NJ enacts broad sweeping Environmental Justice Bill – S232 – ESG Focused

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:
  1. Major sources of air pollution (i.e., gas fired power plants and cogeneration facilities);
  2. Resource recovery facilities or incinerators; sludge processing facilities;
  3. Sewage treatment plants with a capacity of more than 50 Million gallons per day;
  4. Transfer stations or solid waste facilities;
  5. Recycling facilities that receive at least 100 tons of recyclable material per day;
  6. Scrap metal facilities;
  7. Landfills; and
  8. 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.”
To read the text of the Governor’s press release – click here  https://t.e2ma.net/message/z8iqpd/rq338ni

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.

Climate Change viewed as a Major Problem in NJ according to a recent Stockton University poll – Brad A. Molotsky, Duane Morris, LLP

According to a Stockton University poll released earlier this week, 2/3 of New Jersey residents believe climate change is a crisis and almost 75% believe it is affecting New Jersey.

Per Stockton’s press release, “the results show climate change is a concern to people all over New Jersey and not just those who live along the Jersey shore,” said John Froonjian, interim director of the William J. Hughes Center for Public Policy at Stockton, who presented an overview of the results at Coast Day at Stockton Atlantic City on Oct. 13.

As reported in Bisnow, among those who believe climate change is currently affecting NJ, more than 75% cited rising sea level, earth warming, harming or changing the ocean, extreme weather, and worsening pollution as major problems they are concerned about.

Beach erosion was cited by 70% as a major problem, while harm to farming was mentioned by 68%, flooding by 66%, and health effects by 57%.

More than half of respondents (56%) believe government could or should do more, and 31% say the government response is totally inadequate.

Per the poll, views did vary along party lines. Democrats (92%) and independents (64%) were more likely to see climate change as a crisis or major problem than Republicans (35%). Women (72%) were also more likely to view it as a crisis or major problem than men (62%).

The results also showed while young people are the most concerned about the issue, concern cuts across age, racial, ethnic, economic, gender and geographic lines. Almost 80% of respondents ages 18-29 see climate changes as a crisis or a major problem. That percentage drops to under 70% for those over 65.

We will continue to monitor trends and thinking in ESG and climate change and report back. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me at bamolotsky@duanemorris.com and I will direct your question accordingly.

-Brad A. Molotsky, Esq., LEED AP – O+M

ESG – Relevant in this day and age or just a fad?

I had the pleasure of attending the National Association of Corporate Directors (NACD) – Philadelphia Chapter meeting yesterday morning at the Union League in Philadelphia.  Very good attendance to hear Dave Stangis (Campbell’s Soup), Jamie Rantanen (US Trust) and Jennifer Wong (Glenmede) discuss the topic of ESG (“Environmental, Social and Governance”) as it relates to public company and private company investment.

ESG provides companies and investors with a systematic means to identify risk within the lens of environmental issues, social issues and governance issues.  Different, but related to, Corporate Social Responsibility (“CSR”) which is the means of improving social outcomes within an organization and how and organization measures its ESG outcomes.

Super conversation and some interesting questions from the audience during the presentation that touched on aligning values with investment outcomes (i.e., impact investing), risk mitigation through focus on ESG, the Sustainable Development Goals (or SDGs), the increase of shareholder activism in the investment space, including an increased focus on ESG issues, the Sustainable Accounting Standards Board (or SASB) and their focus on measurable sustainability metrics, and the difference between philanthropy, impact investing, ESG investing and standard market investing.

To the question about ESG and is it relevant from the audience member focused on mutual fund investing – the panel and this author firmly believe yes, ESG is relevant, becoming more relevant and an increasing amount of investors are seeking to invest in companies that align their ROI with ESG.  No, not everyone, of course, but more and more as time goes on.  I for one believe ESG will continue to become more relevant as a lens within which to view investing, efficiency, and alignment of investor interests with companies that more closely match their values.

I look forward to engaging in the conversation as the year progresses and to including some of my friends and colleagues in a monthly chat on ESG. Come join us if of interest.

Check out RBS’s chart at http://go.pardot.com/l/441592/2018-09-18/jjjrt8 for some interesting data

See also, Larry Fink, CEO of Blackrock’s statement on ESG – https://www.blackrock.com/corporate/literature/publication/blk-esg-investment-statement-web.pdf

#Sustainability #ESG #SRI #impactinvesting #governance #SASB #environmental, social, governance

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The opinions expressed on this blog are those of the author and are not to be construed as legal advice.

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