Monday, December 22, 2014

Castro and Obama, three senators, and a surfer dude

Spring break

Back in 1994, the Castro commies stopped now Star-Ledger columnist Paul Mulshine 
from becoming the first writer ever to cover surfing in Cuba for Surfer Magazine.

Mulshine's still sore about it, but not enough to oppose President Obama's decision
to patch things up with our southern neighbor.

How does his position differ from that of three U.S. Senators whose feathers are ruffled
by the potential for detente? And how sincere are their stories about their family escapes from Castro?
Find the answer in...Give the Cuban people a break - spring break that is 

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Sunday, December 21, 2014

Is Toyota’s hydrogen-cell Mirai the car of the future?



Is the Toyota Mirai the future of transportation in a climate-challenged world?

Reasons why it might be: Its fuel-cell power system is more efficient than gas combustion engines, goes from 0 to 60 mph in only 9 seconds, gets 400-430 miles between fill-ups, all while producing no harmful tailpipe emissions,

The Problem: Someone must figure out out to build enough hydrogen fueling stations to overcome potential owners' concerns about running on empty.

Haans Griemel, Asia Editor for Automotive News, calls it a "chicken and egg problem."

"People want to buy the car only if there is infrastructure, but there won't be infrastructure unless people are buying the cars."

Presently there is not a single hydrogen refueling station in New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania or Delaware.

Fueling stations* for other alternative fuel vehicles are more numerous but still inadequate.

Electric Fueling Stations
New York - 411
Pennsylvania - 186
New Jersey- 109
Delaware - 12

Compressed Natural Gas
New York - 39
Pennsylvania - 25
New Jersey - 8
Delaware - 1

*Data supplied by the U.S. Department of Energy - Alternative Ffuels Data Center

Related environmental news stories:
First Drive Of Hydrogen Fuel-Cell Sedan   
Toyota's futuristic, freaky fuel-cell car

Your thoughts on hydrogen-powered vehicles?  Tell us in the comment box below

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Thursday, December 18, 2014

Partisan showdown ahead on Senate Energy Committee?

"The ideological divide over climate change widened this week in the Senate committee charged with shaping America's energy policy, setting the stage for a partisan showdown over the new Republican majority's plans to attack the Environmental Protection Agency, build the Keystone XL pipeline and drive fossil fuel expansion."

Elizabeth Warren is one of three new Democrats on the panel
InsideClimate News' Katherine Bagley reports that the Democrats' replacement of three pro-fossil-fuel lawmakers with more pro-climate-action senators means that "any across-the-aisle cooperation on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee is probably dead."

"While Republicans will control the panel 12-10 in 2015, Democrats could delay—or even potentially derail—the GOP's pro-fossil-fuels agenda by nitpicking bills during committee mark-up or by threatening a presidential veto."

"The GOP's appointments are evidence of the increasing desire within the party to roll back Environmental Protection Agency regulations," said Ford O'Connell, a Republican strategist who served as an adviser on the 2008 McCain-Palin presidential campaign. "The Democrats' decisions were definitely calculated, defensive choices. They chose three of their strongest environmentalists...There will be some serious battles in the next two years."


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More bills added for final 2014 voting sessions in Trenton


On Tuesday, we published a list of  energy and environmental bills that were scheduled to be voted on today (12/18) at the final 2014 voting sessions of the New Jersey Senate and Assembly.

Since then, as often is customary before a recess, leadership in both houses were pressured into adding more than a dozen additional pieces of legislation in each house to the scores of bills already already listed for a vote. It's going to be a long day.

Below are the energy and environmental bills expected to be called in each house. Lawmakers will return in mid January for the second half of their two-year 216th Session.


ASSEMBLY

12/18/14  1 PM

A-3058  McKeon, J.F. (D-27); McHose, A.L. (R-24); Space, P. (R-24); Moriarty, P.D. (D-4)
Extends for five years expiration date of special appraisal process for Green Acres program and farmland preservation program for lands in Highlands Region; makes change to special appraisal process for certain farmers.
Related Bill: S-1050
     
A-3125  Caride, M. (D-36)
Prohibits sale or planting of certain invasive plant species.
    
A-3452  Mazzeo, V. (D-2)
Regulates planting and sale of running bamboo.
    
A-3815  Green, J. (D-22); Burzichelli, J.J. (D-3); Singleton, T. (D-7); Johnson, G.M. (D-37); Diegnan, P.J. (D-18); Moriarty, P.D. (D-4); Rible, D.P. (R-30); Dancer, R.S. (R-12)
Extends for one year expiration date of certain permits pursuant to "Permit Extension Act of 2008."
Related Bill: S-2551
     
A-3969  Prieto, V. (D-32); Schaer, G.S. (D-36); Caride, M. (D-36); Eustace, T.J. (D-38)
"Hackensack Meadowlands Agency Consolidation Act"; "Hackensack Meadowlands Transportation Planning District Act of 2014"; "New Jersey Meadowlands Tax Relief Act."
Related Bill: S-2647
      
AR-191  Stender, L. (D-22); McKeon, J.F. (D-27); Jasey, M.M. (D-27); Bramnick, J.M.
(R-21)
Opposes Pilgrim Pipeline project in NJ.
Related Bill: SR-106
    
S-1050  Smith, B. (D-17); Bateman, C. (R-16)
Extends for five years expiration date of special appraisal process for Green Acres program and farmland preservation program for lands in Highlands Region; makes change to special appraisal process for certain farmers.
Related Bill: A-3058
    
_____________________________________________________________________________

SENATE 
12/18/14  2:00 PM

A-965  Singleton, T. (D-7); Sumter, S.E. (D-35); Simon, D.M. (R-16); Lagana, J.A. (D-38); Schaer, G.S. (D-36); Watson Coleman, B. (D-15); Garcia, C.G. (D-33)
Makes construction work on public utilities subject to "The Public Works Contractor Registration Act."    Related Bill: S-1945
     
 A-3628  Greenwald, L.D. (D-6); Kean, S.T. (R-30)
"Water Infrastructure Protection Act."
Related Bill: S-2412
    
A-3991  Fiocchi, S.L. (R-1)
Establishes New Jersey Eco-Ag Tourism Council.
     
S-2234  Thompson, S.D. (R-12); Van Drew, J. (D-1)
Abolishes Landscape Irrigation Contractors Examining Board in the Department of Environmental Protection and transfers regulation of landscape irrigation contractors to Department of Community Affairs.
Related Bill: A-3397
     
S-2412  Sarlo, P.A. (D-36); Kyrillos, J.M. (R-13)
"Water Infrastructure Protection Act."
Related Bill: A-3628
      
S-2420  Smith, B. (D-17); Bateman, C. (R-16)
Increases electric power net metering capacity threshold to 4 percent of total annual kilowatt-hours sold in the State.
     
S-2551  Sarlo, P.A. (D-36); Kyrillos, J.M. (R-13)
Extends for one year expiration date of certain permits pursuant to "Permit Extension Act
of 2008."
Related Bill: A-3815
     
S-2647  Sarlo, P.A. (D-36)
"Hackensack Meadowlands Agency Consolidation Act"; "Hackensack Meadowlands Transportation Planning District Act of 2014"; "New Jersey Meadowlands Tax Relief Act."
Related Bill: A-3969
   
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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Breaking: New York bans fracking over health risks

The New York Times reports that the administration of  Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has decided to ban hydraulic fracturing in New York State because of concerns over health risks, ending years of uncertainty over the controversial method of natural gas extraction.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo listened to a presentation on fracking
at a cabinet meeting in Albany on Wednesday.
 Credit (AP Photo)
"State officials concluded that fracking, as the method is known, could contaminate the air and water and pose inestimable dangers to public health," Thomas Kaplan and Jesse McKinley reported.  
                        "That conclusion was delivered during a year-end cabinet meeting convened by Mr. Cuomo in Albany. It came amid increased calls by environmentalists to ban fracking, which uses water and chemicals to release natural gas trapped in deeply buried shale deposits."
                The Times called the question of whether to allow fracking "one of the most divisive public policy debates in New York in years, pitting environmentalists against others who saw it as a critical way to bring jobs to economically stagnant portions of upstate."

"Mr. Cuomo, a Democrat who has prided himself on taking swift and decisive action on other contentious issues like gun control, took the opposite approach on fracking," the paper said. "He repeatedly put off making a decision on how to proceed, most recently citing an ongoing — and seemingly never-ending — study by state health officials."
                On Wednesday, six weeks after Mr. Cuomo won re-election to a second term, the long-awaited health study finally materialized.   

Read the full story here
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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

NJ Legislature finishing up 2014 with dual sessions


The New Jersey Legislature will wrap up the first year of its two-year 216th Session
on Thursday, Dec. 18, 2014, with voting sessions in the Senate and Assembly.

Below is a list of environmental bills up for votes in both houses. You'll also find the
Senate's schedule for 2015. We'll post the Assembly schedule when it becomes available.

ASSEMBLY VOTING SESSION
12/18/14  1 PM
 
A-3452  Mazzeo, V. (D-2)
Regulates planting and sale of running bamboo.
     
AR-191  Stender, L. (D-22); McKeon, J.F. (D-27); Jasey, M.M. (D-27)
Opposes Pilgrim Pipeline project in NJ.
Related Bill: SR-106
    
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SENATE VOTING SESSION
12/18/14  2 PM
 
A-965  Singleton, T. (D-7); Sumter, S.E. (D-35); Simon, D.M. (R-16); Lagana, J.A. (D-38); Schaer, G.S. (D-36); Watson Coleman, B. (D-15); Garcia, C.G. (D-33)
Makes construction work on public utilities subject to "The Public Works Contractor Registration Act."   Related Bill: S-1945
    
 S-2412  Sarlo, P.A. (D-36); Kyrillos, J.M. (R-13)
"Water Infrastructure Protection Act."
Related Bill: A-3628
      
S-2420  Smith, B. (D-17); Bateman, C. (R-16)
Increases electric power net metering capacity threshold to 4 percent of total annual kilowatt-hours sold in the State.
      
S-2551  Sarlo, P.A. (D-36); Kyrillos, J.M. (R-13)
Extends for two years expiration date of certain permits pursuant to "Permit Extension Act of 2008."
Related Bill: A-3815
   
S-2647  Sarlo, P.A. (D-36)
"Hackensack Meadowlands Agency Consolidation Act"; "Hackensack Meadowlands Transportation Planning District Act of 2014"; "New Jersey Meadowlands Tax Relief Act."
Related Bill: A-3969
 
    
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Senate Schedule:  January – March, 2015
 
 Monday, January 12, 2015:
 10:00 a.m.       Group 1 Committees
12:00 Noon      Quorum Call
1:00 p.m.        Group 2 Committees
 
 Tuesday, January 13, 2015:
State of the State Address (General Assembly Chamber)    
           
Thursday, January 15, 2015:
10:00 a.m.       Group 3 Committees
12:00 Noon      Quorum Call
  1:00 p.m.        Group 4 Committees
 
 Monday, January 26, 2015:
 10:00 a.m.       Group 1 Committees
12:00 Noon      Quorum Call
1:00 p.m.        Group 2 Committees
 
 Thursday, January 29, 2015:
 10:00 a.m.       Group 3 Committees
12:00 Noon      Quorum Call
1:00 p.m.        Group 4 Committees
 
  Monday, February 2, 2015:
  2:00 p.m.         Voting Session
 
  Thursday, February 5, 2015:
10:00 a.m.    Group 1 Committees
  12:00 Noon      Quorum Call
  1:00 p.m.        Group 2 Committees
 
 Thursday, February 12, 2015:
 10:00 a.m.       Group 3 Committees
12:00 Noon      Quorum Call
1:00 p.m.        Group 4 Committees
 
 Tuesday, February 24, 2015: (Tentative)
  Governor’s Budget Message (time to be announced)
 
 Thursday, March 5, 2015:
 2:00 p.m.         Voting Session

Monday, March 9, 2015:
10:00 a.m.    Group 1 Committees
12:00 Noon      Quorum Call
1:00 p.m.        Group 2 Committees
 
 Thursday, March 12, 2015:
 10:00 a.m.    Group 3 Committees
12:00 Noon      Quorum Call
1:00 p.m.        Group 4 Committees
 
 Monday, March 16, 2015:
 2:00 p.m.        Voting Session

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