Environmentalists argue against ‘waiver rule’ in N.J.

    Advocacy groups in New Jersey are urging the Christie administration to drop a proposed rule they say would be one of the most dramatic rollbacks of environmental regulations in 30 years.

    The ‘waiver rule’ would allow developers in New Jersey to negotiate exemptions from environmental restrictions if they are unduly burdensome or if there are conflicting rules from various state agencies.

    Environmentalists say that could lead to more sprawl and pollution.

    Denise Patel with the New Jersey Work Environment Council, a coalition of labor and environmental groups, said she worries the waiver rule will weaken safeguards for workers at chemical plants and oil refineries.

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    “We’re concerned that this waiver rule will lead to weaker standards that are necessary to protect the workers, communities, and environment of New Jersey,” said Patel. “That’s why the Legislature has allowed for waivers in the laws where they believe it makes sense, and that is also why some laws have no waiver provisions.”

    Dena Mattola Jaborska , executive director of Environment New Jersey, said the proposal is bad for the environment.

    “With one sweep of a pen it could label our protections for our air, land, and water as a burden to business and open to political negotiations with polluting companies,” she said. “It just turns decades of thoughtful standard setting by the legislature as well as the DEP and the federal government upside down.”

    A spokesman for the Department of Environmental Protection said the proposal will reduce bureaucracy without jeopardizing safety standards.

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