NJDEP Proposes Rules Implementing Landmark Environmental Justice Law

Melissa Clarke

Published

New Jersey’s landmark Environmental Justice Law, N.J.S.A. 13:1D-157 (“EJ Law”), signed by Governor Murphy in September 2020, authorizes the NJDEP to deny or condition certain permits based on an assessment of a “facility’s” contribution to environmental and public health impacts in the State’s “overburdened communities.”  The EJ Law defines “overburdened communities” as communities with a certain percentage of households qualifying as low-income, minority, or with limited English proficiency, as determined by local census blocks. The Statewide Overburdened Communities Map is available here.  

What You Need to Know

  • On June 6, 2022, NJDEP published draft rules for implementation of the State’s Environmental Justice Law 
  • Public Comments are due to NJDEP by September 4, 2022 
  • Public hearings are scheduled at various locations through the end of July 2022

Under the EJ Law, NJDEP must consider the cumulative environmental and public health impacts of the following facilities on overburdened communities when reviewing certain permit applications: major sources of air pollution (i.e., gas-fired power plants and cogeneration facilities); resource recovery facilities or incinerators; sludge processing facilities; large sewage treatment plants (capacity of more than 50 million gallons per day); transfer stations or other solid waste facilities; scrap metal facilities; landfills; or medical waste incinerators (except those attendant to a hospital or university).  

Pursuant to the EJ Law, a permit applicant must now prepare an environmental justice impact statement (EJIS) that assesses the potential environmental and public health stressors associated with the proposed new or expanded facility, or with the existing major source, as applicable, including any adverse environmental or public health stressors that cannot be avoided if the permit is granted, and the environmental or public health stressors already borne by the overburdened community as a result of existing conditions located in or affecting the overburdened community.  The permit applicant must also organize and conduct a public hearing in the overburdened community.
 
The rulemaking process is underway. On June 6, 2022, NJDEP published the rule proposal.  A copy is available here.   Comments are due to NJDEP on September 4, 2022 via https://www.nj.gov/dep/rules/comments/ or by written submission mailed to:

Melissa P. Abatemarco, Esq.
Attn.: DEP Docket No. 04-22-04
Office of Legal Affairs
Department of Environmental Protection
401 East State Street, 7th Floor
Mail Code 401-04L
PO Box 402
Trenton, New Jersey 08625-0402  

Public hearings have been scheduled as follows:   

  • Monday, 7/11/22 - 3:00-5:00 P.M. and 6:00-7:00 P.M. at NJDEP’s Public Hearing Room, 401 E. State Street, Trenton, NJ 
  • Wednesday, 7/13/22 - 6:30 P.M. at the Ray and Jon Kroc Corps Community Multi Purpose Room, 1865 Harrison Avenue, Camden, NJ 08105 
  • Wednesday, 7/27/22 – 6:00 P.M. at NJIT, Campus Center Atrium, First Floor, 150 Bleecker Street, Newark, NJ 07102 
  • Thursday, 7/28/22 – 6:00 P.M.  via NJDEP Teams Meeting
Authors
Melissa Cruz Headshot