Tag Archive: DEP

A Senate Bill Nobody Likes

At the end of her testimony on a bill she is sponsoring, Senator Diane Allen noted that neither side on this contentious issue likes the bill, so it must be a good one.

Senator Allen, one of a rare breed of sensible Republicans, introduced a bill, S2534, that would set standards for the levels of toxins allowed in dumped wastewater from hydraulic fracturing (fracking).

In his quest for the GOP (Gruesome Oil Panderer) presidential nomination, Governor Christie twice vetoed bills that would have completely banned toxic fracking waste in New Jersey.

Senator Allen, along with environmentalists, and fracking lobbyists, discussed her bill at a meeting of the Senate Environment and Energy Committee today. The chairman, Senator Bob Smith, announced that no vote would be taken today, as there’s still much work to do in crafting the language of the bill.

Naturally, this bill is opposed by environmentalists – and with good reason. Since Governor Christie has eviscerated the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP),  even if this bill were to be enacted, what kind of weak regulations would the DEP consider or enforce?

The bill is also opposed by the dirty fuel industry. Their lobbyists testified that current regulations are generally sufficient to ensure safety to the state’s drinking water supply.

I spoke with Jim Walsh of Food and Water Watch before the hearing.

As Amy Hansen of the New Jersey Conservation Foundation put it, natural gas extracted from the fracking process is a “fuel of procrastination.” I agree. There’s no reason not to devote the bulk of our resources to renewable energy now, as the costs are dropping and the technology for these safe, non-polluting fuels is maturing.

News Roundup & Open Thread for Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Double-dipping government employees: NJ Watchdog reports, the biggest double-dipper is Essex County Executive Joe DiVincenzo who is paid $230,476 of which nearly $69,000 is from a state pension.

Three fourths of NJ sheriffs double dip: Essex County’s Armando Fontoura draws $207,289, including $62,393 from his pension.

Newark and Camden School districts in line to receive hefty private donations. NJ Spotlight says these school districts plan press conferences this morning to announce large donations.

Legislators press Christie on need for more psychiatric beds. NJSpotlight reports Democrats want answers on reversal of state call for services after hearing from hospitals.

Iran deal: using TV and online ads, J Street is trying to convince the undecided lawmakers to side with President Obama. NJ Sen. Cory Booker and Reps. Frank Pallone and Bill Pascrell have not yet annouced their position. PolitickerNJ reports, “Pallone says, “He’s honestly undecided.”

Chris Christie used the State Police helicopter four times for campaign travel, as he vies for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, according to records obtained by NJ Advance Media.  A spokesperson confirmed the state was reimbursed for the expense.

Republican Presidential nomination polls: According to the Real Clear Politics average of the most recent polls, Christie is 10th (3.0%) nationally, 11th (2.0%) in Iowa, 8th (3.0%) in New Hampshire and 11th (2.0%) in South Carolina.

DEP: No drought concerns yet for NJ, despite warnings from United Water about low reservoir levels. Nonetheless, with its three reservoirs along the Hackensack River now down to a combined 45 percent of capacity, United Water is asking North Jersey residents to voluntarily conserve water.

As school returns, The Record asks: “Will the state change standards that outline what kids should learn in each grade after a review ordered by the governor? Will New Jersey officials agree on a way to pay for the public employees’ pension fund, which has been underfunded for years? Will there be changes to the state tests that caused so much controversy last year?”

Appearing on Fox’s Hannity show, Christie says Springsteen is no longer a friend. No surprise there.  

News Roundup & Open Thread for Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Double-dipping government employees: NJ Watchdog reports, the biggest dipper is Essex County Executive Joe DiVincenzo who is paid $230,476 of which nearly $69,000 is from a state pension.

Three fourths of NJ sheriffs doubler dip: Essex County’s Armando Fontoura draws $207,289, including $62,393 from his pension.

Newark and Camden School districts in line to receive hefty private donations. NJ Spotlight says school districts plan press conferences this morning to announce large donations.

Legislators press Christie on need for more psychiatric beds. NJSpotlight reports Democrats want answers on reversal of state call for services after hearing from hospitals.

Iran deal: using TV and online ads, J Street is trying to convince the undecided lawmakers to side with President Obama. NJ Sen. Cory Booker and Reps. Frank Pallone and Bill Pascrell have not yet annouced their position. PolitickerNJ reports, “Pallone says, “He’s honestly undecided.”

Chris Christie used the State Police helicopter four times for campaign travel, as he vies for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, according to records obtained by NJ Advance Media.  A spokesperson confirmed the state was reimbursed for the expense.

Republican Presidential nomination polls: According to the Real Clear Politics average of the most recent polls, Christie is 10th (3.0%) nationally, 11th (2.0%) in Iowa, 8th (3.0%) in New Hampshire and 11th (2.0%) in South Carolina.

DEP: No drought concerns yet for NJ, despite warnings from United Water about low reservoir levels. Nonetheless, with its three reservoirs along the Hackensack River now down to a combined 45 percent of capacity, United Water is asking North Jersey residents to voluntarily conserve water.

As school returns, The Record asks: “Will the state change standards that outline what kids should learn in each grade after a review ordered by the governor? Will New Jersey officials agree on a way to pay for the public employees’ pension fund, which has been underfunded for years? Will there be changes to the state tests that caused so much controversy last year?”

Planning New Jersey’s Energy Future

This is the third in a series of articles or news gathering of science and technology policy issues facing New Jersey or the nation. Thanks to my science and environment intern Arcadia Lee for research and drafting this article.  Cross-posted at DanBenson.com

Energy touches the lives of every New Jersey resident – every day. Our quality of life, our security, our prosperity, the land and water around us, and how we work and play all depend on energy. Energy master planning is an important aspect of proactive facilities management, providing an expertly defined and practical road-map to a sustainable future environment.

New Jersey’s Board of Public Utilities Office of Clean Energy will be holding hearings this month to update the state’s Energy Master Plan.  

Adding to the Energy Master Plan’s importance is its relationship to the federal Clean Power Plan announced this week by President Obama.  The EPA is giving each state an individual goal for cutting power plant emissions. States can then decide for themselves how to get there.

Is Chris Christie Pandering to the Moderates?

Every action that Chris Christie takes is filtered through the lens of his political ambition.  Whether it’s his stance on hot-button issues like gun safety and marriage equality, or his top-caliber cadre of social media propagandists, the governor has one goal in mind – 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Some of his recent actions may indicate that he’s given up pandering to the extreme wing of his party and is hoping that the dying breed of moderate Republicans may come out victorious among the dozen or so contenders for the nomination.

A few days ago, Christie surprised us (and probably his dirty energy backers) by announcing that he thought global climate change might be man-made. And on Friday, his Department of Environmental Protection stepped in to a controversy about destroying hundreds of acres of forestland in the Six Flags Amusement Park to install solar panels. The DEP made an offer to purchase the land from Six Flags in order to save the trees.

Of course, these two actions in isolation don’t make Christie a moderate. He’s still in favor of draconian cuts in Social Security and has shown no empathy for state workers whose deferred compensation is being stolen to balance the budget.

Too Big to Sue?

After the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection proposed an eight-billion dollar lawsuit based on Exxon’s despoiling of numerous sites in New Jersey, the Christie administration is pushing through a $225 million settlement – less than three cents on the dollar – ending any future remediation or consideration for Exxon’s pollution.

Today, Assemblyman John McKeon, chair of the Assembly Judiciary Committee, held a hearing to gather facts to try to determine if this settlement is in the best interests of the public.

While such a low cash settlement without much public discussion may seem odd, it makes sense if you look at it through the lens of Governor Christie’s political aspirations. Settling for the low number now, and channeling most of that money into the general fund,  provides Christie with another one-shot gimmick to enable him to boast of a balanced budget, even though that goal is constitutionally required. Waiting for prolonged litigation to force Exxon to pay its fair share would not help Christie, who will be long out of office by the time the lawsuits are settled.

Dismantling the EPA

Chris Christie has been a disaster for New Jersey’s environment. From his pull out from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative to his stacking the Pinelands and Highlands Commissions with his proles, Christie has been a friend of polluters, not people. Here he is in Iowa, bragging about his dismal record.