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Buono Measure Finding DEP Waiver ‘Inconsistent With Legislative Intent’ Clears Environment Committee

TRENTON – Senate Majority Leader Barbara Buono (D-Middlesex) today released the following statement on a resolution (SCR-239) she sponsored to hold a Department of Environmental Protection “Waiver of Rules” as inconsistent with legislative intent. The waiver, proposed by the DEP in March, would 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 measure cleared the Senate Environment and Energy Committee today by a vote of 3-2:

“There is simply no statutory authority for the DEP to adopt this waiver rule. The DEP waiver rule proposal ignores existing statutes and legislative intent, and creates a major new rule out of whole cloth, with no legislative authority. Further, the Legislature has been clear in its intent that agencies do not have the authority to issue blanket rule waivers.

“Put simply, the DEP is seeking to cast a wide net over the state’s environmental regulations and to discard them whenever it sees fit. This would have long-term consequences for our environment and potentially impact the public’s health and the safety of workers.

“This move by the DEP is worse than the department simply misinterpreting the intent of a statute, because in this case there is no statute to interpret. It is ludicrous for the DEP to list for its authority every statute that is tangentially related to the environment, none of which grants the DEP the authority to waive other rules and regulations previously adopted pursuant to the “Administrative Procedure Act”. This is totally unacceptable, and today we took the first step toward its reversal.”