NJEJA has developed numerous policy papers related to environmental justice, in conjunction with the Center for the Urban Environment (CUE) at the John S. Watson Institute for Public Policy of Thomas Edison State College (Trenton, N.J.). The following annotated bibliography is excerpted (with clarifying edits) from the web site of the Center for the Urban Environment.
Reducing Particulate Matter (PM) Air Pollution
Fine PM air pollution has been estimated to cause tens of thousands of premature deaths each year in the United States. It causes or exacerbates a variety of illnesses such as cardiovascular disease, pulmonary disorders and cancer. This deadly pollutant is an EJ issue because concentrations tend to be highest in urban areas and therefore fine PM is almost certainly causing deaths and illness at disproportionately high rates among people of color and low-income residents of New Jersey. This alarming collection of facts is why NJEJA has made fine PM one of its priority substantive EJ issues.
NJEJA has undertaken a number of activities with CUE in an effort to affect state policy to decrease fine PM concentrations in urban areas. Among them are:
- Developing a fine and diesel PM reduction policy platform;
- Conduct a PM monitoring project that involved high school students from Camden, Trenton and Newark;
- Submitting written comments on the state’s Fine PM Implementation Plan;
- Working with the Clean and Healthy Ports Coalition to reduce air pollution from the ports in Northern New Jersey;
- Developing a proposed executive order that would require privately-owned, publicly contracted, diesel-powered vehicles to be retrofitted with a pollution control device. A variation of this proposed order was eventually issued by the State; and
- Developing a cumulative impacts state policy and model municipal ordinance that would result in PM reductions (see below). NJEJA also played a significant role in developing EJ climate change and EJ energy production polices that would reduce fine PM emissions and concentrations. (See below)
NJEJA and CUE have developed an EJ climate change policy that features using global warming policy to reduce emissions of fine PM and its precursors, along with emissions of greenhouse gases, as one of its most important policy recommendations. The complete policy contains six recommendations and it advocates for the use of energy efficiency and renewable energy extensively in urban areas in order to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases, reduce emissions of fine PM and its precursors, and provide employment and other economic opportunities to local residents. NJEJA and Cue prepared and submitted comments on rules governing the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a northeast area carbon-trading program. The comments were essentially based on NJEJA’s and CUE’s EJ climate change policy. On a national level NJEJA and CUE are working with a group of EJ organizations from across the country that is addressing national EJ climate change policies from an EJ perspective. (See below.)
NJEJA and CUE submitted written comments on New Jersey’s draft Energy Master Plans in both 2008 and 2011, spelling out an EJ energy policy. Major themes include using energy policy to reduce emissions of fine PM and its precursors, and developing siting and extraction policies that do not perpetuate or create excessive pollution in local communities.
“Cumulative impacts” means the combined effects of several stressors (for example, several different sources of air pollution). NJEJA and CUE have developed municipal and state level policies to address cumulative impacts. On the municipal level, we have developed a model ordinance that the City of Newark is considering enacting in some form. To educate community residents and city officials about cumulative impacts and the model ordinance, NJEJA and CUE conduct free EJ and cumulative impacts workshops. On the state level NJEJA and CUE have created a policy that integrates consideration of cumulative impacts into the issuance of pollution discharge permits by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) and have presented the policy to upper management at NJDEP.
In April, 2012, NJEJA’s Dr. Nicky Sheats (who is CUE’s director) chaired a hearing on cumulative impacts held by the New Jersey Clean Air Council that featured testimony from national experts on the issue. Subsequently, the Council issued recommendations on cumulative impacts to NJDEP’s commissioner, and Dr. Sheats played a key role in writing the report that contains the recommendations.
Access to the Natural Environment
NJEJA sent comments to NJDEP on proposed rules that the EJ community believed would reduce the access of urban residents to New Jersey’s urban waterways. NJEJA’s statewide coordinator, Mr. Henry Rose, and Dr. Sheats also testified at a public hearing regarding the proposed rules.
Environmental Justice Advisory Council
Six of the eleven members of the EJ Advisory Council to NJDEP are also NJEJA members. NJEJA members of EJAC include its Chair, Vice-Chair and Recording Secretary.
National and Regional Work
In the area of climate change, NJEJA participates in the EJ Leadership Forum on Climate Change, a group of EJ advocates and organizations from across the country working on climate change policy from an EJ perspective. In May 2009, NJEJA participated in presentations made by the Leadership Forum in Washington, D.C. to representatives from the Council on Environmental Quality, the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA), and the Department of Labor. In February 2011, NJEJA was part of a delegation from the Leadership Forum that testified in Atlanta at a USEPA listening session on new source performance standards and the regulation of greenhouse gas emissions.
NJEJA participates in the EJ and Science Initiative, which is part of the Leadership Forum. The Initiative brings together members of the Leadership Forum and a small group of scientists from across the country who try to find common ground on important public policy issues related to climate change. The group has issued two letters on such issues thus far. One is on USEPA’s authority to regulate greenhouse gases and on greenhouse gas co-pollutants. The other is on carbon capture and sequestration, also known as CCS.
NJEJA participated on the School Air Toxics Monitoring Work Group of the National Environmental Justice Advisory Council, which issued a report that advised USEPA on exactly how to maximize community involvement in air monitoring at over five dozen schools around the nation. NJEJA is currently participating in USEPA’s Clean Air Act Advisory Committee and made a significant contribution to its recent report on using a multi-pollutant approach to the regulation of air pollution. NJEJA also submitted comments on proposed rules that would reduce toxic air emissions from power plants.
On a regional level, NJEJA participates in an EJ attorneys group that includes lawyers from New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island. The group meets on a regular basis and discusses legal theories that may help the EJ community and legal issues that are of concern to the EJ community.