The Department of Environmental Protection has issued guidance according to Governor Murphy’s Executive Order 23 that will assist all state government agencies in furthering the promise of environmental justice.
According to the governor’s office, the guidance is part of the Murphy Administration’s commitment to protecting overburdened communities, specifically those that are primarily minority, have limited proficiency in English or economically disadvantaged, from environmental contaminants, such as air pollution. It is available for download from the DEP’s Office of Environmental Justice website.
“Furthering the Promise: A Guidance Document for Advancing Environmental Justice Across State Government” directs executive branch departments and agencies to apply the principles of environmental justice to their operations, participate in the newly-formed Environmental Justice Inter-Agency Council and create assessments and action plans to improve the agencies’ effects on environmental justice communities.
“New Jersey’s state government must lead by example,” wrote Murphy in his introductory message in “Furthering the Promise.” “Every day, our programs and policies impact the lives of environmental justice communities. And now, New Jersey’s executive branch has the tools to better evaluate those impacts and set key milestones – recognizing where programs may have inadvertently put public health burdens on our most disadvantaged communities and identifying opportunities to increase environmental and public health protections in the future.”
Environmental justice activities
The new law requires the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection to evaluate the environmental and public health impacts of certain facilities on overburdened communities when reviewing certain permit applications.The new legislation and Furthering the Promise guidelines are part of the DEP’s continued environmental justice activities this year, including:
Appointing Olivia Glenn to the new post of Deputy Commissioner for Environmental Justice and Equity;
Filing suit with Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal against nation’s largest auto auction company for selling tampered, super-polluting vehicles;
Investing nearly $45 million of funds from the national Volkswagen settlement to improve air quality in environmental justice communities;
Dedicating Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative funds to environmental justice projects;
Cleaning up dumping sites and enforcing against the responsible parties, including the Amtico Square site in Trenton; and
Hosting sessions in environmental justice communities to hear first-hand the communities’ environmental and public health concerns.
For more information about New Jersey’s environmental justice programs, visit https:/www.nj.gov/dep/ej/. Executive Order 23 is available at https://nj.gov/infobank/eo/056murphy/pdf/EO-23.pdf.