4 The record articles

New Jersey Environmental Justice and Air Quality Permitting

Posted: February 11th, 2021

Authors: Brendon B. 

New Jersey’s new Environmental Justice Law (effective September 18, 2020), N.J.S.A. 13:1D-157 requires the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) to evaluate the potential impacts of certain facilities on environmental and public health stressors in overburdened communities (OBC) when reviewing permit applications.

How Are Overburdened communities Identified?

To be classified as an OBC, a community must meet one of the following criteria:

  • >35% of the households qualify as low-income households (at or below twice the poverty threshold as determined by the United States Census Bureau);
  • >40% of the residents identify as minority or as members of a State recognized tribal community; or
  • >40% of the households have limited English proficiency (without an adult that speaks English “very well” according to the United States Census Bureau).

NJDEP published a list of the 331 municipalities in the state in which OBCs are located. If you’re not sure if your facility is located in an OBC, check out NJDEP’s interactive mapping tool.

Is My Facility Affected?

Facilities that are affected by this law include:

  • major sources of air pollution (i.e., facilities with Title V permits);
  • resource recovery facilities or incinerators;
  • sludge processing facilities, combustors, or incinerators;
  • sewage treatment plants with a capacity of >50 million gallons per day;
  • transfer stations or solid waste facilities;
  • recycling facilities that receive >100 tons of recyclable material per day;
  • scrap metal facilities;
  • landfills; or
  • medical waste incinerators.

What Are The Permitting Requirements For My Facility?

If your facility falls under one of the categories listed above, there are additional requirements that must be met when preparing a permit application for a new facility, an expansion of an existing facility, or a renewal of a major source permit:

  • Environmental Justice Impact Statement –
    The facility is required to assess any existing environmental or public health stressors affecting the OBC along with new ones that cannot be avoided by the proposed permitting activity. The environmental justice impact statement must be provided to NJDEP as well as the governing body and the clerk of the municipality of the OBC at least 60 days before the public hearing. It will also be published on NJDEP’s website.
  • Public Hearing –
    A public hearing must be conducted in the OBC. NJDEP will use the testimony and written comments to evaluate potential permit conditions to avoid or reduce environmental or public health impacts to the OBC. Note: NJDEP may already provide enhanced public notification processes for some communities.
  • Additional Permit Application Fee
    NJDEP plans to assess an additional Environmental Justice fee for affected permitting activities.

We anticipate Environmental Justice to continue to be a hot-button topic in New Jersey and the federal level, so expect to see more news come out during 2021.

Feel free to share and comment, or if you have any questions on how Environmental Justice could impact your projects, please reach out to Brendon Blachowski at bblachowski@all4inc.com or 610.422.1177.

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