NJ's Environmental Justice Law: A Potential Model for EJ National Focus

New Jersey’s recently enacted Environmental Justice Law is being characterized as one of the broadest in the United States and is seen as a potential legal model for other states and the federal government. The new law has gained the attention of President-Elect Joe Biden, who intends to establish an office concerning environmental justice within the Department of Justice. In short, the law requires evaluation of the impact of a facility on the surrounding community in connection with certain permits, and empowers the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) to deny permits if disproportionate impacts on an overburdened community are found.

While the new law contains a strong framework for addressing environmental justice, complicated issues perhaps should be considered and resolved before the law can take effect and serve as a model for other jurisdictions. This writing provides an overview of the law and offers questions for consideration before the law’s implementation. 

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