Tuesday, September 30, 2014

California becomes first state to ban plastic grocery bags

California supermarkets and other outlets will be banned from using single-use plastic bags starting in July 2015.

A national coalition of plastic bag manufacturers immediately said it would seek a voter referendum to repeal the law, which is scheduled to take effect in July 2015.

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Under SB270, plastic bags will be phased out of checkout counters at large grocery stores and supermarkets such as Wal-Mart and Target starting next summer, and convenience stores and pharmacies in 2016. The law does not apply to bags used for fruits, vegetables or meats, or to shopping bags used at other retailers. It allows grocers to charge a fee of at least 10 cents for using paper bags.

State Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Los Angeles, credits the momentum for statewide legislation to the more than 100 cities and counties, including Los Angeles and San Francisco, that already have such bans.
 
 



 
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EPA finalizes $11M plan for Glen Cove Superfund site

Soil remediation at Mattiace Petrochemical site in 2004 - Photo:Audubon Magazine


The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced in a news release today that
it has finalized its cleanup plan to address contaminated groundwater and soil at the Mattiace Petrochemical Co., Inc. Superfund site in Glen Cove, New York.

Groundwater and soil at the site are contaminated with volatile organic compounds
as a result of previous operations at the site by a chemical distribution and drum-cleaning business.

The final plan amends a prior, long-term cleanup plan and is "intended to improve the effectiveness of groundwater treatment at the site."

The EPA estimates the cost of this phase of the cleanup is approximately $11.2 million.

Groundwater from the Mattiace site flows away from the municipal drinking wells and does not pose a threat to drinking water, the agency said.

Read the full EPA release here

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Recent blog updates
Ex-New Jersey Public Advocate hit with ethics fine
Merger creates women-owned NY engineering firm  
Choosing to flee or fortify against future storms in NJ   
Christie won't budge on RGGI - A lawmaker responds
Philadelphia's largest law firm about to get larger?

Ex-New Jersey Public Advocate hit with ethics fine

A former ratepayer advocate has been fined $11,000 for ethics violations, most of which stem from her simultaneously working for the state while serving as president of the Asian Indian Chamber of Commerce (AICC), and allegedly influencing the awarding of government contracts to five vendors associated with the group, NJ Spotlight reports today.
Seema Singh
"The State Ethics Commission handed down the penalties against Seema Singh, who was ratepayer advocate during the Corzine administration, a Cabinet-level post that entrusts her with representing the interest of business and residential customers on utility issues.
“As president of the AICC, Singh held a leadership role in a trade organization whose mission was to further the economic interest of the member business,’’ according to the final decision by the commission, a post that put her at odds with her job as ratepayer advocate.
"Singh’s attorney, Herbert Waldman, has filed an appeal of the decision in the courts, saying the ruling by the commission is “both unfair and wrong.’’ He described the state agency as both the prosecutor, which brought the charges, and the judge, deciding the case.
"The decision by the commission, however, was especially scathing, saying Singh, a Princeton attorney, violated sections of the New Jersey conflict of interest law and the ratepayer advocate’s own code of ethics. Singh declined to comment, forwarding questions to her attorney."

Monday, September 29, 2014

Merger creates women-owned NY engineering firm

Ryan-Biggs Associates P.C., in Clifton Park merged with Clark Engineering and Surveying P.C., in Columbia County to create one of the largest women-owned engineering firms in upstate New York, the Albany Business-Review reports.
"The new firm — Ryan Biggs Clark Davis Engineering & Surveying P.C. — has 40 people on staff, including 20 licensed engineers, and expects to finish this year with $5.5 million in combined billings.
"The firm’s headquarters are at 257 Ushers Road in Clifton Park. There are also offices in Skaneateles in the Finger Lakes region and in New Lebanon in Columbia County.
"Two women ­— Jamie L. Davis, president, and Ann Clark, vice president — own 51 percent of the merged firm."

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Choosing to flee or fortify against future storms in NJ








"It has been nearly two years since Hurricane Sandy crashed ashore in New Jersey, devastating cities throughout the region. As cities and towns along the coast consider how to prepare for future weather patterns, and avert the kind of damage that happened in 2012, a two-pronged response has emerged — a kind of municipal fight-or-flight response."

Writing for NPR's All things Considered show, Franklyn Cater reports:
"One option is to retreat — encourage residents to move away from the water. The other is
to resist — armor the coast so it can take a battering without flooding city streets.
"The Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, and the Department of Housing
and Urban Development, or HUD, are dedicating hundreds of millions of dollars to the first
response — and billions to the second.
The Coleman family
Cater interviews Monique Coleman whose family endured multiple flooded basements before accepting money from the state allowing them to move to a less vulnerable location.   
"Coleman says the experience is bittersweet. "I was talking to my neighbors all this week about that and just the realization that we're here at this point is pretty tough, because we have grown very close, especially through the whole flood experience," she says. "So now, the fact is that we are all separating. That's tough."
New Jersey Meadowlands












On the flip side, the story how some communities are working on building defenses
against future flooding.


"This year, HUD set up a competition called  
Rebuild By Design, in which architecture
and engineering firms proposed ways to protect against future disasters. 
Private philanthropy funded much of the contest. And the agency designated nearly a
billion 
dollars of Hurricane Sandy relief money as start-up cash for the winning proposals.
"One of the winning proposals in New Jersey, the New Meadowlands, would take a marshy
landscape and turn it into a world-class, flood-absorbing park."


Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Christie won't budge on RGGI - A lawmaker responds


       New Jersey Governor Chris Christie    Matt Rainey/Getty Images

Despite growing calls for action on climate change, dramatically displayed Sunday in the giant march in Manhattan, Governor Chris Christie insists that he will not allow New Jersey to return to the regional greenhouse gas compact, RGGI.


The New York Times reports:
"As Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey explores a 2016 presidential campaign, he is under growing pressure from his State Legislature to rejoin a regional cap-and-trade program that would limit New Jersey’s carbon emissions — and likely hurt his chances for the Republican nomination.
"Mr. Christie, who withdrew from the program in 2011 as he first considered running for president in 2012, remains adamant that New Jersey not participate in the nine-state Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, even though the majority of state legislators say it would be in New Jersey’s economic and legal interests. Business groups remain divided on the plan. “No, I would not think of rejoining it,” Mr. Christie told reporters during a recent trip to Mexico. “I think it’s a completely useless plan.”

NJ Senate President Steve Sweeney has introduced a bill to force the state's return to RGGI. An identical bill in the Assembly is sponsored by Assemblyman John McKeon.

EnviroPolitics caught up with McKeon yesterday following the Assembly Environment and Natural Resources Committee and asked for his comments which you'll hear in the video below.





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We are interested in what you think about RGGI. Should New Jersey rejoin? Is it a worthless program? Is it too costly to business? Or would it spur new clean-energy employment? Let us know in the comment section below and consider sharing this post with your friends. 


Recent blog posts: 
Philadelphia's largest law firm about to get larger?
PSEG joins other utilities in natural gas pipeline project 
 

Monday, September 22, 2014

Philadelphia's largest law firm about to get larger?


Morgan Lewis & Bockius
, Philadelphia’s largest law firm, has agreed to merge with Boston-based Bingham McCutchen, the Philadelphia Business Journal reports today.
"The deal, in which Morgan Lewis would certainly be the acquirer, would turn the firm into one of the five-largest in the world, with more than 2,000 lawyers and $2 billion in gross revenue.
"A Morgan Lewis spokesman told the Philadelphia Business Journal Sunday night that the firm would have no comment on the story. But Reuters said the merger appears to be all but a formality."
Morgan Lewis has substantial practices in environmental and energy law.

Friday, September 19, 2014

PSEG joins other utilities in natural gas pipeline project

PennEast proposed route

A subsidiary of PSEG has joined the project to build a 100-mile gas pipeline from Luzerne County, Pa., through Hunterdon County to Mercer County, the Hunterdon County Democrat reports.

"The subsidiary is PSEG Power, LLC. The company shares a corporate parent with PSE&G. Additional pipeline partners include AGL Resources; NJR Pipeline Co., a subsidiary of New Jersey Resources; South Jersey Industries; and UGI Energy Services. PSEG Power LLC, will have a 12 percent interest in PennEast. The other PennEast Pipeline Company members each will have 22 percent interest.

"The 30-inch-diameter PennEast Pipeline will bring natural gas to Transco's Trenton-Woodbury interconnection. It is projected to go into service in 2017. According to PennEast, it will transport up to a billion cubic feet of natural gas per day, enough natural gas to supply about 4.7 million homes.
 
"On Sept. 15 a meeting was held at the Lambertville justice center by the Sierra Club and the Delaware Riverkeeper Network to help foes of the pipeline prepare for battle. The meeting drew hundreds of participants.

"Holland Township will host a meeting about the pipeline at the firehouse on Wednesday, Oct. 1, at 7 p.m.; and Delaware Township’s Township Committee meeting on Monday, Sept. 29, will feature representatives of PennEast. The meeting will start at 7 p.m. at a venue to be announced, with the pipeline discussion loosely scheduled for 8 p.m.
 
 

Pallone fights to be top Democrat on House energy panel

NJ Democratic Congressman Frank Pallone - AP Photo
Five months into a fierce fight for the top Democratic spot on the high-profile House Energy and Commerce Committee, Rep. Frank Pallone is looking to prove he has the support of a broad base of Democrats, Politico reported yesterday.

The committee, in the Republican-controlled House, is chaired by Fred Upton of Michigan. Pallone is seeking to become the panel's ranking Democrat.

"The New Jersey Democrat released a letter Thursday afternoon signed by 50 Democrats — including a dozen freshmen — who are whipping votes for Pallone in his campaign against Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), Politico reported.

"The letter, signed by dozens of prominent Democrats including Reps. John Conyers of Michigan, Peter DeFazio of Oregon and Jan Schakowsky of Illinois, plays heavily on Pallone’s seniority over Eshoo on the Energy and Commerce Committee dais.

"Democratic leadership is split on the issue. Eshoo has the strong backing of Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California, while Minority Whip Steny Hoyer of Maryland supports Pallone, though he didn't sign the letter.

"Pallone is currently the third-most-senior Democrat on the Energy and Commerce Committee, while Eshoo holds the No. 5 spot. The two most senior Democrats on the panel — John Dingell of Michigan and Rep. Henry Waxman of California — are retiring this year.






Thursday, September 11, 2014

Gregory Eisenstark, Michael Connolly at Windels Marx

Windels Marx has announced that Gregory Eisenstark has joined the firm as Partner, resident in the New Brunswick, NJ office. Joining him is Michael J. Connolly as Special Counsel, resident in the Madison, NJ office.

Both lawyers bring with them significant experience in energy and utility matters, including prominent roles at Public Service Enterprise Group (PSEG) and GPU Service, Inc., respectively.

Anthony R. Coscia, who leads the firm's Infrastructure Development and Finance Practice Group, said, "Clients across the Northeast are facing unprecedented challenges as a result of aging infrastructure, vulnerable energy and utility assets from recent catastrophic weather events, an increased regulatory environment, and competition from alternative energy sources. Greg and Michael's experience will be instrumental to our Infrastructure clients as they meet these challenges head on."

The Infrastructure Development and Finance Practice Group represents sponsors, investors, financiers, governments and others -- on both routine and complex projects across many sectors and industries, including energy, as well as aviation and airports, surface transport, maritime, water, waste, and cultural, sports, entertainment and public facilities.

Gregory Eisenstark
Prior to joining Windels Marx, Mr. Eisenstark was Senior Counsel in the energy practice group of Morgan Lewis. Before that, he served as Associate General Regulatory Counsel for Public Service Enterprise Group (PSEG), where he represented PSEG's operating companies in regulatory matters before the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, other state utility commissions, and in state and federal courts.

Earlier in his career, Mr. Eisenstark was Managing Attorney - Electric for the New Jersey Division of Ratepayer Advocate, where he represented utility customers in matters before regulatory agencies and courts. In that position, Mr. Eisenstark played an active role in the transformation of the PJM Interconnection from a power pool to an independent system operator. Before that, Mr. Eisenstark was a Deputy Attorney General of New Jersey, where he represented the Board of Public Utilities and Department of Environmental Protection in utility and solid waste industry matters.

Mr. Eisenstark earned his J.D. from Rutgers University School of Law - Newark and his B.A. in biology from Oberlin College. Mr. Eisenstark is admitted to practice in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and New York, and before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, and the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey. He has spoken on energy and utility issues for the New Jersey Institute of Continuing Legal Education, the New Jersey State Bar Association, and at other industry conferences. He has also been a guest lecturer on utility rate issues at Rutgers University School of Law and Seton Hall University School of Law.

Michael Connolly focuses his practice on state and federal public utility law,
Michael Connolly
energy policy, and energy- and utility-related transactions. In addition, he advises clients on general corporate business and compliance issues, as well as on related transactions.

Prior to Windels Marx, he was Counsel at Morgan Lewis in the Energy Practice Group. In addition to his private practice, he served as Vice President for Law at GPU Service, Inc., (including energy companies such as Jersey Central Power & Light, Metropolitan Edison Company, and Pennsylvania Electric Company before it merged with FirstEnergy Corp.), where he was responsible for the legal and claims departments of the aforementioned companies, and provided guidance regarding their legal needs.

Mr. Connolly earned his J.D. from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law in 1981, where he received the Taintor Memorial Award for Conflicts of Law. He earned an M.Ed. from the University of Pittsburgh School of Education in 1976 and his B.A. from Cathedral College in 1974.

Mr. Connolly is a member of the Edison Electric Institute's Legal Committee, the American Corporate Counsel Association, the New Jersey Bar Association, and the American Bar Association. He is also Vice-Chair and Member, Legal Advisory Committee, of Nuclear Electric Insurance, Ltd., and the Former Editor of the Berks County Law Journal. He is admitted to practice in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

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