Environmental leaders and labor organizations held a press conference Thursday at the State House in Trenton to announce a lawsuit filed to block the Department of Environmental Protection's Waiver Rule.

Twenty-seven organizations joined in the lawsuit, maintaining the rule will create loopholes and weaken environmental protections in New Jersey.

The rule, scheduled to go into effect August 1, would give people, businesses and corporations the ability to negotiate state environmental standards. If one can prove the regulation would be "unduly burdensome" on a project or activity, a waiver can be granted for exemption from the regulation.

The New Jersey Work Environment Council released the following statement on the Waiver Rule:

"It's not too hard to figure out who is going to get these waivers and gain an unfair advantage over their competitors. It won't be small businesses. It will be the big companies that are bankrolled by Wall Street. They can give the big campaign contributions to gain favor with a governor."

In contrast, the DEP said the rule is meant for everyone.

"This is an effort to bring common sense to government, to have the average guy cut through the bureaucracy," said the DEP's Larry Ragonese.

In January 2010, when Governor Chris Christie was first sworn into office, he issued an Executive Order that directs all state agencies to adhere to Common Sense Principles concerning regulatory burdens. The DEP has become the first agency to adopt such principles. The Division of Consumer Affairs issued a proposed waiver rule.

"We believe that this rule will be used to roll back 40 years of environmental protections," explained Jeff Tittel, director of the NJ Sierra Club.

Tittel said "this is the beginning of a long fight." Bills have been developed in the New Jersey Legislature to determine the Waiver Rule would be inconsistent with legislative intent.