What Developers Should Know About New Jersey’s Environmental Justice Rules
At a Glance
New Jersey has adopted regulations to implement its Environmental Justice Law on April 17, 2023. This law and the accompanying rules aim to decrease pollution in communities that have been disproportionately exposed to environmental and public health stressors. The Environmental Justice Rules were created by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) to identify overburdened communities and require developers to utilize community-level environmental and public health data to assess potential impacts using the Environmental Justice Mapping, Assessment and Protection (EJMAP) tool. The rules also mandate that permit applicants avoid and minimize environmental and public health stressors and that NJDEP can establish permit conditions that better protect vulnerable communities.
When proposing to develop, renovate or expand certain facilities in an identified overburdened community, an applicant must prepare an environmental justice impact statement and engage with the community by holding a public hearing and addressing the comments and concerns of the community in writing. NJDEP will evaluate the environmental justice impact statement to determine if the proposed facility's pollution would cause or contribute to environmental and public health stressors at levels disproportionate to those in less burdened communities. The Rules require permit applicants to avoid and minimize such stressors, including through the use of added pollution control technology. If disproportionate impacts are not avoidable, certain new facilities could be limited, or existing facilities could be subject to additional permit conditions that reduce environmental and public health stressors affecting the community.
The Environmental Justice Law builds upon existing environmental laws and enables NJDEP to consider environmental and public health stressors on a community level and evaluate pollution potential on a facility-wide basis. Eight types of facilities are covered by the Rules, including major sources of air pollution, resource recovery and incineration facilities, sewage treatment plants, and landfills.
HOW GZA CAN HELP
GZA has extensive experience in performing environmental assessments and developing environmental impact statements for projects of all sizes throughout the United States. We assist developers, manufacturers, and industrial clients in planning, land-use and zoning. GZA also has experience organizing and presenting at public hearings and before community boards throughout New Jersey.
We analyze the data, the people, and the location so stakeholders can make more informed decisions, avoid costly project delays, and create shared value while maximizing return on investment and enhancing communities.
Our proactive approach involves project managers regularly meeting with developers, regulators and communities to brainstorm, plan, and develop practical solutions for a variety of scenarios and projects. We understand the needs, manage expectations, and develop real world solutions to meet stakeholders’ requirements.
Our clients return again and again to GZA to seek strategic advice, detailed analysis, and practical execution on complex planning and land use issues across a range of areas.
Kevin Williams, AICP, PP
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