Jeff Tittel, Sierra Club guy for New Jersey, thought he had a friend in Phil “the Panderer” Murphy, but now he’s outraged the Governor won’t do as he’s told.
Jeff Tittel, the humorless guy who is New Jersey Sierra Club is, nonetheless, a favorite of gullible media types who love it when he calls folks “fossil fools.” He takes himself quite seriously, though, and jumps up to the microphone and cameras whenever the opportunity arises. He even imagined Phil “the Panderer” Murphy was going to take orders from him.
Indeed, he got Murphy to pose for a picture with him to publicly announce, before hearings had been finished, that the Governor would, as a member of the DRBC, vote to ban fracking. That was an incredibly dumb move, of course, because it proves the process was tainted at the outset, setting up a basis for a legal challenge later. But, Murphy may not care and Jeff Tittel is jumping mad at him for refusing (so far) to take direction on another issue.
I wrote about the proposed North Bergen Liberty Generating Plant here. It’s a proposed new 1,200 MW natural gas fueled facility that will supply electricity needed by the metro area. It’s also located on an ideal industrial site and will replace generation at sites with far higher emission rates. Jumpin’ Jeff Titell, therefore, opposes it; not wanting any successful demonstration of just how good a deal gas really is.
Tittel has called on his buddy Phil, in fact, to do a moratorium that would stop the plant. Quite frankly, I expected “the Panderer” to give him one. But, Phil isn’t, at least not yet. Instead, Phil’s DEP is issuing some early permits for the thing, which suggests Phil could be more of a “Posturer” than “Panderer.” No wonder Jumpin’ Jeff is upset; he’s worried Phil might have been playing him.
Here’s the essence of the story, from an article in NorthJersey.com (emphasis added):
The Murphy Administration approved the first in a series of state permits needed by a company that wants to build a gas-fired power plant in the Meadowlands to provide energy to New York City.
The state Department of Environmental Protection approved freshwater wetlands, flood hazard area and waterfront permits for North Bergen Liberty Generating to build the power plant, and an underground cable line from the plant to the Hudson River and under the river to New York.
The company still needs to secure air quality and other permits, and approval from other agencies, including the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority, for the controversial project to proceed…
“This is a big DEP misstep,” said Jeff Tittel, head of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “This means this project is really heating up and the DEP is moving along with individual permits and not stepping back to ask the larger question of whether there should be a big power plant in the Meadowlands in the first place.”
…Leaders from five environmental groups have urged Gov. Phil Murphy to reject the proposal, arguing that it contradicts the governor’s ambitious plans to wean New Jersey off fossil fuels in favor of renewable energy sources like solar and wind power.
“DEP is siding with a power company over protecting the Meadowlands,” Tittel said Friday. “DEP is rushing forward with land use permits and is not looking at the disastrous impacts to the Meadowlands. This area is a gem and a unique ecosystem. Building onto and next to wetlands, streams and on the waterfront of the Hackensack River is an environmental outrage.”
Is Phil playing Jumpin’ Jeff? He could be. It might seem Phil couldn’t possibly allow a new gas plant when he’s taken such a strong position on behalf of the DRBC fracking ban and seemingly lined up against the PennEast Pipeline. But, it’s important to remember a few things.
First, is the fact our Panderer/Posturer was for fracking before he was against it; that is to say before he decided to run for Governor of New Jersey, even offering up this in a 2013 speech he gave in Germany:
“It is therefore no wonder that the shale gas revolution for the United States is, in our opinion, a win-win situation. It simplifies economic growth and, perhaps most importantly, has a significant impact on the environment and climate change. This is of global importance and these new developments in natural gas can lead to a win-win situation all over the world.”
Secondly, he doesn’t have to follow the lead of New York State’s Governor Corruptocrat. He has wiggle room to rhetorically oppose the pipeline while letting FERC overrule him. All needs to do is take too long in deciding on a water quality certification. That would allow FERC and/or the courts to overrule and become his goats for blaming purposes.
Finally, Phil’s reckless premature announcement of what his vote on the DRBC fracking ban will be, only serves to increase the likelihood the already legally weak DRBC position will be rendered irrelevant in court. He’s smart enough to know the courts will be the final word, so he wins even if he loses by pandering and posturing for the sake of handful of passionate fringe supporters.
Jumpin’ Jeff Tittel knows all this, too. He may be a sour old radical crank, but he knows how the politics work. That’s why he’s jumping mad. He put his stiff neck out for Phil during the campaign when others were pointing out Phil’s previous record and his oil and gas investments. Now, he’s deeply fearful Phil was just “Joshing” him.
Meanwhile, the metro area needs gas. Pennsylvania has it. It will get there. It’s only a matter of time. Phil knows it. Jumpin’ Jeff Tittel knows it, too. That’s why he ‘s so outraged. But, then again, like all committed fractivists, he’s never happy unless he’s miserable.