A measure sponsored by Assembly Democrats aimed at halting the state Department of Environmental Protection from circumventing existing environmental regulations was approved by an Assembly panel on Monday by a 5 - 2 vote. "The DEP does not have the statutory authority to promulgate one set of rules and regulations in order to waive other rules and regulations previously adopted as a result of legislation," said Barnes (D-Middlesex). "Not only does this go against the very purpose of creating legislation, but it also has the potential to harm the environment and the residents of this state."
the agency does not have the authority to simply waive requirements of at least 85 statutes put in place by the legislature as part of 40 years of environmental protection legislation. The asked the Democratic legislature to exercise the authority given to them by an obscure constitutional amendment that allows them to strike down an agency rule if the legislature determines that the rule is not in keeping with the legislative intent behind the law.
"This is an attempt by the department to completely circumvent a great deal of the environmental protections we have put in place to protect the people of this state," said McKeon (D-Essex/Morris). "This is a classic example of this administration acting without regard for the laws of this state, a pattern we've seen repeatedly over the last two years."