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Thursday, November 13, 2014

STRATEGIC ENVIRONMENTAL PARTNERS, LLC VS. NEW JERSEY v DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION A-5283-12T3

 STRATEGIC ENVIRONMENTAL PARTNERS, LLC VS. NEW JERSEY v DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION 
A-5283-12T3 
This case involves an emergency order issued by the Commissioner of the Department of Environmental Protection pursuant to N.J.S.A. 13:1E-9.5(c) and -125.9. The order enjoined the owner of a solid waste landfill located in the Township of Roxbury from accepting any material onto the landfill, and authorized the Department to immediately seize control of the landfill to abate an alleged imminent threat to the environment arising from continued emissions of hydrogen sulfide. 
We concluded that the Department exceeded its authority under N.J.S.A. 13:1E-125.4 by seizing control of the landfill without first obtaining judicial approval, and erred in basing the emergency order on past hydrogen sulfide emissions by applying a statutory emissions standard that did not yet exist until the applicable statute was enacted the same morning the order was issued. We also concluded the Department had not made the requisite showing to justify an emergency order under N.J.S.A. 13:1E-125.9. Accordingly, we vacated the emergency order and remanded to the trial court for further proceedings. 

We specifically rejected the landfill owner's contention that the new statute on which the Department relied constituted unconstitutional special legislation, and declined to address other constitutionally-based challenges to the Department's actions.