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NJBIA’s Energy and Environment Policy Committee recently held a virtual meeting to discuss ongoing environmental issues impacting businesses. Guest speakers at the meeting included Chairman of the Senate Environment and Energy Committee, Senator Bob Smith (D-17), Deputy Commissioner of the state Department of Environmental Protection Sean Moriarty and Executive Director of the New Jersey Business Action Center Melanie Willoughby.  

Sen. Smith reviewed his legislative priorities for the remainder of the lame duck session and the next legislative term. Recently, Sen. Smith introduced bill S-4101 to provide businesses and income tax credits to incentivize the installation of electric charging stations and commercial vehicle fleets.  

Deputy Commissioner Moriarty discussed the ongoing developments at DEP, including environmental justice initiatives, site remediation, and restructuring. After various discussions and reviewing comments from stakeholders, the environmental justice proposal is set to be released in the first quarter of 2022.  

Moriarty discussed balancing the goals of the DEP with the concerns of stakeholders in drafting the proposal. Toby Hanna, Partner at Environmental Resources Management (ERM), discussed the PACT (Protecting Against Climate Threats) proposal from the DEP. The main elements of the proposal include measures such as classifying cardon dioxide as an air contaminant, setting carbon dioxide limits for electric generating units, banning the sale, storage or use of No. 4 or No. 6 fuel oils and setting a framework for small boiler electrification.  

Additionally, Melanie Willoughby reviewed the DEP rule banning plastic carryout bags and polystyrene foam products which will go into effect on May 4, 2022. All New Jersey retail, food service and grocery businesses will no longer be able to provide or sell single use plastic bags or foam products. Single-use paper carryout bags may be provided or sold by food service and retail businesses; however, grocery stores equal to or larger than 2500 square feet may only provide or sell reusable carryout bags.  

Businesses may request a waiver from the DEP for one year to use single use plastics if there are no feasible alternatives or the business has less than $500,000 in gross annual income.