The New Jersey Economic Development Authority (“NJEDA”) announced that the new Brownfields Impact Fund opened for applications on January 20, 2022. This pilot program provides grant funding and low-interest loans to non-profit and public sector organizations, as well as low-interest loans to for-profit organizations to execute cleanup activities of underused, contaminated properties known as “brownfield sites” throughout the state. Specifically, the Brownfields Impact Fund dedicates $800,000 to address funding gaps to make the remediation phase of brownfield remediation projects financially viable. Yet, given the limited amount of funds available, those interested in obtaining funds should act quickly to take advantage of the new program.
During the first term of New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, his administration announced ambitious plans both to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases responsible for climate change and to change land use rules to mitigate the effects of rising sea levels and other effects of climate change.
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.
While entrepreneurs and investors rush to set up cannabis businesses throughout the Garden State, how will New Jersey regulate the environmental impacts of the industry?
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.
New Jersey has set an ambitious goal to supply 7,500 MW of offshore wind energy to the State by 2030. In order to meet this goal, New Jersey will be required to provide port services to support the development of offshore wind farms. To that end, Governor Murphy included $200 million in the State’s budget to construct an offshore wind port located in Salem County.
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.
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.
Reducing Long-Term Risk and Exposure to Environmental Liabilities
Despite the impact of COVID-19 on other areas of commercial real estate, the industrial sector continues to thrive as the e-commerce industry seeks properties for warehousing and logistics centers, especially in close proximity to New Jersey’s advantageously-placed ports and arterial highways that provide “last mile” delivery capabilities.
If the date May 7, 2021 has significance to you, it may mean that you have a site remediation case in New Jersey. For a large segment of these cases with contamination that pre-dates 1999, the deadline for Remedial Action to be complete is May 2021. (A site remediation case in New Jersey goes through several phases; the Remedial Action phase involves physical activities that remove, reduce, or contain the contamination at issue, such as excavation and off-site disposal or establishment of engineering and institutional controls.)