Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Agriculture and environment bills up for votes in Trenton


Legislative information supplied by BillTrak


The New Jersey Senate has already held its final voting session prior to the Legislature's annual, month-long budget break.


The Assembly will meet for its final, pre-break voting session on Thursday, March 23.  

At that session, the following agriculture and environment bills are scheduled to be considered:


A-2081  Mukherji, R. (D-33); Pintor Marin, E. (D-29); Muoio, E.M. (D-15); Holley, J.C. (D-20); Chiaravalloti, N. (D-31)
Provides for priority consideration, by DCA, DEP, DOT, and municipalities, of permit applications for green building projects.
     
A-2463  Eustace, T. (D-38); Vainieri Huttle, V. (D-37); Caride, M. (D-36); Muoio, E.M. (D-15); Lagana, J.A. (D-38); Lampitt, P.R. (D-6); Mukherji, R. (D-33)
Requires owner or operator of certain trains to have discharge response, cleanup, and contingency plans to transport certain hazardous materials by rail; requires NJ DOT to request bridge inspection reports from US DOT.
Related Bill: S-806
     
A-4580  Taliaferro, A.J. (D-3); Burzichelli, J.J. (D-3); Quijano, A. (D-20)
Appropriates $2,900,000 from "2009 Farmland Preservation Fund" for grants to certain nonprofit organizations for farmland preservation purposes.
Related Bill: S-2989
      
A-4581  Houghtaling, E. (D-11); Andrzejczak, B. (D-1); Singleton, T. (D-7); Downey, J. (D-11)
Appropriates $22,385,743 to State Agriculture Development Committee for farmland preservation purposes.
Related Bill: S-2987
   
A-4582  Andrzejczak, B. (D-1); Mazzeo, V. (D-2); Taliaferro, A.J. (D-3); Zwicker, A. (D-16)
Appropriates $32.5 million from constitutionally dedicated CBT revenues to State Agriculture Development Committee for county planning incentive grants.
Related Bill: S-2990
     
A-4583  Zwicker, A. (D-16); Conaway, H. (D-7); Land, R.B. (D-1); Downey, J. (D-11)
Appropriates $2,988,859 from 2009 Historic Preservation Fund and constitutionally dedicated CBT revenues to provide capital preservation grants for certain historic preservation projects.  Related Bill: S-2991
    
A-4584  Zwicker, A. (D-16); Taliaferro, A.J. (D-3); Burzichelli, J.J. (D-3)
Appropriates $7,500,000 from constitutionally dedicated CBT revenues for planning incentive grants to municipalities for farmland preservation purposes.
Related Bill: S-2988
     Mar 23, 2017  – Posted: Assembly

S-806  Weinberg, L. (D-37); Gordon, R.M. (D-38)
Requires owner or operator of certain trains to have discharge response, cleanup, and contingency plans to transport certain hazardous materials by rail; requires NJ DOT to request bridge inspection reports from US DOT.
Related Bill: A-2463
     
S-2997  Smith, B. (D-17); Bateman, C. (R-16)
Appropriates $59,532,000 from constitutionally dedicated CBT revenues for State acquisition of lands for recreation and conservation purposes, including Blue Acres projects, and capital and park development projects.
Related Bill: A-4597
    
Legislative information supplied by BillTrak

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How Trump's big EPA cuts could hurt NJ environment



Lawmakers say New Jersey will lose out if President Trump's proposed budget gets approved because cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency will mean the end of state programs that clean up Superfund sites and ensure clean and healthy water and air. Erin Delmore reports for NJTV News




Report lauds $3.7B potential of Marcellus liquids in Pa.

Workers install the Mariner East 2 pipeline in Washington County, PA, this year. A state report released Tuesday says that Marcellus gas liquids could spur up to $3.7 billion in investment in Pennsylvania.
CLEM MURRAY / Staff Photographer

Andrew Maykuth reports for The Philadelphia Inquirer:

Production of Marcellus Shale gas liquids such as ethane and propane could fuel up to $3.7 billion in investments as well as attracting additional petrochemical and plastics manufacturing to Pennsylvania, according to a report released Tuesday by Gov. Wolf and the Team Pennsylvania Foundation.

“Pennsylvania has a once-in-a-generation opportunity to develop and implement a strategy that will cultivate a manufacturing renaissance and transform our economy across the commonwealth,” Wolf said in a statement.
 
The study, "Prospects to Enhance Pennsylvania’s Opportunities in Petrochemical Manufacturing," was done by energy consultant IHS Markit.

Natural gas liquids are currently being transported across Pennsylvania to Marcus Hook in Sunoco Logistics Partners' Mariner East pipeline, and also used as the raw material in a Shell Chemical ethane cracker under construction in Beaver County.

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Tuesday, March 21, 2017

NJ lawmakers take yet another shot at RGGI participation

Tom Johnson writes for NJ Spotlight

Regional effort to curb greenhouse-gas emissions could be critical, some lawmakers say, if Trump rolls back initiative to reduce power plant pollution

power plant
With a new administration in Washington pulling back on climate-change initiatives, New Jersey lawmakers are reviving an effort to rejoin a multi-state initiative to curb greenhouse-gas emissions.
The Senate Environment and Energy Committee yesterday approved a bill that would have New Jersey rejoin a regional program to reduce carbon pollution from power plants, a venture Gov. Chris Christie pulled out of early in his first term.
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Not even its proponents believe the governor will sign the bill if passed, but they argue it is important to make clear the state’s intentions once a new executive takes office.
“The timing couldn’t be more important,’’ Doug O’Malley, director of Environment New Jersey told the committee, citing reports that the Trump administration could dismantle a plan to reduce power plant emissions adopted by former President Barack Obama as early as this week.
Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club, agreed, saying the best way to implement that effort, dubbed the Clean Power Plan, is by joining the multistate effort known as the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. “It’s important to send a message,’’ he said.
The program has become a political football in New Jersey since Christie pulled the state out of it, calling the initiative a tax on utility customers and ineffective in its goals.
Sen. Bob Smith (D-Middlesex), the sponsor and chairman of the committee, disagreed, citing reports from a consultant that claimed it's boosted economic activity in the region, lowered customers’ bills, and returned more than $113 million to New Jersey.
“It’s a great program. I think we should never have left it,’’ said Smith, a course his latest bill would prevent. “If we are in, we’re in; we can’t pull out afterwards.’’
After Christie pulled out, the Legislature tried to get New Jersey back in, but the executive branch ignored those efforts. The matter also was litigated in the courts, with the Christie administration losing on procedural grounds, which it later corrected by adopting a formal withdrawal through a rule-making process.
The move to rejoin the regional initiative was opposed by business lobbyists yesterday, who said the state is doing a fine job reducing emissions contributing to climate change.
“We have the lowest emissions in PJM (the regional power grid stretching from the Eastern Seaboard to Illinois) from our power plants,’’ said Sara Bluhm, a lobbyist for the New Jersey Business & Industry Association. She expressed concerns that rejoining the multi-state program would increase electricity bills.
The power sector is the second-largest source of greenhouse gas emissions, behind the transportation sector, in New Jersey. The state gets nearly half of its electricity from nuclear power, which does not produce pollution contributing to global warming.
Nonetheless, a plan put together by the state Department of Environmental Protection to achieve an 80 percent reduction in carbon pollution by 2050 identified RGGI as one of the three main components to realize that goal. The others include a program to encourage low- and zero-emission vehicle adoption in New Jersey, and steps outlined in the state’s Energy Master Plan.
The vehicle-emission program, which has been adopted in California and nine other Northeast states, is reportedly also targeted for elimination by the new administration in Washington.
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Monday, March 20, 2017

Trump building wall but maybe not the Hudson rail tunnel

The first element of Gateway, a mission-critical bridge, may not get the needed — and expected — federal funding, possibly derailing entire initiative

gateway amtrak
Credit: Amtrak/Chuck Gomez
Amtrak train exiting the north tube of the outmoded Hudson River Tunnel from New York into New Jersey.
John Reitmeyer reports for
NJ Spotlight:


Work on a key bridge that’s part of the ambitious Gateway plan to build two new rail tunnels under the Hudson River is supposed to begin this year. But whether that will happen seems up in the air, as the initial preview of President Donald Trump’s first budget has put the project’s substantial federal funding in question.
Only a few sentences related to transportation spending are in a budget summary released by the White House last week, but they indicate the Trump administration plans to freeze new federal-grant agreements for infrastructure projects like Gateway that aren’t yet fully funded.
The budget proposal marks an apparent reversal by the Republican president on the issue of infrastructure after he repeatedly stressed the need to rebuild the nation’s “roads, bridges, railways, tunnels, sea ports, and airports” while on the presidential campaign trail in 2016. The project had been earmarked as the most important in the country by the Obama administration, since it not only impacts New York and New Jersey but the economy of the entire East Coast.
In response to a possible freeze, warnings are already being sent by federal lawmakers, transportation advocates, and even Gov. Chris Christie — who canceled New Jersey’s last major trans-Hudson tunnel project in 2010 — that there will be a major effort launched to save the funding for Gateway and keep its construction on track.

Read the full story here

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EnviroPolitics Podcast: The Week in review - Mar 13-19


Our podcast is back with a New Episode (#14) in which we review some of the interesting political and environment stories featured in the past week in our daily subscription newsletter, EnviroPolitics or its free companion--EnviroPolitics Blog.


Listen to the episode here  

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and other popular podcast services.

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See and hear all 14 episodes 

Questions? Email: frankbrilljr@gmail.com or 609-577-9017



 

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Lots of green legislation activity Monday in Trenton


Environmental and appropriations committees in the New Jersey Senate and Assembly are scheduled to handle 22 bills on Monday, March 20, dealing with clean energy, land conservation and other issues, while railroad plans to handle discharges from trains and agency priority reviews for green building projects are the topics of three floor votes in the Assembly.


Here's the lineup: 


SENATE ENVIRONMENT AND ENERGY
3/20/17 10:00 AM
Aide: (609) 847-3855
Committee Room 10, 3rd Floor, State House Annex
*Revised 3/16/17 - S-2400 has been added for consideration.

S-772  Smith, B. (D-17)
Requires electric public utilities to enter into long-term contracts for certain forms of Class I renewable energy.
    
S-2400  Cruz-Perez, N. (D-5); Allen, D.B. (R-7)
Authorizes use of tracking dog to search for and recover wild deer during prescribed hunting season.
Related Bill: A-1616
      
S-3029  Smith, B. (D-17); Bateman, C. (R-16)
Establishes "Volkswagen Settlement Utilization Fund for Motor Vehicle Emissions Reduction and Air Pollution Control"; directs DEP to use moneys in fund to establish and implement certain air pollution control programs.
      
S-3059  Sweeney, S.M. (D-3); Smith, B. (D-17)
Requires State's full participation in Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.
      
S-3060  Smith, B. (D-17); Bateman, C. (R-16)
Requires municipalities, public utilities, and State to use LED technology in certain street lights.
     
S-3061  Bateman, C. (R-16); Smith, B. (D-17)
Requires BPU to conduct study concerning zero emission credits.
      
S-3062  Smith, B. (D-17); Bateman, C. (R-16)
Allows 50 percent credit against societal benefits charge to electric or gas public utility customers who install and maintain publicly available zero emission vehicle charging stations.
    
S-3063  Greenstein, L.R. (D-14); Bateman, C. (R-16)
Allows 50 percent credit against societal benefits charge to local governments that utilize traffic signals that use light emitting diode technology.
     
S-3064  Smith, B. (D-17); Thompson, S.D. (R-12)
Requires BPU to conduct energy storage analysis.
      
S-3065  Smith, B. (D-17); Bateman, C. (R-16)
Provides gross income tax credit for costs to purchase and install smart thermostats.
     
S-3066  Sarlo, P.A. (D-36); Bateman, C. (R-16)
Requires installation of smart thermostats in all new residential construction.
     
SR-96  Smith, B. (D-17); Bateman, C. (R-16)
Urges Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to impose cost caps on electric transmission projects.
     
SR-110  Smith, B. (D-17); Greenstein, L.R. (D-14)
Urges BPU to adopt goal to equip 500,000 homes with energy-saving smart thermostats by 2023.

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ASSEMBLY APPROPRIATIONS
3/20/17 10:00 AM
Aide: (609) 847-3835
Committee Room 11, 4th Floor, State House Annex
Time changed to 10 a.m.

A-4580  Taliaferro, A.J. (D-3); Burzichelli, J.J. (D-3); Quijano, A. (D-20)
Appropriates $2,900,000 from "2009 Farmland Preservation Fund" for grants to certain nonprofit organizations for farmland preservation purposes.
Related Bill: S-2989
      
A-4581  Houghtaling, E. (D-11); Andrzejczak, B. (D-1); Singleton, T. (D-7); Downey, J. (D-11)
Appropriates $22,385,743 to State Agriculture Development Committee for farmland preservation purposes.
Related Bill: S-2987
      
A-4582  Andrzejczak, B. (D-1); Mazzeo, V. (D-2); Taliaferro, A.J. (D-3); Zwicker, A. (D-16)
Appropriates $32.5 million from constitutionally dedicated CBT revenues to State Agriculture Development Committee for county planning incentive grants.
Related Bill: S-2990
      
A-4583  Zwicker, A. (D-16); Conaway, H. (D-7); Land, R.B. (D-1); Downey, J. (D-11)
Appropriates $2,988,859 from 2009 Historic Preservation Fund and constitutionally dedicated CBT revenues to provide capital preservation grants for certain historic preservation projects.  Related Bill: S-2991
     
A-4584  Zwicker, A. (D-16); Taliaferro, A.J. (D-3); Burzichelli, J.J. (D-3)
Appropriates $7,500,000 from constitutionally dedicated CBT revenues for planning incentive grants to municipalities for farmland preservation purposes.
Related Bill: S-2988
     
A-4597  Zwicker, A. (D-16); Singleton, T. (D-7);
Muoio, E.M. (D-15)
Appropriates $59,532,000 from constitutionally dedicated CBT revenues for State acquisition of lands for recreation and conservation purposes, including Blue Acres projects, and capital and park development projects.
Related Bill: S-2997

S-2997  Smith, B. (D-17); Bateman, C. (R-16)
Appropriates $59,532,000 from constitutionally dedicated CBT revenues for State acquisition of lands for recreation and conservation purposes, including Blue Acres projects, and capital and park development projects.
Related Bill: A-4597

______________________________________________________________________


ASSEMBLY ENVIRONMENT AND SOLID WASTE
03/20/17  2:00 PM
Aide: (609) 847-3855
Committee Room 9, 3rd Floor, State House Annex

A-4092  Eustace, T. (D-38)
Provides for protection of public's rights under public trust doctrine.
Related Bill: S-2490
      
A-4569  Eustace, T. (D-38); Diegnan, P.J. (D-18); McKeon, J.F. (D-27); Vainieri Huttle, V. (D-37); Benson, D.R. (D-14)
The "Water Quality Accountability Act"; imposes certain testing, reporting, management, and infrastructure investment requirements on water purveyors.
Related Bill: S-2834
     
____________________________________________

ASSEMBLY VOTING SESSION
3/23/17  1:00 PM
Assembly Chambers
Voting Session:


A-2081  Mukherji, R. (D-33); Pintor Marin, E. (D-29); Muoio, E.M. (D-15); Holley, J.C. (D-20)
Provides for priority consideration, by DCA, DEP, DOT, and municipalities, of permit applications for green building projects.
      
A-2463  Eustace, T. (D-38); Vainieri Huttle, V. (D-37); Caride, M. (D-36); Muoio, E.M. (D-15); Lagana, J.A. (D-38); Lampitt, P.R. (D-6); Mukherji, R. (D-33)
Requires owner or operator of certain trains to have discharge response, cleanup, and contingency plans to transport certain hazardous materials by rail; requires NJ DOT to request bridge inspection reports from US DOT.
Related Bill: S-806
      
S-806  Weinberg, L. (D-37); Gordon, R.M. (D-38)
Requires owner or operator of certain trains to have discharge response, cleanup, and contingency plans to transport certain hazardous materials by rail; requires NJ DOT to request bridge inspection reports from US DOT.
Related Bill: A-2463
     
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Saturday, March 18, 2017

San Diego brewery makes beer from treated sewage water


David Moye writes for The Huffington Post:

San Diego’s Stone Brewing, the nation’s ninth-largest brewery,
has unveiled a beer made with treated sewage water.
The recycled-water pale ale is called Full Circle.

Stone made five barrels of the beer using water treated at the city’s
Pure Water
 demonstration plant, according to the Times of San Diego.
San Diego officials hope to purify enough recycled water by 2035
to handle one-third of the city’s drinking water supply.
Stone’s chief operating officer, Pat Tiernan, said the purified
recycled water is actually better than what the brewery uses
now.
“This particular water will just help us not require so much
natural water
 to come in and give us a more reliable source,”
Tiernan told San Diego 6. “So for us to be able to reuse, that’s
part of our mantra, that’s part of what we do,” Tiernan said
Read the full story

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Is this lead-poisoned Indiana city the next Flint?

 writes for Mother Jones:

In East Chicago, Indiana, where 90 percent of this population of 29,000 are people of color and one-third live below the poverty line, a lead crisis is unfolding and residents are concerned that the Environmental Protection Agency under Scott Pruitt is unlikely to respond.
For decades, industrial plants polluted the air and soil with lead and arsenic in East Chicago neighborhoods that included a public housing complex and an elementary school. In 2014, the EPA declared the lead plant in the area a Superfund site and began the cleanup, but a Reuters investigation in 2016 found that children living near the Superfund site still had elevated levels of lead in their blood. The EPA subsequently tested the water and found that not only did the homes in the vicinity have elevated levels of lead in their drinking water, but so did the entire city—much as Flint did during its 2014 water crisis. The EPA estimated that up to 90 percent of East Chicago homes received water through lead service lines.
In December 2016, before the EPA's findings were made public, Mayor Anthony Copeland sent a letter to then-Gov. Mike Pence, the vice president-elect, asking him to declare a state of emergency in the city so communities could acquire financial assistance for residents being forced to relocate because of the lead contamination at the Superfund site. Pence denied the request, but it was subsequently approved by his successor, Eric Holcomb.
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This month, a coalition of East Chicago residents sent a petition to the EPA renewing their request for help and asking for water filters, expanded blood level testing for children, and assurance that those affected had access to Medicaid. The petition charges that neither the city nor the state provided an adequate response to the discovery of lead in the drinking water and that the EPA has the authority to act, just as it did in Flint.
But the EPA that the community petitioned has radically changed. The appointment of Administrator Scott Pruitt, who often "disagrees" with scientific fact and was determined to gut the agency, set the stage for cutting programs that deter pollution and rolling back regulations that keep air and drinking water safe. Leaked versions of the EPA budget showed plans to slash funds for lead pollution cleanup efforts and environmental justice programs, both of which could assist the residents of East Chicago. The head of the EPA's justice office resigned after more than two decades of service, saying the proposed cuts are a signal "that communities with environmental justice concerns may not get the attention they deserve."

NJ Spill Act decision: Sentence First – Verdict Afterwards?

















Gibbons law firm attorney Paul M. Hauge writes: 



The New Jersey Spill Compensation and Control Act (Spill Act) has long included a contribution provision that permits private parties to recover cleanup costs incurred to the extent that they exceed their equitable share of those costs. In its recent opinion in Matejek v. Howard, the New Jersey Appellate Division interpreted the statute to give private parties another powerful remedy: the ability to compel other private parties who may be responsible for the contamination to participate in the investigation of the contamination, even before any findings about their respective responsibility.
The case arose in Hillsborough, where the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) removed underground tanks from five units in a condominium project after oil was discovered in a nearby stream. After confirming the absence of oil in the stream a few months later, DEP took no further steps. Seven years later, with DEP’s file on the matter still open, the owners of one of the units sued the owners of the other four units, seeking to compel them to participate in and equally share in an investigation and, if necessary, cleanup of their property.

Even though there was no evidence about the precise source(s) of the contamination, the trial court found the fact that DEP had removed all five tanks to be sufficient grounds to order all of the other owners to participate in the investigation. The plaintiffs were ordered to retain a licensed Site Remediation Professional (LSRP), as required by the 2009 Site Remediation Reform Act (SRRA). The LSRP would render a report as to whether remediation was required; if so, the parties would share equally in the costs. The owners of one of the other units challenged the order, pointing to the lack of evidence that their tank had caused any contamination, and arguing that the Spill Act did not permit the relief that the trial court had granted.
The Appellate Division affirmed, noting that even though the plaintiffs’ claim was likely not what the Legislature had in mind when it enacted the Spill Act’s contribution provision, the SRRA fundamentally altered the way remediation (investigation and cleanup) gets done. The initiation of the process no longer requires any DEP action or findings. Instead, private parties who are aware of discharges on their property bear the burden of remediation and must hire an LSRP to oversee and, eventually, approve the work and submit those findings to DEP. Only at that point, the appellants argued, would the plaintiffs have any claim.
Not so, said the Appellate Division, agreeing with the trial court’s determination. It would be inequitable to force one property owner to bear all the costs of investigation and cleanup (and thus removing the encumbrance on their title). Where the law provides no remedy to ease that unfair burden, equity permits a court to fashion a remedy, even though the Spill Act itself does not provide for such a remedy. The Appellate Division cited two factors as supporting the trial court’s de facto expansion of the Spill Act’s remedies through the creation of what may be described as a provisional or anticipatory contribution right.
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