New Jersey to Make Polluters Pay for Routine Contamination

New Jersey is getting tough on polluters, and other states may have a lot to learn from the state’s approach. New Jersey officials say they will soon begin broadly enforcing a law that requires polluting industries to pay the cost of cleaning up their messes. Sounds like a no-brainer, but critics say the move could drive businesses out of state. In the past, the state has collected damages from industries primarily when there was an environmental catastrophe, such as a big oil spill. Now, New Jersey will break new ground by trying to systematically seek restoration and compensation for damage done to water sources and other natural resources by routine pollution. “Like in other states, our natural resources have been diminished far more by the accretion of smaller environmental insults from various sources of contamination, and it would shortchange the public interest if we write off these claims instead of pursuing them,” said Bradley Campbell, the state’s commissioner of environmental protection.