Tag Archive: Sierra Club

Clean and Green

BY DECIMINYAN Last night, a dozen civic and environmental organizations conducted a “Clean and Green” forum at the Trinity Episcopal Church in Trenton. Despite the inclement weather, a group of about 40 involved residents came to hear presenations on various…
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It’s Not What You Think

BY DECIMINYAN At today’s rally against the PennEast pipeline, New Jersey Sierra Club Director Jeff Tittel delivered impassioned remarks on why the pipeline should be rejected. And as he put it, “it’s not what you think.” It’s not about a…
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Judge Hogan rules in favor of the NJ DEP (“Department of Exxon Protection”)

In what is probably the largest boondoggle since the ARC tunnel, Burlington County Judge Michael Hogan denied the request of environmental groups and Sen. Ray Lesniak to intervene in the EXXON Mobil contamination lawsuit.

The judge  ruled: “The court denies the motion as to the environmental groups because the DEP adequately represents their interests. The court denies the motion as to Senator Lesniak because he lacks an interest or, alternatively, assuming he has an interest, because the DEP adequately represents that interest. The court denies the motions because they are not timely and granting them would unduly delay proceedings and prejudice the original parties.”

To a layman the notion that the NJ Department of Environmental Protection represents the interests of the environmental groups is hard swallow. What started out as an $8.9 billion court case is now reduced to $225 million, which after deducting legal fees and diverting monies to the general fund represents a pitifully small sum to cover two refineries, 16 industrial sites and 800 to 1,700 privately-owned gas stations.

Jeff Tittel of Sierra Club said,

“Today the people lost but the fight will continue. We are very disappointed with this decision. Over 70,000 people have weighed in against the NJDEP ExxonMobil settlement. DEP’s opposition is shameful since they should be on the side of the environment. Our motion to intervene and future appeal will show that the DEP has misled the public. The DEP now stands for the Department of Exxon Protection.”

[Additional note from Rosi: I spoke to Sen. Lesniak a few minutes ago. He told me he’s optimistic that the judge ultimately will not approve the settlement. He points out that the public comment period generated vigorous opposition to the settlement (including those 70,000 howls of protest noted above) including the information he provided as an elected senator and one from one of the affected areas. Lesniak plans to file an amicus brief in order to have a legal role in the settlement process: “The administration and Exxon are working together as allies but the people need a voice in the case. The fight is far from over,” Lesniak promised. ]

Nonetheless the court story is not over. Oral arguments on the proposed settlement of $225 million will be held on July 21 after which the judge will issue his ruling on the settlement amount.  

Transit Fare Rally

In his post earlier today, josef outlined how the Democrats are complicit with our anti-worker governor in the hike of NJ Transit fares and the failure to raise revenue to cover mass transit and infrastructure.

Today, in front of the Capitol Annex, a coalition of advocacy groups under the umbrella of New Jersey for Transit spoke about this situation. Here are some highlights:

A full, unedited audio podcast will be posted in a few days. Names and affiliations of the speakers are below the fold.

E Pluribus Cleanum

Pipelines leaking toxic material into our water supply. Oil bomb trains traveling on antiquated infrastructure through our towns and villages. Fossil fuel plants spewing carcinogens into the air we breathe. These are the things we can look forward to if we conduct business as usual.

Today, a coalition of 36 environmental, religious, and activist groups announced the launch of a coalition to scrap  “business as usual” and jump start an aggressive campaign to address these problems.

Most of the actions taken by these individual groups to date have been in opposition of something – a pipeline through the Pinelands or processing of liquefied natural gas, a highly explosive and dangerous endeavor. Each group has done its own thing, often without specific goals other than to shut down a harmful project.

Now, the coalition is going head on with the dirty fuel industry by promoting the eventual elimination of these energy sources in favor of renewable energy. In a nutshell, they are proposing that our electricity be generated 100% from renewables by 2030, and the we totally eliminate dirty energy by 2050. These are realistic goals based academic research being conducted at Stanford University.

Paulsboro’s Double Trouble

In November, 2012, a Conrail train fell off a bridge in Paulsboro, spilling thousands of gallons of toxic vinyl chloride into Mantua Creek and fumes throughout the surrounding area. At the time, first responders were on the scene without protective gear, and children walked home from school in the toxic cloud. Several lawsuits are pending as a result of that debacle.

Now, Paulsboro is being hit again. Recently, Governor Christie pre-empted an $8.9 billion lawsuit that primarily was concerned with Exxon refineries in North Jersey and unilaterally decided to settle for less than 3 cents on the dollar, leaving taxpayers with the burden to remediate those sites. Adding insult to injury, his administration lumped the Paulsboro refinery and several other polluted sites around the state within the same bounds of that settlement.

Today, a group of environmental activists and Paulsboro citizens gathered next to the Exxon site there to protest the governor’s actions.

Tracy Carluccio, Deputy Director of the Delaware Riverkeeper Network explains in the video below. Additional remarks by activists and residents are below the fold:

New Jersey’s Department of Exxon Protection

On the surface, today’s New Jersey Assembly Budget Committee hearing on the Department of Environmental Protection seemed boring and unproductive, even by Trenton Standards. NJ DEP Commissioner Bob Martin refused to answer questions about the Exxon giveaway settlement but did spout out a lot of statistics about specific remediation projects, allocation of money, and the high-level plans for the Department.

Questions from panel members included the status of in-district projects and where some of the funds are going, but Martin referred any questions on the Exxon deal to the Attorney General and the Treasurer.

It’s no secret that Chris Christie has been hostile to the environment throughout his reign, so the comments from Jeff Tittel, New Jersey Sierra Club Director, should come as no surprise.

Let’s Drink to a Victory for Clean Water

The New Jersey Sierra Club is reporting that the Pinelands Commission has rejected the proposal to build a natural gas pipeline through the ecologically sensitive region spanning parts of seven counties in South Jersey.

While the battle to maintain clean air and water continues in New Jersey under a pollution-friendly Governor, this small victory is a welcome one.

Industry and residences have a voracious appetite for energy here and in other states. We need to invest in projects that feed this appetite while promoting conservation. But the long-term payoff for this investment must consider the total cost of ownership including the burden on taxpayers for clean up of spills and other residual pollution. That’s where wind, solar, and geothermal power sources, along with distributed generation and smart grids will help us meet our energy needs.

The Sierra Club’s press release is below the fold.