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August 3, 2012

Re:  DEP Waiver rule

Dear Mayor:

On August 1, 2012, the DEP's long-awaited waiver rule became fully effective.

The rule allows the environmental department to waive strict compliance with many, but not all, of its regulations. 

The process for obtaining a waiver is described in detail on the DEP's website at  While municipalities should be prime candidates for waivers, obtaining relief will be far from automatic and careful attention will need to be devoted to the application process.

The following is the text of a DEP letter describing the new waiver rule.

As you may know, the Department’s Waiver of Department Rules, N.J.A.C. 7:1B (Waiver Rule), adopted on March 6, 2012, become operative on August 1, 2012. The Waiver Rule establishes four limited circumstances under which the Department will consider a waiver of strict compliance with certain Department rules.

The Department will not approve waivers that will compromise the Department’s core missions to maintain, protect and enhance New Jersey’s natural resources and to protect public health, safety, and welfare, and the environment.  See N.J.A.C. 7:1B-1.1(a) and N.J.A.C. 7:1B-2.2(a)6.

Before submitting a waiver request, applicants should also refer to the waiver prohibitions at N.J.A.C. 7:1B-2.1(b) for a list of rules the Department cannot waive under any circumstances. 

As provided in N.J.A.C. 2.1(a), the Department may only approve waiver requests demonstrating one or more of four  Bases identified in the Rule, which are defined at N.J.A.C. 7:1B-1.2: 

    • conflicting rules,
    • unduly burdensome,
    • net environmental benefit, and 
    • public emergency.

It is not the purpose of the Waiver Rule to allow for the routine circumvention of any Department rules. N.J.A.C. 7:1B-1.1(b).  The Department will prioritize waiver requests according to the priorities of its various programs.  They will not be processed on a first-come, first-serve basis.

The Waiver Rule website at contains more information regarding this rule and its implementation, including waiver rule prohibitions, waiver rule guidance,  frequently asked questions (FAQs), contact information, how to submit a waiver request, how to search for waiver requests and decisions, and more. 

A few things to note:

  • The Department encourages applicants to utilize existing rules and waivers prior to submitting a Waiver Rule request
  • Wherever possible, waiver applications should be submitted electronically using the portal for this purpose on the Department’s web page
  • The Department will not hold pre-application meetings for the sole purpose of discussing possible waiver requests, but it will discuss possible waivers if raised during the course of pre-application permit meetings
  • There is currently no fee associated with a waiver request under the Waiver Rule.

If you have any questions, please contact the Office of Permit Coordination at NJDEP at 609 292-3600 or at PCER@DEP.State.NJ.US.

Very truly yours,


William G. Dressel, Jr.
Executive Director




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