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Governor Murphy Signs Stormwater Utilities Bill Into Law

Governor Murphy Signs Stormwater Utilities Bill Into Law

On March 18, 2019, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed legislation authorizing municipalities (and other public entities) to establish utilities for the creation and management of stormwater infrastructure. The legislation, S1073, also known as the Clean Stormwater and Flood Reduction Act (the “Act”), provides that a governing body of a county or municipality may create a stormwater utility “for the purposes of acquiring, constructing, improving, maintaining, and operating stormwater management systems.” The Act also allows municipalities and counties that have established sewerage authorities to request that the authority create a stormwater utility, so that the functions of the utility would be managed by the existing authority rather than the municipality(ies) or county directly. Perhaps most importantly, the Act authorizes stormwater utilities to “charge and collect reasonable fees and other charges” to recoup the costs incurred by the utility in performing stormwater management in the subject locality. Under the Act, charges may be assessed against the owner or occupant, or both, of any real property from which stormwater enters a stormwater management system. The Act also includes provisions allowing municipalities, etc. that establish stormwater utilities to issue bonds to fund stormwater management systems, and imposes reporting requirements on utilities and rulemaking...

NJDEP Announces Change to Remediation Standards for Certain Contaminants

NJDEP Announces Change to Remediation Standards for Certain Contaminants

On September 18, 2017, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (“NJDEP”) announced updated soil remediation standards for 19 contaminants. The updates are based on changes to toxicity data for the specified contaminants maintained by the United States Environmental Protection Agency in the agency’s Integrated Risk Information System database. Responsible parties and others conducting cleanups should consult with their Licensed Site Remediation Professionals and other environmental consultants regarding the applicability of the new standards to their sites. The new standards are in effect as of September 18, 2017. A copy of the updated standards can be viewed at NJDEP’s website. David J. Miller is an Associate in the Gibbons Real Property & Environmental Department.

Turning Back the Clock: NJ Appellate Division Holds That ISRA De Minimis Quantity Exemption Still Available Following Withdrawal of NFA

Turning Back the Clock: NJ Appellate Division Holds That ISRA De Minimis Quantity Exemption Still Available Following Withdrawal of NFA

The New Jersey Appellate Division recently announced several interesting holdings regarding the New Jersey Industrial Site Recovery Act (“ISRA”), N.J.S.A. 13:1K-6, et seq. In R&K Associates, LLC v. New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, Docket No. A-4177-14T1, the Court held that a former owner of an industrial site may apply for an exemption from the ISRA process even when the former owner has not owned the site for many years and elected to not pursue the exemption in the past. The case concerned the final decision of the Department of Environmental Protection (“DEP”) denying a De Minimis Quantity Exemption (“DQE”) under ISRA to the former owner of the subject industrial site. ISRA is the New Jersey law which generally requires owners of industrial sites to remediate on-site environmental contamination or expressly assume responsibility for remediation prior to transferring an ownership of the site. A DQE under ISRA allows an owner of an industrial site to avoid the requirements of ISRA where only trivial amounts of hazardous substances were used on-site. The case has an extensive procedural history with three appeals and numerous DEP actions, beginning with DEP’s withdrawal of a 1997 No Further Action (“NFA”) letter to the former owner. When...

EPA Agrees to Push Back Comment Deadline for Proposed Financial Assurance Regs

EPA Agrees to Push Back Comment Deadline for Proposed Financial Assurance Regs

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) recently extended the public comment period for a proposed rule which would impose financial assurances requirements for cleanups conducted by companies in the hardrock mining industry, as required by the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (“CERCLA”). In publishing the proposed rule on January 11, 2017, the EPA established a 60-day comment period for impacted parties to present their views on the rule to EPA. An overview of the financial assurance requirements imposed by CERCLA and the details of the proposed rule can be found in our prior posts on June 13, 2016 and January 4, 2017. On February 17, 2017, Congressmen Greg Walden (R-OR), Rob Bishop (R-UT), and Bill Shuster (R- PA) asked then-acting EPA Administrator Catherine McCabe to extend the comment period into the summer of 2017, citing the intricacies of the rule and complicated statistics on which EPA relied in drafting the rule. A week later, on February 24, 2017, recently confirmed EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt granted the request and extended the comment period by four months, claiming that the extension was in response to dozens of requests from stakeholders, in addition to the letter from the congressmen. Comments...

Executive Order Spells Uncertainty for Pending EPA Rules

Executive Order Spells Uncertainty for Pending EPA Rules

On January 30, 2017, as promised during his campaign, President Trump signed an executive order requiring federal agencies to identify two regulations to be repealed for every new regulation that is created. The order comes on the heels of a January 20, 2017 memorandum from White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus directing agency heads to freeze new or pending regulations including those that had been finalized but not yet published in the Federal Register. The “one in, two out” rule and regulatory freeze spell uncertainty for regulations currently in the pipeline for adoption by the Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”), including the proposed financial assurances rules for the hardrock mining industry we have previously covered here. Other impacted EPA rule proposals include a stormwater general permit designed to reduce polluted runoff from construction sites and a rule which would include vapor intrusion as a method of evaluating contamination levels at potential Superfund sites. At present, it is unclear how the administration’s actions will ultimately impact any pending EPA regulations (or those of other federal agencies). The environmental attorneys at Gibbons P.C. will be closely monitoring any further executive action impacting proposed EPA rules and report on any important developments. Irvin M. Freilich, a Director in the...

EPA Proposes First Financial Assurances Rule 0

EPA Proposes First Financial Assurances Rule

On December 1, 2016, following decades of inaction and a court order establishing a deadline by which the proposed rule was to be released, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) announced that it would publish a proposed rule regulating financial assurances required for parties conducting remediation projects in the hardrock mining industry. Section 108(b) of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (“CERCLA”) directed EPA to develop rules requiring “that classes of facilities establish and maintain evidence of financial responsibility consistent with the degree and duration of risk associated with the production, transportation, treatment, storage, or disposal of hazardous wastes.” 42 U.S.C. 9608(b)(1). Although these rules were required to be promulgated by 1985, EPA never published any rules, which led to a deadline of December 1, 2016 being set by court order in response to a lawsuit complaining that EPA failed to comply with the statute. See In re Idaho Conservation League, 811 F.3d 502 (D.C. Cir. 2016). In the absence of such rules, EPA required financial assurance through negotiated settlements, orders, and guidance.

Recent New Jersey Case Serves as Warning to Redevelopers of Contaminated Sites 0

Recent New Jersey Case Serves as Warning to Redevelopers of Contaminated Sites

A recent New Jersey Appellate Division case concerning spoliation of evidence in the context of a contribution action under the New Jersey Spill Compensation and Control Act (“Spill Act”) counsels caution on the part of redevelopers of contaminated sites. The case makes clear that owners of contaminated sites must endeavor to preserve physical evidence related to the contamination as soon as litigation becomes “probable” if they hope to rely on that evidence in a future contribution action.

Feds Must Consider All Reasonable Alternatives in Endangered Species Analysis 0

Feds Must Consider All Reasonable Alternatives in Endangered Species Analysis

Recently, the D.C. Circuit threw out the United States Fish & Wildlife Service’s (“FWS”) approval of a conservation plan to reduce the impacts of a proposed wind turbine farm on endangered Indiana bats. In Union Neighbors United Inc. v. Jewell, et al., Docket No. 15-5147, the Court of Appeals held that FWS failed to consider all reasonable alternatives to Buckeye Wind LLC’s (“Buckeye”) plan to limit bat injuries and deaths resulting from encounters with the proposed turbines as required by the National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA”).

Newark Requires Developers to Identify Environmental Impacts of Projects 0

Newark Requires Developers to Identify Environmental Impacts of Projects

Recently, the City of Newark (the “City”) approved Ordinance No. 16-0803, a/k/a the Environmental Justice and Cumulative Impacts Ordinance, (the “Ordinance”), which may significantly impact the process for seeking development approvals from the City. The Ordinance purports to advance the policy of promoting environmental justice, environmental stewardship, and sustainable economic development in the City. More specifically, the Ordinance seeks to mitigate the disproportionate impact of pollution and environmental degradation on the health of minority and socioeconomically disadvantaged communities, otherwise known as “environmental injustice.” As the Ordinance notes, the prevalence of environmentally overburdened, underserved, and economically distressed communities near industrial centers and other areas afflicted by poor environmental quality is well documented.

EPA Provides Look Into Pending Financial Assurance Regulations 0

EPA Provides Look Into Pending Financial Assurance Regulations

Recently, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA” or “the Agency”) shared some preliminary details regarding its impending proposal of financial assurances regulations for the hardrock mining industry. These regulations, which are still under consideration by the Agency, will likely serve as a harbinger of the financial assurances requirements EPA intends to impose on other industries, and collectively, they have the potential to have a significant financial impact on parties responsible for cleaning up contaminated properties.