Thursday, January 8, 2009

NJ's Global Warming Plan: Round One of Six

Did you know that New Jersey is creating a comprehensive standards manual for green buildings, to be made available in mid-2010?

You do now. And you can thank Joe Basralian, the scrivener behind the Green Politics New Jersey blog who dug out this nugget as he sat through hours of testimony Tuesday at the first of six public hearings on the state's Draft Global Warming Response Act Recommendation Report.

The Draft Global what, you ask? Basically it's the first stab at a nuts and bolts plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in New Jersey by 20 percent by 2020 and by a total of 80 percent by 2050. Those reductions are required by a law (the Global Warming response Act) passed by the Legislature in the Summer of 2007.

Fundamentally, state lawmakers said: "Get the levels down " but didn't say how. The DEP has been working on a plan to do just that, along with a number of "stakeholders" (utilities, business organizations, environmentalists, lobbyists, academicians and a few regular folks thrown in for good measure).

They produced a draft plan on how to get there. Now, theoretically, it's "the public's" turn to review the document and add its learned opinion to the process.

What really happens, of course, is that the media ignores it (these public hearings are really long and, unless you're a policy wonk, often mind-numbingly boring).

The "public" (more worried about potential layoff notices and the Giants' chances of getting back to the Super Bowl) also ignores it (and probably would still ignore it if the media covered it).

Those who do show up to offer opinions are roughly an expanded version of the "stakeholder" cast who fashioned the original version before its Broadway run.

Which brings us back to Joe Basralian, who is not a trained reporter (or he'd be back at the state house re-writing news release handouts).

Joe was there to listen to people who offered their opinions on how energy-efficient buildings might help to reduce global-warming gases. He was there because he honesty cares about this stuff and wants others to know about it too.

In his blog post, Highlights from Stakeholder Meeting #1: NJ Global Warming Report - Green Buildings, Basralian modestly admits that his report doesn't cover everything that was said (when did you ever hear a journalist admit that?) but he hopes that we'll "find the timeliness helpful."

Helpful? Hell, Joe, if it hadn't been for you we wouldn't know anything about the hearing.

So what's up next? The state's website offers the following schedule:

Friday, January 9: Terrestrial Sequestration and Agriculture - 9 AM to 12 PM in Department of Environmental Protection's Public Hearing Room.

Monday, January 12 - Transportation (vehicles. fuels and infrastructure) - from 9 AM to 12 PM in the Department of Environmental Protection's Public Hearing Room.

Wednesday, Jan. 14 -Land Use/Transportation Planning - 1 to 4 PM in the Department of Transportation's multi-purpose room located on the first floor of 1035 Parkway Avenue in Trenton.

Friday, January 16 - Non-CO2 Highly Warming Gases - 9 to Noon in the Department of Environmental Protection's Public Hearing Room.

Make-up hearing originally scheduled for January 7 but canceled by weather - Industry, EGUs, Waste and Water - time and location to be determined.

What's an EGU, by the way? Is it a relative of the emu, or something as disgusting as it sounds?

I honestly don't know, but I'm sure Joe will explain it to us if he's still attending (and hasn't gone mad) by the sixth round.

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