New Jersey Puts The Squeeze On Costly Regs

Trenton, N.J. - New Jersey agencies will need good reasons for taking federal laws and making them tougher, according to an Executive Order issued by New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman.

State agencies wanting environmental compliance standards that are more stringent than federal norms must fully explain why, and must perform a cost-benefit analysis. In addition, department heads must certify that the explanation and the analysis "permit the public to understand accurately and plainly the purposes and expected consequences" of the proposed rule.

An industry spokesperson called the action "a positive first step" and said it was "refreshing to see the governor acknowledge that some regulations are unwarranted" and confusing.

Meanwhile, state environmental officials say that they already are short on funds for the kind of scientific and technological research needed to justify more stringent state standards. In addition, regulators say they lack the staff and the know-how for the required cost-benefit analysis.