Friday, April 24, 2009

Where's NJ's Licensed Site Professional bill?

Over the strident objections of major environmental organizations, the New Jersey Legislature, back in mid March, overwhelmingly passed legislation allowing the DEP to attack the state's mountain of contaminated sites by licensing environmental engineers to oversee the cleanups.

Today, more than a month later, the bill's still sitting on Governor Jon Corzine's desk.

Wait a minute, you ask. Didn't the governor support the legislation from the get-go? Isn't he aware that the backlog of 20,000 sites is a major embarrassment for New Jersey? Doesn't he recognize that the chairmen of the environmental committees in the Senate and Assembly put their reputations on the line in sponsoring the spills and spent countless hours negotiating the details with a host of affected parties?

The answer is yes, yes and yes. Dumb guys don't get to run Goldman Sachs.

So, what's up, you ask.

What's up is that the governor is running for re-election. And his polling numbers are scary bad and the state's economy continues to slump and the enviros are labeling him as anti-environment.

So what, you ask. Corzine can't possibly think for a minute that they'd endorse Republican Chris Christie over him.

Don't be silly. Dick Cheney will join a gay rights march before the Sierra Club endorses a Republican for governor in New Jersey.

But remember this: former DEP Commissioner Chris Dagget also is running for governor as an independent. And the governor's campaign folks know that a vote for Dagget is more likely a vote subtracted from Corzine, not Christie.

So, what's likely to happen?

Well, the governor does have a few more days at least to sign the bill. He might just go ahead and do that. But he also could throw the enviros a bone.

What kind of bone?

He could conditionally veto the bill, demanding that the legislature amend it to make it more palatable to the Sierra Club, NJ Environmental Federation, NJ Environmental Lobby, et al.

Or?

Or he could sign it and simultaneously issue an executive order giving the enviros something they value highly.

Like what?

Well, let me turn the question around and ask it of you, dear reader.

What could the governor give up that might please the environmental community, or at least get them off his back until November? And should he do it?

Use the comment block below. If you don't see one, click on the tiny "comments" line.

In the meanwhile, we recommend that you check out our earlier posts on this topic (below). Pay special attention to the interesting comments from folks involved in the site remediation process, both in New Jersey and in Massachusetts where a licensed site professional program has been operating for years.

NJ Gov. gets Licensed Site Professional bill
Licensed Site Professional vote Monday in NJ
NJ Licensed Site Professional bills advance
NJ Licensed Site Professional bill's encore
Will New Jersey see Licensed Site Professionals?

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