Friday, February 27, 2009

NJ Licensed Site Professional bills advance

After two and a half years of negotiations with "stakeholder groups," numerous public hearings and dozens of amendments, members of the environmental committees in the New Jersey Senate and Assembly yesterday afternoon unanimously released two identical bills creating a Licensed Site Professionals (LSP) program within the Department of Environmental Protection.

The bills are now in position for floor votes in both houses. Governor Corzine would like to have them delivered to his desk for his signature before the Legislature recesses for the summer.
Despite a backlog of 20,000 sites and no prospects for funding to increase staffing at the DEP, the state's major environmental groups continued their inexplicable, all-out opposition to the legislation at yesterday's hearing.

The bill sponsors, committee members (gathered in a rare joint meeting) and representatives of various industry groups that have been active in the negotiations process, all saluted the work of Assistant DEP Commissioner Irene Kropp who oversees the Department's site remediation program.

Kropp responded to enviro-critics who have been spreading misinformation about the bills by pointing out that the legislation:
  1. Does not lower any cleanup standards and, in fact, strengthens DEP's enforcement capabilities

  2. Provides greater protections for schools, child care facilities and residential housing

  3. Furthers DEP's ability to require cleanups to unrestricted standards

  4. Does not privitize, does not deregulate and does not eliminate DEP enforcement or limit the Department's review to 10 percent of all cleanup project submittals

  5. Insures DEP review of all documents (not done today)

  6. Provides for the toughest requirements at "recalcitrant" sites (those where responsible parties try to evade or postpone cleanup)

  7. Reinforces and strengthens the 'polluter pays' concept

  8. Holds licensed site professionals (LSPs) to a higher standard of performance, makes them accountable for their work, requires their licensure, and provides significant penalties, including criminal prosecution, against any LSP who violates cleanup rules and law

Newspaper coverage of the hearing can be found at:
Contaminated sites bill progresses after two-year debate (Bergen Record)
Trenton puts cleanups on a fast track (Star-Ledger)

You can listed to a tape of the entire hearing here.

A number of readers have appended interesting comments on the LSP issue to our most recent post on the subject at NJ Licensed Site Professional bill's encore. If you'd like to add your two-cents worth, we suggest that you comment at that post so all reaction can be found at one location. If you're the type who prefers to color outside the lines, feel free to add your opinion to this post by clicking on the 'comment' line below.

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