New Jersey Requests Input on Environmental Justice Regulations
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy recently signed into law a bill aimed at addressing environmental justice. The purpose of the law is to address the unfair distribution of the environmental and public health impacts on certain communities by imposing additional requirements on parties seeking to site, expand, or renew permits for facilities located in “overburdened communities.” The law requires the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) to issue regulations implementing the mandates of the new law. NJDEP recently held a public meeting to discuss the new law and solicit comments on proposed regulations. Continue reading to learn about the law and NJDEP’s efforts, and call on experienced, licensed UST remediation and removal professionals to handle a damaged or contaminated UST.
New Jersey Enacts Environmental Justice Law
In September 2020, Gov. Murphy signed into law an aggressive and expansive environmental justice law aimed at reducing the disparate impact of pollution on vulnerable communities, including low-income neighborhoods and communities populated by persons of color. The new law requires companies seeking to obtain or renew permits for facilities located in overburdened communities to prepare an “environmental justice impact statement,” and hold expanded public hearings on the project.
NJDEP will undertake a review under existing requirements, as well as perform an analysis as to whether the proposed new or expanded facility will have a disproportionate impact on these overburdened communities. If a project seeking to establish a new facility will have such an impact, then NJDEP must either deny the permit or make a finding that the facility addresses a “compelling public interest” in the community. For renewals or expansions, NJDEP may impose additional, stringent conditions.
NJDEP Asks for Public Input on Regulations
The new environmental justice initiative will be a complex and heavy undertaking. NJDEP has a variety of complicated issues to address in order to draft effective, comprehensive, and fair regulations under the new law. NJDEP recently held a webinar to discuss the future regulations, and asked for input from the community on how to address issues including:
- What must be included in an environmental justice impact statement
- The types of stressors to be considered, and how to do so, when making a determination concerning “disproportionate impact”
- How NJDEP should build the review process to promote participation by the public
- Criteria NJDEP should use in determining whether a facility will have a disproportionate impact
- What factors to consider when determining if a compelling public interest may be satisfied by the facility
NJDEP is also soliciting written comments on these issues, which can be submitted via email to firstname.lastname@example.org. NJDEP will hold additional public meetings until the regulations are officially promulgated in the New Jersey Register.
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