Open Thread for May 19, 2017

Filed in Delaware, Featured by on May 19, 2017

How Trump Is Killing Obamacare:  Not even the insurance companies will take his bribes.

He’s Not a Dupe, He’s a Serial Liar:  We’re talking Mike Pence, of course.

Biden Claims That He Was the ‘Correct’ Candidate.  Of course, that would’ve required running.  He’s right about Hillary, though.

How Nike’s Vaunted ‘Oregon Project’ Was Headed By a Doping Master.  Performance records mean nothing anymore.

Joe Loserman Was Kissing Trump’s Butt From the Beginning.  Couldn’t praise Flynn and KT McFarlane enough. He gives ‘unctuosity’ a bad name, even if it isn’t a word.

Delaware Coastal Zone Act Challenged By ‘Reform’ Bill.  Chamber’s calling the tune on everything.

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  1. chris says:

    Can you believe all the House Democrats who supported repeal of the estate tax for multi- millionaires?

  2. Chris: That one deserves its own thread. If someone else doesn’t write it, I will.

    Working Title?: A Case Study In Delaware Democratic Suckitude.

  3. chris says:

    Dem Party controls State House, Senate and Governor’s office and it looks like the Coastal Zone Act is on life support. I guess Delaware is immune or in a corporate bubble from the anti-Trump backlash going on everywhere else. Hell, even Philly just elected a civil rights attorney as DA.

  4. RE Vanella says:

    Take special note of where Biden was while making his remarks.

    You can file it under “lessons not yet learned.”

  5. Aurochs says:

    Reading through the proposed CZA amendments, this doesn’t actually look horrible. I may be missing something, but the conversion permit requirements are at least as strict as the current permitting process. No new sites are allowed; only existing sites may be converted for other industrial uses. Applicants must more than offset their pollution. They must be comply with relevant environmental laws, including HSCA. New oil refineries, bulk transfer facilities for natural gas, paper mills, incinerators, and steel plants are not allowed. I like all those restrictions. Conversion permits under this bill may actually be stricter than current law and regulations.

    The bill appears to be written to allow redevelopment of abandoned sites like the old Evraz Steel plant. If you would prefer that the coastal zone not have any industrial facilities within it at all, then you definitely don’t like this bill. I would ask you though, what type of uses you would prefer for those sites.

    One of my concerns is, when we can’t even get anyone to redevelop the old GM plant in Newport (which is NOT subject to any provision of the CZA), why the hell do we need this bill? Who’s considering buying the old Evraz property? Last I heard they wanted to convert that to warehousing space.

  6. I thought the Evraz plant was going to be incorporated into an expansion of regional rail and a rebuild of the Claymont Rail Station. Plus office space.

    My issue with the CZA amendments is that DNREC’s not enforcing the law now, why should we expect them to enforce the law then?

    For example, it seems like everybody views that bleeping refinery as too much of a jobs engine to fail. Meaning that all they get, if ever, is a slap on the wrist. The regulations only work if enforced, and Delaware’s track record sucks.

  7. SussexAnon says:

    DNREC doesn’t DO environmental enforcement (like the rest of Delaware). The oil refinery is a classic example. I am surprised anyone even pays attention to the CZA in its current form.

  8. Gigi says:

    On the CZA… This new modification is still preventing new heavy industry, just as current law does, but will allow new bulk product transfer where no such use existed prior. Manufacturing, warehousing, office, light industry, commercial and residential(god forbid) are all allowed and have been. No one has ever requested to redevelop a single site for alternate uses. The Chamber does not have a single example of a permit being denied. In fact, with the case of the PBF Refinery, it could be argued that DNREC has gone out of its way to accommodate uses that should be prohibited by the CZA as seen with the ethanol air permit hearings. These sites are heavily contaminated and any redevelopment will cause environmental degradation. There are sites outside of the coastal zone that should be explored first. This bill is a solution in search of a problem.

  9. Aurochs says:

    Agreed on all points. However…

    1) This law as currently written doesn’t seem likely to degrade the situation for active sites.

    2) Given that we do have a number of perfectly good industrial sites outside the CZ that have been sitting empty for years (like that GM plant), I don’t think this bill will actually result in any redevelopment of abandoned sites. Maybe the Evraz site, if SEPTA and/or Amtrak want it.

    This just doesn’t look like the much-hyped gutting of the CZA to me. And I don’t think there’s any appetite for new industrial development in Delaware anyway, CZA or not. I keep going back to the GM plant because it’s a perfect heavy industry site in theory– right next to a rail freight hub, a mile or two from I-95, large, and not encumbered by the evironmental regulations that CZ sites are. And yet nobody wants it.

  10. Gigi says:

    I believe Amazon wants it for warehousing. There were three bidders, one was residential. Maybe once we get legal marijuana, it could be converted for a large scale grow operation! I don’t want to see it demolished completely.

    I don’t believe the bill is as innocuous as you make it out to be. It is allowing bulk product transfers. They also are striking the word entirely from the following sentence as well… 7001 Purpose: “Specifically, this chapter seeks to prohibit entirely the construction of new heavy industry in its coastal areas…”

  11. Keep it up. The analysis and opinions that our readers are bringing to the CZA issue amount to a public service.

    I, for one, really appreciate it.

  12. Aurochs says:

    Ah, now you’ve hit on something that seriously worries me. I had overlooked all the language about bulk transfer facilities, knowing that some such facilities were already operating (eg the one at the Sunoco refinery, or the portion thereof that is within Delaware’s borders). But several facilities along the coast do have piers, docking stations, etc.

    Here’s the strange part: the current law uses the following definition:

    “Bulk product transfer facility” means any port or dock facility, whether an artificial island or attached to shore by any means, for the transfer of bulk quantities of any substance from vessel to onshore facility or vice versa. Not included in this definition is a docking facility or pier for a single industrial or manufacturing facility for which a permit is granted or which is a nonconforming use. Likewise, docking facilities for the Port of Wilmington are not included in this definition.

    The bill inserts the following language in the conversion permit section:

    An owner, operator, or prospective purchaser of a heavy industry use site that had a docking facility or pier for a single industrial or manufacturing facility on or before June 28, 1971, including a site that has been abandoned in fact or has been the subject of an abandonment proceeding, may submit an application to the Secretary of the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control for a conversion permit to operate a bulk product transfer facility that may be operated simultaneously with other heavy industry uses, industrial uses or manufacturing uses. Provided, however, that a conversion permit may be issued only for the transfer of products that are produced or will be used within the coastal zone, unless the product is a grain, as that term is defined in � 1601 of Title 3, in which case it may be transferred without regard to origin or destination.

    This is a fairly opaque distinction. First, I don’t know who asked for the agricultural exemption or why. Second, maybe I don’t understand the economics here, but I’m not sure why the original definition wasn’t sufficient for the purposes of the industries that are currently present or may be established in the CZ. Why would you want an additional transfer facility located some miles away when you can build a pier right there, and DNREC will issue you a permit (Administrative Code Title 7, Chapter 101, Section 6.1)?

  13. Aurochs says:

    “produced or will be used within the coastal zone” doesn’t mean it has to be used or produced by a heavy industry. Any manufacturing facility will do, and many types of manufacturing facilities would not be considered heavy industry for the purposes of the CZA.

    So there’s the rationale for this. Is that going to make a difference for anything? I don’t know. I can’t conceive of a manufacturing operation that would require bulk transfer facilities and would NOT be considered heavy industry under the CZA, but surely such a thing exists.

    You’ll note that the following text would be stricken from the Delaware Code by this bill:

    “and generate pressure for the construction of industrial plants in the coastal zone, which construction is declared to be against public policy. For these reasons, prohibition against bulk product transfer facilities in the coastal zone is deemed imperative”

    I still don’t see where the demand for manufacturing is. But here we have Bryan Townsend, a man who ran for US Congress on a progressive platform, attempting to subvert the original purpose of the CZA: discouraging industry from locating in the coastal zone.

  14. Gigi says:

    Bulk transfer also includes lightering- the vessel to vessel transferral that happens at big stone anchorage, a trench 7-17 mi north of cape henlopen, outside of the main channels that can accommodate deep draft vessels as its depth is 55 ft. They then use smaller ships to get to various facilities up the Delaware bay. It is the only nonoceanic lightering area between Maine and Mexico.

    I think the grain is a special treat to PBF to allow for ethanol transport and get around the current law. The rest may be opening up for new petroleum export or coal. Or any material/ mineral to be used at one of these sites.

    Osienski has been dragging his feet on reintroducing a bill to charge a wharfage fee of one dollar per barrel, on all lightering done at big stone. Based on permits, up to 125 million barrels are allowed to be lightered there by the monopoly leasee. Only two others technically could apply for permits as is. Last known numbers were 58 million in 2013. He’s concerned with fairness as some refineries need to lighter more than others.

    But yet… This bullshit bill can go through. I’m really surprised that Townsend is buying into this chamber narrative and cosponsoring this. It’s mostly supported by republicans and none of them have constituents that will be impacted by it.

  15. Gigi says:

    7014. Conversion permit.
    (a) An owner, operator, or prospective purchaser of a heavy industry use site, including a site that has been abandoned in fact or has been the subject of an abandonment proceeding, may submit an application to the Secretary of the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control for a conversion permit under this section for an alternative heavy industry use or an additional heavy industry use that will operate simultaneously with any existing use on that heavy industry use site

    (f) The Secretary of the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control may not grant a conversion permit under this section for any of the following heavy industry uses that were not in existence on June 28, 1971:
    (1) An oil refinery.
    (2) A basic cellulosic pulp paper mill.
    (3) An incinerator.
    (4) A basic steel manufacturing plant.
    (5) A liquefied natural gas terminal.

    So based on the above, in addition to bulk product transfer, these previously prohibited industries will be allowed new within the coastal zone: smokestacks, tanks, distillation or reaction columns, chemical processing equipment, scrubbing towers, pickling equipment and waste-treatment lagoons, power generating facilities…

    But what if those sites noted in section f were in existence on June 28, 1971 and only were abandoned later. Sorry to keep on about this, but I just think that we are exposing yet another generation to unneeded pollution.

  16. Aurochs says:

    Do not apologize for picking this travesty of a bill apart. Like El Som said, this is a public service. You’ve done more already than most news outlets (*cough*NEWSJOURNAL*cough*) would have done given an entire month to look at this thing.

  17. alby says:

    Such deep analysis. You must stay up nights studying.