Bill to help residents fighting landfill advances

TRENTON –The saga of the Fenimore Landfill’s proper closure advanced Thursday as the Senate Environment and Energy Committee released a bill establishing standards in such cases.

The landfill proposal – a casualty of partisan bickering a few weeks ago – is back on track to passage after the panel approved S2861, which among other things will set in place controls for so-called legacy landfills, or for landfills that were closed but are reopened for proper closure. It passed unanimously.

The bill had been one of several Republican-backed measures pulled from committee agendas by Senate President Steve Sweeney weeks ago in retaliation for non-cooperation from the GOP on a gun-control bill vote in the Senate.

The panel conducted a hearing late last month into conditions in the neighborhood surrounding the Morris County landfill, and then Republican Sen. Joseph Pennacchio said he would remove his name as a prime sponsor from the earlier legislation, and called for a Democrat to step forward in that role if that is what it would take to get the bill and this public safety issue advanced. Panel Chair and Democratic Sen. Bob Smith has joined Republican Sen. Anthony Bucco as the prime sponsors of this bill.

Smith said this would give the state the tools to pursue violators. In addition, Sweeney told Smith this bill would bypass the normal route of going to the Appropriations Committee but would go directly to the Senate floor for a vote. The Assembly still needs to take action, Smith said.

Residents testified today that just in the last week air quality has worsened appreciably in Roxbury.

Other bills passed:

S2651: This bill establishes an alternative energy portfolio standard and certificate program, incentivizing development of combined heat and power facilities and facilities utilizing fuel cell technology, and allows qualifying facilities to receive alternative energy credits.

The bill directs the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities to establish a program to assist in the creation of 1,500 megawatts of new combined heat and power generation facility projects.

It was released 3-2 along party lines.

S2733: This bill establishes the Office of Clean Energy, which currently exists as a division of the Board of Public Utilities.  The office will coordinate the state’s programs to improve energy distribution and the use of non-polluting energy sources.

The office and all of its programs are to be funded through the societal benefits charge, as the office is currently funded.

It passed unanimously.

SR106: Supports development and use of biofuels for greater national security, a stronger economy, and a better environment. It was released unanimously.

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Bill to help residents fighting landfill advances