Jackson Outlines Proposed Changes at DEP

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.

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