New Jersey Environmental Permitting Poised to Go High-Tech

October 18, 2018
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NJDEP to Introduce Electronic Submission System for Environmental Permitting

While electronic filing is now commonplace with respect to filing taxes or corporate documents, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) has failed to keep pace with technology. Thankfully, that will soon change. According to NJDEP Commissioner Catherine McCabe, the agency is preparing to unveil a new electronic submission system.

NJDEP to Introduce Electronic Submission System for Environmental Permitting

Photo courtesy of John Schnobrich (Unsplash.com)

NJ Environmental Permitting

The process of obtaining environmental permits and land development approvals from state and federal regulatory authorities can be a costly and burdensome process. In New Jersey, the NJDEP’s Office of Permit Coordination and Environmental Review (PCER) coordinates and facilitates the permitting of large complex projects across multiple programs.

PCER helps facilitate the permitting process by providing an early, informal review and comment on “ideas” or conceptual projects early in the process. They also can assist in identifying and resolving initial/overarching policy or rule interpretation or process questions by the Department needed to determine the viability of a project prior to entering the permit application process. While PCER offers the Permit Readiness Checklist (PRC) form, most of its assistance is decidedly low-tech.

NJDEP’s New E-filing System

Currently, the New Jersey Electronic Environmental (E2) Reporting System allows the regulated community to electronically submit certain reports to the NJDEP. They include Electronic Drinking Water Reports (DWR) related to the Safe Drinking Water Act; New Jersey Quantitation Limit (NJQL) reports for Office of Quality Assurance lab certification program; and Private Well Testing Reporting under the Private Well Testing Act (PWTA). However, most other documents must be filed in paper form.

The NJDEP’s new e-filing system, which will cover 117 permit activities, is one of the steps the NJDEP plans to take to reduce the burden of regulatory compliance and speed up the permitting process. As reported by Real Estate NJ, McCabe discussed the initiative during the NAIOP’s Regulatory, Legislative & Legal Update seminar this summer. “We’re trying to make it friendlier, trying to make it faster, trying to be smart about how we plan,” McCabe stated. “We recognize that’s what we need to do.”

According to the NJDEP Commissioner, the new system will do more than facilitate electronic submissions. Rather, it will resemble the Turbo Tax online tax software program by walking users through the environmental permitting process. It will ask questions based on the specific permits the user is seeking and provide guidance along the way, including how to pay all applicable fees and who to contact for additional information, such as a municipal clerk.

The new electronic system should benefit both the NJDEP and developers by making permitting processes more efficient and less resource-intensive. It will also hopefully allow developers to more readily check the status of their applications and allow the NJDEP to make decisions more quickly.

If you have any questions, please contact us

If you have any questions or if you would like to discuss the matter further, please contact me, Dan McKillop, at 201-806-3364.