Tag Archive: clean air

Don’t Hold Your Breath

While the media’s attention is focused on the Democrats this week, Governor Christie’s kowtowing to the Koch Brothers continues to fly under the press’ radar screen.

When you can’t jump over the bar, you have two choices – work at it to improve, or lower the bar. When it comes to meeting Federal Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Air standards for New Jersey, Christie chooses the latter.

The Christie Administration’s Department of Environmental Protection is petitioning the EPA to declare the Garden State’s highly developed counties around New York and Philadelphia as having attained the requirements for what is referred to as “fine particulate matter”, even though they are neither in compliance, nor improving in those areas. Rather, Christie’s DEP is proposing gimmicks like moving monitoring sensors to less-polluted areas and claiming that due to the recession, more people are using mass transit and leaving their cars at home.

This year, the American Lung Association graded 13 of our 21 counties on air quality, with the best grade being a D in two of those counties, while 11 received an F.

Yet, at a hearing today in Trenton, the only group that came to testify was the Sierra Club. Have other clean air advocates lost their mojo? Have the Koch Brothers been successful in keeping these issues out of the press?

Lowering the bar for fine particulate matter is, of course, not the only area where Christie sides with the polluters over the health of New Jerseyans. His pullout from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, his stonewalling on developing regulations for wind power, his silence on fracking, and his failure to collect fines from polluters are other examples of his disregard for the environment. All of these will ultimately result in increased health issues, costing businesses money in health care and employee productivity – not a very business-friendly platform.

When Christie was elected, there was hope that at least on the environment, he would live up to his reputation as a “moderate” Republican. But after his secret meeting with the Koch Brothers, he swiftly moved in the direction of the GOP extremists. I was hoping that after his national ambitions were thwarted, he would move more toward Christine Todd Whitman’s position and away from those of Michele Bachmann. But I’m not holding my breath.

What the Frack?

How would you like it if your neighbor dumped the waste from his septic tank into your back yard? Well, that’s what Christie’s Cronies are proposing to let happen in New Jersey, and some legislators are working to prevent this.

Energy companies are promoting the use of hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking”, to extract gas and oil from underground deposits. Fracking involves injecting millions of gallons of water laced with proprietary chemicals into the ground to force the gas and oil out. But the broth that is injected into the earth must go somewhere, and that detritus contains carcinogens and radioactive materials.

The New Jersey legislature banned fracking, but the governor issued a conditional veto which only puts a one year moratorium on the practice in the state. However, states like Pennsylvania and Ohio permit the process, and much of the toxic waste liquid is shipped to the Garden State for disposal.

Today, a coalition of 70 environmental and other organizations held a press conference in Trenton in support of a bill sponsored by Assemblywoman Connie Wagner and supported by Assemblyman John McKeon and 15 other co-sponsors that would prohibit the transport and storage of fracking waste in the state. No matter how safe the energy companies claim their processes are, this is a human endeavor and involves accidents. We are endangering New Jersey’s drinking water for the enrichment of the energy barons and out-of-state employers.

While tax relief is at the top of the agenda for everyone in Trenton, if we don’t have clean air and water, no amount of tax relief will make New Jersey a pleasant place to live. That message needs to be sent loud and clear to our leaders in Trenton.

“A Cleaner New Jersey” and an Upcoming Event

Over recent weeks, Governor Christie has set to cut back on his campaign promises of a more energy efficient New Jersey by working toward scaling back the state goals of becoming more energy efficient. This issue is not something that only affects this great state, but also the other citizens of the US, and in the future, these actions will also affect the citizens of the world. The Governor’s move to use inefficient practices in order to “save money” needs to stop in order to save our planet, and it is our duty as citizens to come together and work to promote better energy practices. We need to stand up and take action in some way. BUT, what if you want to do more than just pick up the phone to call your state legislators, how can you take your own action steps? The way that I learned how to create my campaign was by attending an Activist Workshop in Massachusetts where I learned a lot, not only about how to get a campaign like this started, but also how to engage more people. Not only this, I also learned a lot about myself, and that even though I was alone- I really wasn’t because there were more people out there that also wanted to help, but just didn’t know how. I know from experience that by learning how to create a great campaign, you can ultimately produce better results, have fun doing it, and make a major impact in your community. I urge you all to go to the Activist Workshop, sponsored by Environment New Jersey, in conjunction with New Jersey PIRG and The Public Interest Network, this Saturday because this is an opportunity of a lifetime, and you shouldn’t pass it up! This is also a great way to meet people who are interested and excited about the same issues as you! Please come and learn how we can all work together to better the state of New Jersey in more ways than one. The information for the workshop is below, and I hope you all will attend. I promise- you won’t be disappointed!!

Who: YOU!! Along with your other fellow activists and leaders.

What: An Activist Workshop. Learn how to create and work your own issues campaign.

When: THIS SATURDAY!! September 17th, 2011

Time: 11am – 2pm

Where: Rutgers University in New Brunswick, Douglass Campus

RSVP: https://secure3.convio.net/eng…

I hope that each of you reading this will find your voice within and come join Environment New Jersey to learn how to be better activists and leaders!

Dennis: Reach out to the Outdoorsmen and Women

For far too long, out here in The Far Broccoli of The 5th, the Republicans have had a virtual lock, a “death grip” if you will, on the votes and the endorsements of the outdoors, hunting and fishing groups. It does not have to be that way and with a little TLC of these groups and the right message, more than a few of these votes can be turned.

If It Sounds Too Good to be True …

On Monday, Hopeful shared the news that the Justice Department had settled an eight-year-old case brought by the EPA, eight states (including NJ), and environmental groups seeking to force Ohio-based utility American Electric Power to reduce emissions from its coal-fired power plants. “Now, any settlement by the Bush administration should be examined carefully,” Hopeful warned, “but the initial reporting is good.”

Hopeful’s healthy skepticism no doubt was rooted in BushCo’s history of giving polluters a pass, and of giving a little with one hand while taking a lot more with the other.

Sure enough, a closer examination of the “history-making settlement” hailed  by environmentalists reveals that the deal represents “a significant victory for the power industry.” From today’s WaPo:

Buried in paragraph 133 of the consent decree, in which the utility agreed to install $4.6 billion in pollution-control measures at 16 existing plants and pay $75 million in penalties, is a section that assures AEP that the government will not pursue any action stemming from the “modification” of these plants between now and Dec. 31, 2018. The EPA has inserted similar language in other settlements.

As I understand it, the settlement gives AEP the green light to upgrade plants and expand output without being subject to “New Source Review” and higher clean-air standards.

The language of the settlement indicates that the administration has not wavered in its distaste for a Clinton-era policy of using the law to force power plants to upgrade their pollution controls whenever they significantly update or expand a plant. That marks a significant victory for the power industry, which has strenuously opposed the “New Source Review,” saying that it penalizes them for efficiency improvements that
ultimately benefit consumers and the environment.

The lesson is one that Hopeful obviously grasped: Never breathe easy with BushCo in charge.

A Few More Years, a Few More Tons of Soot for Your Lungs

What happens when a multi-billion dollar utility company misses a “deadline” for imposing pollution controls?  Why, they get an extension of course!

It really doesn’t matter if we get Ohio to cut its pollution if we can’t get the same thing done right here at home.

William O’Sullivan, DEP’s director of the division of air quality, said his agency agreed to the extension “with much reluctance,” but Hudson County residents needn’t worry about their health.

“Air quality modeling projects it is not causing violations of the air quality standards locally,” O’Sullivan said. “But they contribute to the regional burden on the public.”

Yeah – it isn’t pollution, it’s just adding “scenic quality” to the air we breathe.  It isn’t bad for us who live immediately downwind from the damn thing, it’s only bad for the whole region.

Make the flip.