Assembly Environment Chair Vows to Monitor DEP’s Attempts to Circumvent Existing Environmental Regulations
With the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) continuing to move forward with plans to grant businesses waivers on various state environmental regulations, Assembly Environment Committee Chair L. Grace Spencer (D-Essex) on Thursday decried the move as an attempt to circumvent existing laws and vowed to explore whatever legislative remedies are available to ensure that public health and the environment are not compromised.
“This is an attempt by the DEP to completely circumvent a great deal of the environmental protections we have put in place to protect the people of this state,” said Spencer. “This move not only contradicts the very purpose of creating legislation in the first place, but it also carries the potential to compromise environmental safety and the residents of this state.”
Last March, the department proposed rules to allow the DEP Commissioner to exempt companies from longstanding environmental regulations, potentially harming the environment as well as workers employed in hazardous industries who depend on safe working conditions. The DEP announced this week that the new rules will be published next month.
“Our existing regulations were not crafted to harm businesses, but with greater intensions in mind, namely to preserve our environment, protect the public health and safeguard workers in dangerous industries. It’s disconcerting that this administration would act without regard for the laws of this state.
“While the DEP Commissioner maintains that the waivers will be applied transparently, it still gives the administration carte blanche authority to waive regulations whenever they see fit. This is something we intend to monitor closely so that the greater good of our state isn’t trumped by the needs of a few,” added Spencer.