Buono Calls For Immediate Senate Action Opposing DEP Waiver Rule

Sen. Barbara Buono

TRENTON – State Sen. Barbara Buono is urging the body to take immediate action on her resolution, SCR-59, declaring the Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) recently adopted “Waiver Rule” to be contrary to Legislative intent.

“The DEP’s new waiver rule is an unprecedented power grab by the Governor that seeks to give an unelected political appointee unbridled discretion to waive any and all regulations democratically adopted by the State Legislature,” said Buono (D-Middlesex). “Not only does this rule undermine 30 years of environmental regulation, but threatens the very foundation of the separation of powers upon which our democracy relies.

“No matter what he believes, the Governor is not a power unto himself and cannot assign an unelected bureaucrat to circumvent the laws of this state on a whim. This resolution reminds the Executive Branch that they are obliged to enforce the law and cannot simply give a free pass to the powerful and connected simply because an environmental law is inconvenient.

“The DEP waiver rule’s undue hardship language is far too vague and allows for an unequal application of the law, favoritism and abuse. It requires no public comment period before a waiver is granted, reducing the power of regular working people to stand up for safer and healthier communities.”

Buono noted that the waiver rule will go into effect on Aug. 1, and thus the Senate must act before June 30 in order to prevent the rule from being used. The Assembly has already passed the companion Assembly Concurrent Resolution.

“This measure should receive unanimous support in the Senate, regardless of party affiliation, for it stands for the principle that the legislature, as the democratically elected representatives of the people of New Jersey, cannot be vetoed years later by a new Governor who thinks the rules don’t apply to him,” Buono said. “The Legislature will not be cowed into submission.”

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