Sunday, May 24, 2015

'A Beautiful MInd' Princeton Prof dies in auto accident

John Forbes Nash, Jr., the Nobel laureate known for his groundbreaking work on game theory and differential equations, was killed along with his wife in a taxi crash on the New Jersey Turnpike, police say. He was 86. 

National Public Radio has this to say about Mr. Nash: 
His death was first reported by citing a police official. NPR has confirmed the report through longtime colleague Louis Nirenberg. The couple were killed on Saturday.
Nash is best known to the general public as the subject of the 2001 film A Beautiful Mind, which depicted the troubled mathematician struggling with paranoid schizophrenia even as he pressed ahead with his research. Nash was played by actor Russell Crowe.
According to, Nash and his wife of 60 years, 82-year-old Alicia Nash:
"[Were] in a taxi traveling southbound in the left lane of the New Jersey Turnpike, State Police Sgt. Gregory Williams said. The driver of the Ford Crown Victoria lost control as he tried to pass a Chrysler in the center lane, crashing into a guard rail.
"The Nashes were ejected from the car, Williams said.
"'It doesn't appear that they were wearing sea tbelts,' he said."
Nirenberg, with whom Nash shared the 2015 Abel Prize, tells NPR's Lauren Hodges that he and his colleague had just returned from Oslo where they received the award. Nirenberg said Nash and his wife were supposed to take a limo home but the driver never showed. So, instead, they took a cab.
Princeton President Christopher L. Eisgruber later issued a statement saying the university was "stunned and saddened by news of the untimely passing of John Nash and his wife and great champion, Alicia."
"John's remarkable achievements inspired generations of mathematicians, economists and scientists," Eisgruber said.
A bio on Princeton University's website, where Nash was a professor, notes that A Beautiful Mind was "loosely" based on his life. Nash received his doctorate from the institution in 1950.
According to the website:
"The impact of his 27 page dissertation on the fields of mathematics and economics was tremendous. In 1951 he joined the faculty of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge. His battle with schizophrenia began around 1958, and the struggle with this illness would continue for much of his life. Nash eventually returned to the community of Princeton."
Read the full story here


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Saturday, May 23, 2015

Rutgers says it's bred the Mother of All Strawberries

"After a decade of quietly, painstakingly sowing their seeds, Rutgers agricultural scientists are finally reaping the fruits of their labor. And soon, so can you. It is the mother of all strawberries — one cultivated by cross-breeding different types of strawberry plants over the years until the best traits of all come together in one blessed blossom," John Petrick reports today in The Record.

"The "Rutgers Scarlet," as it is appropriately named, is being unveiled this month. What’s its great appeal? It’s sweet – but not too sweet, say its growers. Acidic, but just a touch. It has just the right bouquet, and color. The strawberry emerged through endless rounds of taste-testing among farmers in the field, scientists in the lab and focus groups in the board room."

Read John's story to learn when and how you can get your hands on (and teeth into) a Rutgers


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Thursday, May 21, 2015

To no one’s surprise, the Pinelands pipeline is back in play

The much debated and twice-rejected South Jersey Gas proposal to build a natural gas pipeline through the Pinelands is back in the news.

As before, South Jersey Gas is seeking to construct the pipeline so that the coal-dependent B.L.England power plant can convert to natural-gas fueled turbines that will generate cleaner energy and avoid an environmental regulation shutdown.

“This project is being built primarily to benefit the Pinelands,” says South Jersey Gas's VP Bob Fatzinger with a straight face. (See the video).

Liar, liar pants on fire is basically the response from the Sierra Club's Jeff Tittel and Pinelands Alliance's Jaclyn Rhoads.

There is no surprise that the proposal is being revived. The company and its political backers, including Governor Chris Christie, his Department of Environmental Protection, and local state Senator Jeff Van Drew, who has close ties to local utility workers, all pushed mightily to get Bob Barr appointed as a new member on the Pinelands Commission so he could provide the crucial 'yes' vote to break a 7-7 deadlock.

The only plot twist so far this round is that Barr proclaims that he will not play a rubber stamp role. Perhaps for that reason, pipeline advocates now are taking the position that a vote of the commission is not necessary. The Pinelands plan, they contend, already allows for approval since the pipeline will run along existing roadways, will not impact forests, and won't require the filling of wetlands.

In the video above, NJTV News’ Brenda Flanagan introduces the latest sequel in this multi-season, eco-drama. Feel free to supply your own fuel in the comment box below.

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Environmental attorney sounds off on smelly stormwater

"Rather quietly, there's a major storm brewing over stormwater -- how to regulate it, who does the regulating and on what criteria" 

R. William Potter - Amanda Brown photo
Writing in NJ Spotlight today,veteran New Jersey environmental attorney R. William Potter of the Princeton-based law firm Potter and Dickson, provides his opinion on why stormwater runoff continues to add to New Jersey's highly polluted waterways and how the challenge of correcting the problem falls primarily to local zoning boards, followed by the courts and the state Department of Environmental Protection. Credit: Amanda Brown

If that description sounds too dry, the title of Mr. Potter's essay might activate your attention: If it looks and smells like sewage, it  could be stormwater.    

Speaking of opinions, yours may differ. If you are a land-use attorney or other expert with another point of view, we would consider your submission as an Op-Ed. Send to: with information on who you are and who you represent on the issue.

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Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Will Rutgers research torment dolphins?

On its blog today, Clean Ocean Action writes:

As soon as June 1st, Rutgers University intends to begin a seismic study approximately 15 miles off of the coast of Long Beach Island, New Jersey. The study has been approved by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), which has permitted the “takings” of 18,457 marine mammals— 26 times more mammals than originally proposed — during the 30-day research period so long as these incidents are classified as “Level B Harassment” under the Marine Mammal Protection Act. However, there is no scientific way to observe and assess all of the physical and physiological damage done to the populations of marine mammals to ensure that these damages do not surpass Level B Harassment into Level A Harassment.

The organization is urging its friends to call on Rutgers President Robert Barchi to cancel the study. What do you think? Let us know in the comment box below.

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New recycling system for old paint passes NJ Senate

Legislation designed to keep out of landfills those partially full cans of latex and oil paint piling up in your basement or garage, passed the New Jersey Senate yesterday on a 27-6 vote and now heads to the Assembly Commerce Committee. 

S-1420, sponsored by Senator Jim Beach (D-Burlington/Camden) is modeled on legislation developed by the paint industry as a proactive solution to the potential problem of improperly discarded paint seeping through the ground into water supplies. 

To avoid this, PaintCare, a nonprofit creation of the paint industry's D.C.-based American Coatings Association, has created a program, already operating in eight states, that provides free collection of the old paint from dealers and public recycling programs. The paint can be recycled into new paint, or other products such as non-structural concrete, asphalt and even landscaping stones.

The legislation is supported by a number of New Jersey environmental organizations, including the Sierra Club, the New Jersey Association of Household Hazardous Waste Coordinators and the Association of New Jersey Recyclers (ANJR). 

Disclosure: Our sister company, Brill Public Affairs, provides consulting services to ANJR.,

The bill is opposed by the New Jersey Retail Merchants Association.  

Related news story
Paint recycling bill gets NJ Senate approval

Monday, May 18, 2015

Cindy Dunn nomination to lead PA-DCNR advances

Cindy Adams Dunn - Frank Brill photo
Despite some legislators' concerns about positions she took as CEO of the environmental organization, PennFuture, the nomination of acting Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn to head the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources was approved on Wednesday by the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy committee.
Ms. Dunn said she will use her independent judgment in her new role and be responsive to the interests of all citizens.

Her nomination still must be considered by the full Senate.
Watch our video interview with Ms. Dunn when she was at PennFuture.
Read coverage of the nomination hearing by the Post-Gazette and PA Environment Digest 

Read Wallace McKelvey’s Patriot News interview with Dunn on fracking in state forests

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Thursday, May 14, 2015

NJ ag, energy, environment bills posted for votes - May 14

A total of eleven agriculture, energy and environment bills will be up for votes in a committee and on the Assembly floor in Trenton on Thursday, May 14, 2015.

Here's the lineup:

Committee Room 1, 1st Floor, State House Annex, Trenton, NJ

A-1294  Dancer, R.S. (R-12); Space, P. (R-24); Andrzejczak, B. (D-1)
Extends Right to Farm Act protections to commercial beekeepers, with some restrictions.  Related Bill: S-1328

A-1295  Dancer, R.S. (R-12); Space, P. (R-24); Andrzejczak, B. (D-1)
Establishes exclusive State regulatory authority over apiary activities and allows for delegation of monitoring and enforcement authority to municipalities.
Related Bill: S-1975
A-1296  Dancer, R.S. (R-12); Space, P. (R-24); Caride, M. (D-36)
Establishes penalty for destruction of man-made native bee hive.
S-1328  Van Drew, J. (D-1); Oroho, S.V. (R-24)
Extends Right to Farm Act protections to commercial beekeepers, with some restrictions. Related Bill: A-1294

S-1975  Van Drew, J. (D-1); Oroho, S.V. (R-24)
Establishes exclusive State regulatory authority over apiary activities and allows for delegation of monitoring and enforcement authority to municipalities.
Related Bill: A-1295

S-2302  Van Drew, J. (D-1)
Establishes penalty for destruction of man-made native bee hive.
Related Bill: A-1296


A-3169  Greenwald, L.D. (D-6); Vainieri Huttle, V. (D-37); Webber, J. (R-26)
Requires DEP to submit annual financial report on status of certain fund balances.

A-3849  DeAngelo, W.P. (D-14); Eustace, T. (D-38); Mazzeo, V. (D-2)
Requires BPU to provide consumer information on third-party electric power and gas supplier pricing and services.  Related Bill: S-2466
 A-3850  DeAngelo, W.P. (D-14); Eustace, T. (D-38); Mazzeo, V. (D-2)
Requires BPU to establish procedures allowing electric power and gas supplier customers to switch energy suppliers.  Related Bill: S-2467
A-3851  DeAngelo, W.P. (D-14); Eustace, T. (D-38); Mazzeo, V. (D-2)
Imposes contract standards between customers and third-party electric power and gas suppliers.  Related Bill: S-2468
A-4258  Eustace, T. (D-38); Mazzeo, V. (D-2)
Clarifies liability for discharges of hazardous substances from drilling platforms that enter NJ waters.   Related Bill: S-2172
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Monday, May 11, 2015

Tonawanda Coke to pay $12M in NY pollution settlement

Under a $12 million settlement with the United States and the state of New York, Tonawanda Coke Corporation will pay $2.75 million in civil penalties, spend approximately $7.9 million to reduce air pollution and enhance air and water quality, and spend an additional $1.3 million for environmental projects in the area of Tonawanda, NY. 

The agreement was announced jointly by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Regional Administrator Judith A. Enck, U.S. Assistant Attorney General John C. Cruden, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) Commissioner Joseph Martens and New York State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman.

According to EPA's news release:

"Under the consent decree lodged today in federal court in the Western District of New York, Tonawanda Coke must improve its processes, operations and monitoring for coke oven gas leaks, assess key equipment, repair or replace equipment, install new pollution controls, and take many additional measures under a prescribed schedule.  This work, estimated to cost approximately $7.9 million, will secure significant reductions of benzene, ammonia and particulate matter emissions from the plant, improving air quality in Tonawanda and protecting public health. Benzene is a carcinogen.

"The settlement also requires Tonawanda Coke to pay a $1.75 million civil penalty to the United States to resolve violations of the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-know Act, and pay a $1 million civil penalty to the State of New York, which is a co-plaintiff with the United States.  In addition to the state penalty, Tonawanda Coke will pay another $1 million to fund projects that will benefit the environment and the residents of Tonawanda.  

"Additionally, $357,000 will be provided to Ducks Unlimited, a not for profit organization, to acquire and preserve wetlands. In addition to protecting and enhancing water quality, wetlands reduce flooding, filter pollutants, and provide habitat for fish and wildlife."

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How did Delaware's rivers and ponds get so polluted?

Over the past century, Delaware's industrial and agricultural past, poor wastewater management, as well as lax regulation over storm water runoff all had a hand in dirtying Delaware's waterways.

Today, except for the beaches, nearly all of Delaware's waterways are polluted.

WHYY is undertaking a two-year project to report on how the state's rivers, ponds and streams.
The first report with Shirley Min is an assessment of Delaware's water health.

If the video above fails to appear, you can open it here 

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NJ ag, energy, environment bills posted for votes - May 11
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