EnviroPolitics put that question to the chairmen of both committees:
Senator Bob Smith (D-Middlesex/Somerset) and
Assemblyman John F. McKeon (D-Essex).
Today we have Senator Smith's answer:
The top two environmental issues for the Senate Environment Committee this fall are:
1. Licensed Site Professionals, and
2. Electronic-Waste Recycling
Identical bills creating a Licensed Site Professional (LSP) program within the Department of Environmental Protection
(S-1897/A-2962) have been introduced by the two environmental committee chairmen.
The idea is to streamline the DEP's review process for contaminated sites in order to whittle away at the department's backlog of more than 20,000 cases.
LSPs hired by companies seeking to remediate contaminated sites would be authorized to: review and submit all necessary paperwork to the DEP, develop remedial plans, supervise the cleanup and certify that it is performed in conformance with DEP's technical requirements.
The DEP supports the LSP program. It also has the backing of the business community. Several of the state's major environmental organizations are concerned, however, that the LSP's might be pressured by those paying their fees to cut corners.
For more see: Bills aim to speed enviro-cleanups in New Jersey
Electronic Waste Recycling - Senator Smith and Assemblyman Reed Gusciora were the sponsors of a relatively new state law requiring the recycling of all used computers and television sets. Their legislation was passed in a flurry of activity in the final days of the last two-year legislative session which ended early in January, 2008.
Several New Jersey-based electronics manufacturers and their trade associations complained that the bill contained numerous flaws. The sponsors are now working with those parties and others on a bill that would implement changes.
Other current issues: Senator Smith is the sponsor of numerous bills working their way through the Legislature that are designed to stimulate the development and installation of alternative energy sources, including solar and wind. He says the most important is
S-1538 which would change the state's legal definition of "farming" to allow the installation of solar panels and windmills on tens of thousands of preserved farmlands across the state.
Down the pike: Smith says there is a major effort under way to reach agreement on a stable funding source to offset property losses in areas affected by the Highlands Act and to replenish the state's landmark farmland and open space preservation program. He predicts an agreement sometime in the spring of 2009.