Manufacturers Who Sold Hazardous Substances to a Discharger Could Face Spill Act Liability

In the decades since its adoption in the 1970s, the New Jersey Spill Compensation and Control Act (the “Spill Act”), N.J.S.A. 58:10-23.11 et seq., has not been understood to impose liability on the sellers of chemicals that a purchaser later discharged into the environment.  However, in a pair of recent decisions, New Jersey federal judges entertained the novel theory that the manufacturer and seller of a chemical could be strictly liable for a discharge to the environment under the Spill Act, even if the manufacturer merely sold the chemical to a third party that actually caused the contamination.

NJDEP Adds Clarity to Dirty Dirt Law

In January 2020, New Jersey’s “Dirty Dirt” legislation was signed into law. The law requires businesses engaged in soil and fill recycling to register with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (“NJDEP”) and apply for an A-901 license.

Property Owner Forced to Accept Deed Notice by Good-Faith Remediator?

What happens when a property owner refuses to consent to a deed notice to address historic fill on its property?  

Engineering and institutional controls, often a cap and deed notice, can greatly reduce the cost of environmental remediation.  Where appropriate, engineering and institutional controls can allow remediating parties to avoid costly excavation or treatment of contaminated soil, instead allowing these materials to remain underneath improvements such as parking lots, building foundations, or landscaped areas

Limited Funding Available for NJ Brownfields – NJEDA Brownfields Impact Fund

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.

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.

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.