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Happening in Trenton: Enviro and Energy Bills Released from Committee

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The following bills were released in Senate Environment and Energy Committee today:

Prohibits Asbestos A4416(Swain)/ S3262 (Kean) prohibits sale or distribution of products containing asbestos. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released a new proposed framework that would allow for new uses of asbestos. The material is currently heavily restricted with efforts underway to remove it from many structures. Health impacts of asbestos exposure include lung cancer, mesothelioma and asbestosis.

“Asbestos has been known to be dangerous for decades and it is ludicrous that we need to have a bill to ban this toxic material. But because of the Trump Administration rollbacks, this legislation is essential.  Most of Asbestos is mined in Russia. It was one of the first chemicals regulated under the Clean Air Act.  Asbestos fibers are released into the air and breathed in. This damages the lungs, intestines, and other organs, and can lead to a plethora of dangerous diseases. There is global consensus on the risk of asbestos for 30 years we’ve been working on removing this dangerous substance from our structures and homes,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “This bill is critical to protect the people of New Jersey from being exposed to this dangerous substance.”  

Concerns Environmental Permits in Burdened Communities S1700 (Weinberg/Singleton) : This bill would authorize the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to designate an area within a municipality a “burdened community” and, prior to a DEP determination on a permit application in a burdened community, require an additional environmental evaluation and a public hearing. Before any permit is approved in a burdened community, the DEP would be required to prepare a report assessing the environmental impact of the proposed project and conduct a public hearing in a location convenient as much as possible to all interested parties. The bill authorizes the department to deny a permit application in a burdened community upon a finding that the approval of the permit would, together with the cumulative adverse health and environmental impacts posed by the existing conditions.

“For far too long certain communities in New Jersey have been overburdened by pollution for all types of pollutants. Disadvantaged and minority communities have been a dumping ground and get facilities that no one wants. These Environmental Justice communities receive a disproportioned amount of with pollution and many don’t have the money to clean it up. This is why we have incinerators in Newark but not in Short Hills. That is why it is critical to have EJ language to protect these EJ communities,” said Tittel.

 This legislation is the first real attempt to help these communities deal with these facilities. It gives the public and the town a say on project permits. This bill is long overdue. It’s important for EJ communities to be able to stand up for their clean air and clean water and this legislation is the first step towards that,” said Tittel.

CBT Funding for Open Space, Farmland, Historic Preservation S2920 (Smith): Establishes funding allocations for constitutionally dedicated CBT revenues for State's open space, farmland, and historic preservation programs for Fiscal Year 2020 and thereafter.

‘We need to ensure that New Jersey’s environmental programs for open space, farm land, and historic sites have a sustainable source for funding. We also need to make sure there is capital set aside for urban areas for parks, open space and improvements. We need these funds because there are massive backlogs and parks are falling apart without improvements for years. Voters have dedicated monies for capital repairs and improvements, yet we have a $250 million backlog in emergency parks capital repairs. By 2015 it was supposed to be $30 million a year. Instead, we’re only seeing $9 million a year. Over the last decade the parks budget is down 40%, despite us adding 40% more open space,” said Jeff Tittel.

“This legislation is a good step towards by providing that funding for critical environmental programs. Blue Acres especially is an important program to help reduce climate change impacts and chronic flooding,” said Tittel. “The bill however has no definition of stewardship. We don’t know where the money is going to and what money to going to it.”

 

Methylene Chloride-Prohibits Sale S3130 (Pou): Prohibits sale of paint or coating removal products that contain methylene chloride unless purchaser meets certain safety standards for use.

“We support this legislation to prohibit or strictly use Methylene chloride. Inhaling high levels of methylene chloride vapour can cause dizziness, headaches, loss of consciousness and even death. Methylene chloride is a toxic chemical and it needs to be handled properly or not used at all,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club.

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