On Saturday May 2, 2020, New Jersey Governor Philip D. Murphy issued Executive Order (EO) 136 providing for sweeping extensions of many statutory deadlines required under environmental laws and regulations administered by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP or Department) and suspending timeframes for certain NJDEP permit decisions and reporting. The extensions and suspensions are retroactive to March 9, 2020. Specifically, EO-136 includes the following:

  • NJDEP’s “90-day” review period for Waterfront Development, CAFRA and Flood Hazard Area (stream encroachment) permit applications is tolled and extended.
  • Registration deadlines under the new “Dirty Dirt” law are extended.
  • “All timeframes governing the Department’s provision of public notice, review and decisions on permits and other approvals,” including those which would deem applications approved without conditions are paused.
  • The timeframe for NJDEP approval of certain asset sales of sanitary landfills is extended.
  • Reporting deadlines for municipalities regarding recycling tonnage are extended by 60 days; and
  • Extended the August 1 deadline for semi-annual reporting for entities that collect electronic “e-waste.”

Under the terms of EO 136, the NJDEP Commissioner is required to issue an Administrative Order by May 7, 2020 to implement the extensions. NJDEP is also authorized to “establish earlier timeframes for review and decisions on specific permit applications, with appropriate public notice, if DEP determines that an earlier decision is in the public interest or … to maintain appropriate sequencing of federal timeframes.”

90-day Permit Review Stayed.  Under N.J.S.A. 13:1D-32, NJDEP is required to make a determinations on applications for permits under the Waterfront Development Act, N.J.S.A. 13:9A-1 et seq, the Wetlands Act of 1970 (the Coastal Wetlands Act), N.J.S.A. 13:9A-1 et seq., the Coastal Area Facility Review Act (CAFRA), N.J.S.A. 13:19-1 et seq., and the Flood Hazard Area Control Act,  N.J.S.A. 58:16A-50 et seq.  EO-136 extends the timeframe for completeness reviews and permit decisions until 60 days after the end of COVID-19 Public Health Emergency declared under EO-103. Hence, all pending application will essentially be held in abeyance absent a finding that the permit decision is needed “in the public interest.” DEP is also required to continue reviews of permit applications “to the maximum extent practicable.”

NJDEP’s review of county or municipal projects to clear debris from streams under N.J.S.A. 58:16A-67 has also been extended.

Review of Treatment Works Approvals (TWA) for sewer connection permits and other “90-day permits” were not addressed, nor was any relaxation of those addressed down the regulatory food chain for local and county entities involved in approval processes.

“Dirty Dirt” registration deadline extended.  The deadline for registrations required under the recent “Dirty Dirt” legislation, N.J.S.A. 13:1E-127.1 et seq., has been extended until 60 days after the end of the COVID-19 emergency declaration.

Recycling Reporting deadlines extended.  Deadlines for annual reporting by municipalities of recycling tonnage under N.J.S.A. 13:1E-99.16.e. and the next semi-annual reporting for facilities accepting e-wastes required under N.J.S.A. 13:1E-99.105c, have been extended for sixty (60) days to July 1, 2020 and August 1, 2020 respectively.

Approval of Sanitary Landfill Asset Transfers.  The timeframe for DEP to act on certain proposed asset transfers for Sanitary Landfills under N.J.S.A. 48:3-7 has been extended for a period of sixty days after the end of the COVID-19 emergency declaration.

Our environmental team is here to assist you and advise as to how Executive Order 136 and other EO’s and administrative actions impact you.
Click here to read EO 136:  https://nj.gov/infobank/eo/056murphy/pdf/EO-136.pdf
Click here to read the Governor’s press statement on EO 136: https://nj.gov/governor/news/news/562020/approved/20200502d.shtml