May 6, 2020

Executive Order Extending the Deadlines for Environmental Laws

By Rebecca J. Rosen, Esq.

On May 2, 2020, Governor Murphy signed into law Executive Order No. 136 (EO 136), which extends the statutory deadlines required under various environmental laws for the duration of New Jersey’s public health emergency.

EO 136 suspends the timeframes for certain permit decisions as well as reporting, in order to ensure opportunities for public engagement and enable the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to conduct thorough environmental reviews.

Directives

Effective immediately, EO 136 includes the following general directives:

  • Pauses of timeframes governing the DEP’s provision of public notice, review, and decision on permits and other approvals for the duration of the public health emergency, including those which would deem applications approved without conditions deemed necessary by DEP to ensure protection of public health, safety, and the environment.
  • Extensions of deadlines for soil and fill recycling services under the Dirty Dirt Law by the number of days of the public health emergency established by Executive Order No. 103 (EO 103), plus an additional 60 days.
  • Extensions of the July 1, 2020 deadline for recyclers, manufacturers, collection locations and local government units which collect electronic devices to submit their semiannual report to DEP by 60 days.
  • Direction to DEP to identify where public comment periods must be extended, to allow for adequate public participation.

Specific Timeframes

EO 136 tolls all timeframes governing public notice, review, or final action on applications for, or renewals of permits, registrations, plans, petitions, licenses, rates, and other approvals under the following statutes, beginning on March 9, 2020, by each day during the public health emergency established by EO 103, and no request submitted pursuant to any of these statutes shall be deemed complete or approved for failure to act within the prescribed timeframe: N.J.S.A. 13:1D-32 (construction permits), N.J.S.A. 13:19-8 (declarations of completeness of application), N.J.S.A. 48:3-7 (utility property transactions), and N.J.S.A. 58:16A-67 (written notice of intent to undertake a project to clean, clear, desnag stream).

The timeframes for businesses to submit a registration form to DEP to engage in soil and fill recycling services pursuant to N.J.S.A. 13:1E-127.1, DEP’s time to review and issue such registration, the deadline after which a business may not engage in soil and fill recycling services without a valid registration, and the timeframe for a registrant to submit an administratively complete license to the Attorney General shall each be extended by the number of days of the public health emergency established by EO 103, plus an additional 60 days.

The deadline for the government of each municipality to submit its yearly recycling tonnage report to DEP by July 1, 2020, under N.J.S.A. 13:1E-99.16.e, is extended by 60 days. Meanwhile, the deadline for recyclers, manufacturers, collection locations, and local government units which collect electronic devices to submit their semiannual report to DEP by August 1, 2020, as required N.J.S.A. 13:1E-99.105c, is extended by 60 days.

Guidance to DEP

Within five (5) days of EO 136, the Commissioner of DEP shall issue an Administrative Order extending the regulatory timeframes to accept public comment on applications for, or renewals of permits, registrations, plans or other approvals where necessary to ensure adequate public participation.

DEP is authorized to establish earlier timeframes for review and decisions on specific permit applications, with appropriate public notice, if it determines that an earlier decision is in the public interest or after consideration of the need to maintain appropriate sequencing within federal timeframes. DEP shall continue to review all applications within applicable timeframes to the extent practicable, and as necessary to satisfy its obligations of State implementation of federal programs.

To the extent practicable and in accordance with CDC guidelines, DEP shall expedite the review of any applications necessary for the protection of public health, safety, and environment, or that are otherwise related to the Federal or State response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Schenck Price will continue to monitor legislative developments at the state, federal and local level, and will provide further updates on future legislative enactments.  If you have any questions about the laws referenced in this Alert, please contact the author at rjr@spsk.com.

DISCLAIMER:  This Alert is designed to keep you aware of recent developments in the law. It is not intended to be legal advice, which can only be given after the attorney understands the facts of a particular matter and the goals of the client.

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