Tag Archive: bob smith

Is the Governor a “Nefarious Devil?”

In his own words, Hal Bozarth of the Chemistry Council of New Jersey thinks not. That’s why he’s opposed to Senator Diane Allen’s bill to regulate fracking waste in New Jersey. His contention is that a benevolent governor and a compliant Department of Environmental Protection will invariably keep the health of New Jersey citizens in the forefront.

You decide for yourself. Listen to Bozarth’s testimony from earlier today at Senator Bob Smith’s Energy & Environment Committee. Bozarth presents his opposition to the bill, then is grilled by Senator Smith, and concludes with a description on how great fracking is for the people of New Jersey.

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.

Environmental Kumbaya (Almost)

New Jersey Senate Energy and Environment Committee Chairman Bob Smith noted today that on the environment, there should be no disagreements. Of course, we know that this is not the case with our current governor who puts the interests of his dirty energy donors ahead of clean air and water for New Jerseyans.

Several bills and resolutions were heard at Smith’s committee this morning. All but one passed with unanimous, bipartisan support. There was universal agreement on technical items related to the Environmental Infrastructure Trust (low-interest loans for certain projects), and the installation of automobile charging stations at rest areas on New Jersey’s major tollways.

The capstone of today’s meeting was SCR-163, a proposed amendment to the New Jersey Constitution to “dedicate all State moneys received from settlements and awards in cases of environmental contamination for certain environmental purposes.”

An Interview with ENJ’s Doug O’Malley

For those basking in the schadenfreude of Chris Christie’s tribulations, don’t take any pleasure in the fact that the traffic jams are gone today and he’ll be gone in two years. His lasting legacy will not be Bridgegate, but rather the dereliction in his duty to protect New Jersey’s air and water.

While the governor has placed the wants of the dirty fuel industries and big business above the health and welfare of those he’s sworn to serve, there are groups who are working to counter his actions. One such group is Environment New Jersey, and I spoke with their Director, Doug O’Malley today.

Senator Bob Smith

Senator Bob Smith of Central Jersey’s 17th Legislative District is not one to grab headlines like many of his colleagues. A smart, determined legislator, he is the chairman of the Energy & Environment Committee – a thankless job at a time when the all-powerful governor takes his marching orders from the Koch Brothers and not the people of New Jersey.

Despite the governor’s bungling of energy and environmental policy, there are important issues facing the state. As Senator Smith explains in this interview, in many areas progress will be stagnant until we have a new governor.

I met with Senator Smith earlier today at his Piscataway office. We spoke about many of the issues that the governor is ignoring, about lost opportunities in job creation under this governor’s energy policies, and the impact of President Obama’s recent anti-environmental move to allow drilling oil spillage in the Atlantic Ocean not far from our Jersey Shore.

We also talked about what the Senator learned on his recent trip to Israel and what he calls a “crisis for Ocean County” that Congressman Tom MacArthur has so far ignored.

The interview ends with comments on a controversial bill that he is sponsoring to put firearms in the hands of ten-year-olds and his take on the 2017 governor’s race.

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.