The state Department of
Environmental Protection is working on legislation to license
cleanup contractors, according to DEP Commissioner Lisa Jackson.
Speaking at the May 6 meeting, Jackson explained that if contractors
are licensed, the department could ease the level of immediate
oversight now conducted by state inspectors. The goal is to speed
redevelopment projects, she said. New Jersey has only between 200
and 300 case managers to deal with 20,000 toxic sites.
In another legislative
initiative, the DEP would like to encourage redevelopment by
clarifying site cleanup responsibility. Jackson said there should be
“an end to the process,” a point at which a
redeveloper who has cleaned up a site to contemporary
standards is no longer responsible, even if future laws or
regulations tighten those standards. To implement such an initiative
New Jersey needs to establish a “pot of money” to fund cleanups
required by changes in the law or regulations, she said. Jackson
said the DEP is revisiting its permitting process to eliminate
duplication and increase efficiency.
Jackson urged mayors to take
advantage of public funding available for local redevelopment
projects and to read the state’s new master plan that calls for
significant reductions in fuel use and the state’s overall carbon
footprint in the future. The commissioner outlined ambitious goals
and said that the effort will generate employment opportunities in
“green collar” jobs.