Tag Archive: Jeff Tittel

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.

Jeff Tittel on Climate Change and Chris Christie

Yesterday, New Jersey Sierra Club Director Jeff Tittel testified about climate change at the Assembly Telecommunications and Utilities Committee hearing.

Tittel started out by describing how environmental concerns and remediation have traditionally been a bipartisan issue and how a small group of deniers has hijacked the Republican party away from reasonableness. He excoriates Chris Christie’s policies which have diverted almost a billion dollars earmarked for clean energy to balance the budget, how New Jersey has lost our federal tax dollars to other states who choose to comply with federal guidelines, and some potential solutions.

How Does the GOP Government Shutdown Affect our Environment?

Today, a consortium of environmental groups held a press conference on the State House steps to announce a lawsuit to stop several companies from polluting the Delaware River. I spoke with the NJ Sierra Club Director Jeff Tittel about this, but first asked him about the affect of the GOP government shutdown on New Jesrey’s environment.

Below the fold: Sierra Club’s Press Release on the lawsuit.

Video of the press conference is here.

Too Good to be True?

When I was bringing up my children, it was always tough to get them to clean their rooms. So on occasions when I found their rooms neat and tidy, I was skeptical, suspected an ulterior motive, and I was usually right.

So how should I react when a Republican New Jersey Senator, a woman who invariably toes the line on Chris Christie’s energy policies, promotes an approach to energy that has been denigrated and unsupported by the Christie administration? Is there something there that I don’t understand?

Along with Chris Brown, her compatriot in the Assembly, Senator Dawn Marie Addiego has announced that she will be introducing a bill to promote the use of solar energy on state projects. Specifically, the bill would give priority to state construction projects that include solar generation and that return excess energy to the power grid (for a credit).

According to a press release from Addiego’s office, the proposed projects must be approved by the Board of Public Utilities – an entity that, like the governor, has not been proactive in promoting renewable energy.

It’s difficult for me to understand why such a bill is coming from a Christie acolyte and not from some of the more enthusiastic supporters of clean energy like Senator Bob Smith and Assemblyman Upendra Chivukula.

I welcome this initiative, and hope there’s no hidden catch in the legislation that enriches the electric companies or otherwise hurts consumers and taxpayers.  When I asked Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club, about this bill, he provided this comment:

“We believe giving priorities for schools and other governmental entities for solar arrays is important step forward in clean energy. Reserving space on the grid is needed to make sure these projects can get built. This will save taxpayer money and protect the environment because green equals green/ We support the concept of this bill [and] are looking forward to reading it once it is available and may have more comment then.”

I agree with Jeff. Hopefully when the bill becomes available, my skepticism will be proven to be unwarranted.

NJ Sierra Club to Endorse Barbara Buono

promoted by Rosi

Tomorrow’s “dog bites man” story will be the endorsement of Barbara Buono by the New Jersey Sierra Club. The official endorsement will happen mid-day in Hoboken.

This, of course, is not unexpected. Chris Christie has been in the pocket of the polluters ever since he took office. His withdrawal from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, his virtual elimination of environmental protections in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, and his overall sucking up to the Koch Brothers earned him the title of “worst environmental governor in history” – a label that Jeff Tittel of the New Jersey Sierra Club pinned on Jon Corzine four years ago. Christie has also stolen funds earmarked for environmental protection to use as one-shot gimmicks to “balance” the state budget.

Not only do Christie’s policies perpetuate dirty air and water, but they eliminate the potential for tens of thousands of jobs in “green” industries.

Buono, on the other hand, has indicated that as governor, she will be a good steward of the environment. From her campaign web site:

Barbara will restore New Jersey’s leadership in clean energy, attracting solar and wind projects and spurring new hiring. As governor, she’ll put a stop to the Christie Administration’s use of waivers that allow polluters to dirty our air and water and jeopardize public health.

Heck, her campaign is so environmentally-friendly that she chose green as her theme color.

Now is the time for national environmental groups to step up to the plate and support the Buono campaign. After all, the pollution that Chris Christie promotes does not know state lines.

“Celebrating” the Six Month Anniversary of Governor Christie’s Paean to the Dirty Water Lobby

If Governor Christie gets his way, New Jersey’s water will soon contain toxic and radioactive materials. That’s because he vetoed a bill that would prohibit the transport and storage of waste water from hydraulic fracturing, better known as “fracking.”

If you think it can’t happen here, remember the recent accident in Paulsboro where a train full of toxic chemicals fell off of an ill-maintained bridge and displaced dozens of people from their homes for weeks. Now multiply that impact by several orders of magnitude. That’s what’s hanging over the people of New Jersey if the Governor’s veto is not overridden.

Currently, there are no treatment plants in New Jersey that can handle fracking wastewater. Do we want to invest in plants to treat pollutants, or is that money better spent investing in clean energy? The dirty energy lobby has managed to cajole the federal government into not classifying fracking wastewater as something that is handled as hazardous material, so it is up to the state legislature to ensure this garbage does not infiltrate our water supply.

Today in Trenton, a coalition of environmental groups led by the Sierra Club lobbied legislators to override the Governor’s veto. About 20 lobbyists buttonholed approximately half the Assembly members to urge them to override. Later, the leaders of these groups spoke to the press: