Sunday, September 2, 2007

Week's top environmental & political news

Some of the top stories appearing in EnviroPolitics from Aug 27-31. Captured from newspapers and other information sources in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York and beyond.

New Jersey Environment

DEP orders work to stop on strip mall planned for Highlands In one of the first enforcement cases of the Highlands statute, a notice of violation has been issued to the developer of the proposed Liberty Square mall in Independence Township, Warren County. Developer Liberty Square 517 LLC missed an Aug. 10 deadline to build a foundation on the project in the strict Highlands preservation area, and a cease-and-desist order has been issued by the state Department of Environmental Protection, officials said. (Star-Ledger)

Sparta approves $2.1M for reservoir Despite the prospect of a lawsuit, the Sparta Township Council has adopted a $2.1 million bond ordinance to buy nearly one-third of a quarry founded by Thomas Edison that contains a vast spring-fed reservoir. (Star-Ledger)

Smoke at chemical fire sends 15 to hospital A small chemical fire broke out Tuesday at the Permacel Inc. building in the Industrial Park, forcing several people to the hospital with respiratory problems. About 60 employees of the plant at 1990 Rutgers University Blvd. and workers in the surrounding complexes were evacuated about 10:15 a.m. as firefighters spent about 20 minutes putting out the blaze, authorities said (Asbury Park Press)

Sayreville told about Superfund cleanups Twenty-five years ago, an abundance of toxic chemicals was found buried beneath the Sayreville landfill, seeping into the soil and poisoning the groundwater with pesticides. In the years that followed, state officials began a gradual cleanup of the site, removing drums of hazardous waste and installing systems to block the pollution from spreading. On Wednesday, representatives from the state Department of Environmental Protection told a room of Sayreville residents their work on the landfill is nearly done. (Star-Ledger)

Somerset parks employees repay county $1,697 Somerset County parks employees have reimbursed the park commission for several expenses criticized as unrelated to their jobs, but most were legitimate or judgment calls, county officials said last night.After reviewing expense vouchers cited as "questionable" by an outside law firm, county Treasurer Brian Newman said there were no clear prohibitions against some of the payments (Star-Ledger)

Proposed power plant switching from coal to natural gas LS Power Company plans to put its Delaware River power plant online four years sooner than anticipated now that it proposes to use natural gas rather than coal to fuel the operation. (Courier-Post)

Eagles and hawks are migrating south The autumn hawk-watching season takes off Saturday as thousands of raptors begin their annual southern migration. Bergen County's prime viewing spot is in Alpine, where broad-winged hawks and bald eagles can be seen flying down the Hudson River. The viewing area, the State Line Lookout, is just off Exit 3 of the Palisades Interstate Parkway (Bergen Record)

Clean Water New Jersey to honor excellence in stormwater pollution control Polluted runoff is a major threat to New Jersey’s water quality, and municipalities and other government agencies that have excelled in managing it are now eligible for special Clean Water New Jersey awards (NJ-DEP)

New Jersey Politics

Democrats seek to unload contributions from fugitive Some top New Jersey Democrats scramble to divest themselves of at least $51,000 in campaign contributions from a donor whose fugitive status also caused embarrassment this week for presidential candidate Hillary Clinton (Star-Ledger)

Nursing home fixing the AC after a roasting from Codey A Newark nursing home where state Sen. Richard Codey found sweltering conditions during a surprise inspection earlier this month will replace its sputtering air conditioners (Star-Ledger)

Ex-mayor gets harsh term in graft case For nearly five years after pleading guilty to corruption charges, former Ocean Township Mayor Terrance Weldon remained a free man by quietly cooperating with investigations against others. But when his day of reckoning came yesterday, Weldon caught the wrath of a federal judge fed up with the seemingly endless parade of New Jersey politicians "hell-bent on corruption." For nearly five years after pleading guilty to corruption charges, former Ocean Township Mayor Terrance Weldon remained a free man by quietly cooperating with investigations against others. But when his day of reckoning came yesterday, Weldon caught the wrath of a federal judge fed up with the seemingly endless parade of New Jersey politicians "hell-bent on corruption." (Star-Ledger)Could it be Lautenberg vs. Booker? With Democrats Rob Andrews, Frank Pallone and Steve Rothman unwilling to mount a primary challenge against the 83-year-old incumbent, could Booker be the guy who runs Wally Edge Blog

Wesley Lance dies, shaped constitution Former Republican state Sen. Wesley L. Lance of Hunterdon County, the last survivor of the 81 delegates to the historic NJ Constitutional Convention of 1947 that created the state's modern constitution, died Saturday. He was 98. (Star-Ledger)

Pennsylvania Environment

DEP fines Hercules Cement The Department of Environmental Protection announced today it has issued a $174,604 civil penalty against Hercules Cement Company in Stockertown Borough, Northampton County, for air quality violations between 2003 and 2006 (PA-DEP)

PPL Gas Utilities Announces Decrease in Gas Supply Rate PPL Gas Utilities’ 76,000 customers will see a decrease in their bills this fall. The company announced Friday (8/31) a3 percent reduction in the rate customers pay for the gas supply portion of their bill. (PPL)

Hundreds protest wind turbines — Accusations flew and tempers flared Tuesday as hundreds of residents in Bedford and Somerset counties ordered Gamesa Energy to keepwind turbines off Shaffer Mountain. (Altoona Mirror)

Cleaning up coal's bad rap Is coal becoming a dirty word? It's vilified as a contributor to global warming, risky to get out of the earth -- as recent deaths in a Utah coal mine have reminded us -- and responsible for destroying streams and valleys in Appalachia, where mountaintop removal mining remains extremely controversial. Meanwhile, pressure from environmental groups worried about climate change has forced utilities from North Carolina to Oregon to drop plans for about two dozen coal-fired power plants. NRG Energy CEO David Crane says that 'clean coal' has a future, despite what critics say. NRG Energy is looking to build the country's first big coal plant to capture and store carbon dioxide.

Pennsylvania Politics

Democratic offices searched in Harrisburg State investigators last week executed a search warrant on the Capitol basement headquarters of the Democratic Office of Legislative Research in a broadening investigation into whether state employees were used to run several political campaigns last year. (Post-Gazette)

Judge: Fumo can keep Sprague as lawyer A federal judge ruled today that State Sen. Vincent J. Fumo, who faces 139 charges of federal fraud and obstruction of justice, can keep Richard A. Sprague as his lawyer. The decision means the scheduled trial of one of Pennsylvania's most powerful politicians, who had been represented by one of Philadelphia's most prominent lawyers, is likely to proceed as scheduled for February. (Inquirer)

Future of Pa. six-pack sales is now a case for justices The state Supreme Court has agreed to decide whether Pennsylvanians will be able to walk into their local grocery or corner store and pick up a six-pack of beer along with toilet paper and a carton of milk (Inquirer)

New York/Region/World

California aims to save fish via poison The state's latest plan to rid Lake Davis of northern pike – and protect species downstream – raises concern.(Christian Science Monitor)

Sony Develops Bio-Battery Powered by Glucose Sony’s new bio-battery that uses the sugar in carbohydrates to generate electricity — as an example, the company demonstrated using a sports drink to power a small fan or a Walkman. (

German Biodiesel Industry Peaks, Trouble Ahead Germany's biodiesel production capacity is set to rise to a record 5 million tons in 2007, but analysts have warned that the boom in the country's biodiesel industry is coming to an end after the industry failed to block the government from rolling back a key tax relief scheme in court this July. (Renewable Energy Weekly)

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