Home > Uncategorized > Governor Christie Is Implementing The Failed “Newspaper Revenge Bill” In Regulations

Governor Christie Is Implementing The Failed “Newspaper Revenge Bill” In Regulations

DEP Just Eliminated Current Requirements To Publish Notices In The Newspaper

A quick note and a few sincere questions for my media and environmentalist friends.

Governor Christie sparked outrage when he proposed to eliminate current requirements that legal notices be published in the newspaper. That was widely perceived as revenge for critical coverage of Christie’s “Bridgegate” scandal and an attack on the media by depriving it of a major source of revenue.

Christie’s move generated favorable attention in national Republican and business circles, e.g. see Forbes story

But POLITICO (sic) reports today that Governor Christie has lost the “newspaper revenge bill” legislative battle – giving Senate President Sweeney credit.

I do not have a POLITICO subscription, so can only post their excerpt:

NEWSPAPER REVENGE BILL – “With Christie on the way out, newspapers appear to have won legal notice fight,” by POLITICO’s Matt Friedman: “New Jersey newspapers that have fended off attempts by Gov. Chris Christie and legislative leaders to cut them off from a vital source of revenue won’t have to fight that battle during Phil Murphy’s administration. Senate President Stephen Sweeney says the legislation, which would no longer require local governments to post legal notices in newspapers, isn’t going anywhere once Murphy takes office in January. ‘We are done with legal ads,”‘ Sweeney said in an email to POLITICO New Jersey. Asked if he was certain a bill wouldn’t resurface over the next four years, Sweeney, who’s all but secured another term as Senate president, said ‘I’m sure.’ Read the report ” Read the report

Christie lost the legislative battle, but he is using executive power to implement it anyway.

Specifically, just this past Monday November 20, 2017, the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) adopted new regulations that eliminate current requirements to publish public notice on air pollution control permits in the newspaper. Interestingly, the new rules were proposed on July 3, 2017 – an unusually fast 4 month adoption process.

This change effects thousands of air pollution control permits across the state and reduces not only media revenue, but the ability for the public to participate in DEP permit decisions that impact human health and air quality

I have no estimate of the revenue involved – DEP provided no economic impact or cost benefit analysis in the proposal – but it could be significant.

Here is how DEP justified the proposed elimination of newspaper publication in the July 3, 2017 proposal:

The Department proposes to amend N.J.A.C. 7:27-22.11(e) to replace newspaper publication of a notice of a draft operating permit with posting on the Department’s website. The Department’s continued use of a mailing list of interested parties to supplement the e-notice is consistent with the requirements of the EPA’s final rule. (81 Fed. Reg. at 71617). The Department’s website currently provides an opportunity to sign up for e-mail notices regarding air quality regulation activities, including draft operating permits. The Department will update the list, as people request to be included on or removed from the mailing list. The Department will continue to publish the notice for each draft general operating permit in the New Jersey Register, as required under existing N.J.A.C. 7:27-22.11(e) and 22.14(a), and may also provide additional notice by using any other means the Department finds appropriate for assuring adequate notice to the public of the opportunity for public comment. (proposal at page 12)

In adopting the proposal, DEP summarily wrote:

Other amendments provide that the Department will publish notice of a draft operating permit by posting the notice on its website, rather than by publishing the notice in a newspaper, in accordance with a recent EPA rulemaking (October 2016). (see adoption at page 4).


The adopted amendments to the draft permit public notice requirements at N.J.A.C. 7:27-22.11 are consistent with Federal regulations allowing permitting authorities to substitute e-notice and e-access for newspaper legal ads. No further analysis is required. (adoption at page 33)

I am not familiar with the “recent EPA rule making (October 2016)” that DEP is referring to, but NJ DEP is not legally bound by EPA rules regarding eliminating requirements for publication of public notices and has legal authority under both the NJ State Air Pollution Control Act and the federal Clean Air Act to be more stringent than minimum EPA requirements.

As such, the Christie DEP is choosing to reduce public notice and newspaper publication requirements that weaken the public’s ability to understand and comment on DEP air permits. There is no EPA gun to their heads.

So, here are some questions for the intrepid journalists out there:

How many other times have NJ State agencies eliminated current newspaper publishing requirements?

Is DEP alone in doing this? I’ve never seen DEP do this before.

Politico favorably quotes Senator Sweeney and effectively credits him with killing the “newspaper revenge” bill.

But will Sweeney block the new DEP rules as inconsistent with legislative intent?

Will Sweeney conduct oversight of DEP over why they eliminated current requirement to publish in paper?

Will the Murphy administration amend these rules and reinstate former requirements to publish in the newspaper?

How much revenue does NJ newspaper generate from DEP and State agency publication regulatory requirements?

Perhaps media may want to call Sweeney and ask and do some digging in the NJ Register to see if the DEP is a unique aberration or part of a wider Christie scheme.

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:
  1. No comments yet.
  1. No trackbacks yet.
You must be logged in to post a comment.