Monday, December 5, 2011

Entergy To Merge Elec Trans Biz With ITC Holdings Corp


Entergy Corporation plans to spin off its electric-transmission business and merge the operation with ITC Holdings Corp. to increase its financial flexibility and to protect its credit quality. Entergy's electric-transmission business consists of about 15,700 miles of interconnected transmission lines in the Mid-South.

Entergy has been shaping a new strategy after credit-market turmoil and regulatory pushback led it to back off plans to spin off five of its nuclear plants in April 2010. Meanwhile, it has been fighting with regulators over the fate of a nuclear plant in Vermont and another one in New York.



Under the agreement, Entergy will separate its electric-transmission business into a newly formed entity, Mid South TransCo LLC. Mid South TransCo will then merge with a unit of ITC in an all-stock, Reverse Morris Trust transaction, resulting in Entergy shareholders holding 50.1% of the combined company and existing ITC shareholders owning the remaining 49.9%.

Entergy expects to receive gross cash proceeds of about $1.78 billion from debt incurred in connection with the transaction, and this debt will be assumed by ITC at the close of the merger. ITC, the nation's largest independent electric-transmission company, also plans to issue about $700 million of unsecured debt.

By combining these businesses, they will significantly enhance the scale of their operations and financial resources as they continue to invest in electric transmission infrastructure for the benefit of customers, resulting in improved reliability, reduced system congestion and greater access to competitive energy markets.

Entergy plans to use most of the cash proceeds to retire debt. Completion of the transaction is expected in 2013. After the close, ITC's board will appoint two new independent directors. ITC's management team will remain intact for the combined business, but will be supplemented with key leadership personnel from Entergy's transmission business to help ensure a successful integration. About 750 current Entergy positions will be integrated into ITC, which will maintain a regional headquarters in Jackson, Miss. ITC's corporate headquarters are located in Novi, Michigan.  (WSJ, 12/5/2011)

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Upper East Side Subway Work Creates Air Pollution Problems


2nd Avenue Subway Tunneling
According to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), underground explosions were halted Tuesday at one of three Upper East Side stations being constructed on the long-delayed Second Avenue subway to address complaints about air quality. The MTA said blasting will cease until Dec. 5 at the 72nd Street station site so changes can be made in how dirt and dust created by construction is processed. MTA contractors have been using explosives to blast out caverns that will eventually be turned into a subway station underneath Second Avenue.
There is a large amount of dust that is coming out, and the MTA is figuring out how to take further precautions to protect the air quality. At a meeting of the Second Avenue Subway committee of Community Board No. 8 on the Upper East Side, residents said the dust and odor from the blasting is a possible health hazard. They said dust and smoke blankets the area after each blast.

MTA air-quality data collected in September showed that levels of toxins in the air blasting didn't exceed federal standards.

Blasting at 72nd Street is about 40% complete and should be finished by the middle of next year. The pause won't delay the project and MTA expects the first phase of the Second Avenue subway, which runs between 63rd Street and 96th Street, to be finished by the end of 2016. (WSJ, 11/23/2011)

Friday, October 28, 2011

Syracuse Council Bans Fracking Gas Wells

The Syracuse Common Council's ban on the gas drilling process known as hydrofracking.  Syracuse joins Albany and Buffalo in banning hydrofracking. Syracuse Council Majority Leader Kathleen Joy spearheaded the legislation in her city. She says it will send a message to state regulators that communities have the right to protect themselves from potential health and environmental hazards.

But the gas industry says fracking is safe and the bans enacted in numerous communities are illegal because only the state has authority to regulate the industry.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation is expected to allow drilling and hydrofracking for gas in the lucrative Marcellus Shale formation of southern New York early next year when new regulations are in place.  (Times Herald Record, AP, 10/25/2011)

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Rudolph Giuliani Discusses Energy at Breakfast Meeting

 

New York’s Energy Future


Former NYC Mayor Rudolph Giuliani
On Wednesday, October 5, 2011, New York AREA co-sponsored a breakfast event with the New York Energy Consumers Council (NYECC) featuring former New York City Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani. The mayor spoke about “New York’s Electric Future” as well as the need for a sensible energy policy, which included Indian Point.  Center President and NYAREA Advisory Board member Norris McDonald attended the breakfast event.

The event began with David Bomke of the NYECC offering opening remarks. Mr. Bomke then introduced Mayor Giuliani who discussed his time as mayor of New York and the role he played in ensuring New York City has the power to operate and avoid blackouts.

The mayor also discussed the national energy picture, including reductions being made to each significant generation source in national and state energy policies. To have real growth, the mayor asserted that the United States needs an energy policy that promotes growth.

Mayor Giuliani concluded by returning to a discussion of New York State energy policy. He discussed the need to hydrofrack in western New York as an energy plan and a jobs plan. He discussed the 25 percent power from Indian Point and the lack of anything else to make up for that power. He also discussed safety in relation to nuclear power, noting that electricity creation is inherently dangerous and pointing out the enviable safety record of nuclear power in the United States.

Following the conclusion of the mayor’s remarks, New York AREA Executive Director John Durso, Jr. moderated a question and answer session. Immediately following, Mr. Durso offered closing remarks and thanked Mayor Giuliani for joining this morning’s discussion. (NYAREA)

Friday, September 30, 2011

EPA Launches New Mapping Tool

EPA
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today announced the release of a new mapping feature in EPA’s Enforcement and Compliance History Online (ECHO) database. As part of EPA’s ongoing effort to improve transparency, the EPA and State Enforcement Actions Map will allow the public to access federal and state enforcement information in an interactive format and to compare enforcement action information by state. The map will be refreshed monthly to include up to date information about the enforcement actions taken to address violations of air, water, and waste laws.

Map users can choose the year, the media (air, water, waste, multiple), and whether they would like to display enforcement information for actions taken at the federal level, state level, or both. Users can then click on a state to view facility locations and click on a facility to list its name, the environmental statute the facility has an enforcement action under, and a link to a detailed facility compliance report.

ECHO provides integrated searches of EPA and state data about inspections, violations and enforcement actions for more than 800,000 regulated facilities. Now in its ninth year, ECHO recently received its 10 millionth data query and has completed a record year of more than 2 million queries. President Obama recognized ECHO in his January 2011 Presidential Memorandum on regulatory compliance, as a model for transparency for other federal agencies to follow.

Enforcement and Compliance History Online

Presidential Memorandum – Regulatory Compliance

DEC Issues Proposed Fracking Regulations

The state York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) issued proposed regulations Wednesday to regulate the natural gas drilling technique of hydraulic fracturing, or hydrofracking. A draft 1,537-page environmental impact statement on hydrofracking, issued last month, is still undergoing a public comment period. Public comment on both the draft rules and the impact statement expire Dec. 12, which could then allow DEC to make both documents final. That could allow drilling permits to be issued.

Hydrofracking relies on an high-pressure blend of chemicals, water and sand into deep underground rock formations to release trapped bubbles of natural gas. Opponents are concerned drilling could damage air and water quality, while the industry asserts the practice is safe.

Public hearings for the proposed regulations and impact statement are set for Nov. 16 at Dansville Middle School Auditorium, 31 Clara Barton St., Dansville; Nov. 17 at The Forum Theatre, 236 Washington St., Binghamton; Nov. 29 at Sullivan County Community College, Seelig Theatre, 112 College Road, Loch Sheldrake; and Nov. 30 at Tribeca Performing Arts Center, 199 Chambers St., New York City. All hearings are from 1 to 4 p.m, and from 6 to 9 p.m. (TimesUnion, 9/29/2011)

Friday, August 5, 2011

DEP Releases Study on the Impact of Closing Indian Point

(Prepared by Charles River Associates)

Environmental Protection Commissioner Cas Holloway today released an independent analysis on the impact of closing the Indian Point nuclear power plant. The report, prepared by Charles River Associates on behalf of the city, does not look at whether the plant should or should not close, but rather what the implications of a closure would mean in terms of the cost of energy, potential air quality issues, and the electrical grid's ability to continue to meet energy demands.

FULL REPORT

The report finds that the impacts would be significant regardless of what replacement options are selected. Under all scenarios, energy prices will rise and there will be a measurable increase in air emissions such as carbon and NOx. The report also finds that without replacement power generation, the reliability of New York City and the region’s energy supply would be seriously compromised. (DEP)

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Chris Christie Has Breathing Trouble

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, 48, was taken to the hospital Thursday after having difficulty breathing. Christie's spokesman Michael Drewniak said in an official statement that the governor was hospitalized at Somerset Medical Center in Somerville, N.J., "out of an abundance of caution. In line with someone dealing with asthma, he is being given routine tests as a precautionary measure."

The governor was en route to a 10:30 a.m. bill signing event in Hillsborough, N.J., when the decision was made to go to the hospital. According to his official schedule, Christie was due to "sign legislation that allows for increased preservation of state land and natural resources."

Christie remained at the hospital in Somerville Thursday afternoon with no time set for his release.  Shortness of breath can also come from heart problems.  (New York Post, 7/28/2011)

Friday, July 22, 2011

New York Mayor Bloomberg Donates $50 Million to Sierra Club

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg announcing his $50 million donation
 to the Sierra Club near a coal-fired power plant in Alexandria, Va.
Jewel Samad/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg announced on Thursday that he would donate $50 million to the Sierra Club’s campaign to shut down coal-fired power plants across the United States. The announcement was made in Washington, DC on the bank of the Potomac River across from the Potomac River plant, which is owned by The 62-year old Potomac plant, which is owned by GenOn Energy, is among the oldest of the country’s roughly 400 coal-fired power plants.

Mayor Bloomberg appeared with the Sierra Club’s executive director, Michael Brune to announce the gift from his chief charitable organization, Bloomberg Philanthropies. Mr. Bloomberg said he hoped it would help the environmental group shut down as many as a third of the nation’s coal-burning power plants — the oldest and dirtiest ones — by 2020.

Coal provides nearly half of the nation’s electricity and accounts for roughly a third of its output of carbon dioxide and other gases responsible for warming the planet. Burning coal also produces millions of tons of other pollutants that are harmful to human health and the environment.

The Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign claims to have blocked the opening of more than 150 coal-fired power plants in recent years through litigation and local action. Mr. Bloomberg’s $50 million represents a third of the campaign’s projected $150 million four-year budget.

The goal of the campaign is to cut electricity production from coal by 30 percent and mercury emissions by 90 percent by 2020. Mr. Bloomberg’s donation will be used to expand the campaign to 45 states from the current 15 and to double the number of full-time staff members to 200. (NYT, 7/21/2011)

Monday, July 18, 2011

Power NY Act of 2011

Article 10 Reauthorization Law

The Power NY Act of 2011 

The New York Legislature has passed and Govern Andrew Cuomo has signed the “Power NY Act of 2011.” Section 12 of the new law reauthorizes and modernizes Article X of the Public Service Law, which expired on January 1, 2003, governing the siting and approval of power plants in New York.

Like its predecessor, the new version of Article X aims to centralize and streamline the siting approval process, although the threshold for application of the law has been lowered from 80 to 25 megawatts. The law creates and vests permitting authority with the New York State Board on Electric Generation Siting and the Environment (“the Board”). The statute provides that two local residents will be part of the Board with the other five members being State officials for each proceeding. The law also provides for “intervenor funding” which will enable municipalities and other local parties to participate in all phases of the administrative review, including the mandated adjudicatory hearing.

The Board is given authority to override local laws and ordinances if they are “unreasonably burdensome.” Unless otherwise agreed to by an applicant or extended due to a “material and substantial amendment to the application” or “extraordinary circumstances,” Board decisions must be rendered within a year of the application being deemed complete.

Article X displaces the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) process for covered projects, but mandates several environmental analyses of the facility’s impacts. These analyses include a “cumulative air quality analysis” of the combined effects from the proposed facility, other proposed sources and all existing sources; a description of the demographics of the surrounding community; and a description of “reasonable and available” alternative locations. It also requires the Board to find that the project minimizes or avoids disproportionate impacts on the surrounding community.

There are significant differences between the new version of Article X and the expired version. The lower 25 megawatt threshold will allow smaller projects to be covered by the law and may particularly benefit developers of wind projects, which in most cases would not have been covered by the expired version. The increased emphasis on environmental justice impacts addresses concerns stated by environmental groups. Current applicants for local and state permits for a power plant may elect to be covered by the new law.  (Sive, Paget & Riesel, PC)

Governor Cuomo’s Memorandum on the Legislation

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

NY DEC Issues Natural Gas Fracking Proposal

The New York Department of Environmental Conservation posted its 700-plus-page blueprint for hydraulic fracturing, known as fracking, in the lucrative Marcellus Shale region on its website Friday, allowing industry and environmental groups to start dissecting the proposed plan to allow gas drilling in an area where it’s been on hold since 2008.  The proposal to places large areas off-limits to gas drilling, which industry representatives belive is overly restrictive, while environmentalists believe the proposed watershed protections do not go far enough.

The proposed New York rules include a section describing several gas-drilling operation accidents in Pennsylvania and outlining New York’s measures designed to mitigate such incidents. A coalition of 47 health and environmental groups has called for a statewide ban on hydraulic fracturing for natural gas, saying it poses unacceptable risks.  The Center New York has established Criteria For Evaluating Hydraulic Fracturing Projects.

Chesapeake Bay Watershed
In the proposal, the watersheds and state lands where gas-drilling would be prohibited amount to about 15 percent of the land in New York’s part of the Marcellus Shale, the nation’s largest-known natural gas reservoir. The formation underlies southern New York, much of Pennsylvania, and parts of Ohio, West Virginia and Western Maryland.

Some believe the proposal to place the watersheds off-limits to drilling doesn’t go far enough because it doesn’t include a sufficient buffer around the ancient underground tunnels that carry water to New York City from its upstate reservoirs.

The first wave of Marcellus development in New York would likely run along Interstate 86 from Binghamton through Tioga and Chemung counties, near the Millennium Pipeline.  Lawsuits could occur in areas where there are attempts by municipal governments to use zoning or local ordinances to regulate natural gas activities.  (The Daily Record, 7/11/2011)

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

RGGI Reaffirms Recognition of NJ Allowances

In response to the statement of Governor Christie announcing his intention to withdraw New Jersey in an orderly fashion from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative at the end of the first compliance period (December 31, 2011), the Participating States of Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont confirm that according to each state’s regulations they will each recognize for compliance purposes without limitation all New Jersey Vintage 2009, 2010 and 2011 allowances in circulation as of the date of this notice and those that will be sold in the upcoming Auction 12.

Additional information regarding other New Jersey allowances will be issued prior to the release of the Notice for RGGI CO2 Allowance Auction 13.

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Copy of the above statement

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Bill Clinton & Mike Bloomberg Merge Climate Programs

Bill Clinton & Michael Bloomberg
[photo Edward Reed/NYC Mayor Office]
Former President Bill Clinton joined Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Wednesday at Gracie Mansion to announce the merger of the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group (C40) and the Cities Program of Clinton Climate Initiative (CCI).

C40 is a global coalition of large cities that cooperate to address energy and climate change issues. C40 was established in 2006; Mayor Bloomberg is the current chairman.

CCI is a program of the William J. Clinton Foundation established by President Clinton to reduce poverty, promote health, bolster economies, and protect the environment.

The belief that cities play a driving force in addressing climate change motivated the merger decision, stated both Clinton and Bloomberg. The merger streamlines and enhances the work of the two organizations that share a common mission in mobilizing cities to tackle climate change.  The C40-CCI partnership enhances the new organization’s resources and infrastructure and boosts its efforts to play a prominent role in global climate change matters.

The outcome for the C40 is three-fold. C40 will increase the number of participating cities, double its budget, and restructure the organization so that cities can share best practices more effectively and undertake climate change issues together.

Bloomberg provided examples of different climate change initiatives in global cities such as Sao Paulo, Jakarta, Hong Kong, London, and included New York City’s efforts to combat climate change. (The Epoch Times, 4/13/2011)

Thursday, March 3, 2011

EPA To Update Safe Drinking Water Act Contaminant List

EPA Submits for Public Comment the Next Round of Safe Drinking Water Act Contaminant Monitoring

As part of its commitment to implement sensible protections of drinking water for communities across the country, and as required by the Safe Drinking Water Act, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing 30 currently unregulated contaminants for monitoring in water systems, and submitting this proposal for public comment. The comment period will allow the public and other stakeholders to provide input on the selection of new contaminants for monitoring, and will help determine the best path forward as the EPA seeks to collect data that will inform future decisions about how best to protect drinking water.

Under the authority of the Safe Drinking Water Act, EPA currently regulates more than 90 contaminants in drinking water. To keep drinking water standards up-to-date with emerging science, the Safe Drinking Water Act requires that EPA identify up to 30 unregulated contaminants for monitoring every five years. This current proposal is the third Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Regulation and includes requirements to monitor for two viruses and 28 chemical contaminants that could be present in drinking water and do not currently have health-based standards.

EPA is requesting public comment on the proposed list of 30 contaminants until May 2, 2011. Following the public comment period, EPA will consider this important input before the list is scheduled to be finalized in 2012, with sampling to be conducted from 2013 to 2015. Sampling will take place at all systems serving more than 10,000 people and at a representative sampling of systems serving less than 10,000 people.
More information about the proposed list of contaminants

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

New York University Cogeneration Plant Completed

New York University has completed its natural gas-fired Co-Generation (CoGen) plant, which decreases greenhouse gas emissions by 23% while reducing air pollutants by 68% compared to its 30-year-old, oil-fired CoGen predecessor. Located beneath a renovated public plaza at 251 Mercer Street , the new CoGen plant approaches 90% energy efficiency while producing 13.4 megawatts of electricity—twice the output of the previous system.

The comprehensive, state-of-the-art $125 million CoGen upgrade and public plaza installation project took 28 months to complete. It is the one of the largest private CoGen plants in New York City, and provides electricity to 22 NYU buildings, up from 7 buildings with the old plant. The new NYU CoGen system will also produce heat and hot and chilled water to 37 buildings on the Washington Square Campus, and is expected to save the university $5-8 million in energy related costs per year.

CoGen is the cornerstone of NYU’s 2010 Climate Action Plan (CAP), a comprehensive approach to reducing the University’s carbon footprint and enhancing its overall sustainability. NYU’s CAP was spurred on in part by the signing of Mayor Bloomberg’s PlaNYC Climate Challenge, which calls on all city colleges and universities to voluntarily reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent by 2017.

Prior to the CoGen upgrade, NYU had made significant progress in reducing its greenhouse gas emissions, cutting them by 20-25% over just four years, from a peak of ~179,000 Metric Tons Carbon Equivalent (MTCE) in 2006 to ~125,000 MTCE in 2010. With the addition of CoGen coming on line, NYU’s total emissions are expected to drop approximately 20% more, to about ~98,500 MTCE. This not only fulfills the Mayor’s Challenge, but surpasses it by an additional ~10% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, reaching a total of ~40%.

Key statistics of NYU’s CoGen:

• Two 5.5 megawatts (MW) gas turbines and a 2.4MW steam turbine;
• Approaching 90% overall efficiency;
• Providing electricity to 22 buildings up from 7 with the old fuel oil CoGen;
• Providing heat to 37 buildings;
• 23% decrease in greenhouse gas emissions;
• 68% reduction of EPA Criteria Air Pollutants (e.g. NOx, SOx, PM-10);
• One of the largest private co-gen plants in NYC;
• Produces twice the electrical power of the old facility – at 13.4 megawatts – and avoids the combustion of 500,000 gallons of fuel oil annually;
• All-digitally controlled for better monitoring and maximum efficiency.
• Installation of a 13,000 sq. ft. public plaza on Mercer Street using native plant species, and providing 190 linear feet of seating space.

How NYU’s CoGen Works:

Compressed natural gas fuels twin high-tech gas turbines that work very much like jet engines. As the turbines operate, their rotation is used to generate 11 megawatts of electricity, and the hot waste exhaust from them is directed to heat recovery generators, which produce steam.

Once 600 pounds of super-heated steam is created in the generators, it is piped to a turbine electrical generator, which produces an additional 2.4 megawatts of electricity. After the steam has passed through the turbine generator, it is used to make hot water for the campus in two high-temp heat exchangers, and it is used to operate a turbine-driven chiller to produce 2,000 tons of chilled water. In using a mechanical energy turbine, being turned by steam to run the chiller’s compressor, this further increases the efficiency of the CoGen plant as it saves electric energy.

About the Renovated Mercer Plaza:

NYU—in cooperation with Community Board #2—convened a 15-member Community Advisory Committee (CAC) comprised of neighbors, Community Board members, a local business, elected officials, and an NYU student and professor to assist in the planning and design of the new plaza, which was constructed directly above the CoGen plant.

Mathews Nielsen Landscape Architects (MNLA) was hired to lead the project, and the community-engaged process has resulted in a new green space that integrates the interests and concerns of as many stakeholders as possible. Prior to construction of CoGen, the site contained two parallel sidewalks and two fenced/gated areas with trees, shrubbery, and some ground cover. There was no seating at street level.

Conceived as a green urban plaza beneath the canopy of a park, three garden-size “rooms” with wood decks and 190 linear feet of benches have been carved out of the planting beds to provide space for sitting and relaxing. A strong, seasonal palette of 18 native plants species, including 22 new trees, creates a lively ground plane for the benches and informal seating located throughout the upper and lower plazas. The lighting has been designed to allow for ample security but not to disturb neighboring buildings at night.

About New York University:

New York University is located in the heart of Greenwich Village. Founded in 1831, it is one of America’s foremost research universities and a member of the selective Association of American Universities. It is one of the largest private universities, it is a leader in attracting international students and scholars in the U.S, and it sends more students to study abroad than any other U.S. college or university. Through its 18 schools and colleges, NYU conducts research and provides education in the arts and sciences, law, medicine, business, dentistry, education, nursing, the cinematic and performing arts, music and studio arts, public administration, social work, and continuing and professional studies, among other areas.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

NY ISO Approves Ten Year Electricity Plan

The Board of Directors of the New York Independent System Operator has approved a plan for meeting New York State’s power needs of the next ten years.

NYISO’s statement and the report

Thursday, January 6, 2011

PEER Hammers NJ Governor Christie on DEP Staffing

Press Release From Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER)

Corporate Political Donors Control DEP Toxic Clean-Up Oversight & Rulemaking

Trenton — Key figures in a corporate pay-for-play scandal also occupy controlling positions on state “stakeholder” committees setting toxic clean-up standards which affect their business dealings, potentially saving them significant sums while effectively shielding them from enforcement actions from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), according to Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). PEER is calling for removal of participating corporations from DEP “technical committees” and for an audit of their cases before DEP.

Corporations with millions in state contracts have donated large sums to an ironically named “Reform New Jersey” group that pushed for the privatization agenda of Governor Chris Christie, left. Run by key Christie advisors, Reform New Jersey appeared to violate state pay-to-play prohibitions which bar contributions in connection with award of public contracts. In late December, the group was disbanded after its contributors were revealed. Gov. Christie has denied any knowledge of its activities, despite being the keynote speaker at Reform New Jersey fundraisers.

Some of those same corporations and redevelopment consultants also sit on DEP stakeholder committees charged with re-writing regulations governing toxic site clean-up. For example, Langan Engineering (which gave $25,000 to Reform New Jersey) has a dominating delegation of nine representatives. One of its senior associates, tapped by Gov. Christie, serves on the DEP Site Remediation Professional Licensing Board, which oversees newly authorized privatized clean-ups of contaminated sites.

These slots give these firms inside access and influence that can work to shield them from oversight or enforcement by DEP. As one DEP employee recently wrote:

“Langan has been given unprecedented access to DEP records and computer databases that their competitors do not have. The big ‘joke’ at DEP is that we work for them. This despite the fact that everyone in the Site Remediation Program (hundreds of scientists and engineers) can give examples of shoddy, unprofessional, inaccurate, and even unethical product from Langan over the years.”

“At DEP, the Christie ‘streamlining’ agenda is a fa├žade for hollowing out health safeguards and filling them in with self-regulation by the polluting corporations and their paid consultants,” stated New Jersey PEER Director Bill Wolfe. “This is the foxes running a chicken take-out restaurant from the henhouse.”

In a December 31 letter, PEER asked DEP Commissioner Bob Martin to remove the Reform New Jersey participants from agency boards and committees and to audit how the firms’ cases were being handled by DEP. Martin has yet to reply to the letter.

Not coincidentally, New Jersey DEP is in the process of lowering standards for privatized clean-ups of toxic sites, including relaxation of vapor intrusion protections and requirements for complete remediation. At the same time, the state is reeling from health problems arising at “former” toxic sites, such as most recently Pompton Lakes, that have been inadequately cleaned up.

“How is New Jersey’s economy helped by more toxic clean-ups that leave neighbors and future residents at risk?” asked Wolfe.

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New Jersey PEER is a state chapter of a national alliance of state and federal agency resource professionals working to ensure environmental ethics and government accountability.