DEP Issues Guidance, Establishes Environmental Justice Interagency Council
(20/P40) TRENTON – Today, the Department of Environmental Protection issued guidance according to Governor Murphy’s Executive Order 23 that will assist all state government agencies in furthering the promise of environmental justice, DEP Commissioner Catherine R. McCabe announced.
As Governor Phil Murphy noted upon signing the nation’s most empowering environmental justice law on September 18, when the whole of government works to fulfill the promise of environmental justice, all New Jersey communities can thrive together.
The guidance is part of the Murphy Administration’s commitment to protecting overburdened communities, specifically those that are primarily minority, have limited proficiency in English, or economically disadvantaged, from environmental contaminants, such as air pollution. It is available for download from the DEP’s Office of Environmental Justice website.
“New Jersey continues to lead the nation in its strides to promote environmental justice,” said DEP Commissioner Catherine R. McCabe. “While the state’s new environmental justice law requires government to look outward at certain entities we regulate to help avoid disproportionate impacts on EJ communities, this Guidance requires government to look inward—at our policies, protocols, and practices, to imbue the principles of environmental justice into government decision-making processes. When government sews the principles of environmental justice into its work, we can—over time—deliver on the promise of lived equality for all New Jerseyans.”
“When we know better, we can do better,” said Deputy Commissioner for Environmental Justice and Equity Olivia Glenn. “Furthering the Promise helps to create alignment across state government and empowers state government to better acknowledge our actions, improve involvement with the community, reduce public health threats, increase environmental public health benefits, and strengthen New Jersey’s neighborhoods and communities. The DEP, guided by our Environmental Justice Interagency Council (EJIC), will be a convening force for this improvement and we look forward to sharing our progress.”
As outlined in Executive Order 23, Furthering the Promise applies directly to the principal departments in the executive branch of New Jersey state government and any agency, authority, board, commission and any independent state authority, commission, instrumentality, or agency over which the Governor exercises executive authority, as determined by the Attorney General. The guidance outlines three initiatives critical to aligning New Jersey state government to achieve environmental justice goals:
- Apply principles for furthering the promise of environmental justice in New Jersey, as identified by impacted communities and decades of local, state, and federal experience. These principles include: cultivate awareness consistently; empower communities to participate in decision making processes; and plan for and embrace change.
- Launch the Environmental Justice Interagency Council (EJIC). The EJIC will convene to help agencies adopt the principles; complete executive branch initial assessments; participate in workshops and trainings; and create executive branch action plans.
- Complete executive branch initial assessments and executive branch action plans. executive branch initial assessments will help identify existing practices and procedures throughout state government, as well as shape required education and collaboration.
The initial activities set forth in Furthering the Promise are planned to begin in 2020, including the first Environmental Justice Interagency Council meeting in November and this fall, the DEP’s assessment of its own environmental and public health challenges and benefits.
|The publication of Furthering the Promise comes just weeks after Governor Murphy signed one of the nation’s strongest environmental justice bills on September 18. The new law requires the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection to evaluate the environmental and public health impacts of certain facilities on overburdened communities when reviewing certain permit applications.|
The new legislation and Furthering the Promise guidelines are part of the DEP’s continued environmental justice activities this year, including:
- Appointing Olivia Glenn to the new post of Deputy Commissioner for Environmental Justice and Equity;
- Filing suit with Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal against nation’s largest auto auction company for selling tampered, super-polluting vehicles;
- Investing nearly $45 million of funds from the national Volkswagen settlement to improve air quality in environmental justice communities;
- Dedicating Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative funds to environmental justice projects;
- Cleaning up dumping sites and enforcing against the responsible parties, including the Amtico Square site in Trenton; and
- Hosting sessions in environmental justice communities to hear first-hand the communities’ environmental and public health concerns.
For more information about New Jersey’s environmental justice programs, visit https:/www.nj.gov/dep/ej/. Executive Order 23 is available at https://nj.gov/infobank/eo/056murphy/pdf/EO-23.pdf.