Alice A. Previte, Esq.
Office of Legal Affairs, Department of Environmental Protection
401 East State Street, 7th Floor
Mail Code 401-04L, PO Box 402
Trenton, New Jersey 08625-0402
Dear Ms. Previte:
On behalf of the New Jersey Business & Industry Association, the nation’s largest statewide business association representing members providing over 1 million jobs, we are requesting a stay or extension on the administrative process on the above listed rule.
NJBIA welcomes the opportunity to provide comments on the Soil Remediation Standards rule proposal, which was published in the New Jersey Register on April 6, 2020. We also would like to participate in the required public hearing. However, given the current emergency caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, we do not believe we can adequately participate in the process, especially in the timeframes provided. Therefore, we respectfully ask that the proposed rules be stayed or, at the very least, the due date for comments be extended an additional sixty (60) days to Tuesday, August 4, 2020.
In light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the importance of this rule proposal to the public and industry, the current deadline of June 5, 2020 is not sufficient to appropriately review the proposed amendments and available compound-specific toxicological studies. These proposed rules are significant and, therefore, stakeholders require a significant amount of time and effort to respond to them. Due to COVID-19 and the state’s response to this crisis, stakeholders in New Jersey are struggling to maintain steady business operations with employees working remotely, and our members are no exception. This rule is expansive and impacts businesses of all sizes. At this point, many businesses in New Jersey are closed, and others are struggling with layoffs and other financial implications. In addition, some of our members are focusing on higher priorities, such as trying to stay in business or provide the necessary products and skills to fight this pandemic.
There is nothing so urgent in this rule proposal that it must be pushed forward during this public health emergency. Even DEP staff resources are strained and not able to fully function, thus making it harder to obtain information and materials essential to properly comment on this proposal. The OPRA program, while processing requests, is not able to timely provide documents that may be essential in understanding the rule proposal. Some documents cannot be provided at all at this time due to staff limitations and the need for onsite visits. This is not the time to push through a major regulatory proposal, however well intentioned.
Thank you very much for your consideration of our stay/extension request. I kindly ask for a response at your earliest convenience so that we can appropriately develop comments and plan our resources. We too are very engaged in helping our members respond to this crisis. If I can be of further assistance, please let me know.
Vice President, Government Affair