Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Morgan Lewis chair Jami McKeon on big Bingham deal

Jami McKeon

For you fans of law firm acquisitions, Philadelphia Business Journal's Jeff Blumenthal reports:

Morgan Lewis & Bockius Chair Jami McKeon couldn't answer every question about her firm's acquisition of more than 800 lawyers and staff from the dissolving, Boston-based Bingham McCutchen. But she certainly addressed a number of lingering issues regarding the transaction during a Monday interview.

”As she looks toward integrating all of the new additions, she offered insight into the deal and the future of the firm.”

Read the full story here     

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Will New Jersey extend the Permit Extension Act again?

In the Gibbons law firm's Real Property & Environmental Law Alert, attorney
Howard D. Geneslaw  writes:

New Jersey’s Permit Extension Act (“PEA”) was initially enacted in 2008 — in response to “the crisis in the real estate finance sector of the economy” — for the purpose of tolling, through the end of 2012, expiration of various approvals necessary for development. It was later extended, in 2012, due to the then “current national recession,” to extend the tolling of the expiration of those approvals until December 31, 2014. Unless the Legislature approves a further extension, the PEA will sunset at the end of this year, and that could pose a problem for projects which have not yet started construction, because their approvals may expire.
Neither of the two bills that would extend the Act--A-3815 and S-2551--have made it out of committee so far. Look for the building community to push hard for passage in December. Environmental groups will oppose.

See the full post here 

Monday, November 24, 2014

Non-lawyer CEO leaving Pepper Hamilton law firm

A little less than three years after becoming one of the first non-lawyers to run one of the nation's largest law firms, Pepper Hamilton CEO Scott Green will leave the firm when his contract expires at the end of the year, Jeff Blumenthal  reports today in the Philadelphia Business Journal.
Scott Green

"Green confirmed his pending departure Monday, saying his contract expired at the end of the year and that further details would need to come from Pepper Hamilton Managing Partner Tom Cole.
"Cole could not be reached Monday morning and the firm released a brief statement confirming Green would be "leaving the firm to pursue other interests."

A 500-attorney firm, Pepper Hamilton has offices in offices in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York and California.


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Hear it here -- Episode 9 of the EnviroPolitics Podcast

Pa. Governors Wolf (hello) and Corbett (good bye)

Who and what won and lost -
In our latest podcast episode, we review highlights of the November 4 Election, focusing on voting results that are likely to influence energy and environment policies, legislation or regulations in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York.

Pig Farmers Rejoice - In Part 2 of the show, you'll hear former NJDEP Chief of Staff Gary Sondermeyer explain a new initiative that could require food waste recycling in the Garden State.

Who would it affect?  What will it cost?  Give a listen and all will be revealed.

Listen to our latest show here.

Please consider subscribing to the podcast on iTunes or Stitcher--and giving us a rating. (Very helpful)

Got a suggestion for a future topic or interview? Drop us an email at; Editor@EnviroPolitics.com

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Recent blog posts:
Rutgers smart phone app reduces risk of power outages

Sandy anniversary reminds us of cold nights in the dark
Reporter stumbles upon most interesting lunch pals 

How did the environment do on Election Day 2014? 
EPA proposes modified cleanup for Pompton Lakes, NJ 

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Rutgers smart phone app reduces risk of power outages

An easy-to-use smartphone app developed by Rutgers engineers will help keep the lights on in a heavily wooded New Jersey suburb that suffered widespread power outages during Superstorm Sandy, New Jersey Business reports.
"Officials in Warren Township, a country-like community nestled in Somerset County’s Watchung Mountains, knew they could cut the risk of future power outages if they documented vulnerable spots in the utility network, such as branches dangling perilously close to wires or poles cracking and leaning. But sending police and municipal workers to sniff out these trouble spots would be expensive and disruptive to municipal services.
"Rutgers and the township committee agreed to a solution – crowdsource the task.
"Crowdsourcing, an information-age technique that parcels out a large job to a community of unrelated experts – looked like a promising approach to Warren’s task. But it would work only if gathering the data and organizing it could be simplified.
"Janne Lindqvist, assistant professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, was up to the task. He had just received National Science Foundation funding to research crowdsourcing in local communities, and Warren Township’s challenge proved an ideal match for his concepts.
“The idea is basically simple,” Lindqvist said. “You have a smartphone app that walks you through documenting the hazard. Users are prompted to take a photo of the problem, classify it and verify the location provided by the phone’s location-sensing capability.”
"Hit “send,” and the hazard is catalogued in a server."
How was it implemented and what were the results?

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Sandy anniversary reminds us of cold nights in the dark

                                                                                                        Robert Sciarrino photo/The Star-Ledger
Two years have passed since Hurricane Sandy roared away, leaving us luck ones without major flood losses but shivering, without power, in the cold and dark.

Since then major area electric utilities have developed plans to have taken steps to prevent widespread outages and bounce back more quickly when the next storm hits. 

Erin O'Neill reports today that New Jersey's largest utility company, Public Service Electric & Gas, "received approval in May for a $1.2 billion program that officials said was the largest infrastructure investment settlement approved by the state Board of Public Utilities.
John Latka, the senior vice president of electric and gas operations at PSE&G, said the storm surge during Sandy exposed issues that other, recent storms had not.
“That was the big game changer,” he said. “It certainly put a new light on how we were set up, how our infrastructure was built.”
The recently-approved program — dubbed Energy Strong — includes $620 million for raising or relocating 29 flood-prone switching stations and substations and $200 million to deploy smart-grid technology and to create redundancies in the system to help reduce outages. The company had originally proposed a $3.9 billion investment but that amount was reduced following concerns about the scope of the plan and its impact on ratepayers.
Still, Latka said, “this is a great start and any time you can rebuild and repair stations it’s certainly going to help our cause.”
What about you?  Have you taken any special steps to keep your home warm and bright when the next inevitable winter storm snaps branches and power lines? 

We spent four days and nights in the dark during the worst outage in recent winters and see that a number of our wise, suburban neighbors have purchased gas-powered generators to run outside the house. Via electric power cords, the lower-priced models can supply enough power to keep your refrigerator running--and maybe some lights and space heaters, too. Larger a units can be wired directly into your circuit box and power your whole house like an oasis on a dark, winter night.

Following Sandy, you couldn't find a generator for sale and when stores began to re-stock, their prices were out of sight for most folks.       
What's your experience today? Have you purchased a generator?  What size did you get and what will it handle?  Have you had any experience with your generator since you bought it?  Any recommendations for all of us who are still hoping their electric utility is on the ball? Use the ‘comment’ box below to share your thoughts. Stay warm.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Reporter stumbles upon most interesting lunch pals

A routine, post-election assignment turned into a reporter's dream for Max Abelson.

Abelson's editors at Bloomberg sent him to lunch at the tony Four Seasons Grill Room in Manhattan where he was to mingle with members of the Wall Street crowd and sample their feelings about Election Day results.

The dutiful reporter collected some good quotes but scored a much bigger find when he spotted NJ Gov. Chris Christie lunching with billionaires Steve Wynn (casinos) and Richard LeFrak (real estate).

Max must have been still pinching himself when, lo and behold, who joins the pair but Henry Kissinger.

Henry Kissinger
Do you think the Governor is seeking world affairs advice for his upcoming presidential run from The Master?

See the full story (and video): Christie Lunches With Billionaires After Big Election Day 

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Wednesday, November 5, 2014

How did the environment do on Election Day 2014?

Pennsylvania's incumbent governor
, Tom Corbett, above left, a friend of the gas and oil industry who has opposed proposals to tax natural gas drilling and who installed climate skeptics to run the state's Department of Environmental Protection, LOST to businessman Tom Wolf, above right.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, who has avoided any decision on permitting natural gas drilling until after yesterday's election, WON. 

New Jersey's Public Question #2, 
which approves the dedication of a portion of the state's corporate business tax to fund the purchase of properties for open space, farmland preservation, flood protection, recreation and historic site preservation PASSED. Governor Chris Christie, some business organizations, and a lobby for the Koch Brothers had urged a no vote.

Philadelphia's Office of Sustainability
, a temporary creation of Mayor Michael Nutter will become a permanent part of city government as a result of an overwhelming 2-1 margin of votes cast by city residents. PASSED

Climate Progress reports today that voters in Denton, Texas banned fracking within the city limits by a large margin of 59 to 41. The first such restriction in energy-giant Texas, Denton has been a hotly contested site for the industry and one of eight locales with fracking bans on the ballot this election.

A city of about 125,000 residents located 35 miles northwest of Dallas, Denton sits atop the Barnett shale and already has some 275 fracked wells.

Another high-profile fracking ban in Santa Barbara County, California failed to pass on Tuesday after the oil and gas industry spent close to $6 million opposing it. However a similar version in California’s San Benito County overcame oil and gas opposition and passed by a large margin, 57 percent to 43 percent.

As of late Tuesday night, the third fracking ballot ban in California’s Mendocino County was leading by a large margin.

In Ohio, voters in Athens approved a fracking ban, while those in three other communities defeated their own ban ballot measures, according to preliminary results reported by the Wall Street Journal.

Related environmental news stories

Philadelphia ballot issues easily pass

Do you know of other environment-related votes yesterday that we have overlooked?
Let us know about them in a 'Reply' below.  Please include a story link if you have one.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

EPA proposes modified cleanup for Pompton Lakes, NJ

  Pompton Lakes, NJ with DuPont site in background. Lake in foreground -The Record file photo 

In a news release today, the EPA announced a proposed new plan...

"...to remove mercury contamination from areas of Pompton Lake in Pompton Lakes, New Jersey, including the areas where the Acid Brook flows into the lake, called the Acid Brook Delta. Areas of the sediment on the bottom of the lake have become contaminated with mercury and lead that flowed down the Acid Brook into the lake.

The public is encouraged to review the new plan and provide input.

Under the plan proposed today, in the form of a modification of its existing federal permit, E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Company, Inc. will be required to dredge lake bottom sediment from a 36 acre area of the Acid Brook Delta and also remove sediment from two other areas of the lake near the shoreline that have elevated levels of mercury and are subject to erosion.

These areas total an additional three acres in size. The proposed permit also requires DuPont to remove contaminated soil from a shoreline area where the Acid Brook flows into the lake, and replace it with clean soil. All of the sediment and soil will be sent to a licensed disposal facility. A long-term monitoring plan will be designed and implemented to assess Pompton Lake after the work is completed.

Click here for more details, including dates of public meetings 


Another year of Hudson River cleanup draws to a close


The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced today that next week the Hudson
River dredging will conclude for the year. Dredging is expected to continue in spring 2015. 

To date, about 2.5 million cubic yards of sediment contaminated with polychlorinated
(PCBs) have been removed. In 2014 approximately 575,000 cubic yards of
sediment were dredged from the bottom of the river, exceeding the
annual goal of 350,000
cubic yards.

The agency said that dredging will resume next spring when the Champlain Canal reopens 
for the season. The remaining dredge areas are expected to be completed next year. Habitat
planting and reconstruction will continue in 2016. The historic EPA-mandated cleanup, which 
began in 2009, targets approximately 2.65 million cubic yards of contaminated sediment from
a 40-mile stretch of the Upper Hudson River between Fort Edward and Troy, New York.

According to the EPA, For nearly thirty years, ending in the late 1970’s, an estimated 1.3 
million pounds of PCBs were discharged into the Hudson River from two General Electric 
Co. capacitor manufacturing plants located in Hudson Falls and Fort Edward, New York. 

PCBs are potentially cancer-causing chemicals that 
persist in the environment and can affect 
the immune, reproductive, nervous and endocrine systems. GE is conducting the cleanup work 
with EPA oversight under an agreement with the agency. 
According to GE, the company 
has invested more than $1 billion on the cleanup project to date.

Over the next several weeks, clean sand and gravel will be placed over previously dredged areas.
he dredged material remaining at GE’s de-watering and processing facility in Fort Edward will
be shipped by train to permitted out-of-state disposal facilities by the end of the year.

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