Governor Murphy is signing S232 (Singleton) into law. The legislation requires that a person seeking a permit for a new facility, or for the expansion of an existing facility, that is located in a burdened community meets certain additional requirements.
“This is a huge win for the people living in overburdened and environmental justice communities. For far too long, these communities have been dumped on and polluted without a say in what happens to them or their neighborhoods. Now that this bill has become law they will have a say. If implemented properly, these communities will no longer be dumped on and will start to get cleaned up. This legislation could become a national model for helping protect disadvantaged and minority communities,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “This achievement is thanks to the Environmental Justice advocates and the people living in these communities. They have been working tirelessly to get legislation like this passed for years, and now their hard work has paid off.”
The law requires that a person who is seeking a permit for a new facility, or for the expansion of an existing facility, that is located in a burdened community meets certain additional requirements.
“This is a major victory that is long overdue. Now that the law has been signed, we have to make sure that it gets implemented properly. DEP needs to adopt rules and standards as soon as possible in order for the people living in these communities to see protections. If they were trying to build an incinerator or power plant in places like Rumson, Upper Montclair, Alpine, or Haddonfield they would take a careful look at permitting and the impacts of pollution. Of course, no one would consider putting those facilities in those areas. Instead, they target Newark, Linden, Camden, or Paterson. Almost 80 percent of incinerators in the country are in low-income communities of color, and in New Jersey it’s 100 percent,” said Jeff Tittel. “We have to make sure that DEP adopts rules quickly. Until they do, people will still be at the mercy of polluters.”
The DEP will be required to deny a permit for a new facility upon a finding that approval of the permit, as proposed, would, together with other environmental or public health stressors affecting the overburdened community, cause or contribute to adverse cumulative environmental or public health stressors in the overburdened community that are higher than those borne by other communities within the State, county, or other geographic unit of analysis as determined by the DEP.
“The health emergency has changed our lives, but so have the recent events around racism and police brutality. NJ has it’s own history of brutality and racial profiling. We’re one of the most segregated states in the country because of discriminative housing patterns and highways deliberately segregating cities. That pattern of racial profiling continues when we put incinerators, power plants, and other polluting facilities in low-income, minority communities. This will be one of the strongest environmental justice bills in the nation,” said Jeff Tittel. “We finally have a law that implements all of the Environmental Justice executive orders, like Governor Murphy’s EO 23. This is a major step forward to truly help protect these communities.”
According to a recent study by The New School in New York City, 80% of incinerators in the U.S are located in environmental justice communities. New Jersey has 3 incinerators, one in Camden, Rahway, Westville, and Rahway.
“Now that this law has been signed, DEP needs to pass rules and implement them as soon as they can. This law needs to be implemented quickly so that these communities can start seeing the protections from the legislation. The state also needs to develop clear and strict health-based standards based on the most up-to-date science so they can quantify the health impacts and they have grounds to deny permits. When DEP does grant permits for new air polluting facilities, there should be reductions and offsets in those communities to make up for the new sources of pollution and to maintain health-based standards,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “It is critical for these communities to have access to clean air and clean water as well as help dealing with climate change and cleaning up toxic sites. This law is the first major towards that goal.”