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Changes may be underway in the area of environmental law in New Jersey, as the Department of Environmental Protection gets set to overhaul the Brownfields Development Area Initiative and the Site Remediation Program. Also in this report, polluter liability under the Spill Compensation and Controls Act, immunity for MTBE manufacturers under the “fuels safe harbor” provision of the energy bill, and a retrospective on Christie Whitman’s stint as head of the EPA.
Brownfields Development Area Initiative Is an Idea in the Making The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection recently announced the Brownfields Development Area Initiative, which is intended to promote the cleanup and redevelopment of brownfields on a regional basis. Traditionally, the DEP looked to clean up property on a site-by-site basis; this approach is now getting an overhaul. Site Remediation Program Changes May Impact Future Development The election of Gov. James McGreevey in November 2001 ushered in a new era in the Department of Environmental Protection’s emphasis on brownfields. The DEP has undertaken a reorganization of its site remediation program and has announced a number of policy and program initiatives designed to facilitate the processing of site remediation cases generally – and brownfield sites in particular. Pursuing Natural Resource Injury Compensation On Sept. 24, 2003, Commissioner Bradley Campbell of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection announced at a press conference the formal commencement of a new initiative whereby persons and companies responsible for discharges under the Spill Compensation and Control Act, N.J.S.A. 58:10-23.11 et seq., will be compelled to compensate the state of New Jersey for the value of injury to natural resources. ‘Fuels Safe Harbor’ Provision Grants Immunity to MTBE Manufacturers Former President Lyndon Johnson once warned that “[a] nation that fails to plan intelligently for the development and protection of its precious waters will be condemned to wither because of its shortsightedness.” A provision to a pending energy bill, which may become law before year’s end, could end up testing Johnson’s ominous prediction. Former EPA Administrator Christine Todd Whitman: Looking Back, Looking Forward Christine Todd Whitman seemed like an odd selection to head the Bush Administration’s U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. But the lure of a cabinet post — even a not very glamorous one — in an incoming Republican administration was tempting enough to cause her to leave Trenton one year early. Surviving Environmental Justice Attacks Corporations seeking to avoid the financial burden and bad publicity of environmental justice lawsuits should look to the trends in this evolving area of the law when developing siting strategies for environmentally undesirable facilities.

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