In a potentially significant breakthrough for the environmental justice movement, New Jersey has become the first state to propose environmental-equity regulations for companies looking to move into minority or low-income communities. The rules, which were drafted by the state Department of Environmental Protection, would feed companies’ plans into a computer model comparing census information and pollution data. If the modeling predicted an environmental justice problem, the move could only proceed if the DEP concluded that the company had made a “good faith effort” to include community members in the planning process. Opponents fear a chilling effect on economic development, while some environmental justice advocates are concerned that the rules would not go far enough toward actually preventing polluters from setting up shop in poor or minority communities.
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