In 2020, New Jersey was the first state to use an Environmental Justice Law. Governor Phil Murphy signed the legislation to protect overburdened communities from environmental hazards.
This new law affects certain businesses in New Jersey. The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) must measure public and environmental health for designated industries. The company must pass specific requirements if it exists near an overburdened community.
Overburdened communities and targeted industries
Income levels, minority status or below-average English skills determine overburdened communities. They exist in 348 towns in New Jersey. The total population of these communities is around 4.7 million, according to the NJDEP. The Environmental Justice Law targets facilities that could impact public health. The facilities include gas-fired power plants, resource recovery facilities, sludge processing facilities, large sewage treatment plants and waste transfer stations. The NJDEP has a complete list on its website.
Working within the limits of the law
Businesses operating in these sectors must understand the consequences of the new law. The NJDEP will deny an application if they decide a new facility harms an overburdened community. Companies must work with the law to continue operating. They should calculate the impact of their operations on overburdened communities. The law encourages investment in cleaner technologies and engagement with community members. The goal is to address concerns and work together to find solutions.
New Jersey’s Environmental Justice Law is a significant development for businesses. It aims to decrease potential liabilities and take steps to reduce environmental impact. Companies should look to show social responsibility. They can contribute to a healthier environment for all New Jersey residents.