Friday, November 17, 2017

Water quality rule changes keep NJ testing labs busy

In our second of three video reports from the NJ State League of Municipalities Convention, we chat with Harvey Klein of Garden State Laboratories

He discusses proposed, recent and future rule changes likely to affect commercial pools, public water treatment facilities, and even private wells.  

Next:  Beekeepers buzz the bonnets of local officials 

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Before you say adios to Gov. Chris Christie, read this

By Frank Brill, EnviroPolitics editor
Between now and the end of 2017, you will encounter a truckload of recollections, reassessments and critiques of Chris Christie's eight tumultuous--sometimes amazing and ultimately exhausting--years as New Jersey's governor.
I'm not sure that I have the inclination or the stamina to read them all. Happily, there no longer may be a need.
In today's Politico Magazine, the talented political observer, Josh Dawsey, offers up a tour of the Christie years, with insights from political combatants, comments from Christie's closest advisors, and quotes from a sit-down with the governor himself that come as close to candid as a politician might allow. 
As for Dawsey, the writer, here's what Vanity Fair's Chris Popeo has to say:
"In yet another Trump-beat newsroom raid, The Washington Post has hired rising-star White House reporter Josh Dawsey, from Politico. At the Post, he will join a six-person White House team following the recent departure of Abby Phillip for CNN. Politico recruited Dawsey, now 27, from The Wall Street Journal—where he was a well-respected but not terrifically well-known New York City Hall reporter—at the end of last year, moved him to Washington, and turned him loose on the West Wing. Dawsey, an energetic, ink-stained-wretch type with a hint of South Carolina drawl, had a gift for covering the soap opera, but also has notched more substantive scoops on Russia and on various policy developments."
Save yourself a lot of reading time. Start with Dawsey's piece on Christie. It's really that good.
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LaGuardia AirTrain planning gets $55M PANYNJ boost

Dan Rivoli reports for the New York Daily News:

Planning for an AirTrain to LaGuardia Airport got another $55 million Thursday from the Port Authority, in a unanimous vote with no questions asked.
Agency board members approved the money for the Gov. Cuomo-backed project, supplementing the $20 million already allocated, to put an AirTrain between Mets-Willets Point and the airport.
The board heard a brief presentation about the next phase of the planning, but no members had any questions on it before voting.
The money for the new transportation — a modern necessity for supporters of Cuomo’s transformation of the city’s airports, and a potential boondoggle to its critics — would cover technical planning, design work and developing an environmental-impact report.

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Thursday, November 16, 2017

Was every local official in NJ in Atlantic City this week?

EnviroPolitics was at the 102nd New Jersey State League of Municipalities Convention in Atlantic City this week.

All fun and games? No way. Lots of work...learning...and training. Check it out.

Tomorrow: Vendors pitching equipment, services and policy

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Grid operator PJM moves to prop up nuclear and coal

PSEG’s coal-fired Mercer Generation Station, which shut down in June because it could not compete against cheaper gas-fueled power plants. (Clem Murray photo for

Andrew Maykuth reports for

Regional grid operator PJM Interconnection on Wednesday proposed to revise its wholesale electricity markets to prop up prices for beleaguered “baseload” generators such as coal and nuclear plants, which are being forced into retirement by low natural-gas prices.

The proposal aims to send stronger price signals to power generators, PJM said, and also to send a political signal to the Trump administration, which in September launched a much-maligned plan to guarantee profits for coal and nuclear plants.

PJM, based in Valley Forge, said its plan was aimed at preserving competitive markets. But it also noted it would increase regional wholesale electricity costs from 2 percent to 5 percent, or as much as $1.4 billion annually for 65 million people in its territory, which encompasses 13 states and the District of Columbia.

The proposal provides an alternative course for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which is considering a “grid resiliency” plan announced in September by Energy Secretary Rick Perry to guarantee cost recovery for power generators that have a 90-day fuel supply on site. The only power plants that can effectively meet that criteria are coal and nuclear power plants.

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Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Carteret’s $7.4M settlement with former smelter operator

U.S. Metals operations in Carteret, NJ more than 30 years ago

Luke Nozicka reports for

CARTERET -- The borough has reached a more than $7 million settlement with the owner of an old metals-refining factory to complete its cleanup of contaminated areas at its former smelter site.

The settlement requires U.S. Metals Refining Company to pay $4.25 million to end further litigation and to fund environmental and public health initiatives in the borough, Mayor Daniel Reiman said. The company will also pay an additional $3.15 million during the next 10 years.
U.S. Metals is the former operator of a smelter plant at 300 Middlesex Ave. that shut down more than 30 years ago. It operated in the borough from 1903 to 1986.
The company, a subsidiary of Freeport-McMoRan, first entered a consent order to clean the site with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection in 1988.
But there was no plan to address potential contamination in hundreds of public and private areas, including the yards of residential homes, that may have migrated off-site, the mayor said. So the borough in 2012 reached an agreement with the company to investigate and clean possible off-site contamination.
In a statement, the mayor said for 20 years the state Department of Environmental Protection had "largely forgot about the borough and its long-gone smelter."

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Monday, November 13, 2017

As Christie blows away, wind energy may re-emerge in NJ

Dino Grandoni reports for the Washington Post:
For years, New Jersey’s blustery Republican governor, Chris Christie, has slowed efforts to cultivate wind farms off the state’s coast, wind developers say.
In 2010, during his first term, Christie signed a landmark wind energy law designed to encourage development of the renewable resource off the state’s gusty shore. But the public utility board controlled by Christie appointees never fully implemented a plan meant to incentivize that development. In New Jersey, turbines off the seaside horizon remained a mirage that never materialized.
New Jersey residents just elected a Democrat to replace Christie — one with an ambitious alternative energy plan. 
One of the biggest energy-related consequences of the 2017 election is the gust of life breathed into offshore wind development in the densely populated and energy-hungry Garden State.
Gov.-elect Phil Murphy wants New Jersey to get all its energy from “clean” sources by the middle of the century.
To do so, Murphy promised to rejoin the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, under which nine East Coast states cap and trade carbon dioxide to reduce climate-warming emissions from the power sector. And he set what his campaign calls “the most ambitious offshore wind target in the country” by promising to bring 3,500 megawatts of offshore wind power online by 2030.
Wind companies itching to build off the Jersey Shore are pleased with the prospect.
Murphy's "got a really good handle on this industry, not only from an economic perspective but from an environmental one as well,” said Paul Rich, director of project development at US Wind. “I think he’s poised to be bold where others have gotten cold feet.”
“We are hopeful that a Murphy administration will continue to move New Jersey forward in the development of a robust offshore wind industry,” said Thomas Brostrom, the North American president of Orsted (formerly DONG Energy).
Although land-based wind energy has taken off in the United States — pushing wind-generating capacity above that of hydropower by the end of 2016, more than any other renewable source — the nation has built only one commercial offshore wind farm, off the coast of Rhode Island's Block Island, despite the federal government awarding nearly a dozen commercial offshore wind leases for locations off the coasts of Massachusetts, Maryland and Virginia.
With Christie leaving office, New Jersey could be next. Orsted, a Danish firm, along with US Wind, a subsidy of the Italian energy company Renexia, each hold federal leases to build off New Jersey. Another firm, Fisherman Energy, has proposed to build a wind farm in state waters near Atlantic City, as well.
While declining worldwide, the upfront costs of offshore wind are still much higher than onshore, and require more subsidization from federal and local governments to make financial sense to investors.
Until it expires in 2019, offshore wind developers can take advantage of an investment tax credit from the federal government. For seven years, New Jersey has had a law requiring the state to grant its own subsidy, too.
“We’re going to work to make New Jersey No. 1 in offshore wind production,” Christie said in 2011, not long after signing that measure.
But the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU), whose chairman is chosen by the governor, never finalized rules for that subsidy.
Christie "realized that he needed to jettison anything that looked moderate" in order to win over conservatives nationwide "when people started looking at him as president timber,” said Jim Lanard, chief executive of ‎‎Magellan Wind.
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Senate tax bill much kinder to renewables than House's

Unlike the House bill, the Senate’s proposal keeps renewable tax credits in place.

Emma Foehringer Merch reports for gtm:

After the the House’s version of a tax overhaul bill slashed clean energy credits, the industry expressed widespread anxiety. But the Senate’s draft mostly spares incentives for clean energy projects.
The House bill proposed slashing the Production Tax Credit (PTC) for wind by over a third. It also eliminates a $7,500 credit for electric-vehicle purchases. The solar industry would see an end to the Investment Tax Credit after 2027 for commercial and utility-scale solar projects, and an end to the 10 percent credit for residential projects (which is already set to expire in 2021). Under current law, commercial projects would still benefit from a 10 percent tax credit after 2021.
The bill does extend a $6 billion nuclear credit to benefit the one nuclear project now underway, Georgia’s Vogtle plant.
The Senate’s bill is decidedly more gentle. It keeps the $7,500 EV credit and the previously established credit step-down for solar and wind agreed to in 2015.
“The Senate bill, if passed as-is, I imagine would have no impact on the Investment Tax Credit or the Production Tax Credit,” said Gerald Feige, counsel in the tax group of Shearman & Sterling LLP.
Under the current agreement, wind projects that begin construction in 2017 receive 80 percent of the original tax credit, 60 percent in 2018 and 40 percent in 2019, before the credit expires. For solar, projects receive a 30 percent investment tax credit through 2019, 26 percent in 2020, and 22 percent in 2021. Past that year, commercial solar projects maintain a tax credit of 10 percent, while residential projects get zero.
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Guide to incoming NJ Gov. Murphy's Transition

New Jersey POLITICOPRO is offering a nifty guide to incoming Gov. Phil Murphy's transition.

The free download includes:

  • Gubernatorial Transition Timeline
  • 5 Policy Areas to Watch 
  • Inside Team Murphy (profiles of Murphy and Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver)
  • Gubernatorial Transition Checklist 
Sure, it's an enticement to subscribe to their service.
So what. Smart marketing and something of value.
Check it out.  

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NJ lawmakers, DEP, bumping heads over Highlands septics

Lawmakers moving to block agency proposal, could use rarely employed tool to rescind rules judged inconsistent with legislative intent

Tom Johnson reports for NJ Spotlight:

The Legislature is moving once again to potentially block a controversial proposed rule that would expand development in the Highlands, a step critics argue would threaten drinking water supplies for six million residents.

A new resolution (SCR-163) has been introduced in the Senate that would prevent the state Department of Environmental Protection from implementing the rule, which is pending adoption by the agency after months of dispute over its impact on the region.

Earlier this summer, final approval was given to an identical resolution stipulating the new rule is inconsistent with legislative intent of the 2004 law creating the Highlands Act, a measure adopted to protect roughly 800,000 acres of forested lakes, hills, and land that supplies drinking water to more than half the state.

But the department refused to amend or withdraw the rule, setting up a confrontation with lawmakers if the resolution wins approval again. Under a rarely used tool, the Legislature can revoke rules that are deemed inconsistent with laws passed by that branch of government.

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