Thursday, March 12, 2009

Licensed Site Professional vote Monday in NJ

***This post was updated on Sunday, March 15, 2009**

Identical bills authorizing the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to license environmental engineers to oversee the cleanup of many of the state's 20,000 contaminated sites are scheduled for votes in the state Senate and Assembly on Monday, March 16, 2009.

Following the lead of a highly successful program in Massachusetts, Senator Bob Smith's S-1897 would establish a program under which Licensed Site Professionals, hired by private parties responsible for the polluted properties, would develop remediation plans and supervise the cleanup work. Their activities would be supervised by the DEP and subject to strict standards and timetables.

For years, the number of contaminated sites in the state has continued to grow. That's either been the result of slow-moving or overzealous DEP site managers or foot-dragging by private parties responsible for the cleanups. Or maybe a bit of both. It depends on who you ask.

Smith's bill should make it easier for motivated parties to get their sites cleaned up and recycled for new uses. Many of these so-called brownfield sites are in urban areas where revenue-strapped governments are desperate for new ratables. The LSP program should help.

The state's major environmental organizations have fought the bill at every turn. They claim it will allow the fox to watch over the hen house. But they've offered no reasonable alternative. Without an LSP program, the backlog of contaminated properties will only continue to grow.

Monday's floor debate on the bill should be interesting.

A companion bill, A-2962 (McKeon), is in place for a vote in the Assembly but no date for that vote has been announced.

To learn more about the issue, try the links below:

NJ Licensed Site Professional bills advance
NJ Licensed Site Professional bill's encore
Will New Jersey see Licensed Site Professionals?
Op-Ed: LSP stands for ‘Lets Stay Polluted’
Op-Ed: New Jersey needs licensed site professionals
Editorial: An imperfect but needed solution
N.J. looks to outsource waste site cleanup
Bills aim to speed enviro-cleanups in New Jersey
Hiring a Licensed Site Professional in Massachusetts
Licensed Site Professional Association (Web Site)

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