Thursday, June 21, 2018

NY Offshore Wind - Fisheries Stakeholder Meetings

Notice from the NY Department
of Environmental Conservation

Comment Period Meetings for New York Bight Call Areas

On May 22, 2018, the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) extended the public comment period for offshore wind energy development within the New York Bight region to July 30, 2018. BOEM is requesting comments on potential lease areas for offshore wind energy development identified on the map below as “BOEM NY Bight Call Areas.”

In collaboration with the State of New York (Department of Environmental Conservation and New York State Energy Research and Development Authority), BOEM is convening two public comment sessions to help ensure that BOEM is aware of the questions or concerns of New York’s fishing community and other stakeholders. BOEM will present information regarding the NY Bight Call for Information and Area Identification process and characterization of NY Bight fisheries.

These sessions will occur:
July 11, 2018
4 p.m. – 8 p.m.
Montauk Community Playhouse, ADC Room
240 Edgemere Street, Montauk, New York, 11954

July 12, 2018
4 p.m. – 8 p.m.
Shinnecock Commercial Fishing Dock Office
333 Beach Road (aka Dune Road), Hampton Bays, NY 11946
*Located at the Shinnecock Commercial Fishing Dock on the Hampton Bays side of the Shinnecock Inlet
BOEM NY Bight Call AreasIf you are unable to attend a meeting, or if you prefer to submit written comments to BOEM electronically, comments may be submitted by July 30, 2018. To submit comments online or get information on how to mail in comments, please visit, and in the search bar, enter ‘BOEM-2018-0004.’

The accompanied map indicates “NYS Areas for Consideration” for offshore wind energy leasing identified by the State of New York through the development of the New York State Offshore Wind Master Plan.
For more information about the BOEM process and submitting comments visit, BOEM’s New York Activities website.

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Monday, June 18, 2018

NJ Senate enviro & energy bill's for June 21

The following bills are scheduled for votes in the New Jersey Senate on Thursday, June 21.

S1073 - Authorizes municipalities, counties, and certain authorities to establish stormwater utilities.

S1074 - Provides for protection of public's rights under public trust doctrine.

S2129 - Authorizes electric and gas public utility assistance grants funded from societal benefits charge revenue for qualified households.

S2167 - Dedicates $500,000 annually in revenues from vessel registration and renewal fees to NJ Greenwood Lake Fund.

S2307 - Creates Garden State Growth Zone at Atlantic City International Airport and surrounding area.

S2645 - Makes various changes to New Jersey Infrastructure Bank's enabling act.

S2646 - Appropriates funds to DEP for environmental infrastructure projects for FY2019.

S2647 - Authorizes NJ Infrastructure Bank to expend certain sums to make loans for environmental infrastructure projects for FY2019.

S2662 - Limits liability for persons who deliver heating oil to unregulated tanks for discharges from that tank under certain circumstances.

S2728 - Appropriates $15,294,000 from constitutionally dedicated CBT revenues to DEP for State acquisition of lands for recreation and conservation purposes, including Blue Acres projects.

S2729 - Appropriates $9.703 million from constitutionally dedicated CBT revenues for recreation and conservation purposes to DEP for State capital and park development projects.

SCR122 - Approves FY 2019 Financial Plan of NJ Infrastructure Bank.

S879 - Amends definition of "existing major hazardous waste facility" in "Major Hazardous Waste Facilities Siting Act."

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Did you take the bribe? I sure did, admits Jersey pol

NEWARK -- Bloomfield First Ward Councilman Elias Chalet pleaded guilty Tuesday to a second-degree bribery charge, admitting he solicited and accepted $15,000 from a resident trying to sell his property to the township.

Former Bloomfield, NJ
First Ward Councilman Elias Chalet. (File photo)

Asked by defense attorney Peter W. Till whether he accepted the payments, Chalet, standing before the court in a dark suit, responded: "I sure did."
Chalet, a Democrat, was arrested in November 2015 by investigators with the state Attorney General's Office, which later obtained an indictment against him on charges of official misconduct, bribery, evidence tampering and hindering apprehension.
Chalet, who previously faced a recall attempt, was ordered to give up his council post and faces a lifetime ban on public employment. Speaking to reporters outside court, Till said Chalet's forfeiture of the council seat was in effect as of the plea.

Heavy agendas as NJ lawmakers hear the beaches calling

By Frank Brill
EnviroPolitics Editor

With the summer break looming at the end of the month, New Jersey Senate and Assembly committees have scheduled meetings for tomorrow, June 14, and Monday, June 18, to act on the following environment, energy and agriculture bills: 

Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources
Thursday, June 14, 2018 - 1:00 PM
Committee Room 15, 4th Floor, State House Annex

A3810 (Andrzejczak / Houghtaling / Dancer) - Establishes "Value-Added Dairy Farming Program" and associated revolving loan fund in EDA.

A4136 (Andrzejczak / Land) - Permits commercial fishing vessels to possess more than daily trip limit of black sea bass and summer flounder, under certain conditions. (pending intro and referral)

A4157 (Andrzejczak) - Revises standard for warrantless seizure of animal at risk due to violation of law concerning necessary care and tethering of animals. (pending intro and referral)

AJR113 (Dancer / Andrzejczak / Houghtaling) - Designates last full week of June of each year as New Jersey "Dairy Week."

AR156 (Taliaferro / Dancer / Houghtaling) - Urges increased exportation of NJ dairy products to other nations.


Assembly Environment and Solid Waste
Thursday, June 14, 2018 - 2:00 PM
Committee Room 12, 4th Floor, State House Annex

A2697 (McKeon) - Requires public water systems to compile, and submit to DEP, lead service line

A3373 (Conaway / Pinkin) - Requires DEP to adopt Statewide plan to reduce lead exposure from contaminated soils and drinking water.

A4121 (Pinkin / Pintor Marin / DeAngelo) - Requires DOE and DCF to establish online reporting systems for schools and child care centers to report lead testing results.

A4169 (Pintor Marin / Mukherji / Lampitt) - Authorizes NJ Infrastructure Bank to expend certain sums to make loans for environmental infrastructure projects for FY2019. (pending intro and referral)

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A4170 (Taliaferro / Carter / Caputo) - Appropriates funds to DEP for environmental infrastructure projects for FY2019. (pending intro and referral)

A4173 (Pinkin / McKeon / Reynolds-Jackson) - Makes various changes to New Jersey Infrastructure Bank's enabling act. (pending intro and referral)

ACR178 (Murphy) - Approves FY 2019 Financial Plan of NJ Infrastructure Bank. (pending intro and referral)

AJR137 (Pinkin) - Designates month of July of each year as "Smart Irrigation Month." (pending intro and referral)


A4122 (Pintor Marin / Mukherji) - Concerns disclosure by homeowner of lead plumbing prior to home sale.

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MONDAY, JUNE 18, 2018

 Senate Environment and Energy Committee
Monday, June 18, 2018 at 10:00 AM
Committee Room 10, 3rd Floor, State House Annex

S607 (Smith / Greenstein) - Exempts solar energy systems from building fees.

S1821 (Singleton) - Establishes procedure for removal of certain abandoned flood control structures causing property erosion.

S2292 (Smith) - Requires environmental sustainability plan for State House Complex.

S2552 (Bateman / Smith) - Provides corporation business tax and gross income tax credits to farmers who develop qualified native pollinator habitat on farms.

S2689 (Cryan) - Revises effective dates of various provisions of P.L.2017, c.331 concerning animal cruelty law enforcement.

S2716 (Smith / Greenstein) - Establishes uniform alternative assessment for commercial renewable energy systems and limits municipal construction permit fees for non-commercial renewable energy systems.

S2728 (Codey) - Appropriates $15,294,000 from constitutionally dedicated CBT revenues to DEP for State acquisition of lands for recreation and conservation purposes, including Blue Acres projects. (pending intro and referral)

S2729 (Greenstein) - Appropriates $9.702 million from constitutionally dedicated CBT revenues for recreation and conservation purposes to DEP for State capital and park development projects. (pending intro and referral)

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A change of name, not mission, for NJ's clean-water 'bank'

Under its new name, the New Jersey Infrastructure Bank will still loan money to stem pollution from sewage treatment, upgrade drinking-water systems

water pollution
Tom Johnson reports
for NJ Spotlight:

It is operating under a new name, but its mission remains the same — helping fund scores of clean-water projects aimed at curbing pollution from sewage-treatment plants and upgrading drinking-water systems across the state.
In the next few weeks, the Legislature is expected to approve a four-bill package that would appropriate state and federal dollars to more than 100 facilities from what was formerly called the Environmental Infrastructure Trust but is now the New Jersey Infrastructure Bank.
This year, the bank is projected to fund $810 million undertaken by local governments and others for an assortment of environmental projects intended to improve water quality and drinking water.
For more than three decades, the entity has provided low-interest loans to municipalities to help finance expensive improvements to wastewater treatment plants, drinking-water supplies, and stormwater systems. Since its inception in 1985, it has provided more than $7 billion in loans to local governments, according to Frank Scangarella, assistant director of the bank.
In fiscal year 2018, the projects run the gamut from improvements to sewage treatment plants, projects to control stormwater runoff, and replacement of lead lines in some municipalities.

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Tuesday, June 12, 2018

PUC urged to shut down entire gas line project in Pa

Mariner east 2 pipeline being installed in 2017in Wasington County, PA Clem Murray Inquirer photographer

Jon Hurdle reports for StateImpact:

Opponents of the Mariner East pipelines urged Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf and the Public Utility Commission on Saturday to permanently shut down the troubled project, extending a current halt in one Chester County township to the entire 350-mile line. 

About 150 people rallied outside Chester County Courthouse in West Chester five days before the PUC is expected to decide whether to uphold a judge’s ruling to suspend construction of the Mariner East 2 and 2X lines in West Whiteland Township, as well as to halt operation of the existing Mariner East 1 pipeline in the same location. 

The protest seized on the May 24 ruling by Administrative Law Judge Elizabeth Barnes to urge the authorities to shutter Sunoco’s multibillion-dollar project, which critics say threatens public safety, environmental quality and property rights. 

And they said a water contractor’s strike on the buried Mariner East 2 line near an elementary school in Delaware County last month is the latest evidence that Sunoco is building the pipeline with little regard for regulation or safety.  

Authorities confirmed last week that an excavator scraped the line some three feet above the depth that Sunoco had told the contractor, according to PA OneCall, a nonprofit that informs contractors about existing underground infrastructure. 

“They have now been confronted with a new crisis,” said state Sen. Andy Dinniman, a Chester County Democrat who is an outspoken opponent of the project. “If Sunoco told them nine feet and they hit a pipe, that means the whole OneCall system is potentially compromised, which is an inherent danger to everyone including the workers of these other companies.” 

Dinniman said the pipeline strike makes it more likely that the PUC, which is responsible for pipeline safety in Pennsylvania, will uphold at least some of Judge Barnes’s order granting his emergency petition for construction to be halted until officials confirm the line’s safety in the township. 

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Pa. top court disallows gas drilling in residential zone

P.J. D'Annunzio reports in  the Legal Intelligencer:
The states Supreme Court has overturned a ruling allowing the construction of “unconventional” natural gas wells in an area zoned for residential and agricultural use in Lycoming County.
In the court’s majority opinion, Justice Christine Donahue wrote that the record did not reflect sufficient evidence to allow for conditional use of the wells in the zone. Justice Kevin Dougherty dissented, arguing that the opposite was true.
Inflection Energy petitioned the Fairfield Township Board of Supervisors to drill on the property in question, which the township allowed. The case was appealed by the landowners and a Lycoming County judge ruled in their favor. However, the Commonwealth Court later reviewed the case and held the township’s zoning ordinance permits drilling in R-A zones.
The dispute centered on whether Inflection satisfied a section of the ordinance that stated conditional use may be granted if it could show the requested purpose is “similar to and compatible with the other uses permitted in the zone where the subject property is located.”
“In its application, Inflection did not identify any use allowed in the R-A district that it considered to be ‘similar to’ the drilling and operation of industrial shale gas wells,” Donahue said.
Deeper into the opinion, she added, “In reversing the trial court’s decision, the Commonwealth Court, without explanation or citation, insisted that the record contained ‘detailed findings of fact.’ As noted, however, the board’s decision contained no findings of fact whatsoever with respect to similarity of use. The Commonwealth Court further maintained that the trial court … improperly acted as the fact-finder and substituted its credibility determinations for those of the board. We must again respectfully disagree.”
Donahue reasoned, “Inflection’s proposed gas wells use provides no public or essential services to the residents of the R-A district, and provides no infrastructure that supports and promotes residential and agricultural development in Fairfield Township. Inflection’s proposed use is intended solely for Inflection’s own commercial benefit, and not in any respect for the benefit of furthering the expressed goals of Fairfield Township’s R-A district.”

Monday, June 11, 2018

UPDATE: Environmental & energy bills released today

UPDATE: Every bill listed below was released except S-1683. It was held for additional discussion at a future meeting.
The New Jersey Senate's Environment and Energy Committee meets at 10 a.m. today in Room 10 on the third floor of the State House Annex. Committeemembers will consider the following bills:

A1033Palisades Interst. Park-open space elig.

ACR144Clean Air Act-concerns

S542High Point St. Park-desig. Vet. St. Park

S1683Solid & haz. waste-concerns regulation

S1760Palisades Interst. Park-open space elig.

S2253Natural gas veh.-bus., income tax cred.

S2255Veh. charging stations-prov bus tax cred

S2645Infra. Bank enabling act-makes changes
S2646Env. infra. proj., FY2019-approp. fds.

S2647Env. infra. proj.-expend cert. sums

SCR121Clean Air Act-concerns

SCR122Infra. Bank-approves FY 2019

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Saturday, June 9, 2018

Judge to Pruitt: Show the evidence for your climate denial

Pruitt's used mattressEPA Administrator Scott Pruitt receiving a special delivery from Greenpeace

From the DAILY KOS:

Remember last March, when Pruitt’s scandal du jour wasn’t about trying to get himself a used mattress or his wife a fast food gig or wasting money on fancy pens or any of the other 10 scandals this month? Remember when all we were concerned about was how he said climate change wasn’t caused by human activity?
As it turns out, a federal judge hasn’t let herself be distracted by the increasingly outrageous revelations against Pruitt from that original concern. On Friday, US District Court judge Beryl Howell ordered the EPA to produce the evidence upon which Pruitt based his comments.
This could be a tall order, because, of course, there is no good evidence to suggest humans aren’t driving climate change. At least none solid enough to hold up in court.
But tobacco lobbyist-turned-fossil-fuel-defender-turned-shadow-EPA-admin Steve Milloy isn’t worried. He suggested on Twitter that Heartland’s climate report is all the proof Pruitt needs for the judge.
Unfortunately for Milloy, a quick Google on that report brings up all sorts of reasons why it’s not going to pass any sort of courtroom scrutiny. Despite being named after the IPCC, Heartlands Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC) report clearly lacks the credibility of its namesake. And it doesn’t take a law degree and years on the judicial bench to smell the BS: the school teachers who received the report in a mass spamming last year quickly saw through the sham.
As well they should. Heartland has issued NIPCC reports for years now and the content of each report relies on already-debunked denier talking points. For example, RealClimate debunked the 2008 report by pointing to pre-existing rebuttals. The 2009 and 2011 reports were overrun with cherrypicks, the 2013 report was zombie science, 2014’s was a joke, and 2016 took a fruitless run at the consensus.
And let’s not forget that deniers have already tried, and failed, to prove their denial in court. Perhaps, then, the courtroom will house the Red Team attack on climate science Pruitt has long tried to get going. But instead of being used to attack regulations, Pruitt will be playing defense.
Looks like Pruitt might get a chance to go to the (used) mattresses after all.
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Guess who might provide a big boost to U.S. solar industry

Analysts expect solar panel costs to drop by a third. That could be a lifeline for U.S. developers, who sidelined billions of dollars in projects over the tariffs.

China announced it was scaling back some of its solar subsidies. Analysts expect the policies to reduce the amount of solar installed in China, but increase its solar panel sales globally, lowering prices. Credit: Kevin Frayer/Getty Images

Nicholas Kusnetz reports for Inside Climate News:
The American solar market may be about to get boost from an unexpected source: Energy analysts say the Chinese government's decision to dramatically cut its solar power subsidies will create a glut of solar panels and send their prices tumbling worldwide.

It comes at a crucial time for American solar installers. Falling prices could take the sting out of President Trump's solar panel tariffs, which have raised costs in the United States and led to billions of dollars in cancelled and frozen U.S. investments.

"It's changing the tone from negative to positive for the U.S.," said Xiaoting Wang, an analyst with Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF).
Last week, the Chinese government announced it would halt approvals of new subsidized utility-scale solar plants, limit the amount of smaller-scale distributed generation installed and shrink the subsidies it provides to solar generators. All told, these policies are expected to cut the amount of solar capacity installed this year in China by 30 to 40 percent, according to Wood Mackenzie and BNEF.
Because China leads the world in new solar installations, the steep drop in demand will ripple across the global market.
BNEF expects prices of some panels to fall 34 percent as result. That will bring down installation costs for new solar projects, particularly large, utility-scale systems, and spur new investment in other countries, though BNEF said that new investment is unlikely to make up for the drop in China.

Lower Prices Could Counteract the Tariffs

Morgan Lyons, a spokesman for the Solar Energy Industries Association, said it's too soon to know what the effects on the U.S. market will be, but that it will likely lead to lower costs.
The drop could also counteract the impact of new tariffs the Trump administration imposed on imported solar panels. The tariffs, which started this year at 30 percent and will decline over the next three years, gave a boost to domestic manufacturers of solar panels, who faced competition from cheap imports from China and other countries. One of those manufacturers, First Solar Inc., saw its stock price fall sharply after China's announcement because it's now expected to face lower-cost competition once again.
But the tariffs have the opposite effect on the solar installation sector, which employs far more people than manufacturing.
U.S. solar developers have canceled or frozen more than $2.5 billion in investments, Reuters reported Thursday. A report by GTM Research said the tariffs would cut solar installations by 11 percent over five years, or about 7.6 gigawatts less new capacity than previously forecast.

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