Monday, October 24, 2016

Fracking done 'bigly;' Chesapeake claims fracking record

Chesapeake Energy Corp. said Thursday at an analyst conference that it set a record for fracking by pumping more than 25,000 tons of sand down one Louisiana natural gas well, a process the shale driller christened propageddon.

The super-sized dose of sand -- known as proppant -- is able to prop open bigger and more numerous cracks in the rock for oil and gas to flow. Output from the well increased 70 percent over traditional fracking techniques, Jason Pigott, vice president of operations, said during a presentation.

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Bridgegate: Kelly claims innocence; prosecution to cross

Bridget Kelly spent another day in the witness chair defending her role in Bridgegate and implicating Governor Christie.

She offered three specific dates on which she says she discussed the upcoming 'traffic study' with him. 

Through a spokesman, Christie continues to maintain that he had no any advance knowledge of the political revenge action. 

The trial could go to the jury late this week

Michael Aron of NJTV NEWS has the details

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AC approves recovery calling for job cuts, Borgata pact

ATLANTIC CITY — The battle over a state takeover entered its final stretch Monday, as city officials approved a fiscal recovery plan, 5-3-1.
Christian Hetrick of the Atlantic City Press writes:
The city will submit the plan to the state Department of Community Affairs on Tuesday. The state will then have until Nov. 1 to either accept the plan or take over the city’s finances for five years. 
The city plans to cut 100 more full-time workers, sell Bader Field to its water authority and settle with Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa over tax refunds, among other cost-cutting and revenue-raising measures. If implemented, the city’s budget would drop to $207 million by 2021, according to a summary of the plan. The city’s budget was $262 million in 2015.
“It is a comprehensive document that we, professionally, all believe will work if it is adopted and embraced,” said Michael Nadol, a consultant from The PFM Group, which helped the city draft the plan.
The cornerstone of the plan is selling Bader Field, a 143-acre former airstrip, to the Municipal Utilities Authority for $110 million. Those proceeds, plus $105 million in low-interest financing, would pay down all outstanding debt to Borgata, MGM and the state for deferred employee benefit costs, according to the summary. It would leave the city with $30 million in reserves.
The city and Borgata would settle for $103 million on tax refunds the city owes the casino. The city owed Borgata $150 million in tax refunds before interest after successful tax appeals by the casino. The settlement has not been finalized as Borgata waits to see if the state will accept the city’s plan, a financial consultant for the city said.
The city would reduce its full-time workforce from 965 to 865 post-recovery plan. That would be done by transferring a majority of the city’s senior and health services to Atlantic County, bidding out 10 services to the private sector and using early retirement buyouts to have “as few disruptive layoffs as possible,” according to the summary. The city has offered buyouts to 165 senior workers. 
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Ex-Pa. Attorney General Kathleen Kane sentenced to jail

Former Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane led from courtroom in handcuffs today
                   The brief, unlikely political career of Kathleen G. Kane, Pennsylvania’s brightest rising star when she was elected state attorney general less than four years ago, came to a humiliating close on Monday, when a judge sentenced her to 10 to 23 months in prison for her conviction on charges of perjury and abuse of her office.
New York Times reporters Jon Hurdle and Richard Perez-Pena write: 

Ms. Kane, 50, rose to power as a Democratic outsider with no political experience, vowing to shake to its foundations the state’s male-dominated, corruption-prone political establishment that she mocked as “the Harrisburg old boys.” At times she succeeded, forcing the ouster of State Supreme Court justices, prosecuting government officials, and clashing repeatedly with one of her predecessors, Tom Corbett, a Republican who had become governor.
But she soon created a scandal of her own, fueled by abuse of power and sensitivity to criticism, illegally leaking grand jury records in an attempt to discredit a critic, and then lying about it to a different grand jury. In August, a Court of Common Pleas jury here found her guilty of two felony perjury charges and seven misdemeanor counts, forcing her to resign from office.
Before the hearing, Ms. Kane, wearing a black pantsuit and a white blouse, greeted supporters with hugs and smiles as they entered the Montgomery County Courthouse here, and then, looking confident, chatted with her lawyers in the courtroom. But while testifying at the sentencing hearing, she broke down in tears, pleading with the judge to consider her two teenage sons.
“Maybe I deserve everything I get; they don’t,” she said. “I am not going to ask for your mercy because I don’t care about me any more.”
Called to testify on her behalf, her son Chris, 15, said: “My mom is like my rock. We just know that we can’t lose our mom.”
But prosecutors played video of Ms. Kane saying on the day after her conviction that she had “no regrets” about her life or career.
She faced a maximum sentence of 12 to 24 years in prison, but her lawyers had argued that the loss of her career and public reputation were punishment enough, and that she should not be locked up.
But in imposing a prison sentence, Judge Wendy Demchick-Alloy said, “any lesser sentence than total confinement will absolutely depreciate the seriousness of the crime. A violation of this magnitude and severity is an extraordinary abuse of the system,” the judge told Ms. Kane, who had no visible reaction.

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Ship that saved 7 during 'Perfect Storm' to be sunk off NJ

Scott Fallon reports for The Record:

The USS Zuni survived the submarine-infested waters of the Pacific during World War II as it towed torpedoed warships to safety and aided in the Battle of Iwo Jima.

A half-century later and renamed the Tamaroa, it overcame gale force winds and 40-foot waves to help save seven people off the New England coast, a rescue effort immortalized in the book and film “The Perfect Storm.”

But the Tamaroa could not conquer time.

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This ship that has made so much history will soon be sunk off the southern coast of New Jersey to help expand an artificial reef that attracts both scuba divers and anglers. A decade-long effort to turn the ship into a museum and memorial was derailed when the Tamaroa’s hull sprung a leak four years ago, causing significant damage to key parts of the ship.

Having the Tamaroa sit on the ocean floor isn’t how many who served on the ship envisioned its fate. There is, after all, an emotional attachment to the ship far more powerful than mere nostalgia. The Tamaroa was home to generations of crew members who routinely risked their lives in some of the most brutal conditions to save others.

The man who commanded the ship during the 1991 “Perfect Storm” said sinking the Tamaroa is a better outcome than being demolished for scrap metal, a common ending for old service ships.

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New wastewater treatment for Pompton Lake dredging

   The EPA is again removing contaminated sediment from the Pompton Lake

James M. O'Neil reports for The Record:

As part of its ongoing cleanup of contaminated sediment in Pompton Lake, Chemours is moving ahead with a more complicated way to treat wastewater to ensure it doesn’t have elevated levels of pollutants before it gets pumped back into the lake.

The company, which was spun off from DuPont last year, has received permission from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection to use a series of chemicals to treat the water that it squeezes out of dredged sediment from the lake.

When the project started, the water removed from the sediment was being treated mechanically to let particles with contamination settle out. But when the company tested the water, it still had elevated levels of mercury, copper and organic carbon.

So Chemours stopped pumping the treated water back into the lake. It brought in an extra storage tank to hold the water it squeezed from dredged sediment until it could develop the improved treatment process. With the extra tank in place, dredging the contaminated sediment continued without disruption.

The more complicated process will treat the water with a series of “food-grade” chemicals, said Perry Katz, remedial project manager with the Environmental Protection Agency, which is overseeing the cleanup.

The three-year, nearly $50 million dredging operation will ultimately remove 130,000 cubic yards of contaminated sediment from the lake bottom. The contamination comes from the former DuPont munitions facility in Pompton Lakes and Wanaque. The pollution was carried to the lake from Acid Brook, which flows through the old DuPont site.

The facility operated from 1902 to 1994, making blasting caps, metal wires and aluminum and copper ammunition shells for the U.S. military. The EPA wants the sediment removed because a toxic form of mercury can build up in fish, posing a health risk to people who eat them. Exposure to mercury can damage the human nervous system and harm the brain, kidneys, heart, lungs and immune system.

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Saturday, October 22, 2016

Kelly: Christie knew of Bridgegate plan before it happened

"It was the most anticipated testimony of the six-week (Bridgegate) trial and, for sheer drama, Bridget Kelly delivered," NJTV NEWS correspondent David Cruz says
in his introduction to the video report above.  

Kelly's message: Chris Christie was a profane and violent bully who held a grudge and made opponents pay.  

Also, he knew there was a traffic study coming a month before it happened.

Watch the video above for the details of Kelly's testimony which will continue on Monday.

Other Bridgegate trial coverage:
Ex-aide: Christie knew of Bridgegate plan before 'traffic problems' email (USA Today) 

Aide Says Christie Knew Of Traffic-Snarling Plan Well In Advance  (National Public Radio)

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Friday, October 21, 2016

Bridgegate defendants: Kelly/Baroni or Wildstein/Christie?

Bridgegate defendant Bridget Anne Kelly could take the stand today,  Friday, October 21
Ted Sherman and Matt Arco report for The Star-Ledger:

David Wildstein pleaded guilty more than a year ago to orchestrating the Bridgegate scandal.

But for much of the day Thursday, it seemed as if Wildstein was on trial, as defense attorneys for two former Christie administration insiders facing federal charges sought to portray the prosecution's key witness as a political con artist and "dangerous" figure who misled jurors.
At the same time, the testimony offered an inside look at the on-going war over regional interests involving the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, that continued top play out as the scandal at the bridge came to light in the fall of 2013.
And it also revealed the growing realization among top advisers to Gov. Chris Christie that the lane shutdowns might present a political problem, at a time the Republican governor was seeking to mount a campaign for the presidency.
Kelly is expected to be on the stand as early as Friday.
Read the full story here

After the prosecution unsuccessfully tried to exclude his testimony, Port Authority Commissioner Scott Rechler took the stand in the Bridgegate trial, sharing his thoughts on David Wildstein. David Cruz has the video story for NJTV NEWS below.


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Thursday, October 20, 2016

Bridgegate: Who knew what. when inside Christie's circle?

Michael Drewniak, former Press Secretary to NJ Gov. Chris Christie, testifies in the Bridgegate trial and his answers to questions by defendant Bridget Anne Kelly's defense attorney begin to paint a picture of "willful blindness" among members of the governor's top echelon, NJTV News correspondent Michael Aron reports.   

In other Bridgegate trial coverage, Asbury Park Press reporter Dustin Racioppi writes:

An outgoing commissioner of the Port Authority [Scott Rechler] said he viewed David Wildstein, the government's main witness in the George Washington Bridge lane-closure trial, as a political operative who was a “cancer” to the agency during his time there.

David Samson, the board's former chairman and a close ally to Gov. Chris Christie, was seen as someone who regularly sought to undermine the power of the New York side of the agency in an attempt to gain leverage for New Jersey, the commissioner testified Thursday.

And those two, along with former deputy executive director Bill Baroni, were seen as a “team” inhibiting efforts to depoliticize the bistate agency, he said.

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NJ Meadowlands moving to stop methane bird burns

Kestrel with singed tail feathers - Jill Homcy photo

After years of complaints by environmental advocates, a state agency indicated Wednesday that it is taking steps to prevent raptors and other birds from getting singed wings and tails as they fly through a nearly invisible flame that burns off methane at a landfill in the Meadowlands.

James M. O'Neill reports for
he Record

The agency responsible for the landfill met with federal wildlife officials Wednesday and said it will start clearing vegetation around the area to remove attractive areas for birds to perch around the flame.

The New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority plans to have landscapers start the work by the end of this week. The agency, which oversees the Kingsland Landfill in Lyndhurst, has retained a consultant to inspect the flare and see whether a "spiky crown" could be installed on top of the flame to keep birds away, or whether any other alterations could be made to ensure that the flare is safer for birds.

"They’ve come a long way from where they were just a few weeks ago. It’s certainly a positive development," said Don Torino, president of the Bergen County Audubon Society, which has complained to the agency for two years about the problem. "I’m cautiously optimistic."

Torino said, however, that none of the proposed changes address the issue of birds flying through the flame.

Torino and other birders have seen a number of species with singed wing and tail feathers, including rough-legged hawks, osprey and American kestrels, a small hawk with declining populations that is considered threatened in New Jersey. One raptor was found hiding in a drainage pipe near the landfill, unable to fly, Torino said.

He said birders have also seen smaller birds, including starlings, flying through the nearly invisible flame. "They get torched, hit the ground and run into the vegetation," he said. "There are probably a lot more birds being injured than we can even tell."

In an email, Christine Sanz, the sports authority’s senior vice president, told authority President Wayne Hasenbalg that the agency met with two special agents from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at the landfill Wednesday and came up with a list of initial steps.

The service will try to find an extra camera to watch the flare and see just how many birds are being affected. The federal agency will also contact the Public Service Electric and Gas Co. to discuss ways to make the utility’s poles and other infrastructure in the area less appealing as spots for birds to perch.

"We are making good progress and moving as quickly as we can to address the issues you have raised," Hasenbalg told Torino in an email Wednesday.

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