Prompt Action Required in New Jersey to Obtain Permit Extensions During COVID-19 Emergency

New Jersey has enacted legislation to extend the deadlines for a wide range of environmental and construction permits and approvals as a result of COVID-19.  The Permit Extension Act of 2020 (P.L.2020, c.53) specifically suspends the running of the period of approval for permits and approvals in existence on March 9, 2020 for at least six months following the conclusion of the “COVID-19 extension period.”

New Jersey Moves Again to Include Environmental Justice in Permitting Process

New Jersey continues to focus on environmental justice as the Legislature advances proposed legislation that would require the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (the “NJDEP”) to consider impact on overburdened communities when reviewing certain permit applications.  In fact, at the end of June the New Jersey Senate passed the proposed legislation, which is referred to as S232 and can be reviewed here

NJDEP’s Common Law Natural Resource Damage Claims Are “Back in Business” Once Again as Defendants Now May Face Jury Trials

In August 2018, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (“NJDEP”) declared that environmental enforcement was “back in business” and brought its first new litigation seeking natural resource damages (“NRD”) in ten years.  Loyal readers of this blog will recall that we reported in 2019 on a trial court decision that dismissed the Department’s common law claims for NRD related to a former Hess oil refinery and terminal and discussed NJDEP’s pending appeal of the decision:  “NJDEP’s Common Law Natural Resource Damage Claims Temporarily ‘Out of Business.’” 

DOJ Policy Invalidates Special Environmental Projects in Settlements but Private Parties May Have Other Options

Recently, the Justice Department eliminated the use of supplemental environmental projects (“SEPs”) in United States Environmental Protection Agency (“USEPA”) settlements.  SEPs, environmentally beneficial projects implemented by a regulated entity, are not required by law but have been used for years to allow an entity to lower its penalty for a violation of environmental law.  

COVID-19 and Environmental Remediation: Guidance and Practical Tips on Whether Remediation is “Essential”

New Jersey and many other states continue to issue directives outlining which businesses may continue to operate during the COVID-19 pandemic.  The swiftly changing landscape is uncharted and difficult to navigate; this is especially true for parties involved in site remediation, either as a remediating party or as the environmental consultant or Licensed Site Remediation Professional performing the remedial work.

USEPA Exercises Enforcement Discretion in Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (“USEPA”) has decided to exercise enforcement discretion.  That is, USEPA will review any violations and determine if they result from the pandemic; if so, USEPA will decide the proper enforcement action, if any.  See USEPA Memorandum, COVID-19 Implications for EPA’s Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Program, dated March 26, 2020 (the “Policy”). 

Attention NJ Developers: NJDEP Adopts Amendments to Stormwater Management Rules Requiring the Use of Green Infrastructure

Last year, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (“NJDEP”) proposed significant changes to the State’s Stormwater Management Rules,  N.J.A.C. 7:8 et seq. (the “SWMR” or “Rules”) that set forth standards and requirements for the management of stormwater runoff associated with major developments.   On March 2, 2020, the amendments to the SWMR were adopted with only minor, non-substantive revisions to the original proposal. 

Governor Murphy Launches Broad Regulatory Reform to Protect Against Climate Threats

Governor Phil Murphy took a groundbreaking step toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions and addressing climate change threats in New Jersey, when, on January 27, 2020, he simultaneously unveiled the final version of the updated Energy Master Plan (the “EMP”) and signed Executive Order No. 100 (“EO 100”).  As discussed below, the EMP charts a course for achieving Murphy’s goal of 100% clean energy by 2050, while EO 100, among other things, directs the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (“NJDEP”) to immediately begin developing regulatory reforms to address sea level rise and other climate change threats under the banner, Protecting Against Climate Threats (“PACT”).