Waiver rule will provide environmental benefits, help state’s economy, says DEP

TRENTON – Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin said the proposed waiver rule is intended to provide greater flexibility in existing rules that can ultimately help the environment and could spur economic growth.

He told the Assembly Budget Committee the rule is akin to a municipality approving a zoning ordinance for a project to move forward. 

The waiver rule, came about after receiving significant input from businesses, individuals and local government, he said.

Budget Committee Chairman Vincent Prieto, (D-32), of Secaucus, asked if environmental groups were sought for input.

Martin said “stakeholders” from various environmental groups were consulted. 

“It’s on an application-by-application basis,” he said. “(The waiver) provides more flexibility.”

Martin added that all applications will be online for people to see.

He said major criteria are looked at before approving an application. They include:

*Whether it’s a public emergency;

*Whether the project would cause an undue hardship:

*If there are conflicting rules, and;

*Whether there’s a net environmental  benefit from the project.

Including all those conditions as part of a waiver rule is a way to address all the criteria in “one fell swoop,” he said.

Assemblyman John Burzichelli, (D-3), of Paulsboro said it is fair for a department to have “some discretion” as long as the legislative voice is also part of the process.