Author: Susanne Peticolas

NJDEP Unveils Resiliency Planning Toolkit

On February 2, 2021, Governor Phil Murphy signed P.L. 2021 c. 6, which requires municipalities to incorporate assessments of climate change hazards into Master Plan Land Use Elements adopted after its enactment. No doubt many municipal officials, faced with tight budgets and heavy obligations, greeted this news with trepidation. However, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) has come to the rescue with an extensive and well-designed online toolkit. The launch of the toolkit was announced by NJDEP Commissioner Shawn LaTourette on June 10 at the New Jersey Planning and Redevelopment Conference. The toolkit provides detailed guidance to assist communities in developing and implementing public processes to assess local vulnerabilities and create strategies to address them. It provides step-by-step procedures for creating teams to engage local stakeholders in defining their vision and developing plans to gather data, assess vulnerabilities, and develop strategies. Each section of the toolkit provides useful training modules, prototype documents and templates, and links to critical informational resources. The final section assists in tracking progress and contains links to federal and state sites providing information on funding and financing options. The toolkit is comprehensive, flexible, and user-friendly. It will be invaluable to municipalities in meeting their statutory obligations. It also provides a valuable model for other states, regional planning agencies, and...

USEPA Relaunches Climate Indicators Website

In a press release issued on May 12, 2021, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) announced the relaunching of its climate change indicators website. The website is a valuable resource for land planners, scientists, policy makers, students, and the general public, providing extensive peer reviewed data gathered from more than 50 partners in governmental agencies, academic institutions, and other data collectors. The data, stretching over decades, is enhanced by interactive graphs, maps, trend analysis, and condition tracking tools.

USEPA Creates PFAS Council

Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) are synthetic chemicals nicknamed “forever chemicals” because they are persistent and resistant to degradation. They have been used in a wide variety of everyday products and are found in detergents, non-stick pans, stain-resistant and waterproof fabrics, fragrances, drugs, disinfectants, pesticides, and fire-fighting foam. PFAS comprise more than 4,700 compounds. Many of them have been identified as potential environmental or public health risks.

Environmental Reporting Deadlines During the Coronavirus Crisis

Manufacturing entities in New Jersey are subject to a myriad of environmental reporting obligations, with associated regulatory deadlines and penalties for compliance failures. In addition, New Jersey businesses face remediation deadlines, sampling requirements, maintenance of environmental controls, and the ramifications of missed deadlines and malfunctioning systems. In the face of the coronavirus pandemic, compliance can be complicated by illness of key personnel or contractors, closed or inaccessible facilities, and malfunctioning communications systems. Gibbons has been and will continue to be in contact with key officials at the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) to provide input and guidance on the Department’s response and convey the issues that impact our clients and the regulated community as a whole. We understand that NJDEP is currently working on a potential Administrative Order to address reporting and monitoring deadlines and is also considering a compliance advisory or Frequently Asked Questions-type document to address many of these concerns. On March 2, 2020, Governor Murphy signed Executive Order 102 establishing the Coronavirus Task Force, chaired by the Commissioner of the Department of Health (DOH). The following day, the governor signed Executive Order 103, declaring a Public Health Emergency and State of Emergency. Executive Order 103 authorizes and empowers the executive head of any agency to promulgate rules to waive, suspend,...

Superfund Task Force Holds First of Eight Listening Sessions for Stakeholders, Focused on Expediting Settlement Negotiations

The Superfund Task Force, created in May 2017, issued a report in July 2017 proposing recommendations to streamline and strengthen the Superfund program. The Report contained five goals and 42 recommendations. In order to obtain input from stakeholders and the public and to increase transparency and improve communications, USEPA has convened eight listening sessions being held from May 21 to June 18, 2018. The Gibbons Environmental Department will be covering these listening sessions and blogging about them. The first listening session, which focused on expediting settlement negotiations, was held on May 21, 2018. The five goals of the Superfund Task Force Report are: (1) expediting cleanup and remediation process, (2) reinvigorating responsible party cleanup and reuse, (3) encouraging private investment, (4) promoting redevelopment and community revitalization, and (5) engaging partners and stakeholders. The first listening session focused on Goal 2 through the strategy of encouraging responsible party clean-up with expedited negotiations. Christina Skaar from OSRE’s Regional Support Division and Elizabeth McKenna, Region 10 Office of Regional Counsel, made a short presentation at the beginning of the listening session. Recommendation 16.2 covers strategies to focus on and decrease the time involved in negotiating cleanup agreements and implementing cleanup work once agreement is finalized. Ms. Skaar noted the benefits of expediting settlements: earlier response to contamination, greater protection of human...

Catherine McCabe Assumes Duties as Acting Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection

Governor Phil Murphy’s nominee for Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (“NJDEP”) assumed her new duties as Acting Commissioner on January 22, 2018 while she awaits confirmation by the Senate. The new Acting Commissioner has extensive experience with the United States Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”), having served most recently as both deputy and acting regional administrator of EPA’s Region 2, and as acting administrator of the EPA itself. EPA’s Region 2 includes New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Acting Commissioner McCabe also served as Deputy Assistant Administrator of EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance, as a judge on EPA’s Environmental Appeals Board. Prior to joining EPA, McCabe held various managerial positions with the U.S. Department of Justice in its Environmental and Natural Resources Division, Environmental Enforcement Section, Natural Resources Section, and Policy, Legislation and Special Litigation Section. She earned her law degree from Columbia Law School, a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science from Barnard College, and studied environmental science at the Columbia University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. The appointment of an experienced environmental administrator evidences the Governor’s commitment to his ambitious environmental agenda.

Gibbons Advises New Jersey Future 2015 Smart Growth Award Winners

New Jersey Future, a non-profit, non-partisan organization focused on the promotion of responsible land use policies, has named the Military Park renovation in Newark and 18 Park in Jersey City as two of its 2015 Smart Growth honorees. Gibbons P.C. played a significant role in both of these projects. The awards were given out on Thursday, June 4 at the annual awards gala.

Jersey City Plans to Limit Chain Stores in Downtown

On April 7, 2015, the Planning Board of Jersey City approved Mayor Steve Fulop’s plan to limit chain stores in the downtown area in an attempt to protect small businesses and preserve the character of the area. The City Council must approve the proposed restrictions before they become final. The proposal would limit chain stores with 10 other locations within 300 miles of Jersey City to 30% of the downtown commercial space. The affected businesses include those with “multiple locations within the region that exhibit standardized characteristics such as logos, menus, store décor” and the like. Grocery stores would be exempt and certain parts of the waterfront would be exempt.

Starting January 1, 2015 New York Households Will Be Required to Recycle E-Waste

Beginning January 1, 2015, any New Yorker who disposes of an old computer, television, or even an iPod, i.e., “electronic waste” (“e-waste”), by placing that item in the garbage or leaving it on the curb for collection will be in violation of the New York State Electronic Recycling and Reuse Act, N.Y. Envtl. Conserv. Law § 27-2601, et seq.. Individual consumers will instead be required to recycle such e-waste by dropping it off at a registered e-waste collector or by returning it to an e-waste manufacturer, or risk being fined $100 each time they fail to do so.

New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Proposes New Rules Aimed at Streamlining Coastal Permitting Process

On June 10, 2014, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (“DEP”) introduced a series of proposed technical revisions to land use rules — via a 1,055 page proposal — designed to encourage redevelopment in coastal areas decimated by Hurricane Sandy. DEP Commissioner Bob Martin — who also served on Governor Christie’s Red Tape Review Commission, which was launched in 2011 to streamline regulatory processes across state government — explained that “[t]hese revisions will add clarity to our regulatory processes and provide better predictability in the regulatory process.”