Wednesday, June 26, 2013

DE Chamber of Commerce, DNREC: the sound of covering up environmental violations

You don't really have to take a side in the debate over the Audobon Society/Sierra Club vs PBF Energy/the Markell administration to hear the sound of a bureaucrat playing CYA because she knows the hearing before the Coastal Zone Industrial Control Board is going to turn up some violations.

It's just fun to listen to her squirm:

In a sign of how significant a ruling against the refinery would be, state Chamber of Commerce President Joan Verplanck has suggested tolerance if mistakes were made at Delaware City. She described the appeal as an “after the fact legal analysis that seeks to declare the refinery’s operations as illegal and shut down its business.” 
“I’m not saying that everyone should look the other way.The environment needs to be protected,” Verplanck said. “But you don’t have to do it with a flamethrower. Those are really hard jobs to get back. You really can’t play too fast and loose with that without risking the whole workforce.” 
Verplanck said that reports of uncertainty and potential risks to agreements that Delaware made with PBF could prove damaging to the state’s economic development efforts. 
“If there were indeed oversights made, it had to be in good faith on all sides. I think people were so genuinely appreciative of the fact that they could get the jobs back,” Verplanck said. 
“Maybe in the rush to do that, something did get missed. But is it an omission and not commission. Let’s treat it that way.”
Yep, good faith all around.  Look at how much "good faith" and governmental transparency there has been at DNREC:

The Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control last month hired a private attorney to assist the state in handling the case, but has declined to release Attorney General’s Office opinions on the original permit applications, and would not say whether the state’s attorneys found conflicts between the law and the refinery’s projects. 
I love it:  Secret legal opinions from the Office of the Attorney General have now moved down from the US Department of Justice (you don't get to see the rulings that said what NSA was doing is legal) to the Delaware Attorney General's Office.

Riddle me this?  The Delaware Attorney General is a "public servant."  Exactly how does Beau Biden's office get to issue opinions on compliance with State law that are secret?

 Never fear, however, the News Journal finds a way to spin this one in the very first paragraph so that the people fighting to enforce the law (the Coastal Zone Act) are suddenly the bad guys:

A high-stakes appeal threatens to stunt the sprawling Delaware City Refinery’s rail complex and lucrative ties to low-cost North American crude oil supplies, with a state board scheduled to hear concerns about the operation on July 16. 
Two environmental groups filed appeals June 14 seeking to have the refinery’s operation declared in violation of Delaware's 42 year old Coastal Zone Act, throwing future operation of the offloading site into question and jeopardizing PBF’s attempt to jointly supply and operate Delaware City and the Paulsboro, N.J., refinery.
Now if this is a neutral lead-in, then everything they are supposed to teach in journalism school (or would that be middle school for this generation's WNJ reporters?) is pretty much out the window.

When a citizen-backed attempt to enforce the law is characterized as threatening, then you don't have to agree with the complainants to realize that the fix is already pretty much in.

You see, Governor Markell appoints five of the nine members of the Coastal Zone Industrial Control Board and they serve "at the Governor's pleasure."  This means, as we found out a few weeks back in the great hospital hoax, that if the board does not rule the way Jack wants them to, he'll simply fire the members who vote against him and start over. 

When you ask why Libertarians don't trust the government, we can start with the fact that the people running the government refuse to play by the rules they set up for everyone else.


Nancy Willing said...

I am going to add this post to my post tonight -

Amelia said...

This is cool!