Tag Archive: environment

The Public Realm, Part 1

The following was written by Bob Stern and cross-posted at The Englewood Report.  Much of what is proposed here can be applied to cities and towns throughout New Jersey and the United States at large.

The public realm has to inform us not only where we are geographically, but it has to inform us where we are in our culture, where we?ve come from, what kind of people we are ? and by doing that, it needs to afford us a glimpse of where we?re going in order to allow us to dwell in a hopeful present.

Think about those young men and women in places like Iraq spilling their blood in the sand and ask yourself what is their last thought of home?  I hope it?s not the curb cut between the Chuck E. Cheese and the Target store. – James Howard Kunstler

The rush to convert Englewood into CondoBankMallville has stalled somewhat as the overheated market, over-leveraged developers and oversold taxpayers are cooling to the process.  Exacerbating the costs to residential taxpayers is the continuing granting of variances  to projects that take properties off the tax rolls and the special deals given to politically-connected developers.

And what of the stewardship of keystone community assets?

News Round-up and Open Thread for Thursday, June 7, 2007

Open Thread: What do you want to talk about on this clear June morning, Blue Jersey?

Op-Ed: Earth Day Offers Opportunity to Refocus Environmental Priorities

As we celebrate the 37th annual Earth Day this Sunday, April 22, we’re given a great opportunity to consider the state of the world’s environment, and what we can do to make a difference.

This year’s Earth Day celebration offers a unique chance to engage even more people in thinking green, as well as provide a rallying point for those environmentalists who’ve been at the front lines of every war on pollution since the holiday was instituted in 1970.

With Al Gore’s Oscar win for his documentary, An Inconvenient Truth, to the Live Earth concerts scheduled for this summer to raise awareness on global warming, green has become the new black.  With the celebrity community providing vocal support for efforts to sustain our Earth for ourselves and future generations, environmental causes are benefiting from an unprecedented level of visibility.

As a long-time environmental advocate, I would hope that we can capitalize on that visibility to push for a green agenda, at least on the State level, to improve the immediate quality of life for all New Jerseyans and preserve the Earth for our children and grandchildren.

Serving as chair of the Senate Environment Committee, I know that some environmental battles are easier fought than others.  Sometimes, environmental conscience overcomes lobbying from groups who would prefer status-quo pollution standards and business-as-usual environmental regulations.  Often, when we have the support of the people, we can surmount even the greatest odds to promote a cleaner, greener Garden State.

Such was the case when New Jersey adopted the Garden State Preservation Trust in the 1990’s.  With voter approval, we were able to amend the State Constitution to provide dedicated funding for open space acquisition and preservation which was necessary to halt suburban sprawl and development build-out in New Jersey.

This year, we face a difficult challenge, as the Garden State Preservation Trust is drying up, and funds are not available to continue our efforts to conserve open space.  I have sponsored a bipartisan bill, along with Minority Leader, Senator Leonard Lance, to supplement the State’s open space funding through a $150 million annual dedication from the New Jersey’s sales tax.

Development pressure continues in New Jersey, affecting our drinking water supply, air quality and land quality.  Unless we take the steps to ensure a healthy open space funding mechanism, New Jersey will not have the resources to fight encroaching sprawl and provide parks and recreation areas for all of the State’s residents to enjoy.

Another major challenge facing the Committee this year is the impact of global warming.  According to some projections, global warming is the number one threat to the Earth’s ecosystem, and if trends continue, much of the Jersey Shore could be under water in the very near future.  Global warming also contributes to changes in weather patterns, with the possibility of storms on the horizon that would put Hurricane Katrina to shame, and would cause untold devastation around the world.  New Jersey has to take an aggressive tack to reducing emissions which contribute to global warming, and we need to convince our neighbors to act as good global citizens and follow suit.

In the New Jersey Senate, we’ve been pushing a number of legislative measures focused on alleviating global warming.  We’re providing State incentives and support for “green buildings,” which use clean forms of renewable energy, including solar and wind power, to offset the energy needs from polluting sources, such as coal-burning power plants.  We’re working to cap greenhouse gas emissions from power resources and manufacturing plants.  And we’re trying to cut emissions from automobiles, by promoting tax credits for cleaner cars, tax penalties for gas guzzlers and more car / van pooling.

These measures must be adopted sooner rather than later, to change the course of climate change in the world.  While the federal government drags its heels on meaningful environmental reform designed to halt the progress of global warming, States need to take a stand, and show that their citizens want real environmental protections, not lip service to polluters.

Earth Day gives us a chance to reassess our priorities and educate our friends and family about the importance of good environmental choices.  Ultimately, State or federal environmental regulations will not make a difference without the support of everyday citizens, pitching in to promote a greener tomorrow.

So how will you spend your Earth Day?  Will you allow the day to slip by without taking time to consider your personal impact on the environment?  Or will you devote yourself to working towards a better future for yourself and your family?  Your decision could have lasting ramifications for the fate of the Earth and humanity in the years to come.

Senator Bob Smith represents the 17th Legislative District in the State Senate, which includes parts of Middlesex and Somerset Counties.  He serves as Chair of the Senate Environment Committee.

News Round-up and Open Thread for Tuesday, February 27, 2007

It’s a long one today, folks.

Open Thread: Whaddya want to talk about today, Blue Jersey?

“DUM–P” Mike the “Environmentalist”

Recently, after receiving a paper response to a petition from my congressman, Michael Ferguson, I notified his office that I no longer wished to receive such “environmentally-unfriendly” letters, since they are a waste of “trees.”  In today’s mail, I received the following:

5 letters (all the same) = 10 pieces of paper + 5 paper envelopes

ALL letters told me that Mr. Ferguson voted AGAINST the resolution to disapprove of Bush’s Iraq Escalation.  I knew that already, since the Star-Ledger has, thankfully, replaced its “How They Vote” column in its Sunday newspapers, and since I am an intelligent person who checked on this immediately after the vote.

Is this how our “esteemed” congressman is “reaching to Democrats as partners,” as he stated in the 2/23/07 edition of “The Princeton Packet?”  He is dumber than we thought!

Joint Legislation Combats Climate Change

Senators Lautenberg and Menendez were two of eleven co-sponsors of new federal legislation to combat climate change by significantly reducing polluting emissions.

The Global Warming Pollution Reduction Act, first introduced last July by now-retired Senator Jim Jeffords (I-VT), would reduce U.S. emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 (a 15% reduction from today’s levels) and to 80% below 1990 levels by 2050.  To achieve these emission reductions, the bill calls for a greater reliance on clean, renewable energy and improved energy efficiency.

The Senate bill is mirrored by the New Jersey Global Warming Response Act (A3301/S2114), sponsored by Assemblywoman Linda Stender (D-22) and Senator Barbara Buono (D-18), requiring statewide emissions reductions are below 1990 levels by 2020 (about a 20% reduction from New Jersey’s emissions levels today).

Environment New Jersey is urging all members of the state legislature to co-sponsor this legislation and is also calling on Governor Corzine to issue an Executive Order to reduce statewide emissions by 80% by 2050 and develop a plan to start cutting emissions right away.

Of several sponsors, one is Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri-Huttle, who is fulfilling her job on the Weinberg Team by advocating progressive, good citizen policies.

Nerve Agent and Delaware River Not Perfect Together

In a statement today, Governor Corzine singled out today’s House Speaker Pro Tempore for helping convince the DuPont Corporation to cancel plans to dispose of a partially treated form of VX nerve agent – one of the world’s most deadly chemical compounds – in the Delaware River.

The members of New Jersey’s Congressional Delegation, particularly Congressman Rob Andrews, deserves [sic] high praise for their continued dedication to keep this deadly agent out of New Jersey and out of our waterways.

That Andrews fellow is having a great day – and thankfully – so is the Delaware River! Our Congressmen deserve kudos for stopping what could have been a disaster. Very nice.

Corzine also recognized the DuPont Corporation for its role:

We appreciate that DuPont has acted as a good corporate citizen recognizing that this plan needed to be reconsidered.

Dupont sure is a responsible corporate citizen for agreeing not to dump nerve agent into the Delaware river. I hear Prudential was so inspired that they’ve decided not to burn down center city Newark, and that J&J is cancelling plans to conduct medical experiments on New Brunswick schoolchildren.

That is going to be one crowded field at the corporate-citizenship awards ceremony!

Riverkeeper to Army: Keep nerve gas out of NJ waters

Forwarded message from Delaware Riverkeeper
Press Alert December 21. 2006
Contacts: Maya van Rossum, Tracy Carluccio
Delaware Riverkeeper Network Sues Army to Stop VX
  Complaint Filed in U.S. District Court

Delaware Riverkeeper Network and co-plaintiffs from organizations in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Kentucky have filed a Complaint in federal District Court against the U.S. Army.  The suit challenges the Army’s plan to import VX nerve agent waste to New Jersey and dump it into the Delaware River.  The Army is proposing to transport the partially treated nerve agent waste, known as VX hydrolysate, from their Newport, Indiana Chemical Depot to the Dupont Chambers Works facility in Deepwater, NJ.  The hydrolysate would be put through the treatment plant at Dupont with the effluent discharged to the Delaware River near the Delaware Memorial Bridge. 

  The complaint challenges the transport of VX hydrolysate from Indiana to New Jersey based on a federal statute which bans the transportation of chemical weapons across state lines.  The complaint also calls on the Army to complete an environmental impact statement for the project.  According to the court filed documents the Army has not undertaken the necessary studies and documentation regarding the impacts of the proposed project on the Delaware River and environs. 

  Co-plaintiffs in the law suit are the American Littoral Society and Chemical Weapons Working Group, both national organizations; Pennsylvania Clean Water Action; Delaware Audubon Society; New Jersey Environmental Federation; and New Jersey Audubon Society.

  Maya van Rossum, the Delaware Riverkeeper, said her organization has taken this action because “the Army has consistently refused to fulfill the requirements of the law and it has become clear that without citizens taking a stand this project will be railroaded through the process and foisted upon our River and communities regardless of what the law says and requires.”  “It is imperative that the Army thoroughly and comprehensively analyze all of the environmental issues involved in this proposal.  They have only taken a cursory look at transportation and have proposed to move ahead without any environmental study.  That is an outrageous proposal – the law requires more and our citizens deserve more”, said van Rossum.

  The filing was made in the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. John Fritschie, attorney for Delaware Riverkeeper Network’s River Resources Law Clinic, said “While Congress already banned the interstate transport of VX in 1994 unfortunately it appears that legal action and additional legislation is necessary to persuade the Army to treat this material on-site as originally intended.”

  The Governors of New Jersey and Delaware, elected representatives, municipal and county governments, fishermen and boaters, conservationists, environmental groups and thousands of residents in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware have gone on record in opposition to the Army’s Dupont plan. 

The controversial proposal was made in 2004 when the Army was denied approval to ship the waste to Ohio.  Originally the VX stockpile was going to be destroyed on site in Indiana through a less risky process with no discharge of toxics to a waterway.  After the attacks of September 11, 2001 the federal administration made a decision to try to dispose of the weapons at an existing facility, arguing it would be faster than building a plant at the Army Depot at Newport. 

The option of off-site disposal, however, has been time-consuming and fraught with unforeseen problems.  Live VX, the deadliest nerve agent ever produced, is difficult to break down, highly flammable, more caustic than expected, and not uniform in its constituents due, in part, to various stabilizers used in the batches that make up the approximately 1,269 tons stored at Newport. 

Critics of the Dupont plan are insisting that VX nerve agent waste should not be brought to New Jersey, but should be treated on site in Newport, Indiana.  This would avoid the risks inherent in trucking VX waste across 4 states, 2 to 3 tank trucks per day for 2 to 3 years.

“The public has worked long and hard to bring the Delaware Bay back from being an open sewer. Today, we are seeing a restored oyster industry and new industries based around ecotourism. The Army’s plan to dump VX could bring all that to an end. People will not eat seafood that they are not sure is safe, nor will they visit places they fear are contaminated. This is an ill-considered plan that should be stopped in its tracks,” said Tim Dillingham, Executive Director of the American Littoral Society.  Delaware Riverkeeper Network is an affiliate of ALS; ALS is a plaintiff in the lawsuit.

Elizabeth Crowe, Program Director, Chemical Weapons Working Group, a national organization based in Kentucky that is a co-plaintiff in the suit, stated “Chemical Weapons Working Group stands for safe disposal of chemical weapons and secondary waste in a manner that is acceptable to all affected communities.  In fact, the shipment of hydrolysate is completely unacceptable to those communities and we will continue to urge the Army to revert back to the original plan for safe treatment in Indiana.”

Bob Wendelgass of Clean Water Action, Pennsylvania, also a co-plaintiff said “Clean Water Action is very concerned about the danger of trucking this highly toxic material from one end of Pennsylvania to the other.  The risk of possible accidents on I-80 or other highly traveled routes is a serious concern for us.  Equally important is the ultimate impact on the Delaware River of dumping the treated hydrolysate.  Unless EPA and other reputable scientists can guarantee that the project will not harm aquatic life in the river, it should not be allowed to proceed.”

“Delaware Audubon has a long history of efforts to protect the Delaware River and Bay.  The Delaware River and Bay and Coastal Zone are considered a globally Important Bird Area and deserving of the highest level of protection.  We believe the Army’s VX proposal threatens the health of the river ecosystem, presents a risk to public health and safety and sets a precedent for Dupont in New Jersey becoming the Department of Defense’s preferred disposal option for additional chemical weapons stockpiles from throughout the country.  We are proud to join the Delaware Riverkeeper in this action,” said Nicholas DiPasquale, Conservation Chair for Delaware Audubon, a co-plaintiff in the law suit.

Jane Nogaki, New Jersey Environmental Federation, also a co-plaintiff, said “The transport and disposal of VX hydrolysate is a risky plan that puts millions of people, our environment and water systems in harms way.  Dupont Chambers Works discharges almost a million gallons of pollutants a year to the Delaware River.  We do not want any portion of VX nerve agent at the plant, in the river, nor in the river’s fish and other aquatic life. What will happen to the region’s drinking water when VX byproducts combine with the already present chemicals that pollute our drinking water? VX nerve agent should be destroyed on site at Newport, Indiana, as was originally proposed by the Army.” 

Susan Kraham, Director of Policy and Counsel to the President, New Jersey Audubon Society, a co-plaintiff, stated, “New Jersey Audubon Society is extremely concerned about the potential for serious adverse impacts to the aquatic ecosystem should the Army’s plan proceed.  We ask the Court to ensure that the National Environmental Policy Act is followed rigorously to protect New Jersey’s residents and ecosystem.”

For more information go to www.delawareriverkeeper.org
For a copy of the filing, email shannon@delawareriverkeeper.org

  Katy Diana
Development Associate

Delaware Riverkeeper Network
300 Pond Street
Second Floor
Bristol, PA 19007

office:  215-369-1188
fax:  215-369-1181

www.delawareriverkeeper.org

The Delaware Riverkeeper Network (DRN) is the only advocacy organization working throughout the entire Delaware River Watershed. The Delaware Riverkeeper is an individual who is the voice of the River, championing the rights of the River and its streams as members of our community.  The Delaware Riverkeeper is assisted by seasoned professionals and a network of members, volunteers and supporters. Together they form DRN, and together they stand as vigilant protectors and defenders of the River, its tributaries and watershed. DRN is committed to restoring the watershed’s natural balance where it has been lost and ensuring its preservation where it still exists.

News Round-up and Open Thread for Tuesday, December 19

Open Thread: What say you, Blue Jersey?