October 04, 2012

Suit to Clean Up New Jersey Combined Sewers Can Proceed

An appellate ruling last week rejected the NJDEP’s effort to short circuit a law suit brought by Earthrise Law Center’s clients. The suit seeks to revoke the NJDEP’s illegal Combined Sewer System permit.

Earthrise Law Center’s clients Hackensack Riverkeeper and NY/NJ Baykeeper announced last week that a New Jersey state appellate judge rejected a New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection effort to short circuit the environmental groups’ law suit over combined sewer overflows. In April of 2011, Baykeeper and Riverkeeper petitioned NJDEP to revoke its illegal Combined Sewer System permit. Combined Sewer Systems are antiquated sewers that convey both storm water and sewage to processing plants.

After the NJDEP denied the groups’ petition, Earthrise and Columbia Law School’s Environmental Clinic filed suit. The NJDEP asked the court to remand the case to the agency but the appellate court refused. In its opposition to the remand motion, Baykeeper and Riverkeeper laid out an extensive history of missed deadlines and excuses from the state regulators dating back to the Clean Water Act’s passage 40 years ago. NY/NJ Baykeeper Deborah Mans said, “No court looking at the decades of delay laid out in our legal filing would seriously consider turning this back over to the DEP so they could sit on it for decades more.” 

In the media:

“Court Allows Suit Against New Jersey DEP to Move Forward. NJ’s Combined Sewers Under Scrutiny” in The Paramus Post

“Baykeeper legal challenge to DEP can proceed” in Independent