for decades to come, the Fukushima disaster is just the tip of the iceberg. As plants built during the nuclear boom times come to the end of their useful lives, more of these hidden costs will be exposed to the public. And that’s becoming evident here in New Jersey.

The privately-run nuclear reactor at Oyster Creek in Lacey Township is scheduled to be closed and decommissioned starting December 31, 2019. The plant’s owner, Exelon, has made the decision to close the plant rather than build cooling towers that would reduce the amount of heated water that is currently dumped into the environmentally-fragile Barnegat Bay.

News Round-up and Open Thread for Tuesday, November 21st

Open Thread: What’s on your mind today, Blue Jersey?

News Round-up and Open Thread for Tuesday, October 24

There’s a lot to report today, folks.

  • Environmental protection commissioner Lisa Jackson yesterday revealed plans to do a complete overhaul of Our Fair State’s $60 million cleanup program. Changes will include prioritizing the sites for cleanup, starting a licensing program for environmental consultants, and adopting programs with incentives for cleaning up sites quickly. The department is trying to fix the system after the high-profile closing of a daycare in Gloucester County which was located on contaminated soil.
  • Children and Families Commissioner Kevin Ryan reported to the Assembly Human Services Committee yesterday that new child welfare workers are getting their training but re-training existing workers is taking longer. Also, the number of kids in foster care who receive physical and psychological examinations has increased, but an overhaul of the health care system for foster children is needed and will be proposed.
  • As expected, the State Senate unanimously approved Associate Justice James Zazzali as Chief Justice of the State Supreme Court yesterday, and Judge Helen Hoens was approved to fill the associate position.
  • State Senator Ellen Karcher’s bill to curb political contributions from redevelopment contractors and professionals has received bipartisan support. Even with such support the bill may not pass, because of other ethics reform legislation being proposed.
  • State Senator Stephen Sweeney has been under fire from labor groups about his proposal to cut the benefits and pay of unionized state workers. Sweeney met with the president of the AFL-CIO earlier this month and has been defending his proposals.
  • The Legislative ethics panel met yesterday, selecting Raymond Bramucci as chairman. The panel put off a decision to investigate Wayne Bryant and his “job” at UMDNJ, citing two ongoing criminal investigations by the US and State Attorneys’ General offices.
  • Rutgers announced yesterday the formation of the Rutgers Energy Institute, which will bring together all energy-focused projects under one banner. The Institute’s long-term goal is to help break American dependence on fossil fuels, particularly those from foreign sources.
  • Speaking of alternative power sources, more residents of Our Fair State favor the use of offshore wind power than oppose them, and even more are in favor if the turbines are further away. Woo-hoo!
  • Viola Thomas-Hughes is feeling little support in her run against Frank LoBiondo. Until last week, she had received no financial support, from Dem organizations in Gloucester and Cumberland counties. In the last week Cape May Democrats and Cumberland County Dem organization have donated, with the Gloucester County Dems promising some as well. Visit her site if you can help, too.
  • New Jersey is a tough place for military recruiters; only Connecticut and Rhode Island have lower recruiting percentages. Officials and researchers blame the lack of interaction between military folks and civilians in Our Fair State, while some recruiters directly blame the Iraq war.

Open Thread: What’s on your mind today, Blue Jersey?