Howard Davis P.C.

News/Press

New Jersey Environmental Rights Act

January 24, 2013

In 1974, the New Jersey Legislature passed the Environmental Rights Act (“ERA”), N.J.S.A. 2A:35-1 et seq.  The ERA enables citizens to enforce certain environmental statutes in New Jersey should the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection ("NJDEP") be unable or unwilling to enforce these specific environmental laws.  The  scope of the New Jersey Environmental Rights Act is expressly defined in the statute, where state and federal court decisions in New Jersey have further refined the limits of its authority to grant standing to certain citizens that meet the requirements of the statute, as well as other factual requirements.  Often citizens and non-profit organizations use the Environmental Rights Act to seek injunctive relief, such as a court order compelling a defendant to comply with New Jersey environmental requirements.  However, environmental groups and non-profit corporations are also using the Environmental Rights Act to demand the assessment of penalties, court costs, and attorney fees from a defendant if certain conditions are met under the statute.

A group or brigade of citizens that seek to enforce environmental statutes may allege claims and demands for penalties under the Environmental Rights Act for failure of a potentially responsible party, including a property owner, to submit various forms to the NJDEP, including documentation related to public notice of remedial work, an initial receptor evaluation, and LSRP notification.  However, the ability of such a citizens group to succeed in court on these claims is not guaranteed and can be challenged based on the law and facts at hand for a specific defendant. 

Recently, a citizens group named the Environmental Compliance Brigade, Corp., a New Jersey non-profit corporation, has been filing suits under the New Jersey Environmental Rights Act asserting allegations of failure to meet NJDEP filing deadlines relating to the Site Remediation Reform Act ("SRRA"). Should you require legal assistance with a claim relating to the Environmental Rights Acts, please contact the Law Office of Howard Davis, P.C. for consultation at phone: (201) 541-9737 or email: info@envirolawyer.net