Tag Archive: Jeff Tittel

Jeff Tittel’s Words May Come Back To Haunt NJ’s Environment

In a fit of hyperbole, Jeff Tittel, political director of the NJ Sierra Club, recently called Governor Corzine the worst environmental governor in New Jersey history. It’s clear that Tittel has completely ignored the Corzine administration’s work on green energy, and the game Tittel is playing just got more dangerous, with the RGA using his words to run attack ads in support of Chris Christie.

The facts are clear: under Governor Corzine, the state became one of the first in the nation to develop a comprehensive energy master plan to encourage, incentivize and develop green energy in our state.

Not long ago, the AP reported that New Jersey would more than double its capacity for solar, solidifying New Jersey’s place as the second-biggest solar state after only California.

But I guess these accomplishments, nor any of dozens of other Corzine initiatives, has, you know, any environmental impact in Tittel’s view. Perhaps if Tittel had written the headline to that story, it would have read “Corzine Only Doubles Solar Generation; Presides Over Epic Failure On NJ Solar Power.”

Tittel’s penchant for hyperbole isn’t news, but he has certainly changed his tune in recent days. It was only a few months ago that Tittel was beside himself with praise for Corzine administration DEP commissioner Lisa Jackson, widely known as a champion of science and environmental protection. While she was DEP commissioner, Lisa Jackson was dubbed “one of the best DEP commissioners” in state history by Tittel. When she was nominated, then confirmed, as President Obama’s new EPA administrator, Tittel again heaped praise upon Jackson and her record.

That raises a question: how can Governor Corzine have been the worst Governor in New Jersey history on environmental issues while simultaneously appointing one of the best DEP commissioners in state history to develop and execute his policies? There’s a simple answer: Tittel’s laughable hyperbole has descended into flat out lies.

We already know that this year, we’re playing the Governor’s race for keeps. Chris Christie has already repeatedly stated his intention to slash the budget and capabilities of the state Department of Environmental Protection to the bone. On the other side is Governor Corzine’s strong, while certainly not perfect, record on the environment and green energy. The contrast couldn’t be clearer.

Tittel is playing right into the hands of those who would give developers free reign, reduce water quality standards, seek to drill for oil offshore, and otherwise tarnish New Jersey’s environment. It’s time for Sierra Club members and funders to reign in Tittel, before he helps deliver the very outcomes for New Jersey he is supposedly working to prevent.

Widening the Turnpike and the Parkway

I watched this video put out by the Governor’s office after sitting in the traffic heading south on the turnpike over the weekend, where they talk about what is being done to widen the Turnpike and Parkway:

Here’s more about the Turnpike section of the project:

State officials broke ground Thursday in East Windsor on a $2.7 billion project that will widen the New Jersey Turnpike, one of the nation’s busiest highways.

The project will increase the number of lanes from 6 and 10 to 12 and keep the lanes divided along a 25-mile stretch of the roadway between Cranbury and the Pennsylvania Turnpike interchange near Mansfield. Another 10 miles of roadway will be expanded from 10 lanes to 12 between Cranbury and East Brunswick.

Presently, traffic frequently backs up along the stretch that will be widened as 12 lanes are reduced to 10 and than 6. The turnpike carries an average 680,000 vehicles daily and is a major East Coast link between New York and Boston in the north and Philadelphia and Washington in the south.

The project will add 170 miles of new roadway. Construction is expected cause traffic delays until the widening is completed in 2014 but actual work will not begin until August.

That would be where I enjoyed virtually parking momentarily. But the Sierra club came out with what has become a regular release criticizing the Turnpike widening:

“This project in its current form is the opposite of smart growth; it is dumb growth and a huge waste of money,” NJ Sierra Club Director Jeff Tittel said.

And not to be left out, the Parkway as well:

“All we’re doing is turning the Parkway into a bigger, more expensive parking lot,” NJ Sierra Club Director Jeff Tittel said. “This project will create two 50 mile long ribbons of asphalt, which will pave over the Pinelands and environmentally sensitive coastal areas, will make sprawl and traffic worse and take money away from the areas that actually need it.”

As much as I’d like to take a train sometimes, it’s just not possible from where I am. I’ve said before, I can’t get a direct train to New York from South Jersey. I couldn’t even get to the Hudson Tunnel line they’re building (which the Sierra Club opposed) without driving north first. So while people debate the merits of the projects and until there is expanded train service or widened roads, you can learn about where the traffic is because the state operates the 511 service and you can see live video on the web.

Awarding the nation’s 1st offshore wind leases

New Jersey seems to be helping lead the way with wind energy:

U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar on Tuesday awarded five leases to four companies who want to develop windmills along the Outer Continental Shelf. The leases allow the companies to build meteorological towers to gather information about the wind six to 18 miles offshore.

[snip]

The exploratory leases, the first of their kind ever issued by the federal government, went to Bluewater Wind New Jersey Energy; Fishermen’s Energy of New Jersey; Deepwater Wind, which is doing two projects; and Bluewater Wind Delaware.

“New Jersey’s Outer Continental Shelf is a resource that holds great promise for our energy independence and should be considered a haven for the clean, renewable and environmentally friendly energy that wind power provides,” Gov. Jon Corzine said.

And Jeff Tittel didn’t miss the opportuinty to deliver a one liner:

“We see this as a positive change from the Bush administration’s energy plan,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “We are moving from drill baby, drill, to wind baby, wind.”

Here’s video from the press conference announcing the leases:

The article says they hope to have the first meteorological tower up and running off the coast next summer. We may want to get Secretary Salazar a place to stay with all his visits to the state.

$600 million Open Space Ballot question

Senator Bob Smith yesterday amended previous legislation that would have put a ballot question to the voters in November to provide for $300 million in bonding. The amended bill will now total $600 million to be split over 3 years.  His Senate Environment committee took up the bill yesterday and passed it by a 4-1 vote:

“We’re broke. And you have a historic opportunity. Land prices in New Jersey are at historic lows,” Smith said. “Of course, at the same time you have an economic tsunami that is very difficult for our citizens in this state.”

Smith said the borrowing would permit the state to spend $200 million a year for three years buying open space and preserving farms and historic sites. There isn’t a dedicated stream of revenue identified to repay the bonds.

Governor Corzine has said there will be an open space ballot quesiton, but has not committed to a funding amount as of yet. The original version of the bill was bi-partisan with two members of each party sponsoring.  Senator Bateman tried to reduce the amount back to $300 million, but still supported the amended version.  Senator Phil Haines pulled his support:

Sen. Phil Haines, R-Burlington, withdrew as a prime sponsor of the bill, which he said ignores taxpayers’ unease and would be the second-largest borrowing plan ever put before New Jersey voters.

“A bond issuance of this size, in these perilous economic times, will almost certainly fail at the ballot box. Failure will cause irreparable harm to the cause of preserving open space and farmland,” Haines said.

And there were many others voicing concern and opposition as well:

That prospect of rejection in November was cited by the advocacy groups – Environment New Jersey, New Jersey Environmental Federation, New Jersey Environmental Lobby and the Sierra Club – now opposing the bill.

“Given the economic climate and state’s reckless borrow-and-spend history, we’re not confident a majority will support this question despite the popularity of open space, and a failed question would do more damage to the state’s open space program than no question,” said Mike Pisauro of the Environmental Lobby.

The last question on the ballot regarding open space funding passed in 2007, but by a smaller margin than past questions.  Some environmental supporters would prefer to see a dedicated revenue source rather than a ballot question because they worry the public won’t continue to the funding at necessary levels. This concern is enhanced when you look at our long term devt issues. But many of the programs with dedicated funding are now worried about facing the budget ax however. Assemblyman McKeon says the Assembly environmental committee will consider the legislation this monday. How would you prefer to see us fund Open Space and do you think the voters can stomach the $600 million number?

Quote of the Day: Taking the first step

Last week, i wrote a diary about how we needed to move forward on alternative energy sources, questioning some of the delays of making that happen.  Today Newsday has an article talking about just how far we are behind schedule:


Adler, and environmentalist Jeff Tittel of the Sierra Club, questioned how the state could achieve the twin goals of generating 20 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2020 and producing 1,000 megawatts of electricity through wind power _ when it has not been able to get the 350-megawatt pilot project in motion.

“If you don’t take the first step, you’re not going to get there,” said Tittel.

The executive order was signed by Governor Codey in 2005 for the first wind farm.  Now the earliest the BPU thinks they can get the project up and running in Atlantic City is 2012.  Why don’t we just keep studying this energy source until the next one comes along that we can begin to overstudy while it passes us by.  In the search for the perfect solution, we are left with no action once again.

Sierra Club Endorses Adler

The Sierra Club today endorsed Senator John Adler in his campaign for New Jersey’s third Congressional district.

“There is no stronger advocate for the environment in the New Jersey legislature than John Adler,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club.  “Not only has he been a leader and a champion of environmental causes, he also knows how to get things done.  We believe that he will be a great asset in Washington and will take his proven legislative experience and environmental leadership to the Congress of the United States.”

Quote of the Day

Governor Corzine is considering building an offshore wind farm in South Jersey of up to 80 turbines capable of producing as much as 350MW of power – more than half of the power produced at the Oyster Creek nuclear power plant. Some opponents of the plan argue it will spoil the view, but Jeff Tittel of the Sierra Club sets them straight:

“Aesthetically, if you want the turbines to blend in with Seaside Heights, you’ll have to put neon lights on them. If you want them to blend in with Atlantic City, you’ll have to put giant roulette wheels on them.”

Having wind turbines miles offshore won’t spoil the view any more than boats, buoys, jet skis, parasailers, planes with giant banners and inappropriately-clad tourists already do.

Quote of the Day

Jeff Tittel, director of NJ’s Sierra Club chapter, commenting on waterfront development in Weehawken on and around chromium-contaminated sites:

“We have finally created social equity in New Jersey,” Mr. Tittel said, “because we have people in $3 million condos living on top of toxic sites, not just working and poor people.”