STATE –Environmentalists oppose two bills sponsored by Assemblywoman Annette Quijano that they say will weaken environmental standards and muzzle opportunities for public input on state regulations.
The legislation would change the expiration dates of rule from five to ten years and establish a new procedure for readopting rules without substantive changes.
“These reforms will go a long way toward less bureaucracy and more productivity for our businesses, boosting our economy and creating jobs,” said Quijano (D-Union).
“Extending rules… undermines the ability of government to be responsive to science, business and public need,” said Jeff Tittel, director of the N.J. Sierra Club.
“By extending rule time, this will delay updating of rules based on scientific findings. Rules could be in place for 30 years without changes,” said Tittel. “This will have a direct impact on the environment and public health.”
“Agencies can readopt rules without major changes with no public input,” said Tittel. “There is no definition of minor changes. The changes may be more than minor. Instead of making government more effective, this bill enables it to be lazier and more bureaucratic.”
The proposed anti-environmental changes to the permitting process were derived from Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno’s Red Tape Review Commission, summoned on orders from Gov. Chris Christie.
The two bills are A2721/S2013, which changes five year chapter expiration date for rules to 10 years; changes procedures for re-adoption of rules; and A2720/S2014, which establishes new procedure in “Administrative Procedure Act” to allow substantial changes to agency rule-making upon adoption.
“This is major overhaul of the Administrative and Procedures Act,” protested Dave Pringle of the New Jersey Environmental Federation. “It’s too fast track around the holidays. …It’s supposed to be hard to pass bills. It’s supposed to be hard to pass legislation. We urge that the bill be held today. This is too far, too fast.”
The bill “sets up a process through which substantive changes can be made to rules upon adoption, after the public comment period is closed,” Tittel added. “This eliminates public process and the input of the public on rules that affect environment and health and safety. This allows agencies to rewrite a rule and change everything after the public comment period is closed then adopt the rule with those changes. This would be like Dick Cheney rewriting the energy policies behind closed doors with BP and Halliburton.”
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