New Jersey Assemblyman John Burzichelli (D-Gloucester) has introduced a bill that would prohibit state agencies from adopting new rules and regulations more stringent than federal standards without legislative permission. Burzichelli says the bill will eliminate overzealous regulation that chases business out of the state.
Introduced March 4 and moved from committee March 18, the Burzichelli-authored Bill 2464 would require future rule-making to adhere to the state’s Administrative Procedure Act, “and shall only implement rules that have been adopted in accordance with those rule-making requirements.”
“Our tangled web of regulations may mean well, but they’ve largely done nothing more than stunt economic growth and hurt our business environment,” Burzichelli explained in a press statement. “We’re now on the road toward changing that.”
A spokeswoman for the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection stated in a phone interview the department is not taking a position on the bill. State environmental activists have weighed in heavily against Burzichelli’s proposed legislation.
Activists Claim Health Risks
Responding to the Assemblyman’s claim the bill will make the state friendlier to business in a badly battered economy, David Pringle, campaign director for the New Jersey Environmental Federation, which is the New Jersey chapter of the national organization Clean Water Action, asserted, “New Jersey faces the same economic threat as the rest of the country. We’re currently more concerned with what’s going on with Wall Street, which caused the economic troubles.
“Whether the intentions [of Burzichelli’s bill] are good or not, it undermines critical environmental and health protections in the state. This legislation could result in New Jersey residents being exposed to greater risks of lung disease from breathing polluted air and cancer from drinking contaminated water,” Pringle argued.
Burzichelli responded the bill would make the state more open to new business in a struggling economy by lessening restrictions imposed by environmental regulators.
“The current regulatory environment is expensive to navigate,” Buzichelli explained. “What the bill does is give the legislature the statutory power to make changes. New Jersey is struggling, and we have to pare things down.”
State Retains Power to Act
Burzichelli stated that provisions exist in the bill that would provide a safety net for emergency procedures and rulemaking. This provision would allow the legislature to exceed federal standards if it is deemed necessary. “If there’s a demonstrated need to exceed federal standards, it will be debated on its merits,” he said.
Bruce Edward Walker ([email protected]) is a Michigan-based writer and publisher of the Mackinac Center’s MichiganScience magazine.