New Jersey environmental law poised for major changes

On Behalf of | Sep 3, 2020 | Environmental Law |

New Jersey’s regulatory regime in the environmental sphere is both complex and exacting. We prominently note on our website at the established law firm of Decotiis, FitzPatrick, Cole & Giblin that the state’s environmental laws “are some of the most aggressive and labyrinthine in the nation.”

Notably, they just grew even more stringent and detailed.

A new reality in the environmental realm was ushered in during the final week of August following passage of what one New Jersey publication calls “a landmark environmental justice bill.” That legislation – expected to be signed soon by Gov. Phil Murphy – recently gained solid traction and mass endorsement, with its momentum materially influenced by recent social unrest and widespread reform demands.

Here’s the prospective law’s bottom line: Any company in the state seeking to engage in activities tied to significant pollution within an “overburdened” community must now undergo a heightened review process.

“Overburdened” communities are evaluated through reference to factors such as minority identification and the number of existing households with low income. Project review will be conducted by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and pertain to entities/projects like the following:

  • Major sewage treatment plants
  • Solid waste transfer centers
  • Landfill sites and large recycling outlets
  • Incinerators of various types

In tandem with that review is the duty imposed on a project applicant to submit an impact statement and to also convene a public hearing in the community where it intends to operate.

The passed bill is not without critics, especially voices lamenting its potentially adverse effects on an already struggling economy trying to work its way through currently difficult times.

“The state cannot afford to hamper development with onerous and unattainable regulations,” says one legislator who opposed the legislation.

We will be sure to keep readers duly updated on any material developments that arise concerning the bill.