Tom Johnson, of NJSpotlight, has broken many stories during the last several months of the Christie-gate allegations. Now, he asks why the EPA's air pollution monitor the George Washington Bridge went offline the night before the sandal and remained offline for the next two and a half days, in Bridgegate Gets Dirtier: Air-Quality Monitor Was Offline During Traffic Jam. Readings for other nearby detectors indicate unhealthy levels of particulates form stalled vehicles.
But this investigation has nothing to do with who ordered the shutdown. It focuses instead on why an air-quality monitor closest to the bridge was inoperative for a few days during the lane closures, when drivers were stuck in a massive traffic jam for hours on the busiest motor vehicle bridge in the world, spewing pollution into the air. ...
At the request of the New Jersey branch of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of the Inspector General has opened an initial review of the issue.
“Public health safeguards, like pollution monitors, should be off-limits to political manipulation,’’ said Bill Wolfe, director of New Jersey PEER. “Perhaps there is an innocent explanation for marooning thousands in a pollution Twilight Zone, but no one in the Christie administration has yet to offer one.’’
Johnson reports that the air quality monitor closest to the GWB bridge sits atop a Jersey
City firehouse, and is operated by the state Department of Environmental Protection, and overseen by the EPA, as required by the clean air act. Neither David Wildstein, nor Bridget Kelly should have any influence over either of these groups. The monitor ceased to operate the night prior to the lane closures, and remained offline for 2 and half days, which is apparently unprecedented.
NJ PEER stated:
As of the time, I just checked, Governor Christie's office has not commented on the matter. I would also like to note that Tom Johnson, and several other reporters at NJSpotlight, have become famous for opening new dimensions to the Christie-gate scandals, often several days, before any other media source due to their extensive inside connections to the Trenton political networks. (Also, it is not known if Tom is related to our own Bob Johnson.)
“This extended outage masked the health effects on those stuck on the bridge enduring hours of exhaust from idling vehicles,’’ Wolfe said “This act literally added injury to insult.’’
12:08 PM PT: Thanks a2nite and Live1 for bringing out an angle I may have implied, but they really clarified.
Common sense suggests that neither Bridget Kelly, or David Wildstein turned off those monitors themselves, and neither should have sufficiently high rank, or influence over career EPA civil servants to order them to do so, meaning someone of a very high political appointment, or even higher outside influence would have to have been in the chain of command to make this happen. This very well could be a "smoking gun." Let's hope the EPA has a "permit" for such smokey emissions. (Sorry, it's been several hours since I've had an opportunity to be silly, and the tension has been unbearable.)
Also, does it not appear to be a fairly sophisticated and subtle angle for two political operatives to even think of? Suggesting, perhaps, that more people than we know of so far were in on the closures and the alleged cover-up.
12:24 PM PT: A second aspect of this story that needs greater emphasis due to the three paragraph limit, is that Johnson reports that prolonged exposure to high particulate level, and auto-exhaust are known health hazards. Making Governor Christie's characterization of these lane closures as a mere prank, insulting to the citizens of New Jersey.