Tuesday, May 31, 2016

NJ enviros holding clean water news conference today


Leaders of several New Jersey environmental organizations plan a news conference today at 1 p.m. on the State House steps in Trenton to publicize what they call the Christie Administration's "further attack on New Jersey's supply of clean water."

This, they say, comes in two forms: NJDEP's proposed increase in development on septic systems allowed in the Highlands Preservation Area  and the agency's Flood Hazard Rules.

“We’re coming together to launch a campaign to protect New Jersey’s drinking water and waterways from attacks by the Christie Administration," says Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. 

"The Legislature needs to step in to protect the people of New Jersey from additional water pollution and flooding with the Flood Hazard Rules that have just been adopted," Tittel says.

"These changes would allow for more development in some of the most environmentally sensitive parts of The Highlands. We are also expressing the need to stand together against the weakening of clean water protections in our state such as rollbacks in Water Quality Planning Rules, development in environmentally sensitive areas, and rollbacks of the Highlands septic density rules.” 

In addition to the New Jersey Sierra Club, expected participants will include the New Jersey Highlands Coalition, Raritan Headwaters, ANJEC, Environment New Jersey, Clean Water Action and the Delaware Riverkeeper Network.

Friday, May 27, 2016

NJ enviro groups want feds to cork PennEast pipeline

Garden State environmental organizations argue that PennEast has submitted flawed data about project’s impact on drinking water

surveyor
The federal government should suspend its review of the PennEast pipeline project because the applicant has failed to supply crucial data governing its environmental impact, opponents urged yesterday.
Tom Johnson reports today in NJ Spotlight:

In a letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the New Jersey Conservation Foundation and Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association argued that the applicant also has submitted flawed data related to the project’s potential impact on drinking-water supplies.
The 118-mile long proposed pipeline would run from Luzerne County in Pennsylvania, cross underneath the Delaware River and traverse parts of Hunterdon and Mercer counties. The project has been beset by delays because of widespread opposition from homeowners living by the proposed route, conservationists, and local communities.
Backed by New Jersey’s four gas utilities, the proposal would bring cheap natural gas from the Marcellus Shale formations in Pennsylvania to consumers and businesses here who already have seen steep drops in energy costs from the newly exploited fuel.
The PennEast project is one of more than a dozen new pipelines pending or approved in the state. Most have generated controversy with state lawmakers also getting involved. Yesterday in the state Assembly, legislators approved a resolution (ACR-53) calling on the federal agency to reform its policies in approving interstate natural gas pipelines.
The measure is spurred by concerns that individual projects are reviewed on a case-by-case basis with no consideration given to the cumulative impacts of all the pipelines. One of the chief objections of critics of the PennEast proposal is that the state has more than enough pipeline capacity -- even in the harshest winters when demand is the greatest.

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Power auction good for consumers, not for trouble nukes

This week's capacity auction for the regional power grid contained some good news for consumers: Prices are down.
But the results will increase pressure on generators struggling to compete in a new energy world dominated by abundant natural gas.
Philadelphia Inquirer staff writer Andrew Maykuth reports:

Payments from consumers to suppliers that can guarantee capacity in the year starting June 2019 will fall by $4.1 billion to $6.9 billion, said PJM Interconnection L.L.C., the Valley Forge grid operator that includes 13 states and the District of Columbia.
That will be $4.1 billion more in the pockets of households and businesses, which pay the capacity costs as part of the kilowatt-hour charges on their utility bills, PJM spokesman Ray Dotter said. 
What's good for consumers may be hard for some generators to stomach.
The price that some generators bid was too high to clear the auction, so they will not receive any capacity revenue for 2019-20. That includes Exelon's Three Mile Island nuclear plant near Harrisburg.
It was the second consecutive year that TMI Unit 1 failed to bid low enough to win the auction, leaving the 837-MW plant's economic fate uncertain.
Capacity payments, which are separate from the price of the energy generated, are fees paid to power producers to guarantee they will be able to generate electricity on demand. PJM procures power three years in advance, based on its load forecasts.
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Thursday, May 26, 2016

'Dirt brokers' with mob ties dumped polluted soil in N.J.

soil pile.jpg epa photo

Updated 5/27/16 to add additional related story

“Rogue dirt brokers” with mob ties and criminal histories used
fake documents to haul hundreds of truckloads of tainted soil
and construction debris that were then dumped illegally onto environmentally sensitive sites in New Jersey, state investigators alleged Wednesday.

John C. Ensslin reported in The Record yesterday:

At a hearing before the State Commission of Investigation, commission investigators alleged that about 7,500 tons of concrete, asphalt, rebar, bricks and contaminated soil from a demolition site in the Bronx New York wound up on a section of a Raritan Bay beach front that had been battered by Superstorm Sandy.

They also alleged that a South Jersey recycling center that was supposed to turn leaves and branches into mulch became a dumping ground in 2013 for tainted soil from construction sites in Camden and New Brunswick.

“The primary purveyors of this scourge - rogue ‘dirt brokers’ whose criminal ties have remained secret because they are subject to no licensing requirements, not even simple background checks,” said Lee C. Seglem, acting executive director of the commission.

“We will show how they have been able to recruit truckers to haul contaminated soil and debris and unload it virtually anywhere they want to get the best bang for their tainted buck,” Seglem added.

Investigators contend that the lack of regulation in the industry made the alleged abuses possible.

“As a witness in the industry told us, all you need is a fax and a phone line and you’re in business,” said Carol Palmer, an investigator for the commission.
Seglem said the commission will continue its investigation with the goal of drafting a report to the Legislature at some later date.

The commission was established by the Legislature in 1968 as an independent fact-finding agency. Since then it has produced over 100 reports and legislative recommendations on topics ranging from organized crime, boxing, the EZ Pass system, psychiatric hospital abuses and local government corruption.

In northern New Jersey, allegations of tainted fill are nothing new. For example, Edgewater officials filed a lawsuit in 2014 after learning that contaminated crushed concrete had been used in a soil remediation project at Veteran’s Field.

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Wednesday’s hearing focused on two specific cases.

One involved a storm-eroded section of Cliffwood Beach on the Raritan Bay in Old Bridge, where about 350 truckloads of contaminated construction debris were dumped to shore up a 25-foot cliff on public land adjacent to a residential neighborhood.

Investigators presented what they said were two fake documents that claimed the debris was supposed to go to recycling centers in Mount Vernon and Staten Island.

But the owners of those centers denied signing the letters, which had identical type face and an identical typo stating that the centers would be able to “except” the materials, rather than “accept.”

Investigators said the dumping occurred without a permit. As a result, they said taxpayers in Old Bridge will have to foot a $250,000 bill to cap the site.

Related NJTV video report:

State Investigation of NJ Recycling Industry Uncovers Shady Practices


The other case involved a now-defunct recycling center in Palmyra that investigators alleged accepted contaminated soil and debris from construction sites in Camden and New Brunswick. The site was not licensed to accept such materials, investigators said.

Two men who were subpoenaed to face questioning from the commission invoked their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.

Frank Gillette of Jackson refused to answer questions about his alleged role as a dirt broker who arranged for the material from a Bronx site to be dumped at Cliffwood Beach.

Gillette, who was accompanied by his lawyer, invoked the Fifth Amendment five times under questioning by Commission Counsel C. Andrew Cliver. Commission investigators said Gillette is “connected to organized crime” and recently completed probation for passing bad checks in Essex County.

Related news story:
Mob still a problem in New Jersey's waste management sector

The commission also subpoenaed Bradley J. Sirkin, whom the commission identified as the former owner of Jersey Recycling Services, which operated the abandoned recycling center in Palmyra.

Sirkin, a Florida resident, did not appear at the hearing but sent a letter to the commission through his attorney, invoking his Fifth Amendment right not to testify. Commission documents stated that Sirkin had a “relationship with a former high-ranking member of the Philadelphia crime family.” Investigators said he served time in federal prison in the 1990s for a racketeering conviction.

Among the evidence presented in that case was an email stating that the soil transported from one of the sites “was adequate for transportation,” a finding that regulators disputed.

At the bottom of the email was a line that read, “Please consider the environment before printing this email.”

Gary Sondermeyer, vice president of Bayshore Recycling, Inc, and a former chief of staff for the state Department of Environmental Protection, told the commission that he would welcome background check for dirt brokers, noting that he had to undergo a background check to be a youth softball coach.

“Background checks are a way of life today,” Sondermeyer said. “The key is that the background check would be properly put together, that it would have the integrity that regulatory officials and law enforcement would want and at the same time not be overly burdensome.”

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Saturday, May 21, 2016

Ringwood halts plan to build recycling center on dump

Ringwood Superfund site gate

Ringwood officials have suspended plans to build a recycling center on top of a mountain of contaminated soil at the Ford Motor Co. Superfund site until federal regulators complete an investigation of another dangerous chemical found there recently.

Scott Fallon and Holly E. Stewart report for The Record:

The decision this week by the Borough Council to halt preliminary work on the center was met with cautious optimism by residents who want all 166,000 tons of toxic paint sludge dumped by Ford 50 years ago dug up and hauled away.

The Environmental Protection Agency last year allowed the borough and Ford to move ahead with plans to build the center and a barrier placed over the site, even though the agency had originally required the pollution to be removed.

Proposed by the borough and paid for by Ford, the recycling center at the O'Connor Disposal Area and the barrier have been estimated to cost $6.9 million - $25.7 million less than it would cost to excavate the contamination.

The move upset many nearby residents who say the pollution has made them sick and caused premature death.

The borough had backed the recycling center for more than two years when The Record published articles in February about the discovery of 1,4-dioxane, a probable carcinogen, in groundwater and brooks at the site.

Related:   New danger found at Ringwood Superfund site

The news prompted residents to pack community meetings, where they renewed calls for all of the contaminated material at O'Connor to be hauled away. It also caused Ringwood officials to question whether they should move ahead with a plan that leaves the pollution on site in perpetuity.

"It is troubling to me because [1,4-dioxane] is something new after 30 years of data that has been relatively the same," Borough Manager Scott Heck said Thursday.

The site has long been known to be contaminated with benzene, arsenic and lead, among other contaminants.

While some officials recently expressed doubt on the future of the recycling center, it wasn't until Tuesday night when the Borough Council unanimously approved a resolution that suspended "any work & regarding the recycling center until a complete investigation and understanding of the source of 1,4-dioxane has been determined."

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Plan to gas geese has some gagging in Edgewater, NJ


Advocates plan a Memorial weekend protest of Edgewater, NJ's use of the Wildlife Services program that uses gas to kill geese at night. NJTV Correspondent Brenda Flanagan has the video story.


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Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Busy afternoon Thursday for enviro and Ag bills in Trenton

Two New Jersey Assembly committees, both meeting  at 2 p.m. Thursday (5/19) in the State House Annex in Trenton, will take up 16 environment, energy and agriculture bills.  

Here are the agendas: 
ASSEMBLY ENVIRONMENT AND SOLID WASTE
5/19/16  2:00 PM
Aide: (609) 847-3855
Committee Room 9, 3rd Floor, State House Annex, Trenton, NJ

For consideration:
A-1804  Conaway, H. (D-7); Singleton, T. (D-7)
Requires DEP to conduct vibration analysis along routes for disposal of dredged material from Delaware River.
     Jan 7, 2016     – Proposed for Assembly introduction
     Jan 27, 2016   – Introduced in Assembly
     Jan 27, 2016   – Referred: Assembly Environment and Solid Waste
     May 19, 2016 –  Posted: Assembly Environment and Solid Waste


A-2416  Eustace, T. (D-38)
Expands One-Call Damage Prevention System to include underground contamination with engineering or institutional controls.
     Jan 27, 2016   – Proposed for Assembly introduction
     Feb 4, 2016    – Introduced in Assembly
     Feb 4, 2016    – Referred: Assembly Environment and Solid Waste
     May 19, 2016 – Posted: Assembly Environment and Solid Waste


A-3669  Coughlin, C.J. (D-19)
Provides gross income tax deduction for certain home elevation expenses.
     Apr 7, 2016    – Proposed for Assembly introduction
     May 19, 2016 – Posted: Assembly Environment and Solid Waste


A-3670  Coughlin, C.J. (D-19)
Allows State-owned, municipally-managed Blue Acres lands to be used for freshwater wetlands mitigation projects.
     Apr 7, 2016    – Proposed for Assembly introduction
     May 19, 2016– Posted: Assembly Environment and Solid Waste


A-3671  Spencer, L.G. (D-29); Vainieri Huttle, V. (D-37); Eustace, T. (D-38)
Establishes incremental fee, and ban beginning in 2025, on use of non-compostable
plastic bags by certain stores.
     Apr 7, 2016    – Proposed for Assembly introduction
     May 19, 2016 – Posted: Assembly Environment and Solid Waste


AJR-25  Andrzejczak, R.B. (D-1)
Recognizes Delaware Bayshore as region of special significance in NJ.
Related Bill: SJR-14
     Dec 21, 2015  – Proposed for Assembly introduction
     Jan 27, 2016   – Introduced in Assembly
     Jan 27, 2016   – Referred: Assembly Environment and Solid Waste
     May 19, 2016   –  Posted: Assembly Environment and Solid Waste

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

ASSEMBLY AGRICULTURE AND NATURAL RESOURCES
05/19/16  2:00 PM
Aide: (609) 847-3855
Committee Room 15, 4th Floor, State House Annex, Trenton, NJ

For consideration:
A-308  Singleton, T. (D-7); Conaway, H. (D-7)
Prohibits persons convicted of criminal animal cruelty offenses from owning domestic companion animals and from working or volunteering at animal-related enterprises; designated as "Moose's Law."
     Jan 27, 2016   – Introduced in Assembly
     Jan 27, 2016   – Referred: Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources
     May 19, 2016  –  Posted: Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources


A-1387  Phoebus, G. (R-24); Space, P. (R-24)
Requires voter registration forms be made available when applying for hunting, fishing, or trapping license.
     Jan 5, 2016     – Proposed for Assembly introduction
     Jan 27, 2016   – Introduced in Assembly
     Jan 27, 2016   – Referred: Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources
     May 19, 2016 –  Posted: Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources


A-1564  Webber, J. (R-26)
Establishes procedure for notification to, and review by, municipalities of certain grant and loan applications for acquisition or development of lands for recreation and conservation purposes.
     Jan 6, 2016     – Proposed for Assembly introduction
     Jan 27, 2016   – Introduced in Assembly
     Jan 27, 2016   – Referred: Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources
     May 19, 2016  – Posted: Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources


A-2171  Taliaferro, A.J. (D-3); Andrzejczak, R.B. (D-1)
Permits wineries to produce hard cider.
     Jan 8, 2016     – Proposed for Assembly introduction
     Jan 27, 2016   – Introduced in Assembly
     Jan 27, 2016   – Referred: Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources
     May 19, 2016 –  Posted: Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources


A-3056 
Requires Dept. of Agriculture to develop voluntary guidelines to encourage school districts and institutions of higher education to donate excess food; extends "Food Bank Good Samaritan Act" protections to school districts.
     Feb 8, 2016    – Proposed for Assembly introduction
     Feb 16, 2016  – Introduced in Assembly
     Feb 16, 2016  – Referred: Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources
     May 19, 2016 – Posted: Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources


A-3342  Diegnan, P.J. (D-18)
Designates striped bass (Morone saxatilis) as New Jersey saltwater fish.
Related Bill: S-1808
     Feb 18, 2016  – Proposed for Assembly introduction
     Feb 22, 2016  – Introduced in Assembly
     Feb 22, 2016  – Referred: Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources
     May 19, 2016 – Posted: Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources


A-3351  Lampitt, P.R. (D-6); Andrzejczak, R.B. (D-1)
Creates license to produce and sell mead; allows wineries to produce and sell mead.
     Feb 18, 2016  – Proposed for Assembly introduction
     Feb 22, 2016  – Introduced in Assembly
     Feb 22, 2016  – Referred: Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources
     May 19, 2016 – Posted: Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources


A-3414  McKnight, A.V. (D-31)
Requires Dept. of Agriculture to create clearinghouse website for vendors to provide surplus food to charities in State.
     Mar 3, 2016   – Proposed for Assembly introduction
     Mar 7, 2016   – Introduced in Assembly
     Mar 7, 2016   – Referred: Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources
     May 19, 2016– Posted: Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources


A-3421  Singleton, T. (D-7); Lampitt, P.R. (D-6)
Establishes an animal abuser registry.
     Mar 3, 2016   – Proposed for Assembly introduction
     Mar 7, 2016   – Introduced in Assembly
     Mar 7, 2016   – Referred: Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources
     May 19, 2016– Posted: Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources


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Pa agencies differ on changes to net metering rules

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has joined an array of alternative energy advocates in urging a state review board to reject pending rules that would limit payments to utility customers who sell excess power they generate from renewable sources back to the grid.
Laura Legere reports for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
The DEP argues that by restricting financial incentives, the proposed limits would hinder a successful policy that has driven clean energy development at a time when the sector is otherwise stagnating in the commonwealth.
Those comments put the department at odds with another state agency, the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission, that drafted the new limits and voted 3-2 in February to adopt them.
The Independent Regulatory Review Commission is scheduled to vote Thursday on whether the rules are in the public interest.
The PUC says it is acting out of concern that energy merchants can masquerade as the law’s intended beneficiaries — owners of homes, businesses or public buildings that use renewable energy for their own electricity needs and then get reimbursed by the utility at the end of the year for any extra they send back to the grid. The practice is known as net metering.
Pennsylvania’s 2004 Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards Act limited the capacity size of alternative energy systems that qualify for net-metering payments to 50 kilowatts for residential generators and 3 megawatts for commercial generators.
Now, the PUC is proposing an additional cap, defining eligible systems as those designed to produce no more than 200 percent of the electricity used on site in a year. The PUC says the limits would apply to new or expanding systems, not existing ones.
Without such a cap, the PUC says, merchant-scale alternative energy suppliers could take advantage of the law’s generous payment standards that require utilities to reimburse customers for their extra electricity at full retail prices. Those costs would ultimately translate to higher rates for other electricity customers.
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Sunday, May 15, 2016

NJ Senate Environment Panel takes up DEP water rules

The Senate Environment and Energy Committee will meet at 10 a.m., Monday, May 16, 
in Room 10, third floor, State House Annex, Trenton, NJ.

The committee has invited representatives from the Department of Environmental Protection to discuss the proposed revisions to the Flood Hazard Area Control Act Rules, Coastal Zone Management Rules, and Stormwater Management Rules.

Legislation scheduled for committee action:

S-580 Doherty, M.J. (R-23)
Establishes NJ Water Supply and Pharmaceutical Product Study Commission.

S-885 Greenstein, L.R. (D-14) Requires maximum contaminant level to be established for 1,2,3-trichloropropane in drinking water.
Allows tax credits for development of qualified wind energy facilities in certain portfield sites


S-1251
  Vitale, J.F. (D-19) 
Allows tax credits for development of qualified wind energy facilities in certain portfield sites. Related Bill: A-3501 

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Free NJDEP Hazardous Waste Seminar May 26

Who would benefit from attending the NJDEP's free hazardous waste training/outreach event?

DEP lists:

  1. Hazardous Waste Generators
  2. Transporters
  3. Treatment Storage and Disposal Facilities
  4. Regulated Medical Waste Generators, and 
  5. Environmental Consultants and others who would find it beneficial to maintain compliance with the Hazardous Waste regulations.
In the morning, several DEP Compliance and Enforcement staff will take part in a lengthy Q&A session. In the afternoon. attendees will be provided with information on the Licensed Site Remediation Professional (LSRP) Program and general information on Hazardous Waste and Universal Waste management practices.

When and where will this event take place? The Department’s Compliance and Enforcement Program is providing this free seminar from 8:45 a.m. to 4 p.m. on May 26, 2016 in the auditorium at the: New Jersey Forensic Science Technology Cente,r 1200 Negron Drive, Hamilton, NJ 08691 (Directions)

Seats are limited. Please reserve your seat by completing the online registration

Questions? Contact Bret Reburn, Bureau of Hazardous Waste Compliance and Enforcement, 9 Ewing Street Trenton, NJ 08625 (609) 292-3949 Bret.Reburn@dep.nj.gov

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