Landmark Environmental Justice Law Signed in New Jersey

New Jersey is now home to one of the "most stringent" environmental justice laws in the country.

September 30, 2020, 5:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell

New Jersey Power Plant

EQRoy / Shutterstock

Claire Marie Porter provides analysis for Next City of a landmark bill, S 232, signed by New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy this month. Of the significance of the bill, Porter writes: "The law will be one of the toughest of its kind on top polluters, and is one of the most stringent environmental justice laws in the country, said the Office of the Governor in a press release."

"The law will protect 'overburdened' communities from polluters by requiring any business or company that wants to build in that target area to submit a statement evaluating the potential effects on asthma, lead poisoning, cancer, cardiovascular disease, and developmental issues," adds Porter.

There's a lot to unpack here about how this new model of environmental justice will change planning and development approval processes in the state, including the responsibility of proposed projects to engagement with the public and how the definition of "overburdened" is set for communities. 

Local publications have been tracking the progress of the bill across the finish line of the legislation process, also noting the significance of the new law. Scott Fallon broke the news first of Gov. Murphy signing the bill, noting that the new law applies to communities in more than half the state's municipalities. Fallon also provides a brief summary fo the long history of the bill, "in limbo for years as it met roadblocks in Trenton from legislators, lobbyists and even Murphy's administration," bur revived this summer "in the midst of large-scale Black Lives Matter demonstrations in New Jersey and around the U.S." 

Michael Sol Warren provided coverage of the bill after it passed out of the New Jersey State Legislature in August. "The measure requires the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection to consider how projects seeking state permits for facilities such as power plants, incinerators and landfills would affect environmental and public health in already overburdened communities," according to Warren's explanation at that point in the bill's history. 

Other national outlets also picked up the news of thee legislature's decision to approve the bill, including the National Law Review and Politico.

Tuesday, September 29, 2020 in Next City

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