DEP ADOPTS NEW WAIVER RULE, OPERATIONAL AUG. 1
RESPONSE TO GOVERNOR CHRISTIE'S DIRECTIVE FOR COMMON SENSE
PRINCIPLES FOR STATE GOVERNMENT
(12/P23) TRENTON - In response to Governor Christie's Executive Order No 2, which directs state agencies to implement common sense principles of government reform, the Department of Environmental Protection has adopted a new rule that gives the DEP flexibility to modify compliance with rules in certain limited circumstances that do not compromise protections for the environment or public health.
This waiver process will be extremely transparent, with all applications and actions posted prominently on the DEP's website. Requests for waivers will be accepted beginning August 1, 2012.
"A lack of flexibility can sometimes produce unreasonable, unfair or unintended results that actually undermine the goal the rule or requirement was intended to attain,'' said DEP Commissioner Bob Martin. "This rule provides us with a modest measure of flexibility to manage special circumstances but through a process that will be used under limited circumstances and with total transparency.''
To apply for a waiver, a requester must demonstrate that at least one of four criteria is met:
- Public Emergency -- There is a public emergency that has been formally declared.
- Conflicting Rules -- Conflicting rules (between federal and state agencies, or between state agencies) are adversely impacting a project or activity from proceeding.
- Net Environmental Benefit -- A net environmental benefit would be achieved.
- Undue Hardship -- Undue hardship is being imposed by the rule requirement(s).
The waiver rule is somewhat similar to the municipal zoning variance process, allowing some leeway to existing rules in certain, limited circumstances.
There is no automatic right to a waiver. Waivers will be granted only on a case-by-case basis after careful review by technical staff and approval of the Commissioner. DEP will not compromise its core mission of protecting public health, safety and the environment, and will continue to make decisions based on science, facts, data and common sense. A waiver cannot violate State or Federal statute or Federal regulation.
The DEP is developing an internal process that will ensure consistency and transparency in the handling of all applications. This includes standardized submission forms, electronic systems for the receipt and tracking of all requests, and on-line reports that will allow the public to know when applications are received and to access the DEP's decisions.
"This allows us to change how government operates in a positive way. We can cut through the maze of red tape and regulations to provide real solutions to real-world problems, while maintaining our core priority mission of protecting the air, water, land and natural resources of New Jersey,'' Commissioner Martin added.
Information about the waiver rule, including Governor Christie's EO 2 and the adopted rule text, is available at www.nj.gov/dep/waiverrule.