Tag Archive: dredging

Inky Stain

The following letter was sent to Linda Loyd, a staff writer for the Philadelphia Inquirer:

Dear Ms. Loyd,

I was glad to see your article Push on for funds to deepen Delaware River channel in today’s newspaper. But I was disappointed that a veteran reporter like you only presented one side of the story.

Nowhere in your article do you mention the devastating impact that this dredging will have on the environment. While you report on the court case toward the end of the article, there’s no indication to the reader who initiated a request to block the dredging or why they did so.

According to a former federal official who has performed Environmental Impact Studies in New Jersey, past dumping of dredge spoils has caused intrusion of salt water in fresh water areas, resulting in the killing of insects and plants in environmentally-sensitive regions. He also points out that with a deeper Delaware Channel river, larger tankers will be bringing their contaminants further up the Delaware River, making any accidental spill even more egregious.

Although I understand the needs of those who ply commerce on the river as well as the concerns of the environmentalists (and I would personally side with the latter), the purpose of this letter is not to engage in that debate. Rather it is to express my disappointment with your news article that only presented one side of the issue.

I subscribe to the Inquirer because it is a decent newspaper that usually provides fair reporting. Unfortunately, today’s article is an exception – a one-sided account of an issue that impacts all of us.

Christie and Andrews will hold joint Press Conference on dredging

The ongoing saga of the Delaware River dredging project will continue this week as there will be a press conference tomorrow and further movement later in the week:

With a Delaware River deepening project set to start next week, some of the project’s top critics — including Gov. Chris Christie — have scheduled a press conference on Gloucester County’s waterfront on Monday.

Christie and U.S. Rep. Rob Andrews, D-Haddon Heights, are among officials expected at the 12:15 p.m. event at Red Bank Battlefield in National Park.

This follows Christie’s recent comments questioning the dredging. I’m not sure what can be done by holding press conferences at this point, but they’re holding one. It’s in the courts right now and even though a Federal judge in Delaware said the project should go forward, opponents are still hoping to have the decision overturned.

Christie Admin calls out Army Corps on Delaware Dredging

The new Governor is weighing in on the long standing battle over efforts by the Army Corps of Engineer to push forward with the dredging of the Delaware River despite objections:

Gov. Chris Christie on Friday blasted a plan to deepen the Delaware River’s main shipping channel, saying South Jersey’s environment will “suffer the consequences” if the project is not delayed.

“It is irresponsible for the Army Corps (of Engineers) to push this dredging project forward,” Christie said. Among other demands, he called on the Corps to provide alternatives to dumping dredge spoils in South Jersey and to update its environmental studies for the project.

We wrote a few weeks ago about a ruling by a Judge in Delaware calling for the project to move forward and opposition to end. While Delaware seemed to roll after after the decision, changing their stance to having no position, Governor Christie has taken a more confrontational stand:

“We have very deep concerns about the old scientific data the Army Corps has been using to push this project ahead,” Martin said, questioning whether the work will be “as ecologically benign as the Army Corps purports it to be.”

Christie accused the agency of employing “a double standard, applying tough criteria to protect the environment during the project to deepen the New York-New Jersey harbor yet failing to provide the same protections to South Jersey’s environment.”

Responding to those charges, the Corps said the material in NY was contaminated and needed to be treated as such. They also say they did an environmental assessment last year, but the DEP in its release pointed to specific areas not looked at. The Christie administration is taking action along with the tough talk:

New Jersey earlier this week joined an environmental coalition’s attempt to block any startup of the more than $300 million project to deepen the channel five feet, to a controlling depth of 45 feet, without more studies, pending an appeals court ruling on a challenge originally filed by Delaware and on the outcomes of two other federal lawsuits.

The Corps was supposed to start their work this Tuesday, but will hold off until Friday at the earliest in order to give the court time to rule on the injunction. This dispute has spanned administrations and even caused a stalemate at the Delaware River Port Authority at one point along the way. This project is very much supported by Pennsylvania because of the potential economic benefits they would realize. With Delaware not opposing anymore, NJ is the last state standing in fighting the project along side the environmental groups.

Judge makes clear Delaware dredging should go forward

Give up. That was the message from Delaware Judge Sue Robinson to opponents of a plan to dredge and deepened in the Delaware. First she refused to block the dredging on Wednesday:

In her decision declining their request for an injunction, Judge Robinson wrote, “The public holds a vested interest in the nation’s environmental preservation efforts,” but “the public holds an equally compelling stake in the continued economic vitality of the Delaware River ports.” She also said, “Congress has made the determination that it is in the public interest to proceed with the deepening project.”

In amending that ruling on Friday, the Judge went further:

“Just to be clear, the deepening project is one that should be completed, consistent with Congressional intent,” Robinson wrote, adding that administrative obstacles do not amount to proof of insurmountable environmental risks.

That wasn’t enough and the Judge went even further taking on criticisms leveled against the project directly:

“For those who oppose the project in the first instance, the time for that fight has long passed,” the judge wrote. “The decision to allow deepening in Reach C, therefore, is not ‘a bridge to nowhere,’ it is a first step in a regulatory process that has worked in the past, and should work here, to accomplish Congress’ goals without causing environmental harm as defined by statute.”

New Jersey still has two lawsuits in federal court seeking to delay the dredging. But the judge seemed to make it clear that she believes the whole project should go forward, not just the section in Delaware.

New Jersey Leaders Still Against Delaware River Dredging

Once again, South Jersey finds itself in a constitutional dispute anbout its border.Yesterday, the Army Corps of Engineers announced it is going ahead with the Delaware River dredging program, and both New Jersey and Delaware are considering suing. The Corps will not wait for environmental reviews to be completed, as the federal government now claims it does not need state permission “if the project is needed to maintain navigation.” The project is unpopular in New Jersey and Delaware because it benefits Pennsylvania’s Port of Philadelphia but puts the environmental damage on Delaware and New Jersey, potentially releasing toxic material now trapped in the river bottom.

Jon Corzine’s statement promised action:

“I’m extremely disappointed that the Army Corps is trying to circumvent New Jersey’s strong environmental protection processes and plow blindly ahead with its dredging plan.  I have directed the Attorney General to prepare legalaction to stop this irresponsible move unless the Army Corps suspends it plan infavor of allowing the environmental review process to be completed.

“Governor Rendell has given me personal assurance, and public assurance, that any spoils from the dredging will be taken by Pennsylvania.  Until the Army Corpy has participated in New Jersey’s environmental review process, however, I must take action to ensure that the people of our state are fully protected and these spoils are not dumped on South Jersey.”

In other words, the Corps is breaking our deal with Pennsylvania.  

Andrews: NJDEP needs to step up

Just when you thought the Army Corp was going to move forward, we got this latest twist in the plans to dredge the Delaware River:

A new obstacle emerged yesterday in the epic battle over whether to dredge the Delaware River shipping channel, deepening it to 45 feet from 40, even as the project seems about to begin.

Delaware environmental officials denied a permit the Army Corps of Engineers was seeking. It had applied for permission in 2001.

With the news that Delaware is planning to fight, Congressman Andrews said it’s time for the NJDEP to step up as they try to slow federal funds.  Here is the video:

New Jersey’s Top 10 Local Environmental Issues for 2009

Promoted by Jason Springer: I would add the licensed site professional legislation (LSP) as a top issue, since it will change the way many other environmental issues are handled.  That’s up for a vote in the Senate on Monday.

New Jersey, partly a mid-Atlantic corridor to the northeast, partly a suburban sprawl nightmare, is an environmental epicenter for not only the region but the nation. As progressives, we have a responsibility to preserve as much clean air, land, and water as possible for future generations. As New Jerseyans, we have a major stake in preserving the environment all the way from Bergen to Salem County. What might a list of the ten most important local environmental hot-spots in New Jersey look like?

Andrews wants Obama admin to stop dredging

He’s nothing if not persistent:

U.S. Rep. Rob Andrews, D-N.J., resumed his campaign Monday to halt plans to deepen the Delaware River channel from 40 to 45 feet by asking the new presidential administration to withhold funding from the energy and water appropriations bill for fiscal 2010.

Andrews would rather see money that would have been spent on dredging put toward the port concept in Paulsboro, which drew an angry response from across the river:

“Congressman Andrews is irresponsible, short-sighted and by this point should know how many thousands of people are dependent on a deeper channel. He’s also being disingenuous when he says Paulsboro won’t need 45 feet,” said William B. McLauglin, spokesman for the Philadelphia Regional Port Authority.

For his part, Andrews says he just wants his opposition known to the project:

Andrews said he does not expect the deepening will ever take place, but he wants to be on the record with the new administration.

“Given the sorry history of this project, people in New Jersey do not believe keeping the spoils in New Jersey would be temporary,” said Andrews.

Here’s more on the history of the dredging project. We’ll see whether the funding route is more effective than the court path has been thus far.

Salem County News Roundup

Garden Spot or Federal Dump?

The big county news is Army Corps of Engineers plans to dump Delaware River dredge spoils in Salem County, despite an agreement between Governors Rendell and Corzine that all such spoils should go to Pennsylvania.    Needless to say, Rendell and the Philadelphia maritime industry are happy, and in the interests of both sides, here is what the Army Corps of Engineers says:

Lt. Col. Gwen E. Baker, commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Philadelphia District, said dredging would help the environment. It will, she said, straighten several bends, reducing the risk of accidents with the high volume of oil tankers and other big ships on the river.

“We’ve done extensive testing to confirm that the material we’re removing is safe, and we will continue to monitor water quality throughout the projects,” Baker said.

Dredging will be suspended at times to avoid adverse impacts on seasonal activities of aquatic life. Clean dredge materials will restore wetlands and create additional habitat for horseshoe crabs, she said.

Corzine saysdumping dredge spoils here is “totally unacceptable.”.  Salem County Freeholderswill officially vote today to oppose the project.

“We firmly oppose any plan that will place spoils from the proposed Delaware River dredging project in Salem County,” Bobbitt said. “You can’t put a stake in the ground in wetlands. I don’t know how they can just dump their dredge materials.”

News Roundup

Haven’t done one of these in a while. Are they useful?

  • 60% of New Jerseyans give Bush two thumbs down. 37% haven’t been paying attention. Among women, his numbers get even worse: 28%-68%.
  • Dick Cheney was in Newark today for a fundraiser for Tom Kean, Jr. No word yet on whether Kean Jr survived. “This gives new meaning to a campaign shooting itself in the foot” – Brad Lawrence, Menendez consultant.
  • Why does NJ support a $1.6 billion plan to deepen the NY-NJ harbor but oppose a $500 million plan to do the same in the Delaware River? The official answer is environmental concerns. Hmmmm….
  • A memorial mass for Laurel Hester will be held at noon March 4 at St. Mary’s By the Sea Episcopal Church in Point Pleasant. (NY Times obituary)
  • Corzine won’t be raising the gasoline tax. “You can’t even say it’s on life support,” said one legislative official. Instead, he’ll borrow billions to refinance the debt. A short term fix, for sure.
  • You’ve got mail! And if you’re Corzine, you’ve got 13 people to read the 7,000 letters you’ve gotten in the past month.
  • Jersey City’s got a serious chromium problem: “On a field trip earlier this month to a known chromium waste site on Garfield Avenue – that was supposed to be covered with a protective liner – the researchers found chunks of chromium sitting on top of the liner, a block from homes.”
  • Check out our mini-podcast with Sen Menendez. Then, subscribe to the podcast.
  • Links of the day: Tom Wyka for Congress, running in the 11th district. Learn more about his opponent Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen at MeetRodney.com. NJ-11 and Blue 11th are keeping an eye on Frelinghuysen, too.