Green Shift: NJ Bald Eagles Top 100 Nests

Here’s a tree-topper that beats them all. The NJ DEP confirms that there are over 100 nesting bald eagle pairs in the Garden State.

The survey by the DEP’s Endangered and Nongame Species Program counted 102 pairs of actively nesting eagles, plus 11 more pairs in the process of establishing nesting territories. The survey documented a record 22 new nests, of which 16 are in southern New Jersey, four in northern New Jersey and two in central New Jersey.

While the bald eagle was removed from the nation’s Endangered Species list in 2007, it remains an endangered and protected species in New Jersey.

“The recovery of the bald eagle from one nesting pair in an isolated swamp in southern New Jersey in the early 1980s to more than 100 pairs today is a truly remarkable success story that is a testament to the excellent work that has been done to manage the species, and to how far we’ve come as a state in restoring and protecting our environment,” DEP Commissioner Bob Martin said.

This is an end of the year gift that we can all enjoy.  If you feel like leaving a little something under the tree for our state’s bald eagles, consider making a donation on your 2012 NJ state taxes for Wildlife Conservation or purchasing a Conserve Wildlife license plate for your car

Dec. 19 press release

Project report with nesting site map

Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey

Green Politics: Natural Gas for a Cleaner NJ?

NJ natural gas producers, fracking opponents, and renewable energy supporters met Dec. 16 at Rider University for a NJ Spotlight Roundtable to debate the fossil fuel’s future in the state’s energy mix.

The conclusion?: It’s inevitable.

Silver lining? Natural gas use can be a bridge to a cleaner NJ with less reliance on dirty coal production and and more reliance on cleaner, sustainable energy sources:

With tough new air pollution rules likely to lead to the closing of many coal-fired power plants, which supply the bulk of the electricity in the country, natural gas will have to be a bridge fuel to a greater reliance on other cleaner source of electricity, most of the panelists said.

Read NJ Spotlight’s recap.




Green Politics: NYC Proposes Sensible Zoning Upgrades for a Greener Big Apple

Call it the law of unintended consequences. Sometimes zoning laws impede green improvements and green construction. The laws as they stand today inadvertently block beneficial green solutions that didn’t exist when the laws were first implemented. NYC’s planning department is taking a sensible approach to loosen these restrictions for existing and new buildings.

NYC Considers Loosening Zoning Roadblocks for Green Retrofitting and Building

Building on the work of the Green Codes Task Force, the Department of City Planning proposes a Citywide zoning text amendment to remove zoning impediments to the construction and retrofitting of green buildings. This proposal would give owners more choices for the investments they can make to save energy, save money, and improve environmental performance. This proposal will help bring our buildings into the 21st century while protecting the character and quality of life of our neighborhoods.


Green Links: Water Resources for Greater NYC

Here’s a resource list for anyone interested in improving, preserving and enjoying the lakes, rivers, streams and bays that comprise up our Greater NYC watersphere:

(Thanks to the New Jersey Water Resources Research Institute for creating and maintaining this comprehensive list)
Water-Focused List of Regional, State, National and International Organizations

And a few favorites doing hands-on advocacy, action and education on our local waterways:

Riverkeeper (Hudson River & New York Waterways)

Hackensack Riverkeeper

Metropolitan Water Alliance

Clean Water Action

Green Politics: Urban Waters Revitalization

Know any urban educators, environmentalists or community liasons? Pass along this good news that the EPA has opened a nearly $2 million grant window for restoration of urban waters.

The goal of EPA’s urban waters small grants is to fund projects, training and research that will advance restoration of urban waters by improving water quality and community access. These activities will also support community revitalization and improving public health, social and economic opportunities, general livability and environmental justice for residents.

EPA To Provide Nearly $2 Million to Revitalize U.S. Urban Waters (Dec. 7)


Green Politics: NJ’s Energy Master Plan Weds Renewables & Fossil Fuels

It’s a marriage of sunny side up meets lowered expectations.

After months of meetings, public comments and working group recommendations, the Christie Administration released the state’s revised Energy Master Plan Dec. 6 as the state’s energy development blueprint for coming decades.

On the sunny side, the new plan includes fixes to stabilize and reignite the solar energy investment market.

To the disappointment of environmental and renewable energy stakeholders, Christie continues to dance with gas-fired power plants, cross-state gas-line expansions, and a friendly nod to fracking supporters. The state’s goal for generating electricity from renewable energy sticks at 22.5 percent, a walk-back from the 30 percent target set by the Corzine administration.

For all state residents, the new plan promises lower utility bills and safer, reliable power.

Dec. 6 NJ Energy Master Plan

Dec. 6 Governor Christie’s EMP Press Release

Dec. 6 NJ Spotlight

Dec. 6 Star-Ledger Coverage

Green Politics: Obama Tells Fed Buildings to Put on a Sweater

While I believe energy self-sufficiency starts at home, residential energy efficiency is a drop in the bucket compared to commercial energy use.

That’s why I was happy to see this Dec. 2 White House announcement directing all federal agencies to make at least $2 billion worth of energy efficiency upgrades over the next 2 years – at no up-front cost to the taxpayer.

These investments in energy upgrades are part of a job-creating business partnership:

Today’s commitments were announced by President Obama and former President Clinton along with representatives from more than 60 organizations as part of the Better Buildings Challenge. The Challenge is part of the Better Buildings Initiative launched in February by President Obama, and is spearheaded by former President Clinton and the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness to support job creation by catalyzing private sector investment in commercial and industrial building energy upgrades to make America’s buildings 20 percent more efficient over the next decade, reducing energy costs for American businesses by nearly $40 billion. Last year, commercial buildings consumed roughly 20 percent of all the energy used by the U.S. economy

Green Politics: NJ “Safe Playing Field Act” Moving Forward

The proposed Safe Playing Field Act continues to gain support in both halves of the NJ legislature.

The New Jersey Environmental Federation urges supporters to help the bills make it to the floors of both Houses for approval this legislative session. Read their current action update.

If passed, this new law would ban the use of synthetic pesticides on the grounds of schools, day care centers, parks and recreational fields in New Jersey.

Pesticide application is always a concern, even when done right in the name of eradicating pests and protecting kids. This bill gives parents security by banning pesticides where kids of all ages congregate.

Currently, pesticide use at NJ schools is limited by a 2002 law requiring schools to use Integrated Pesticide Management (IPM) practices. When higher-impact pesticides are needed as a last resort, the law requires schools to notify parents.

The new law would ban all use except as an emergency response to immediate threat to human health.

Passing this law will put NJ at the forefront of protecting children from dangerous chemicals. Connecticut bans pesticides at day care centers and schools, kindergarten through eighth grade. New York bans the use from kindergarten through high school.

Opponents to the bill say a ban would make it harder and more expensive to maintain safe conditions on high-traffic natural grass sports fields.

Supporters think that IPM doesn’t go far enough to protect kids from health risks posed by pesticides. The health risks from any pesticide use are too great.

Affordable, proven non-toxic turf protocols are available now.  Let’s pass this law and  eliminate the grey areas for the good of all our kids.

Green Politics: NJ Fertilizer Law Kicks In

The NJ Department of Environmental Protection reminds residents that they may not apply fertilizers to their lawns now until March 1.

The 2011 NJ Fertilizer Law creates a statewide standard — one of the toughest in the nation — for what kinds of fertilizer applications are permitted, by whom and when.

This law protects the ecological health of our state’s inland and coastal waters in general and Barnegat Bay in particular.

Here’s why the law was needed: the overuse of nitrogen and phosphorus in chemical lawn care fertilizers is fast food for grass but toxic for river and oceans. Lawn care chemicals don’t stay put. They drift and flow into our shared resources.

The run-off of these chemicals into water sources causes algae overgrowth — known as eutrophication — to the detriment of the rest of the eco-system. Barnegat Bay is slowing choking to death on the chemical-fueled algae growth.

The new law’s requirements will go into effect in stages for consumers, manufacturers and professionals.

A simpler option is to opt out from the chemical fertilizers all together. Animal manure and organic compost are already exempted from this law. Paul Tukey’s Safe Lawns site has terrific videos on creating a healthy, green chemical-free lawn.

If you want some help “greening” up your lawn care, there are professional services available that offer eco-friendly services without chemical fertilizers. One local business is Montclair-based Green Harmony Now.

Whatever options you choose, grow your beautiful lawn in ways that are easier on the environment, for everyone’s benefit.