Environmental justice in the Garden State
It’s Friday, August 28, and New Jersey has made it harder to pollute in communities of color.
Low-income communities of color are at the forefront of an environmental justice law the New Jersey state legislature passed on Thursday.
The law will make it harder to create or expand facilities that produce large amounts of pollution near low-income, non-white, and immigrant populations. Environmental advocacy groups and community advocates say that the new law will alleviate pollution and improve health outcomes in the vulnerable areas where power plants, refineries, and waste processing plants tend to be located.
“Environmental justice communities like mine have suffered far too long and now, after 10 years, our voices have been heard and our communities will receive the right environmental protection for our complexion,” Kim Gaddy, an organizer for Clean Water Action, told NorthJersey.com. New Jersey’s governor, Phil Murphy, has said that he will sign the bill.
The landmark environmental law was passed on the same day that the state filed 12 different lawsuits against alleged polluters in low-income communities and communities of color. The suits target polluters like fabric production shops and gas stations that have been accused of violations like soil contamination and improper disposal of contaminated stormwater.
New Jersey’s attorney general, Gurbir S. Grewal, said that the lawsuits reflect the state’s dedication to environmental justice.
“We’re going to do the hard work necessary to protect communities from dumping, contamination and other illegal activities,” he said. “The message to New Jersey residents should be clear: everyone, and I really mean everyone, deserves to breathe clean air and live in a safe environment.”
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