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MEDIA ADVISORY – Joint Environment Committee To Review DEP Site Remediation Reform Plan

TRENTON – The Senate Environment Committee and the Assembly Environment and Solid Waste Committee will hold a joint hearing on Tuesday April 15 to review the Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) plan to reform the process the State follows for site remediation and cleanup.

“Tomorrow’s hearing will be a chance to seek feedback on a far-reaching plan to substantially change the way we do environmental cleanups in New Jersey,” said Senator Bob Smith, D-Middlesex and Somerset, the Chair of the Senate Environment Committee. “I suspect that (DEP) Commissioner (Lisa) Jackson’s plan is going to draw equal parts praise and scorn, but I think that such a balance is important to create the best public policy possible. I look forward to starting the discussion on how to improve DEP’s site remediation program, ensuring better results faster so that we can begin reclaiming some of the land lost to pollution and environmental damage.”

“The case backlog at DEP is proof that New Jersey’s site remediation policies are obsolete and need to be overhauled,” said Assemblyman John McKeon, D-Essex, the Chair of the Assembly Environment and Solid Waste Committee. “This hearing will move us one huge step closer to having in place common-sense procedures that are in the best interests of both the environment and the business community.”

According to the two lawmakers, the DEP is expected to highlight its plan to cut down on a backlog of more than 20,000 site remediation cases currently facing New Jersey. The Department wants to create a licensing program for private consultants to oversee certain minor clean-ups, with DEP staff still providing final oversight and monitoring. The plan would also give the Commissioner of the DEP greater authority to impose permanent environmental cleanup solutions in certain sensitive areas, such as day care facilities, schools and residential development, and would provide incentives for violators to seek permanent solutions, as opposed to temporary measures such as capping environmentally-damaged land.

The hearing is scheduled to begin at 10:00 a.m. in Committee Room 1 of the Statehouse Annex.

WHO: Senate Environment and the Assembly Environment and Solid Waste Committees

WHAT: Hearing on DEP’s site remediation reform plan

WHEN: Tuesday, April 15, 2008 at 10:00 a.m.

WHERE: Committee Room 1, Statehouse Annex, Trenton, NJ