Biden Administration Attempts to Strengthen Current NEPA Environmental Review Process

In 2020, the Trump Administration restricted the environmental review process for major federal actions required under the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 to essentially consider only the goals of the applicant; this was the first time a substantial change had been made to this process in over 20 years. To reverse this reduction in environmental protection, on October 7, 2021, the Council on Environmental Quality published a rule proposal requiring that reviews under NEPA include a broad range of environmental concerns, including climate change and environmental justice, priorities of the Biden administration.

Environmental Justice Comes Early to New Jersey

New Jersey is no longer waiting to implement environmental justice requirements following surprise action by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. 

Since September 2020, the Garden State has been waiting for the Department to complete the gargantuan task of implementing the first of its kind Environmental Justice Law. The New Jersey law authorizes the Department to deny or condition certain permits for facilities that would have a disproportionate impact on an overburdened community. However, the substantive provisions of the law do not go into effect until the Department adopts regulations to implement the Environmental Justice Law. 

Guam v. U.S. and CERCLA Claims in New Jersey

Cost Recovery or Contribution?  Impacts of Guam on the Timeliness of CERCLA Claims in the Third Circuit and New Jersey

The recently concluded Supreme Court term was an exciting one for environmental lawyers, as the Court in Guam v. United States made a rare foray into interpreting the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (“CERCLA”), specifically considering the impact of certain settlements on statutes of limitations under CERCLA.  As in its 2004 decision in Cooper Industries v. Aviall Services, the Court’s interpretation of CERCLA in Guam differed from the previously prevailing interpretation of most federal circuits. 

NJ Cannabis Industry to Focus On Environmental Considerations

Most people don’t think of the environmental impact of cannabis, but producing cannabis products can be energy intensive and involve issues relating to water, air quality, and waste management.  In New Jersey, where the recently legalized adult-use cannabis industry has been estimated to be worth more than $2 billion annually, cannabis operations will be required to consider and address environmental impacts. 

Some Relief Provided – NJDEP Remediation Timeframes Extended for Certain Cases

New Jersey is extending certain remediation timeframes as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, but the availability of an extension is subject to some uncertainty. On February 8th, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (“NJDEP”) published a Notice of Rule Waiver/Modification/Suspension (the “Notice”) extending certain timeframes effective February 1, 2021.

New Incentives for NJ Brownfields Redevelopment

An Overview of New Jersey’s Brownfields Redevelopment Incentive Program

New Jersey is rolling out a new tax incentive program for the redevelopment of underused, contaminated properties, known as “brownfield sites.”  In fact, on January 7, 2021, Governor Phil Murphy signed into law the New Jersey Economic Recovery Act of 2020, P.L.2020, c.156 (the “Economic Recovery Act”), a broad piece of legislation that provides support for a variety of programs and policies related to jobs, small businesses, sustainable energy, and many other areas.