On September 18, Governor Murphy signed into law S232 / A2212 (Singleton / Weinberg / Ruiz / McKeon / Vainieri Huttle / Timberlake), which requires the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) to consider the cumulative impacts of locating new power plants or major manufacturing facilities in certain lower-income areas.
Per the press release announcing the Bill signing, S2322 is intended to tackle the complex issue of assuring a healthy environment in certain urban communities.
The Bill requires the NJDEP to evaluate the environmental and public health impacts of certain facilities on overburdened communities when reviewing certain permit applications. New Jersey is the first state in the nation to require mandatory permit denials if an environmental justice analysis determines a new facility will have a disproportionately negative impact on overburdened communities.
The bill defines an overburdened community as any community where 35% of the households qualify as low-income according to the U.S. Census, 40% of households are minority, or 40%of households have limited English proficiency. There are approximately 310 municipalities with populations totaling approximately 4,489,000 that have overburdened communities within their municipalities.
The Bill requires the DEP to evaluate the environmental and public health impacts of the following facilities on overburdened communities when reviewing the following permit applications:
- Major sources of air pollution (i.e., gas fired power plants and cogeneration facilities);
- 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;
- Landfills; and
- Medical waste incinerators, except those attendant to hospitals and universities.
“For decades, residents living in overburdened communities have had their lives routinely and inconveniently interrupted by the toxic facilities located in their neighborhoods,” said Senator Troy Singleton. “Their daily routines have been intertwined with the unpleasant smells of industry, unsightly smoke from pollution, and untimely visits to the emergency room for asthma and other respiratory ailments. Now, after years of having no say, these communities will finally have a voice in the siting of these industries. After years of waiting for action, this long overdue law will bring them the environmental justice that they deserve.”
“As a statewide and regional hub of industry, commerce, innovation and energy, the impact of the legacy of environmental contamination is real and present in New Jersey. This historic legislation is a model to show the rest of the Country how to ensure that communities are protected and how by utilizing both activism and leadership simultaneously, you can truly change the status quo,” said Mayor Ras J. Baraka, City of Newark. “I applaud the leadership of our State policymakers for making this law come to fruition, and we give our thanks to Governor Murphy for making environmental justice central to his administration.”
Duane Morris has an Environmental Team to help organizations and individuals plan, respond to and address their environmental contracting, due diligence, compliance and permitting issues. Contact your Duane Morris attorney for more information. Prior Alerts on the topic are available on the team’s webpage.
If you have any questions about this post, please contact Brad A. Molotsky, Lori Mills, Seth Cooley, Lindsay Ann Brown or the attorney in the firm with whom you are regularly in contact.
Be well and stay safe.