Governor Murphy’s administration previously issued Executive Order No. 23 (the “Order”) to require New Jersey agencies to consider the principle of environmental justice in implementing their responsibilities, and we are still waiting to see how it will impact New Jersey residents and businesses.

According to the Order, environmental justice seeks to address the disproportionately high impact of pollution and climate change on predominantly low-income communities and communities of color, and strives to ensure that all residents, regardless of their race, color, ethnicity or religion are able to live in pollution-free communities and participate in decisions affecting their community, homes, transportation and health. In order to accomplish the goals of environmental justice, the Order tasks the NJDEP with developing guidance that would allow other State agencies to incorporate the principle of environmental justice into their actions and decisions. Since the issuance of the Order on April 20, 2018, the NJDEP has collaborated with other State agencies and public and private stakeholders to begin to prepare the required guidance. It is anticipated that a draft will be available for review and comment in October 2018, and that a final guidance document will follow in January 2019.

It is not yet clear how the guidance will impact site remediation projects, but the principle of environmental justice suggests that its intersection with contaminated sites might lead to enhanced community involvement or more unrestricted cleanups in certain areas.

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