September 30, 2020

Volume X, Number 274

September 30, 2020

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NJDEP Deadlines and Other Requirements Remain in Effect Despite COVID-19 Pandemic

In a Compliance Alert issued yesterday, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (“NJDEP”) made it clear that, despite the current restrictions imposed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, all regulatory and permitting requirements currently remain in effect. This includes all permitting timelines, site remediation regulatory and mandatory timeframes, permit condition deadlines, and any other requirements imposed and enforced by NJDEP.

While the Compliance Alert notes that NJDEP may exercise regulatory flexibility in circumstances where compliance with NJDEP requirements may be jeopardized as a result of the pandemic, NJDEP will assess any such flexibility on a case-by-case basis.  The Alert notes that any regulatory flexibility will be narrowly tailored to “ensure the continued protection of public health, safety and the environment.” NJDEP is apparently also conducting an assessment of each of its programs to determine where such regulatory flexibility might be appropriate under the circumstances occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic, but overall it is clear that all current regulatory requirements and obligations imposed on regulated entities remain unchanged.

Importantly, the Alert also sets forth guidelines for what regulated entities should do in the event that they cannot satisfy a regulatory or permit obligation as a result of circumstance arising out of the pandemic. According to the Alert, regulated entities must notify NJDEP within two (2) business days of the discovery of noncompliance. If compliance can be reestablished within seven (7) days, the regulated entity should write to NJDEP and provide specific information regarding the specific noncompliance and achievement of compliance once again. If compliance cannot be reestablished within seven days, the Alert indicates that the regulated entity should contact its regional NJDEP enforcement office to obtain approval of a detailed compliance plan to address the noncompliance. The regulated community may also request guidance on specific compliance issues by writing to covid19help@dep.nj.gov.

In sum, it is clear that NJDEP currently is not offering broad-based relief from the requirements of its regulatory programs and related deadlines. Permit holders and other regulated entities, especially those currently constructing a project subject to an NJDEP permit or conducting a remediation under the guidance of a Licensed Site Remediation Professional, should review all applicable deadlines to determine if compliance will be impacted by COVID-19 and, as applicable, proactively implement a plan to notify NJDEP and establish a schedule to address the issue.

© 2020 Giordano, Halleran & Ciesla, P.C. All Rights Reserved National Law Review, Volume X, Number 113

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About this Author

Michael J. Gross, Giordano Law Firm, Environmental Attorney
Shareholder/Managing Partner

Mike, chair of the Environmental Law Practice Area, handles all aspects of New Jersey and federal environmental law, including permitting and litigation, CAFRA, sewage disposal and water supply, wetlands, riparian (tidelands) law, solid waste, flood hazard areas, siting of energy and other industrial facilities, site remediation, Pinelands, Highlands, cultural resources, stormwater, wastewater planning, water and air pollution. He also appears before planning and zoning boards and has handled complex construction litigation matters.

Mike is...

732-741-3900
Paul H. Schneider, Giordano Law Firm, Litigation Attorney
Shareholder

Paul, Chair of the Environmental & Land Use Litigation Practice Area, focuses his practice in environmental, redevelopment, land use, regulatory, real estate and affordable housing law, and litigation. He also handles a wide variety of redevelopment matters as well as corporate and commercial litigation. In addition to handling major litigation before both the state and federal courts and the Office of Administrative Law, he has extensive experience before the New Jersey Supreme Court and the Appellate Division.

Paul represents real estate developers and other businesses in all types of environmental and land use matters, including permitting and compliance in the areas of water, wetlands, waste, and air; brownfields redevelopment; site remediation; and transactional. He also represents landowners in cost recovery actions, as well as in enforcement actions brought by government or environmental groups.

732-741-3900
Steven M. Dalton, Giordano Law Firm, Attorney, Environmental - Land Use, Environmental - Site Remediation, Land Use & Development Law ,Cannabis Law, Real Estate, Renewable Energy, Environmental Law, Land Use Law, Litigation
Shareholder

Steve's primary practice is in Environmental Law. He is able to utilize his background in environmental sciences to anticipate, understand and address the issues that his clients confront. Steve assists business and individual clients in state and federal environmental permitting, regulatory compliance, solid and hazardous waste remediation and redevelopment of contaminated sites, underground storage tank compliance, water and sewer rights and approvals, Tideland rights and approvals, and municipal land use matters.  Steve also assists clients with environmental aspects of real estate...

732-741-3900
Marc D. Policastro Shareholder Giordano Law Firm, Business Attorney
Shareholder

Marc, Chair of the Environmental Department, is a transactional, business attorney, who focuses his practice in development, redevelopment, environmental compliance cases, corporate transactional matters, land use, zoning and business counseling. Admitted to practice in New Jersey and New York, he has represented numerous national developers, manufacturers, cogeneration facilities and utilities, automobile dealerships, lenders, borrowers and municipal boards in myriad land use contexts, including commercial and residential development and due diligence matters. He also focuses on complex...

732-741-3900
David J. Miller Shareholder environmental regulatory, real estate and corporate transactional matters attorney
Shareholder

Dave is an environmental attorney with experience in the private and public sectors who focuses his practice on environmental regulatory, real estate and corporate transactional matters. He counsels clients on site remediation, the Industrial Site Recovery Act (ISRA), Site Remediation Reform Act (SRRA), Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA), due diligence, participation in potentially responsible party groups and interaction with the Environmental Protection Agency on Superfund matters.  Dave also advises on the procurement of environmental permits...

732-741-3900