One of the most successful environmental programs in the country is getting a legislative makeover, and NJBIA wholeheartedly supports it. The Site Remediation Reform Act was enacted 10 years ago to tackle what had become a seemingly insurmountable backlog of properties that needed extensive environmental cleanup.
Today, at least 14,000 contaminated properties have been cleaned up and put back to use, contributing to the economy and the environment at the same time. The act created the Licensed Site Remediation Professional program to allow carefully selected private-sector environmental professionals to oversee the cleanups, with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) giving final approval of the projects.
Despite the success of the program, legislators are looking to make some improvements.
The Assembly Environment and Solid Waste Committee today released A-5293 (Pinkin, Zwicker), which would update the program and change some of the direct oversight provisions. NJBIA supports the bill because it will make it easier for redevelopers to purchase, clean up, and redevelop these properties.
“This bill represents how the Legislature does its business best,” said NJBIA Vice President for Government Affairs Ray Cantor.
“It is not said enough: When brownfield sites are cleaned up, the environment and public health are protected, jobs are created, and urban areas thrive,” Cantor said. “When our members undertake brownfield redevelopment, it turns around the lives of all those who live in the areas near these sites.”
Cantor credited hard work by both the DEP and legislators for creating and improving such an effective program.
“We particularly want to commend the bill’s primary sponsors, Assemblywoman Nancy Pinkin in the Assembly and Senator Bob Smith in the Senate,” Cantor said in testimony submitted to the committee. “This bill was crafted over two years and is the result of countless stakeholder meetings, many lasting most of the day.
“We would also be remiss if we did not acknowledge and thank the professionals in the Department of Environmental Protection who dedicate their professional lives to protecting the environment and helping make these processes work,” Cantor said. “I want to particularly recognize Assistant Commissioner Mark Pederson and his staff for their work in helping to clean up our state and working with our members to revitalize New Jersey.”