The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), a government agency, plays the critical role of managing the state’s environment, protecting natural resources and enforcing regulations and permits. Over the past eight years, the outgoing administration has advanced policies that undermine these protections. During the same period, the budget has decreased. Funding for the DEP comes from several sources including the General Fund, permit application fees, fines, leases and the federal government.
Fifteen years ago the DEP had roughly 4,000 employees. Since then, staffing levels have plummeted to 2,800 and those remaining suffer from low morale. Staff cuts have reduced enforcement, inspections, compliance actions and penalties and fines as much as 50 percent and greater in many programs.
Critical offices like Environmental Justice (EJ) are understaffed and under supported causing increased pollution-related health risks for communities. In these communities DEP cuts have eroded the protection of natural resources, increased waiting periods for permits, reduced transparency and have impacted enforcement actions. Parks and recreation projects are backlogged, fisheries have shut down and individuals and businesses face unnecessary waits. Facility inspections have decreased significantly and many industries go years without being inspected causing permit violations.
- Reverse negative trends
- Address environmental justice issues