Thursday, October 23, 2014

Energy and environment bills on tap today in Trenton

You might be interested in one or more bills scheduled for votes today in two Assembly committees and on the Senate floor of the New Jersey Legislature.

1 PM - Committee Room 15, Fourth Floor, State House Annex, Trenton, New Jersey
A-2600  Diegnan, P.J. (D-18); Mainor, C. (D-31); Giblin, T.P. (D-34)
Pertains to certain review and approval responsibilities of land surveyors.
A-3397  Giblin, T.P. (D-34)
Abolishes Landscape Irrigation Contractors Examining Board in the Department of Environmental Protection and transfers regulation of landscape irrigation contractors to Department of Community Affairs.  Related Bill: S-2234
2 PM - Committee Room 16, 4th Floor, State House Annex, Trenton, NJ
A-943  Singleton, T. (D-7); Conaway, H. (D-7); Moriarty, P.D. (D-4); Green, J. (D-22); Lampitt, P.R. (D-6); Mazzeo, V. (D-2)
Permits small businesses to qualify for loans from NJEDA for costs of energy audit and making energy efficiency or conservation improvements.
2 PM - Committee Room 14, 4th Floor, State House Annex, Trenton, NJ

The committee will hear from invited speakers regarding the statutorily mandated report on the implementation of the E-Waste Recycling Plan that has not been filed by the Department of Environmental Protection.
ACR-189  McKeon, J.F. (D-27); Lagana, J.A. (D-38); Gusciora, R. (D-15)
Determines that proposed DEP rules and regulations repealing rules and regulations concerning State participation in greenhouse gas cap and trade programs are inconsistent with legislative intent.
Related Bill: SCR-125
2 PM - Senate Chambers
S-768  Weinberg, L. (D-37)
Extends "whistleblower" protections to employee disclosure of governmental mismanagement, waste and abuse.
SCR-125  Sweeney, S.M. (D-3); Smith, B. (D-17)
Determines that proposed DEP rules and regulations repealing rules and regulations concerning State participation in greenhouse gas cap and trade programs are inconsistent with legislative intent.


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Philadelphia becoming shale energy hub is no slam dunk

The Mariner East Pipeline
Boosters of an emerging movement to develop Philadelphia as an energy hub were cautioned Tuesday that they need to do more to sell a skeptical public, Andrew Maykuth writes in the Philadelphia Inquirer.

"Energy consultants told a gathering of the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce that public opposition may be the biggest obstacle to advancing the dream of a Delaware River industrial revival tied to the Marcellus Shale natural gas boom.

"This industry has not done a good job with public interface and informing the public about the nature of the projects coming through their communities," said Andrew S. Levine, the cochair of the environment and energy practice at the law firm of Stradley Ronon Stevens & Young L.L.P.

"Julie Ross, a managing partner of Environmental Resources Management's Mid-Atlantic business unit in Philadelphia, told the group that "improper, inappropriate" handling of key constituencies can impede infrastructure projects."

Monday, October 20, 2014

Tocks Island behind it, Del. Water Gap looks to future

With the 50th anniversary of the creation of the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area less than three months away, park Superintendent John Donahue said the time has come “to move ahead from what didn't happen, to what we would like to see happen.”
The New Jersey Herald's Bruce A. Scruton reports:
Part of that is the still-evolving Vision 2030 plan, a 14-page document that looks at future needs, projects and goals for the 70,000-acre recreation area, which stretches about 40 miles along the Delaware River between New Jersey and Pennsylvania and annually is among the 10 most-visited units of the National Park Service.
The plan, which is likely to be fully released for public comment in early January, calls for projects including a new park headquarters building, completion of a loop road tying both sides of the river together, a “corporate identity” for the park, and getting neighboring towns and the two states involved in a range of projects and collaborations.
The plan also brings forward the idea of turning the recreation area into a designated national park and preserve, and being the center of a corridor of land, largely undeveloped, from New York, through New Jersey and into Pennsylvania.
The corridor would include federal, state and locally owned open space for wildlife to freely traverse and wetlands preservation.

Friday, October 17, 2014

NJ Senate panel withholds vote on Gov’s Pinelands picks

                                                                                                      Pinelands lake – Photo:
The New Jersey Senate's Judiciary Committee yesterday held off action on two nominees to
the Pinelands Commission whose appointment conservationists feared would tip the balance of the agency to support a controversial 22-mile natural gas pipeline through the heart of the preserve.
NJ Spotlight's Tom Johnson reports:
At a hearing where senators repeatedly questioned the nominees about their views on the project, few specific answers were forthcoming on how they stood on the proposal, which was blocked by the Pinelands Commission in a vote this past January.
The nominations are viewed as important because the nominees would replace two commissioners who voted to block the pipeline, which also sparked opposition from four former governors -- Democrats Brendan Byrne and Jim Florio and Republicans Tom Kean and Christie Whitman.
Related energy and environmental news:  

Christie nominees to Pinelands panel held amid pipeline controversy

Senate forgoes vote on Pinelands panel nominees

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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Cancer awareness drill bits stir up a pink stink

Sandy Bauers, the Philadelphia Inquirer's GreenSpace columnist on Sunday wrote:

Just when you were sure the world couldn't possibly get any pinker during Breast Cancer Awareness Month, here's the latest: a Texas company that is a leading provider of gas and oil-field services is painting 1,000 of its drill bits that signature shade of pink and sending them worldwide.
The bits - bigger than a gallon paint bucket - will arrive in pink boxes with informational pamphlets.
The company, Baker Hughes Inc., also will give the Susan G. Komen breast cancer foundation a $100,000 check at the NFL's final "pink-out" game Oct. 26 in Pittsburgh.
Jeanne Rizzo, president of the nonprofit Breast Cancer Fund, is all but reaching for the pink Pepto Bismol.
She figured she had ceased being amazed "by the willingness of companies to market themselves through this tragic disease."
Indeed, she originally thought the campaign, "Doing Our Bit for the Cure," was a joke. "I'm thinking it can't be true," she said. "It can't be that bad."
Her organization, which advocates for moving "Beyond Pink" - they consider the awareness battle already won - and toward a focus on environmental causes and prevention, has called the campaign "perverse."
Is the pink drill bits campaign perverse?  Click the tiny 'comments' line below and tell us what you think.

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Friday, October 10, 2014

NJ recyclers out to capture your smelly trash--food waste

                                                                  [If the video above does not open, click here]

Recyclers in New Jersey, the first state in the U.S. to mandate the recycling of newspapers, glass bottles, metal cans, and certain plastics, wants to go back to the future and re-capture material in your trash can that once fattened tens of thousands of Garden State pigs--food waste.

ANJR (Association of New Jersey Recyclers) which has county and municipal recycling coordinators and private recycling business among its members, is proposing a change to the state's groundbreaking recycling law that would encourage the recycling of  food waste from large generators--like food processing companies, supermarkets, and universities.

It won't affect your household today but, if enacted, ANJR believes the law would encourage private companies to recognize the business opportunity and build plants in the state. At least one already is under construction in Gloucester City and others are seeking DEP permit approvals..

Former NJDEP Chief of Staff Gary Sondermeyer, who became vice president of operations at Bayshore Recycling after retiring from government service, explains why ANJR believes the change would not only benefit the environment but also generate new business in the state and cut costs that large food-waste generators now pay for waste disposal.

Watch the video and tell us what you think of the idea by clicking on the tiny 'comments' link at the bottom of this post.

[Disclosure: Our sister company, Brill Public Affairs, provides legislative counsel to ANJR]

Related environmental news stories:
New regulation requires grocers, others to better manage food waste - Milford Daily News
Massachusetts implements food-waste ban - WCVB Boston 
University awarded for reducing food waste - UTA The Shorthorn

Tiny Piping Plover holding up big beach project in NY

Piping Plover chick whose species is holding up a beach replenishment on Fire Island
— A court fight over a protected bird called the piping plover is holding up a $207 million plan to replenish the sand along a 19-mile stretch of New York's Fire Island , the Associated Press reports .
"The small, sparrow-like bird that lives on the island is listed as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act and, elsewhere in the country, is classified as endangered.
"Besides arguing that the bird's habitat is in jeopardy, critics say the project would be a huge waste of money.
"Elected officials have decried the delay, saying human lives are in danger if a repeat of 2012's Superstorm Sandy strikes the region and work is not completed to bulk up Fire Island as a barrier for heavily populated parts of Long Island.
"During the storm, dunes as high as 20 feet were credited with absorbing the brunt of Sandy's fury and preventing wider damage. Fire Island is a long, thin barrier island that runs parallel to the south shore of Long Island.
"A federal court conference on the dispute was held Wednesday in Central Islip. The judge refused to lift a temporary restraining order halting the Army Corps of Engineers project."

Read more here:

Thursday, October 9, 2014

EPA: Nitrogen pollution declining in Long Island Sound


For the second summer in a row, concentrations of dissolved oxygen in Long Island Sound are higher than the long-term average, indicating improved water quality and improved ecological conditions for organisms that live in the Sound, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
has announced.

In a news release the EPA says:

"Aquatic animals rely on oxygen that is dissolved in water to survive. When dissolved oxygen levels decline, this can cause some animals to move away, weaken, or even die. Low dissolved oxygen can occur when nutrients such as nitrogen enter a water body in excess, over stimulating plant growth.

"Nutrients such as nitrogen can enter a water body through discharges of sewage and from fertilizer runoff. In recent years, Connecticut and New York State have worked with the EPA to implement a nitrogen pollution reduction plan to improve the Sound’s dissolved oxygen levels, and to protect aquatic animals and public health. Much of the improvements in water quality is attributable to wastewater treatment facility upgrades and other measures are reducing nitrogen pollution to the Long Island Sound."

   Assistants aboard the research vessel John Dempsey deploy a rosette
sampler to collect water quality samples.Photo by Lloyd Langevin.

“The work New York, Connecticut, local governments and the EPA have done to build and upgrade sewage treatment plants has significantly reduced the nitrogen going into Long Island Sound,” said Judith A. Enck, EPA Region 2 Administrator.

“We need to make financial investments in sewage treatment plants, and work to reduce pollution from septic systems and fertilizers, which also degrade water quality in Long Island Sound.”

Read the full news release here 


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Recent blog posts: 

Is highway use best for $35M NJ Transit hybrid buses?
Ratepayers better off with B. L. England dead or alive?
Jersey City to get $10M down for waste transfer station  
FERC approves Cove Point LNG export facility  
PADEP hits EQT with $4.5 M impoundment-leak fine 

Is highway use best for $35M NJ Transit hybrid buses?

When the board of NJ Transit voted unanimously Wednesday to spend up to $35.2 million on a fleet of 37 buses with hybrid diesel-electric engines, cost (averaging $1 million a piece with service contracts and replacement batteries) wasn't the issue. Deployment was.

The Record's Christopher Maag reports that "unlike most hybrids, which are used in stop-and-start urban traffic, the new buses will be devoted to long-haul highway routes."

"Some transit advocates and experts in hybrid engines criticized the decision, saying it was a questionable use for such expensive equipment.

“Putting hybrid buses in cities where they would have the most environmental and health impacts would make the most sense,” said Jenna Chernitz, New Jersey advocate for the Tri-State Transportation Campaign."

But someone who is not shy about criticizing environmental decisions--Jeff Tittel, director of the NJ chapter of the Sierra Club--offered backhanded praise.
“It’s probably the first green thing New Jersey has done in a long time,” he said.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Ratepayers better off with B. L. England dead or alive?

B. L. England Generating Station viewed from the east.

If the B.L. England coal-fired power plant in Beesley's Point, NJ is converted to natural gas, it could tax the reliability of the power grid more so than if the plant had been retired as once anticipated, according to environmentalists.
NJ Spotlight reports:

"Critics of the project, citing a report last month by an advisory committee of the PJM Interconnection, the operator of the nation’s largest power grid, claimed there would be fewer potential reliability issues if the plant shut down rather than remained open.
"In either case, ratepayers would probably face increased costs for upgrades to high-voltage transmission lines that would be required to address potential reliability problems on the power grid.
"If the B.L. England plant shuts down, PJM has identified costs of approximately $143 million that consumers would pay for necessary transmission systems improvements, according to Paula DuPont-Kidd, a PJM spokeswoman.
"But Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club, said that if the plant stays open, it could cost ratepayers hundreds of millions of dollars in upgrades to deploy as many as seven transmission lines to prevent overloads and blackouts.
"PJM has not identified costs of the continued operation or repowering of the B.L. England plant, DuPont said in an e-mail responding to questions about the report."

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