Environmental Justice Law (SB 232)

Signed and went into effect on 9/18/2020 

This legislation made New Jersey the first state in the country to require mandatory permit denials if an environmental justice analysis determines a new facility will have a disproportionately negative impact on overburdened communities. It defines “overburdened community” as “any census block group, as determined in accordance with the most recent United States Census, in which: (1) at least 35 percent of the households qualify as low-income households; (2) at least 40 percent of the residents identify as minority or as members of a State recognized tribal community; or (3) at least 40 percent of the households have limited English proficiency.” 

Permit applicants for new facilities or expansion of existing facilities must assess “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.” Public hearings in the overburdened community must also be conducted.  

In September 2021 DEP Commissioner Shawn LaTourette issued an Administrative Order to meet the legislative intent of this law as DEP promulgates regulations. A list of overburdened communities has been developed. More information can be found on the DEP website 

  • Action Agency(ies): New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP)
  • Policy Champions: Maria Lopez-Nuñez- Director of environmental justice and community development at the Ironbound Community Corporation in Newark, Kim Gaddy- Environmental Justice Organizer, Clean Water Action NJ, Coalition for the Delaware River Watershed
  • Read the full policy language

Additional Resources

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