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The New Jersey General Assembly will weigh economic growth against environmental protection as the legislature's Environment and Energy Committee has roundly rejected a waiver rule proposed by Gov. Chris Christie, the Star-Ledger reports.
Under the proposed waiver rule, businesses, towns and residents could seek permission from the state's Department of Environmental Protection to bypass state regulations. The applicants would have to show that the state's rules are "unduly burdensome," language that opponents say is too vague and could be politically exploited, according to the Star-Ledger.
"I do believe if the waiver rule is allowed to stand it is ultimately going to result in loss of credibility for DEP," said state Sen. Bob Smith, the environmental committee chairman, told the newspaper.
Business groups and organizations representing counties and municipalities see the issue differently.
"As we're looking at how to rebuild the economy and how to get businesses and jobs to be coming here, we need to know there is flexibility at the DEP," Sara Bluhm, a vice president of the New Jersey Business and Industry Association, told the Star-Ledger.
The committee's resolution now moves to the full Senate. If passed there and then by the House, the DEP would have 30 days to change the waiver rule or withdraw it. If it does nothing, the legislature could pass another resolution to block the rule.