The Governor’s So-Called Waiver Rule Would Subvert Environmental Safeguards That Protect Air, Water & Land
TRENTON – Senator Barbara Buono, Senator Bob Gordon, and Senator Linda R. Greenstein acted on Thursday to prevent the Christie Administration from moving forward on its attempt to subvert established environmental laws designed to prevent the contamination of natural resources and safeguard public health and safety when the Senate Environment and Energy Committee approved legislation sponsored by Senator Buono, Senator Gordon, and Senator Greenstein that would block the implementation of the administration’s so-called “waiver rule.”
“The Governor does not possess the legal authority to ‘bypass’ laws and regulations put in place to prevent the pollution of our natural resources and safeguard the public’s health and safety,” said Senator Buono, (D-Middlesex) a prime sponsor of the resolution. “This is an abuse of power by the Governor that he wants to grant to himself and, as a result, he will put our air, water and land at risk of serious contamination and expose the public to the bad health effects and safety risks that will result. The Governor isn’t just ‘waiving’ laws and regulations, he’s ‘waiving’ away everyone’s rights and expectations to a clean environment and health protections.”
The resolution approved by the committee, SCR-59, would give the commissioner of the Department of Environmental Protection 30 days to rescind or substantially revise the waiver rule or the Legislature, with a subsequent resolution, would do it. This is a process authorized by the New Jersey Constitution.
“We have made a lot of progress in New Jersey over the years to clean-up hazardous sites and to find effective ways of preventing pollution,” said Senator Gordon, (D-Bergen/Passaic) a prime sponsor of the resolution. “This waiver process could result in the loss of smart and scientific safeguards in a rapid and arbitrary manner. This would convert the mission of the DEP from protecting the environment to putting the environment in jeopardy.”
The waiver process would also be lacking in transparency and accountability, said Senator Greenstein, allowing building permits without a full, public review.
“This is a back-door way of allowing favored applicants to basically ignore the rules,” said Senator Greenstein, (D-Middlesex/Mercer) another prime sponsor of the resolution. “When the special interests win out, everyone else is at risk of losing out. Among those who could suffer are workers who would be exposed to contaminants and workplace risks.”
The resolution now goes to the full Senate for consideration.