Friday, November 13, 2009

Study finds Jersey's pollution on the rise

From The Star Ledger:

New Jersey remains among the top 20 states where carbon-dioxide emissions are steadily increasing, according to a state-by-state assessment of pollution contributions released yesterday by the group Environment New Jersey.

The 63-page analytical study, compiled from U.S. Department of Energy data and international sources, ranks the Garden State at 16 among the other 50 states for overall carbon emissions, and it concludes that pollution output has increased by 16 percent in the state over 1990 levels.

While the state ranking is well behind neighboring Pennsylvania, which is third in the nation for emissions, and New York, which ranked eighth, it is well ahead of neighboring Delaware, which ranked at 46th for carbon emissions.

Additionally, Environment New Jersey said the data show states like Delaware, Connecticut, Massachusetts and even New York, while still high in overall emissions, have reduced their overall emissions output since 1990, while New Jersey has steadily increased. New Jersey also bucks the national trend in that, where transportation is the nation's second-leading source of carbon dioxide pollution, it is the leading cause in the Garden State.

"In New Jersey, transportation was hands down the largest source of carbon dioxide emissions at 53.5 percent. "¦ More pollution than ever before is not a trend we want to be setting," said Matt Elliott of Environment New Jersey, citing statistics compiled in the report, entitled "Too Much Pollution."

Zoe Baldwin, the New Jersey advocate for the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, said the state needs to expand mass transit and address the reasons people drive so much in the state.

"We need to make sure we are stopping sprawl development so that people do not have to drive or drive as far," she said.

Baldwin acknowledged that a great deal of the state's traffic stems from interstate travel, with motorists passing through New Jersey to reach destinations such as New York City. But she contends the state still has the ability to reduce its overall traffic.

"We're not doing enough in New Jersey to shift the travel patterns," she said.

The report is based on data collected as of 2007, but acknowledges newer Department of Energy figures showing energy-related carbon dioxide emissions in the United States dropped overall by about 2.8 percent in 2008, reaching their lowest level since 2001 and marking the largest decline since the recession of 1982. The decline has been largely attributed to soaring oil prices in 2008 and the economic downturn.

The leading cause in the nation for carbon emissions is electricity generation, and the report blames a heavy reliance on coal plants.

The group instead endorsed the development of other, alternative energy sources, demanding the state accelerate efforts to build off-shore wind farms and expand the use of solar energy panels.

A state energy goal, set by Gov. Jon Corzine, vows to have 30 percent of the state's electricity produced through wind and solar power by 2020.

The Environment New Jersey report is being released in conjunction with next month's international "Climate Conference" in Copenhagen and congressional debates over controversial "cap-and-trade" legislation designed to reduce the nation's carbon dioxide output.


  1. New forclosure data a mixed bag for New Jersey real estate

    Troubled commercial properties increased by 35 percent


    The news on foreclosures continues mixed, with the latest real-estate data showing the national rate is drifting downward even though it remains much higher than a year ago — while New Jersey bucks both trends.

    Nationwide, foreclosure activity declined 3 percent in October compared to September, but was still 19 percent above a year ago, according to RealtyTrac, which monitors the foreclosure market place.

    In New Jersey, the number of foreclosure filings jumped 38 percent last month, but was 12.25 percent better than October 2008, according to monthly and quarterly reports issued by the Irvine, Calif., firm.

    While New Jersey ranked 13th among the states with a foreclosure rate of one per 471 households, that was significantly better than the national average of one per 385.

    Looking more closely into the numbers, New Jersey's commercial foreclosure rate continues to mimic the national picture, remaining much higher than a year ago while dropping from earlier this year, according to a new analysis by The Record.

    Using data from the state courts, the newspaper found the rate of foreclosures among income-producing properties was 35 percent higher during the third quarter of 2009 compared to the same period a year earlier.

    But that was progress. The 354 commercial foreclosure action's in July-September 2009, including one in Fort Lee involving an office building at the foot of the George Washington Bridge, were down from 413 during April-June, according to the report.

  2. Holiday mood is cautious for New Jersey retailers

    More empty storefronts and Chapter 11 bankruptcies projected

    The line between outlet stores and mainstream retail is blurring this holiday season as even upscale and luxury chains ratchet back their inventories and slash prices. The success or failure of these value-focused strategies will determine whether some operators manage to stay afloat in 2010, according to Alan Cohen, Chairman of Abacus Advisors, a Closter, N.J.-based turnaround and restructuring firm.

    "You can learn a lot simply by walking into stores and observing," said Cohen, who has more than 30 years of experience working with distressed businesses in all aspects of management and operations. "Throughout the summer and fall, stores at outlet malls like Woodbury Common (in Central Valley, N.Y.) typically are full of great stuff. However, this year inventories appeared to be light at the likes of Neiman Marcus' Last Call or Saks' Off 5th. Since these and other better retailers were discounting heavily in their mainline stores, they didn't have as much excess inventory to send to their outlet locations."

    Deep concern about both the credit crisis and cutbacks in consumer spending has translated into retail strategies marked by caution, Cohen noted. "Manufacturers produced less, and retailers ordered less. In the run-up to the 2009 holiday season, everybody was in a conservative mood."

    In the past, for example, retailers like Nordstrom would bring in holiday merchandise early and reorder the best-selling items. This strategic tool likely will not be available to them this year. "Reorders will be down significantly this year, simply because the merchandise will be unavailable amid these inventory cutbacks," Cohen explained. "That puts retailers at a strategic disadvantage, and it means shoppers will have a harder time finding certain popular items."

  3. I can't believe that we're still using coal plants. We really do need to go green. Using more wind and solar power is a great idea.