By: Savannah Scarborough, Follow South Jersey Intern
SOUTH JERSEY – Governor Phil Murphy has announced the final regulations and rules necessary to implement the state’s landmark Environmental Justice (EJ) Law in the New Jersey Register, on April 17.
Historically, overburdened communities and communities of color have been exposed to high numbers of environmental and public health stressors including pollution from industrial, commercial, and governmental facilities that lead to negative health effects. The law aims to reduce that on the community level and minimize adverse impacts of pollution-generating facilities.
Governor Murphy first signed the nation’s strongest EJ Law in 2020. His motive was to address inequities inherent to pre-existing environmental laws.
“Since the outset of my Administration, we have worked incredibly hard to ensure that all people—regardless of income, race, ethnicity, color, or national origin—can enjoy their right to live, work, learn, and recreate in a clean and healthy environment,” said Governor Murphy.
Developed by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), with the help of affected communities, environmental and public health advocates, and leaders in business and industry, these EJ Rules mark the first effort made towards a community-first approach to planning and permitting certain pollution-generating facilities.
The rules require enhanced upfront community engagement before certain facilities are proposed in the state’s overburdened communities. Furthermore, the rules require the EJ Rules to direct permit applicants to avoid and minimize environmental and public health stressors and enable the DEP to establish permit conditions that better protect vulnerable communities.
“The rules that implement the state’s environmental justice law have the potential to provide significant relief to New Jersey’s overburdened communities,” said Kandyce Perry, Director of the DEP Office of Environmental Justice. “The law and implementing regulations are just one of the State’s tools to further the promise of environmental justice. New Jersey’s work to make our state a fairer and more equitable place for all does not begin and end with the Environmental Justice Law.
There are eight types of facilities that the EJ Rules cover:
- Major sources of air pollution
- Resource recovery facilities or incinerators; sludge processing facilities
- Sewage treatment plants with a capacity of more than 50 million gallons per day
- Transfer stations or solid waste facilities
- Recycling facilities that receive at least 100 tons of recyclable material per day
- Scrap metal facilities
- Medical waste incinerators, except those attendant to hospitals and universities
According to EJ Rules, to propose a certain pollution-generating facility in overburdened communities being located, applicants must prepare an environmental justice impact statement, engage with members of the proposed host community directly through a public hearing, and must collect all public comments and respond to them in writing.
Once the applicant completes that process, the DEP will evaluate whether or not the pollution from the proposed facility would cause or contribute to stressors to communities. The DEP’s process is conducted through added control technology. When impacts from the proposed facility are not avoidable, certain new facilities could be limited, or existing facilities could be subject to additional permit conditions that reduce environmental and public health stressors affecting the community.
To support EJ Rules, take the Environmental Justice Mapping, Assessment and Protection (EJMAP) tool to locate covered facilities within overburdened communities and analyze relative environmental and public health stressors impacting them. To learn how the tool works, watch this tutorial.
To learn more about and sign up to participate in public hearings regarding certain facilities, visit https://dep.nj.gov/ej/meetings/.
To learn more about the adopted Environmental Justice Rules, visit https://dep.nj.gov/ej/law/ and https://dep.nj.gov/wp-content/uploads/ej/docs/ej-rule-frequently-asked-questions.pdf.
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