Environmental Permits and Compliance
Property owners, employers, and managers are keenly aware of their responsibility to be compliant with environmental laws and regulations, for the benefit of our community and our planet. But navigating ever-changing local, state, and federal guidelines can be a confusing process.
And that confusion often comes at a cost. In a single year, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) collected five billion dollars in fines and penalties for violations of federal environmental regulations. That total does not account for penalties at the state and local level.
Legal representation is the key to help your properties remain clean and compliant. Our legal team oversees every facet of environmental law from permitting and compliance, to land development and site remediation.
We have the experience and acumen to defend clients facing administrative actions in court. We are prepared to appear before planning and zoning boards to help advance your land-use goals. We take the guesswork out of compliance to save you costly delays and fines so you can move forward with your venture.
Environmental Law Issues That Impact Your Business
Herold Law environmental lawyers in collaboration with consultants, technical experts, and laboratories advise our clients and resolve legal matters including:
- Air emissions
- Compliance counseling
- Dry-cleaning solvent contamination
- Flood hazard issues
- Hazardous substance leaks
- Hazardous waste permits
- Mold assessment and remediation
- Natural resource damage
- Occupational exposure
- Petroleum contamination
- Property damage claims
- Site inspection
- Site remediation
- Superfund sites
- Toxic torts
- Underground storage tanks
- Waste treatment and disposal
- Water quality certifications
- Wetlands regulations
Activities involving land and property typically require some form of environmental permitting. If you want to conduct any type of work on a newly-acquired property, you must get approval from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) and the EPA.
Land development projects and infrastructure are subject to particularly complex permit guidelines in many communities in New Jersey where undeveloped land is scarce. Projects must meet tough standards in relation to air quality, water quality, and the condition of the land.
Without the appropriate tests and evaluations, permitting can become a long, drawn-out, and costly undertaking. We have the knowledge and skills to oversee the permit process to prevent common bureaucratic pitfalls that keep some businesses and developers from meeting their goals.
Environmental compliance must be an ongoing priority for every business. Compliance refers to laws and codes that determine how businesses develop their land and conduct any operations that may have an impact on the environment. These regulations are in place to protect the environment.
In New Jersey, for example, construction in areas where wetlands (ponds, streams, lakes, etc.) are present requires specific permits and may be restricted in certain circumstances including the presence of a threatened or endangered species. Developing or renovating land in a wetland or buffer zone surrounding a wetland without the proper permits can bring fines and penalties from the NJDEP.
Compliance is complicated because your business is not only subject to environmental regulations in your town, county, and state. In some cases, regulations may apply to a specific region or properties in close proximity to certain geographic features. Because environmental regulations are continually changing, compliance is an ongoing commitment.
Developers in New Jersey often face considerable hurdles when pursuing certain land-use goals. New Jersey is among the most densely-populated states in the nation. That means less open space, more likelihood of contamination, and greater restrictions on what you can do with your property. The NJDEP is also one of the most aggressive agencies in the country. In addition to enforcing its own policies, it is not unusual for the NJDEP to enforce federal regulations as well.
Property owners in the Garden State must abide by Clean Air and Clean Water Acts, the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), and the state’s solid and hazardous waste laws.
Failure to abide by these rules and laws can bring penalties. Certain regulators have the ability to enforce environmental policies and laws. Enforcement actions take different forms. They can be:
- Actions initiated by public citizens and communities
- Proceedings before state and federal courts
- Administrative proceedings before the United States EPA
- Administrative proceedings before the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP)
The quality of your counsel will determine the outcome of environmental law enforcements. For good results, choose a firm with a team or division focused solely on environmental law matters.
The Industrial Site Recovery Act and Site Cleanups
The Industrial Site Recovery Act (ISRA) is an important environmental law enacted in 1993 that requires remediation of qualified business sites before they are sold, transferred, or if business operations are stopped. These actions are referred to as “triggering events.”
Any individual who owns the industrial business, owns the land where the business is located, or operates the business must comply with ISRA. Businesses subject to the ISRA include, “(1) operated in New Jersey on or after December 31, 1983; and (2) conducted operations that involved the generation, manufacturing, refining, transportation, treatment, storage, handling or disposal of defined hazardous substances and waste, including petroleum products.”
The owner or operator of the ISRA-applicable site is required to notify the NJDEP if a triggering event is approaching. From there, a Preliminary Assessment is conducted to identify environmental areas of concern (AOC.) In some cases, a Site Investigation takes place to determine if contaminants are present in concentrations that require further action.
The owner must either show that no contamination exists, or remediate the property to regulatory standards. Environmental law attorneys experienced with these procedures will advise business owners and protect their rights and interests throughout the ISRA process.
Brownfield Properties and Site Remediation
Brownfields are located throughout New Jersey, in all types of communities: rural, urban, and suburban. N.J.S.A. 58:10B-23.d describes brownfields as, “any former or current commercial or industrial site that is currently vacant or underutilized and on which there has been, or there is suspected to have been, a discharge of a contaminant.”
Redeveloping, reusing, or expanding brownfield properties is more complicated than with other types of land because of the known or potential presence of hazardous materials. Former gas stations, dumps, and dry cleaners are common examples of brownfield properties.
The liabilities and costs to make these properties compliant makes them unappealing to many buyers and developers. However, there are considerable benefits to cleaning up these sites. Removing contaminants is good for people and the planet. And brownfields can often be transformed into public parks and open spaces for communities to enjoy.
Brownfield redevelopment is a significant venture that consists of three components: site cleanup, planning for the new site use, and the actual development of the remediated site. Our environmental law team can help you every step of the way to help avoid delays and move your project forward.
You may have specific goals for your property and your business, but may be feeling intimidated by local, state, and federal environmental regulations. Our goal as your trusted environmental law team is to help you navigate this process to achieve your land-use goals and remain safe and compliant now and in the future.
Warren Environmental Law Attorneys with Herold Law, P.A., Advocate for Clients Regarding Compliance and Enforcement of Environmental Regulations
If you have property that has been contaminated, or is subject to local and federal environmental regulations, our Warren environmental law attorneys at Herold Law, P.A. can help. Call 908-647-1022 or fill out our online form to learn more about our team or schedule an appointment to discuss your environmental law matter. Located in Warren, New Jersey, Herold Law, P.A. serves clients across the state of New Jersey.