Enter your keyword

EPA’s Environmental Justice Program Reinforces No Turning Back

EPA’s Environmental Justice Program Reinforces No Turning Back

EPA’s Environmental Justice Program

Reinforces No Turning Back

New Jersey DEP Landmark Adoption and Commitment to be National Model

The recent announcement by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of their selection of 17 Environmental Justice Thriving Communities Technical Assistance Centers (EJ TCTACs) represents another step to advancing the Environmental Justice (EJ) Program in aiding underserved and overburdened communities.  Working with states, federal agencies, and other stakeholders, the federal EJ program seeks to address inequities of environmental protection in vulnerable communities and assist with environmental and public health challenges facing minority, low-income, tribal, and indigenous populations.

The recent finalization of the nation’s first Environmental Justice (EJ) law and implementing rules in New Jersey is a testament to the extensive reach of the federal EJ program. The rules were developed by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) through a collaborative process that brought together stakeholders, including affected communities, environmental and public health advocates and business and industrial leaders.  The final product provides a community-focused approach to planning and permitting of pollution generating facilities.

The rules require early community engagement for facilities that are either being planned or expanded for overburdened block groups as recently mapped and defined by the State. Specifically, these block groups are:

  • at least 35% are low-income households; or
  • at least 40% of the residents who identify as minority or as members of a State recognized tribal community; or
  • at least 40% of the households have limited English proficiency.

In addition, the rules direct permit applicants to mitigate environmental and public health stressors enabling the NJDEP to establish more stringent permit conditions. To assist in the process, community-level environmental and public health data is available with NJDEP’s tool, Enviromental Justice Mapping. Assessment and Protection (EJMAP)

EJMAP, an interactive mapping tool, allows users to view the most up to date (2021 Census Data) locations of New Jersey’s Overburdened Communities, including their proximity to significant sources of air pollution. Additionally, the tool contains information on the block group-level data for 26 environmental or public health stressors and the Combined Stressor Total (CST), as well as the Geographic Points of Comparison (GPC) for each.

The eight types of facilities impacted by the EJ program directive include:

  1. Major sources of air pollution such as gas-fired power plants and cogeneration facilities;
  2. Resource recovery facilities, RCRA incinerators; sludge processing facilities;
  3. Sewage treatment plants with a capacity of more than fifty million gallons a day;
  4. Transfer stations and solid waste facilities;
  5. Recycling facilities that receive at least one hundred tons of recyclable material per day;
  6. Medical waste incinerators, except those attendance to hospitals or universities;
  7. Scrap metal facilities; or
  8. Landfills.

With NJDEP taking the lead in being the first to adopt and put into effect accountability and permitting measures for Environmental Justice, other states are expected to follow suit. States such as New York, Connecticut, Colorado, and Illinois are expected to be the next to initiate EJ-focused changes to their statutory law or regulations. With New Jersey’s rules now being final, it is likely that these and other states will consider them as a model.

Helping our clients be industry leaders in environmental stewardship is the QTS way. With decades of industry expertise in environmental assessments, protocols, and safety measures, QTS can enhance your facility’s ability to stay a step ahead of Environmental Justice Program directives.

Air Permitting Ambient Air Assessment Air Monitoring
Air Modeling Emission Control Technology Emission Testing
Toxicology & Risk Assessment Public Meeting Representation