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State of New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection-Office of Natural Resource Restoration
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CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT

When a settling party provides monetary damages, rather than implementing a compensatory restoration project, the recent Constitutional Amendment controls how DEP can use these moneys.

The 2017 amendment to Paragraph 9 of Section II of Article VIII of the New Jersey Constitution directs the NJDEP as to how to invest the natural resource damages it collects from responsible parties.  As appropriated by the Legislature, the Office of Natural Resource Restoration may use these moneys for paying for:

costs incurred by the State to repair, restore, or replace damaged or lost natural resource of the State, or permanently protect the natural resources of the State, or for paying the legal or other costs incurred by the State to pursue settlements and judicial and administrative awards relating to natural resource damages.

The Constitutional Amendment established a priority system for the DEP’s use of these moneys to repair, restore, or replace damaged or lost natural resources, or permanently protect the natural resources.  The priority system starts with the immediate area in which the damage to the natural resources occurred in connection with the claim for which the moneys were recovered.  Then, if no reasonable project is available to satisfy the first priority for the use of the moneys, or there are moneys available after satisfying the first priority for their use, the second priority shall be use of the moneys in the same water region in which the damage to the natural resources occurred in connection with the claim for which the moneys were recovered. If no reasonable project is available to satisfy the first or second priority for the use of the moneys, or there are moneys available after satisfying the first or second priority for their use, NJDEP may use the moneys to repair, restore, or replace damaged or lost natural resources of the State, or permanently protect the natural resources of the State, pursuant to this paragraph without geographic constraints.

The Constitutional Amendment also authorizes the NJDEP to use up to 10 percent of the moneys for certain administrative costs.

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Last Updated: October 2, 2018