Permit Extension Act and DEP waiver rule resolution held from Senate

TRENTON – Two pieces of legislation related to environmental regulations were held during today’s Senate session.

The Permit Extension Act (S743), which would grant extensions on government permits until Dec. 31, 2014, rather than Dec. 31, 2012, was held at the request of the sponsor, Sen. Paul Sarlo, (D-36), Wood-Ridge.

The legislation has been a hot topic of discussion in the Statehouse, with environmentalists strongly opposing the bill and business groups expressing support.

Granting the extension would allow certain expired projects to proceed, enabling developers to bypass certain updated environmental regulations. However, due to the weak economy, business groups argue that stalled projects would be able to finally get off the ground with the help of the extension.

Amendments to the bill include expanding the geographical areas in which approvals are extended, and including additional types of approvals qualifying for the extension.

Another amendment would clarify language regarding the exception from a class of exclusions for permits issued pursuant to the “Flood Hazard Area Control Act” authorizing work on property owned by the government or federal government.

S743 is co-sponsored by Sarlo and Sen. Steven Oroho, (R-24), Franklin.

Waiver rule resolution held

A resolution declaring that the Department of Environmental Protection’s power to waive regulations is inconsistent with the intent of the Legislature was also held today.

The resolution recently cleared the Assembly by a 48-30 vote.

Sen. Barbara Buono (D-18), Metuchen, Sen. Bob Gordon (D-38), Fair Lawn, and Sen. Linda Greenstein (D-14), Plainsboro, sponsor SCR59.

Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-3), West Deptford, said it was being held for now but not at Buono’s request.