Gulf Coast Spill Impacts Legislation in Trenton, NJ

This summer, the long shadow cast by the oil rig blow-out in the Gulf of Mexico seems to be everywhere. For example, we recently reported that EPA has written to Congress endorsing the concept of reinstating the Superfund tax which expired back in 1995. Thus, it was only a matter of time before New Jersey got into the act.

On July 15, 2010, the Senate Environment and Energy Committee in Trenton took up S-2108. If adopted in its present form this bill would raise the limit on liability pursuant to the New Jersey Spill Compensation and Control Act from $50 million to $1 billion.

It is easy to question the necessity of increasing the limit on Spill Act liability. After all, the Spill Fund is used primarily to address contamination from land based facilities. If New Jersey were to experience an event where the total damages could exceed $50 million there is already overlapping state and federal authority under CERCLA, RCRA and the Oil Pollution Act of 1990.

It remains to be seen whether this sort of legislative reaction to a long hot summer of bad news from the Gulf will resonate with the new business friendly administration in Trenton. But it is already clear that the events in the Gulf have reached Trenton.

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