TRENTON – State Sen. Barbara Buono (D-18), Metuchen, introduced a resolution today to overturn a Department of Environmental Protection rule waiver process that she said crosses the intent of the initial legislation.
The DEP’s “Waiver of Department Rules,” proposed in March, would allow the Commissioner of the DEP to exempt companies from longstanding environmental regulations, but Buono’s resolution claims it is an attempt to “negate environmental law.” She said if the Legislature meant for there to be a waiver to a regulation, “it would have been included in the initial statute.”
“The waiver rule goes above and beyond the DEP’s core mission and runs counter to the intent of the Legislature,” Buono said in a press release. “Furthermore it is ripe with the potential for abuse and takes unnecessary risks when it comes to protecting the environment and the citizens of New Jersey.”
Buono is concerned by “vague language” in the rule, she said, which fails to clearly define the circumstances in which the DEP would make use of the rule or steps which would be taken to ensure that it is being applied correctly and fairly.
“Environmental regulations are the tools with which both the DEP and the Legislature protect the environment and public health, especially workers employed in hazardous industries who depend on safe working conditions,” added Buono. “To put in place a rule that grants an unelected bureaucrat the ability to arbitrarily tear down these safety mechanisms is disturbing. It is important that we not lose sight of why these regulations are there in the first place.”
If the resolution passes, it would allow the administration 30 days to amend or remove the waiver rule, or else the Legislature would then be able to vote on a regulatory override.