Political Changes to Affect NJDEP in 2017 and Beyond
As a state that has viewed itself as being a role model for other states when it comes to environmental regulation, New Jersey politicians have begun to position New Jersey as a place that must stand tough in view of the anticipated rollback of federal environmental regulations by the Trump Administration. Former Governors Jim Florio (D) and Christine Todd Whitman (R) have both reportedly taken this position, and called for the election of an new administration at the state level – elections to replace Governor Christie are scheduled to take place in November 2017 – that will press for strong environmental programs at the state level and lobby the federal government to preserve existing protections.
At present, the leading candidate for governor is reported to be a Democrat, Phil Murphy, CEO of the non-profit New Start New Jersey, and former Goldman Sachs executive. If elected, it is possible that some of the administrative reforms instituted by NJDEP Commissioner Martin to make the NJDEP more “user friendly” and to eliminate duplicative and unnecessarily inflexible regulation where appropriate, might come in for re-examination. In addition, practices such as the use of funds from programs like the Clean Energy Program for purposes of plugging revenue holes in the general budget would likely come to an end, and Christie-disfavored programs like New Jersey’s participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), are likely to be revived. The current leading Republican contender, Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno, known for her work on the current administration’s Red-Tape Commission, could be expected to build on the practices of her predecessor.