Sarlo – Environmental Rules Must Be Fair, Allow For Finality

TRENTON – Senator Paul A. Sarlo, D-Bergen, Essex and Passaic, the Chair of the Senate Legislative Oversight Committee, issued the following statement today concerning the Committee’s hearing of the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP)’s water quality and site remediation rules, and the impact that the rules have on the business community and development and redevelopment industries in New Jersey:

“Obviously, the DEP has the best intentions in developing site remediation soil and water quality standards to ensure the greatest possible health and safety of local residents. However, we need to be aware that constantly shifting safety levels have a negative affect on the business community, and developers who are seeking to do the right thing in reclaiming environmentally tainted property in our State’s urban communities.

“Today’s Legislative Oversight Committee gave us a good snapshot of where we are in terms of the implementation of new soil and water quality rules at the DEP. Moving forward, we need to seek greater balance between the economic and environmental needs of the State. Environmental regulation isn’t done in a vacuum, and we must recognize that new rules definitely have an impact on the business end of site remediation in the Garden State.

“I was particularly concerned about the lack of finality for developers, as the State adopts ever-shifting environmental safety standards. When builders work within existing environmental guidelines, and act in good faith to rehabilitate polluted properties, there ought to be a mechanism in place that protects them from having to shift their goals halfway through a remediation process.

“Pending legislation, introduced by the DEP, would speed up site remediation projects in New Jersey, and allow developers to pay into an insurance fund to protect themselves from future sanctions and penalties resulting from sliding scale rules and standards. I will be co-sponsoring that legislation, because I believe that certainty and finality are absolutely important to redevelop polluted sites in the Garden State.

“The Senate Legislative Oversight Committee will continue to monitor the status of DEP and other State rules, to guarantee fairness in the redevelopment process, seek balance for all parties, and give developers an end point in site remediation. Environmental safety and economic growth are not mutually exclusive ideals, and I look forward to working with all stakeholders to ensure we get both in New Jersey.”