Home > Uncategorized > Deadline Passed For Christie DEP To Respond To Legislative Veto of Flood Rules

Deadline Passed For Christie DEP To Respond To Legislative Veto of Flood Rules

Hundreds of Miles of Category One Stream Buffers In The Breach

Will Legislature Step Up To A Constitutional Challenge of Gov. Christie?

Legislative Veto Far More Effective Than Litigation in Blocking Regulatory Rollbacks

Back on January 12, 2016, the final day of the 2014 – 15 legislative session, the Assembly followed the Senate and both Houses moved to veto the Christie DEP’s proposed “overhaul” of flood hazard, coastal management, and storm water regulations, see:

That move invoked the Constitution and triggered a requirement that DEP reply to the Legislature within 30 days – a deadline which tolled last week. The Constitutional procedure is set forth:

The agency shall have 30 days to amend or withdraw the existing or proposed rule or regulation.  If the agency does not amend or withdraw the existing or proposed rule or regulation, the Legislature may invalidate that rule or regulation, in whole or in part, or may prohibit that proposed rule or regulation, in whole or in part, from taking effect by a vote of a majority of the authorized membership of each House in favor of a concurrent resolution providing for invalidation or prohibition, as the case may be, of the rule or regulation.  

Thus far, we have not heard a public reply to DEP’s apparent finger in the eye by Legislative leaders who sponsored the veto Resolution (Senators Bob Smith and Ray Lesniak and Assemblypersons Grace Spencer and John McKeon).

It is very important that the Legislature follow through with invalidating these DEP rules and force DEP back to the drawing boards.

To do that, we need concurrent Resolutions to be introduced and passed by both Houses.

We urge our readers and intrepid journalists to pressure legislative leaders to assure that they follow through on this Constitutional challenge.

There is no need to wait for DEP to adopt the rules in question, the 30 day deadline has passed.

The time for the Legislature to act is now.

More broadly, we have called for the Legislature to use its oversight powers to hold the Christie DEP accountable for regulatory rollbacks and failure to enforce NJ’s strict environmental laws, see:

The Legislative veto power is an additional weapon in the Legislative arsenal.

Legislative oversight and veto are much more democratic, efficient, and reliable means to strike down Christie DEP regulations than the suite of lawsuits filed by environmental groups. 

As longtime environmental lawyer Bill Potter correctly notes:

“With its massive rewriting of coastal-zone policies covering nearly 1,000 pages, the DEP has attempted to do through regulation what it cannot accomplish through legislation — namely, to open up the coastal area to more at-risk development where there should be less,’’ said Bill Potter, the lead attorney for the plaintiffs in the case. (Disclosure: Potter is an occasional columnist for NJ Spotlight.)

For that same reason, i.e. end run around the legislature, those coastal rules also are “inconsistent with legilative intent” and should be vetoed, just like the flood hazard rules were.

For the argument for a legislative veto, see my prior posts, including:

Environmentalists and the people who care need to bring pressure to bear on legislators and not rely on the courts to protect NJ’s public health and environment.

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