New Jersey Supreme Court Refuses To Hear Challenge To Waiver Rule

by:  Peter J. Gallagher

The New Jersey Supreme Court has denied a request by a group of challengers to the so-called Waiver Rule (N.J.A.C. 7:1B-1.1, et seq.) — which allows the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (”DEP”) to waive certain environmental regulations on a case-by-case basis — to review an Appellate Division decision upholding the rule.  On behalf of amicus New Jersey Business and Industry Association, Porzio helped to defend the Waiver Rule before the Appellate Division.     

As we previously reported here, the Waiver Rule is not a blanket waiver of all regulations. Instead, a waiver will only be available when one of four criteria are met: (1) a public emergency has been formally declared; (2) conflicting rules between Federal and State agencies or between State agencies are adversely impacting a project or preventing an activity from proceeding; (3) a net environmental benefit would be achieved; and/or (4) undue hardship is being imposed by the rule requirements. N.J.A.C. 7:1B-2.1.  Moreover, the Waiver Rule identifies 13 rules and requirements that cannot be waived under any circumstances.

A group of Appellants challenged the Waiver Rule on several grounds, but the Appellate Division rejected the challenge and held that the Waiver Rule was a proper exercise of the DEP's rule-making authority.  The New Jersey Supreme Court has now refused to hear the case, which leaves intact the Appellate Division's decision. 

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