Friday, November 20, 2015

Reed Smith attorney to run for Attorney General in Pa.

AG candidate David Fawcett.
Reed Smith attorney David Fawcett, a former GOP Allegheny County Councilman whose legal crusade against an Appalachian coal baron resulted in a U.S. Supreme Court opinion and a John Grisham novel, confirms will run for state attorney general next year as a Democrat next year.

"The office of Attorney General is, unfortunately, dysfunctional," Mr. Fawcett declared, referring to incumbent Kathleen Kane who is under indictment in an eastern Pennsylvania court and has had her law license temporarily revoked. “I'm running to provide the kind of leadership needed to reinvigorate the office and return integrity to it."

Fawcett joined Reed Smith in December 2010 as a partner in its Eastern Commercial Litigation Group. He had previously been a shareholder in Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney.

Chris Potter writes in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Mr. Fawcett is best known for representing Hugh Caperton, a West Virginia coal-mine owner who sued one of the industry's titans: former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship.
Mr. Caperton alleged that Mr. Blankenship drove his firm into bankruptcy through unscrupulous business dealings, and in 2002, Mr. Fawcett and another attorney won him a $50 million jury verdict. West Virginia's Supreme Court reversed the ruling, but the 3-2 majority included a justice who won election with $3 million of help from Mr. Blankenship. The U.S. Supreme Court ultimately ruled the justice should have recused himself because, given Mr. Blankenship’s support, the "probability of actual bias rises to an unconstitutional level."
"I knew it was going to be the fight of my life," Mr. Fawcett said of the case,which inspired John Grisham's 2008 novel "The Appeal." The Caperton saga, he said, “implicates the entire justice system.”
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Thursday, November 12, 2015

Cuomo torpedoes floating LNG facility, Port Ambrose

To the delight of environmentalists assembled to hear the news, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo today announced that he had vetoed a docking terminal off the coast of New York and New Jersey proposed for the transfer of liquefied natural gas. 

David Giambusso of Politico New York was one of the first to report the news :
After years of outcry from environmentalists and lawmakers, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has vetoed the proposed Port Ambrose liquefied natural gas facility off the coast of Long Island.
"The reward was not worth the risk and we're going to veto the Port Ambrose plan," Cuomo said during an event at the Long Beach Ice Arena Thursday.
The facility as planned would have been a docking station for barges of liquefied natural gas — gas that is cooled and condensed to liquid form for transport. Environmentalists and elected officials had decried the proposal as a potential environmental and security disaster waiting to happen just miles from New York Harbor, and Cuomo had previously expressed reservations about the project.
The Long Beach Ice Arena was packed with environmentalists who had anticipated the announcement and applauded Cuomo as he entered the room.
News of Cuomo's veto, along with a statement from the governor, was leaked to Newsday earlier in the day."It seems like you know why I'm here," Cuomo said. "It was supposed to be a secret."
Following the close of public comments last week on the final environmental impact statement, Cuomo and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie had until Dec. 21 to veto or approve the project, but Cuomo took little time in exercising his option to quash the proposal.
With his veto, the proposed facility cannot move forward.
Did Cuomo let Christie off the environmental hook?
The veto by New York's Democrat governor may be welcome news to New Jersey's Republican Gov. Chris Christie who vetoed a similar proposal in 2011 but now is competing among a flock of conservative candidates for the GOP presidential nomination. 
Fossil fuel interests like ExxonMobil, the Koch Brothers, and others are contributing heavily to Republican campaigns and the GOP candidates have been reluctant to show support for any proposal that would limit gas and coal energy or promote clean energy alternative like wind and solar power.
In a November 6 letter to Gov. Christie, environmental leaders reminded him of the reasons for his previous veto and asked him to repeat it.  With Gov. Cuomo's decision, that may no longer be necessary.  

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A new way to update the continuing Bridgegate story

Star-Ledger reporter Ted Sherman, found a new way to report the seemingly never-ending Bridgegate story today.

He delivered 7 things we learned this week about the Bridgegate case in 16 photos and captions.

It reminds us of the photo spreads in New York Daily News, the New York Post and the old New York Mirror but updated for the digital age. And we marvel at how much can be said in successive captions when they're organized around a single theme.

Check it out here and let us know what you think in the comment box below

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Tuesday, November 10, 2015

NJ Assembly adopts Governor's changes to 3 enviro bills

When the governor 'conditionally vetoes' a bill, he returns it to the Legislature with suggested amendments that, if adopted, will guarantee his signature. 

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie yesterday conditionally vetoed the three bills below and the Assembly, on the same day, adopted his recommendations. 

Click the numbers for the first two bills to see the governor's veto messages that contain his recommendations. The governor's message was not available today for the third bill.

A-3954/S-2981 (Conaway, Singleton, Spencer, McKeon/Greenstein) 
Requires maximum contaminant level to be established for 1,2,3-trichloropropane in drinking water. EnviroPolitics spoke with the bill's Assembly sponsor in this August 14 video.

A-1726/S-308 (Eustace, Lagana, Mosquera, Vainieri Huttle, Wimberly/Gordon)
Amends "Flood Hazard Area Control Act" to require DEP to take certain actions concerning delineations of flood hazard areas and floodplains

A-2579/S-1510 (Mukherji, Pintor Marin, Eustace/Smith, Bateman) 
Authorizes municipalities to facilitate private financing of water conservation, storm shelter construction, and flood and hurricane resistance projects through use of voluntary special assessments. This is the PACE bill that we featured in this June 27 post and video.

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Friday, November 6, 2015

Energy, environment bills set for votes in Trenton Nov 9

Monday will be a busy day for energy and environmental bills in committees of the New Jersey Legislature.

Here's the  lineup:

11/09/15 10:00 AM
Committee Room 9, 3rd Floor, State House Annex, Trenton, NJ

A-4091  Eustace, T. (D-38)
Allows certain on-site generation facilities to deliver electricity without utilizing electric public utility infrastructure.  Related Bill: S-2690
A-4128  Mazzeo, V. (D-2); DeAngelo, W.P. (D-14); Spencer, L.G. (D-29) 
Requires BPU to approve qualified wind energy project and exempts project from cost-benefit analysis.  Related Bill: S-2711
S-2711  Smith, B. (D-17); Whelan, J. (D-2)
Requires BPU to approve qualified wind energy project and exempts project from cost-benefit analysis.  Related Bill: A-4128   

11/09/15 10:00 AM
Committee Room 10, 3rd 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) 
Permits small businesses to qualify for loans from NJEDA for costs of energy audit and making energy efficiency or conservation improvements.
A-2340  Greenwald, L.D. (D-6); Spencer, L.G. (D-29); Lagana, J.A. (D-38)
Requires report and public hearing prior to DEP recommendation of site for inclusion on Superfund list.  

A-2580  Mukherji, R. (D-33); Pintor Marin, E. (D-29); Muoio, E.M. (D-15)
Provides for priority consideration, by DCA, DEP, DOT, and municipalities, of permit applications for green building projects.
S-2562  Pou, N. (D-35)
Requires report and public hearing prior to DEP recommendation of site for inclusion on Superfund list.  Related Bill: A-2340
S-2967  Van Drew, J. (D-1)
Permits small businesses to qualify for loans from NJEDA for costs of energy audit and making energy efficiency or conservation improvements.  Related Bill: A-943
S-3192  Van Drew, J. (D-1); Connors, C.J. (R-9)
Designates striped bass (Morone saxatilis) as New Jersey saltwater fish.  Related Bill: A-4563    

11/09/15 10:30 AM
Committee Room 7, 2nd Floor, State House Annex, Trenton, NJ

SR-95  Bateman, C. (R-16); Cardinale, G. (R-39)
Urges US DOT to promulgate regulations concerning transport of crude oil by rail that ensures safety of NJ residents who live along railroads.
Related Bill: AR-171     

11/09/15  1:00 PM
Committee Room 4, 1st Floor, State House Annex, Trenton, NJ

S-72  Stack, B.P. (D-33); Oroho, S.V. (R-24)
Requires certain State oversight of budgets of regional sewerage authorities.
Related Bill: A-3782     

S-2769  Smith, B. (D-17); Bateman, C. (R-16)
Implements 2014 constitutional dedication of CBT revenues for certain environmental purposes; revises State's open space, farmland, and historic preservation programs.
Related Bill: A-4203 

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NJDEP to unveil results of Barnegat Bay scientific studies

A symposium to review and discuss the results of a comprehensive three-year scientific study assessing the ecological health of Barnegat Bay is scheduled for Tuesday, November 17 at Ocean County College, Commissioner Bob Martin announced yesterday.

An NJDEP news release provided the following details:

The public can hear the results of the studies and how the information will be used when the DEP and the Barnegat Bay Partnership host “What Lies Beneath – Barnegat Bay: A Public Outreach Forum” from 9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. in the Gateway Building, Lecture Hall Room 104, at Ocean County College on College Drive in Toms River

Registration is required to attend the free event.

In addition to assessing the ecological health of the bay, the research results will identify stressors on the bay and explain new strategies for managing the bay.

“Environmental research poses and answers important human health and ecological questions for managing Barnegat Bay, fills in critical data gaps, and supplies valuable information for modeling, water quality criteria, and enforceable standards based on sound and defensible science,” said Thomas Belton, DEP’s Barnegat Bay research coordinator. “All of these Barnegat Bay research projects are designed to assist decision-makers to answer applied regulatory questions.”

The studies commenced after the Christie Administration announced a comprehensive action plan to address the ecological health of Barnegat Bay in December 2010. As a result of Governor Christie’s plan, the DEP’s Division of Science, Research and Environmental Health began developing and funding 11 research projects ranging in topic and scope from studying estuaries and wetlands to evaluating boater impacts on environmentally sensitive areas of the bay to assessing various species of fish, crabs, clams and other organisms.  Scientists collected data for these studies between 2012 and 2014.

The studies looked at development of estuarine water quality criteria, the impact of harmful algal blooms, natural resource assessment and management for sustainable fisheries, assessment of ecological impacts from the planned closure of the Oyster Creek Nuclear Generating Station in 2019, prediction of algal blooms and jelly fish population explosions, reduction of boater impacts on environmentally sensitive areas, and ecological modeling of the bay for ecosystems-based management of important commercial and recreational fish.

The Department of Environmental Protection’s Division of Science, Research and Environmental Health, led by Dr. Gary Buchanan, will present many of the studies. Results will also be presented by scientists from Rutgers University, Monmouth University, Rider University and Montclair University, as well as researchers from out-of-state schools as Drexel University, Villanova University, Louisiana State University and the University of Maryland.

To register for the forum, please email Terri Tucker at or call her at (609) 984-6070.

For more details about the symposium, including the complete agenda of research discussions, and ongoing Barnegat Bay research, visit:

For more information about the Christie Administration’s comprehensive action plan for Barnegat Bay,

For Year 1 and Year 2 Research Reports assessing the ecological health of Barnegat Bay, visit: 

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Thursday, November 5, 2015

NY investigating possible ExxonMobil climate cover-up

The New York attorney general has begun a sweeping investigation of Exxon Mobil to determine whether the company lied to the public about the risks of climate change or to investors about how those risks might hurt the oil business.

NY Times reporters Justin Gillis and Clifford Krauss report today

The focus includes the company’s activities dating to the late 1970s, including a period of at least a decade when Exxon Mobil funded groups that sought to undermine climate science.

A major focus of the investigation is whether the company adequately warned investors about potential financial risks stemming from society’s need to limit fossil-fuel use. 

According to people with knowledge of the investigation, Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman issued a subpoena Wednesday evening to Exxon Mobil, demanding extensive financial records, emails and other documents.

Kenneth P. Cohen, vice president for public affairs at Exxon Mobil, said on Thursday that the company had received the subpoena and was still deciding how to respond.

“We unequivocally reject the allegations that Exxon Mobil has suppressed climate-change research,” Mr. Cohen said, adding that the company had funded mainstream climate science since the 1970s, had published dozens of scientific papers on the topic, and had disclosed climate risks to investors.

Read the full story here

LNG facility off coast slammed at NY and NJ hearings

Hundreds of people crowded a hearing at the Long Beach Hotel on Monday night to voice their opinions on a controversial plan to build a liquefied natural gas import facility roughly 16 nautical miles off Jones Beach, Matthew Ern reported in the LI Herald.
Port Ambrose, the facility proposed by Liberty Natural Gas LLC, would consist of a series of underwater pipelines and buoys that would facilitate the processing and pumping of tens of millions of gallons of natural gas through the Transco natural gas pipeline, which runs from South Texas to New York.
The company would need federal and state approval to build the terminal in federal waters, and Govs. Andrew Cuomo and Chris Christie are both expected to weigh in on the project. Either one of them could bring the planning to an end with a veto.
The governors will have their first opportunity to rule on the proposal on Friday, and the window will close on Dec. 21, though the project’s opponents have expressed the hope that Cuomo will reach a decision soon. If neither governor acts, the project will move forward.
Hundreds of residents, environmental groups and local officials presented near-unanimous opposition to the project throughout four hours of testimony on Monday. State Assemblyman Todd Kaminsky, Nassau County Legislator Denise Ford and all five members of the Long Beach City Council spoke out against it. County Legislator Laura Curran, who was unable to attend, sent a representative to speak on her behalf in opposition as well.
At a hearing held last night in Eatontown, NJ, Wayne Parry reports for AP:
Opponents...blasted the plan Wednesday as a dirty, dangerous boondoggle, while supporters hailed it as a source of cheap energy that will lower home heating bills in winter.
At the first of two New Jersey public hearings on the plan, environmental groups lined up against it. Cindy Zipf, executive director of Clean Ocean Action, said, "It is now time to put an end to this harmful, dangerous and unnecessary project."
"They call it Liberty Natural Gas, but with this project, it's the opposite," said Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. "Patrick Henry famously said, 'Give me liberty or give me death.' With this proposal, we may get both. If there is a storm or accident, this is a giant bomb off our coast."
"The area that they are proposing to use is important fishing grounds for fluke and squid," added Capt. James Lovgren of the Fisherman's Dock Co-Op in Point Pleasant Beach. "Generations of fishermen have been working these areas for 300 years. Putting an LNG terminal on traditional fishing is taking money out of fishermen's wallets and into the pockets of a greedy gas company."
In addition to concerns over an accident or terrorist attack, environmentalists say, the terminal is not needed because the U.S. already has large supplies of domestically produced natural gas.
But Liberty says the project will help by bringing additional gas supplies to the New York metropolitan area during periods of peak demand, including extreme cold snaps. The company says the facility will be used solely to bring liquefied natural gas into the country and not to export it, as many opponents fear.
Roger Whelan, the company's CEO, said the federal review "confirms that the project is needed, the location is safe, and the impacts to the environment are minimal."
Capt. Steven Werse, an official with the International Organization of Masters, Mates and Pilots, said the project will help the maritime trades.
"This project creates good paying, local jobs — the kind of jobs you can raise a family on, the kind of jobs that are worth having," he said. "This project will also reduce energy costs for working families during the cold winter months."
First proposed in 2008, the plan is proposed for federal waters 19 miles off Jones Beach, New York, and 29 miles off Long Branch, New Jersey.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie vetoed a previous version of the proposal in 2011, and opponents want him to do so again. The governor, a Republican presidential candidate, has not said whether he will. But in a 2011 speech, Christie said, "My opposition to this will continue for as long as I'm governor."
A final hearing will take place tonight in Eatontown. Details below.

November 5, 2015
Public Hearing on Port Ambrose LNG import facility 
Sheraton in Eatontown, NJ 
Open house: 4:30 - 5:30 PM 
Hearing: 6PM to 10PM
Click here to RSVP.

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