Tag Archive: NJ Environmental Federation

New Jersey’s Environment: A Matter of Life and Breath

The LD16 GOP incumbents get a big, fat “F” grade on environment. Time for a change. 2 Days till Marie #CorfieldMoneyBomb. Blue Jersey's all-in. Promoted by Rosi.

“What's the use of a fine house if you haven't got a tolerable planet to put it on?” ~ Henry David Thoreau

Have you ever seen a fish out of water, lying there helpless as it gasps for oxygen? That’s what it feels like to have asthma. I know because I have it—along with a host of other food, air and chemical allergies.

The single most important thing we do every day is breathe. To the average person it’s a no-brainer. They can do it in their sleep—literally. But, for almost 700,000 New Jerseyans, breathing, even in their sleep, is a life and death struggle. Fortunately, my disease is well managed. That means taking 3 different prescription medications and carrying an Epi-pen. (Thank goodness I’ve never had to use it.) But for those without health insurance—many of whom are children—every day is a potential fish out of water day.

I grew up in the heart of the opening credits of the Sopranos—Kearny—smack dab in the middle of the toxic stew of the Passaic River and the Diamond Shamrock Plant to the West, New York City and the once-pristine-meadowlands-turned-garbage-dumps to the East, and Newark Liberty Airport and the oil refineries to the South. As a kid, the only time I could really, truly breathe was when we were on vacation in LBI. I moved to Hunterdon County almost 20 years ago for, among other things, better air quality.

But many people in New Jersey don't have that luxury.

According to the New Jersey Environmental Federation, a chapter of Clean Water Action:

• In 2011, there were nearly 2500 hospital admissions for asthma in New Jersey at an average charge of $15,000/stay. Extreme heat and declining air quality are expected to increase risk of respiratory problems and heat stress, including premature death.


What Will Christie Do?

No doubt, being governor of New Jersey is a difficult job. You have to constantly make decisions which are bound to please one constituency while angering another. Such a decision needs to be made by Chris Christie before Monday.

An overwhelming majority in both houses passed Senate Bill S253. The bill bans the “treatment, discharge, disposal, or storage of wastewater … from natural gas exploration or production using hydraulic fracking.”

New Jersey leads the nation in the number of Superfund cleanup sites. The last thing we need is more pollutants, especially from other states, to exacerbate our continuing quest for a clean environment.

Today, a number of environmental groups, along with two clean environment advocates in the Senate, held a press conference to urge the Governor to sign the bill. Will Christie veto or conditionally veto the bill during the weekend news lull? Will he allow these pollutants in the state to please his Koch Brothers benefactors? Or will he do the right thing for the people of New Jersey and sign the bill?

Just like nuclear and traditional fossil fuels have hidden costs which need to be factored into the cost-benefit analysis, fracking also comes with covert but very real costs, to be borne by the consumer. At the press conference, Environment New Jersey issued a detailed report which describes these hidden costs. The report is available at this link.

According to Jeff Tittel of the New Jersey Sierra Club,

“The fracking process creates millions of gallons of wastewater and solids for every new well drilled and each well can be fracked multiple times.  Fracking waste contains over 700 hundred chemicals, many of them known carcinogens.  Long term exposure to these toxins can cause nervous system, kidney, or liver damage.  The gas industry is not required to disclose all the chemicals used in the process, and with these unknown additives it is impossible to know the full threat fracking waste presents.”

Prior to the news conference, I spoke with a co-sponsor of the bill, Senator Bob Gordon. Video of the entire press conference is below the fold.