Governor Murphy, Repeat Environmental Failure: Why Desperately Needed Environmental Progress is Delayed AGAIN, editorial


On May 15, we eagerly held our breath, only to be disappointed by the Governor yet again. Countless environmental groups, climate aware residents and the loved ones of those who died in floodwaters (30 dead from flooding in 2021 alone), have been waiting for the Governor to act on campaign promises to protect New Jersey and the planet from the threats of the climate crisis.  “Climate change is the single greatest long-term threat currently facing humanity,” according to Governor Murphy's well-known rhetoric. Apparently the paper tiger has had a change of perspective. It seems he is trying to please the left and the right, perhaps just in case he may have a go at the Oval Office? The climate constituency will never get behind a Murphy Presidential run. Never. We cannot keep praising  this Governor's long term goals, only to be realized when the administration is long gone. Subsequent admins will set their own goals and nullify these empty promises with their own agenda. They are meaningless. New car sales MUST be electric by 2035... until the next administration takes a pen to that. It's not enough. News outlets need to stop celebrating this climate impotent Governor, now!

To make matters worse, two stories collide here, and it’s not a good look. Just follow along. Let’s start with January of 2020, when Governor Murphy had been very public about how the climate crisis is the single greatest threat to humanity. That’s a big statement, but what has he done to protect humanity? How has he used the power of his office to save lives, relative to climate? Well, he has used the power of his office to protect big business profits over health and safety, wittingly or unwittingly, the cost may be measured in lives lost and billions in relief funding in perpetuity.

In January 2020, the Governor issued Executive Order 100, pledging to enact legislation to protect New Jersey residents, municipalities, businesses and the environment from the threats of climate change by January of 2022, remember that date. This executive order was an important step in fulfilling campaign promises and he received ever- coveted press coverage in the New York Times:

The Times reported:

“This is not abstract for us,” Mr. Murphy said in an interview. “This is real. The dangers are there.”

New Jersey’s initiative is believed to be the broadest, and most specific, attempt to leverage land-use rules to control where and what developers can build, and to limit the volume of emissions that are spewed into the air. “It gives us the ability to say no, or to say, ‘You have to do it differently,’” said Kathleen Frangione, the governor’s chief policy adviser. Mr. Murphy, through executive order, will require the state Department of Environmental Protection to begin the process of drafting new regulations to be adopted by January 2022.

“You need the carrot and the stick,” said Shawn LaTourette, chief of staff at the Department of Environmental Protection. “We’ve put out a lot of carrots — incentives. But the regulation needs to be the stick.”

A study released in November by Rutgers University found that the sea level in New Jersey was rising more than two times faster than the global average. Since 1911, the sea level rose 1.5 feet, compared with the global mean of 0.6 feet.

It is expected to rise by as much as another foot by 2030, the study found. At the same time, some coastal areas are undergoing subsidence, meaning they are sinking.

In Atlantic City, tidal flooding occurs 10 times more frequently than it did in the middle of the last century. By 2050, Atlantic City could experience high-tide flooding 120 days a year, according to the Rutgers study.

“We are both drowning and sinking,” Mr. LaTourette said.

Blah Blah Blah…

Kudos to the Governor for being guided by the science... until, he wasn't. So what happened next? The DEP got to work on a solution. They would spend 2.5 years, and countless taxpayer dollars on scientific research and documentation, holding public comment, formulating and finally drafting the “Emergency” PACT (Protection Against Climate Threat) Rules. Finally complete, the Rules were due to be enacted on June 14th of 2022. Six months past the target, but better late than never.  If enacted,  projects seeking approvals, designed for storms of the last century, would have had to go back to the drawing board and redesign for storms of today and tomorrow, like they should have in the first place, instead of being given a green light to go ahead and build, fully accepting of predictable devastation, which is the case as it stands now. The "Emergency" PACT Rules could have been heroic, at least they would have been, had the Governor followed through.

Keep in mind that almost one year after the executive order, EO100, 30 New Jerseyans died in floodwaters. What measures had been taken while the rules were being devised?  How about the vast implementation of green infrastructure to ameliorate the impacts of excessive pavement in our Garden State? How about preventing death and loss?  We waited for the DEP to do their work,  and mourned the loss of 30+ neighbors and friends. Shortly after the one year anniversary of their deaths, post Hurricane Ida, Murphy issued a statement and a press release saying, “We must meet the devastating impacts of global warming and climate change, with bold intentional action.” Seriously? Action, speaks louder than words, and we're still waiting on the action part.

On June 3rd of 2022, about 10 days out from the enactment of the "Emergency" PACT Rules, Governor Murphy received this letter from the builder’s lobby. It's a must-read.  It's THAT lame!  They claimed that, with no scientific evidence, “...there is no imminent peril,” except to their wallets (that really was the crux of their argument). They were concerned that they had already spent money designing for storms of the past and did not want to take a loss in redesign. So, despite the predictable billions in relief funding and death toll, one time builder losses took precedence over protecting life, commerce and community, and the “Emergency” PACT Rules were scrapped. Years of taxpayer funded work, and they were  just          s c r a p p e d . . .  just   like   that !   ...All because the builders were whining about their wallets… 

Unless… there was more to it than just a whiny letter.

Environmental groups also wrote a letter last June, to implore the Governor to enact the Rules asap. Backed by science and fact, it attempted to hold the Governor’s feet to the fire and suggested accountability to promises made that seem to have been broken to protect developer profits.  

If the two letters were the only competing forces, why would the Governor have allowed a letter, from the enemy of environmental progress, with no scientific basis, to suddenly dissuade him from his own repeatedly  professed beliefs?

Hold that thought.

It has been broadly observed that the Governor had been completing the checklist of things to do if you want to run for President. With his global style of talking, suggesting that New Jersey will lead the country by example, a trip to Ukraine and a jab at DeSantis, you had to notice. He is cultivating a national image, and attempting to walk the middle. He has called himself a progressive and a cold-blooded capitalist. That’s as far left, and, simultaneously, right as anyone can imagine, and logistically impossible. Most people agree that if you try to please everyone you end up pleasing no one, and that is certainly true in New Jersey right now. Where's the progressive? Tell the cold-blooded capitalist he's not wanted - a Democrat Governor is what we signed up for. 

What has been happening from June of 2022 until now, you ask? Since the scrapping of the “Emergency” PACT Rules, the DEP moved on to divining the Inland Flood Rule. It is a whittled down version with harmful exceptions and loopholes that allow some building projects to slip through with grandfather clauses, allowing for millions of square footage of pavement, calculated based on last century’s stormwater amounts. So, it’s something, but nowhere near enough. The dates keep getting pushed further and further down the road, allowing for more projects to slip through the cracks. Think about it: Developers are currently only required to design their stormwater management plans based on flood maps from 1999 and earlier. If the DEP has not been able to raise the bar, and enact environmental progress in New Jersey since 1999, what makes anyone think that Murphy will somehow have the brass to get it done now? He’s a paper tiger; all roar and no bite! We need to demand that we stop allowing for the management of stormwater expectations from the last century! 

So where are we now? Murphy is giving huge gifts to the building industry to help speed things up for them as he tries to please the left AND the right. The left with impotent pretty talk, and the right with everything they ask for.  Some Democrat! For one thing, he just signed legislation that will allow builders to hire their own private inspectors for projects if town inspectors cannot complete inspections within only 3 days of the date requested by the developer. This takes away control from municipalities trying to reign in rampant overdevelopment with the highest standards allowable by law. One can understand municipalities having the OPTION of allowing this, but now the developers control more of the process. To make matters worse, there are rumors of further legislation that allows developers to do the same for permits! If THAT comes to pass, we can say goodbye to the Garden State thanks to this administration. Murphy will delay environmental progress long enough for countless projects to slip through, bringing the promise of devastation and death with them.     Worst    climate    Governor    ever. 

So, back to the question why. Why would one “interest group” letter, with no scientific evidence and a lot of whining about profit loss, trump the other “interest group” letter, based on scientific fact, which presents the urgent need for life-saving legislation, paramount to the survival of humanity, per the Governor himself?

Well, one can draw their own conclusions about how a self proclaimed, “cold-blooded capitalist progressive,” that seems prepared for a White House campaign is trying to please the left and the right. By coincidence, Murphy just signed legislation (S2866), named the “Elections Transparency Act “(or lack thereof). This act weakens the pay-to-play law, and it also increases limits on campaign donations, and makes donations to lobbyists untraceable. Let that sink in... Campaign donations to lobbyists are untraceable. CPACs and certain 501 nonprofits only have to be transparent when funding mailers and ads. That means that if a builder’s lobby were to hypothetically make a huge donation to the campaign of a potential presidential candidate, nobody could prove that he was bought. …Just saying. This new legislation also dramatically shortens the statute of limitations on campaign finance violations, making accountability much less of a thing. Can't stop asking why... 

Governor Murphy not only fails repeatedly to Protect New Jerseyans against climate threats, he has given a fast track to builders trying to squeeze past the new Inland Flood Rule... He may have also set himself up to not have to face any accountability for hypothetical campaign donations that may have inspired such poor decision making. Perhaps it's just a coincidence, but I am certain that it is a very bad look and has been a disservice to the Great Garden State, fast becoming the soon-to-be-underwater logistics state and just a memory to those of us who treasure this place we call home. Governor Murphy, stop paving the way for the destruction of our Garden State!

Here's a current letter to the Governor from the coalition of environmental advocacy groups. 

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Excellent article really nails it, exposing our lying governor, our dishonest governor, our obfuscating and cheating governor, our self-gratifying and selfish governor, who serves the people with blah blah blah and serves the money people by bending forward as they hug him from behind and stuff money in his pockets.

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