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President’s View: New Federal Environmental Policies Will Empower New Jersey Leaders, Regulators

by: Anthony Russo

Through his appointments and through his Executive Orders, President Trump has sent a message to the business community that he will eliminate burdensome regulations and policies that adversely affect our economy and private sector job growth.

Environmental regulations are “out of control,” explained President Trump. “We’re going to make a very short process, and we’re going to either give you your permits or we’re not going to give you your permits,” he said. “But you’re going to know very quickly—and generally speaking—we’re going to be giving you your permits, so we’re going to be very friendly.”

When asked about which regulations are in need of change, and which regulations add significant cost to their operations, business leaders almost always cite environmental regulations at the top of their list. USEPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has already indicated that he will change the way his agency does business.

“I believe that we as an agency and we as a nation can be both pro-energy and pro-jobs and pro-environment,” at the same time, said Pruitt. “That we don’t have to choose between the two. I seek to listen, learn and lead with you to address these issues that we face as a nation.”

USEPA Administrator Pruitt has already hit the “reset” button on air quality regulations that impact industries such as coal mining, and he is looking to cut additional rules that hinder other businesses. Pruitt has a history of being at odds with the USEPA, so his
appointment may very well signal a sea change at the agency.

“I seek to ensure that we engender the trust of those at the state level… that those at the state level see us as partners,” says Pruitt.

Typically, states look to the USEPA to set the bar on environmental protections and safeguards, whether it’s air quality, drinking water, waste disposal, remediation of contaminated sites, etc. States then choose to follow the USEPA or be tougher. When it comes to environmental protections, New Jersey usually chooses to be more stringent.

The future for the Garden State’s environmental regulations will also depend on who is elected the next governor. Under Governor Christie and NJDEP Commissioner Bob Martin, the business community has seen a more balanced approach to protecting our environment without sacrificing our economy.

Will the new governor, whoever he or she is, continue with Governor Christie’s policies or will they feel pressure from environmental and civic groups to defy President Trump’s environmental policies and do more at the state level?

Protecting our environment is essential and should be a priority. We all want clean air to breathe, safe water to drink and a vibrant ecosystem. The issue has always been balance, a concept that USEPA Administrator Pruitt seems to embrace.

According to the Trump administration, USEPA Administrator Pruitt’s “overarching goal is to lead the USEPA in a way that our future generations inherit a better and healthier environment, while faithfully administering environmental laws.”

Long permit approval times, needless paperwork and high fees are not the ingredients to protecting our environment— good science is. We can have a robust economy and a healthy environment if we focus on what matters. It seems the business community and
our next governor will have an opportunity to do just that, thanks to a new approach at the USEPA.

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