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What is Environmental Justice?

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) defines environmental justice as “the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies.”

Fair treatment” means that no group of people should bear a disproportionate share of the negative environmental consequences resulting from industrial, governmental, and commercial operations or policies.

Meaningful involvement” means that people have an opportunity to participate in decisions about activities that may affect their environment and/or health; the public’s contribution can influence the regulatory agency’s decision; community concerns will be considered in the decision-making process; and decision makers will seek out and facilitate the involvement of those potentially affected.

Historically, New Jersey’s low-income communities and communities of color have been subject to a disproportionately high number of environmental and public health stressors, including pollution from numerous industrial, commercial, and governmental facilities located in those communities and, as a result, suffer from increased adverse health effects including, but not limited to, asthma, cancer, elevated blood lead levels, cardiovascular disease, and developmental disorders.

Environmental Justice Hot Topics

EJ Mapping, Assessment and Protection Tool (EJMAP)

The beta version of EJMAP is live. This tool provides a visualization of OBC locations throughout NJ, where existing facilities regulated under the law are located and what environmental and public health stressors currently impact these OBCs.

For details of calculations behind the beta version of EJMAP, please read EJMAP Technical Guidance

Watch this tutorial for more info on using EJMAP. Questions or comments about the EJMAP can be sent to ejmapfeedback@dep.nj.gov

New! OEJ now has a Newsletter!

OEJ launched a biweekly newsletter series with resources to amplify environmental justice. Sign up here and check out our previous editions.

Healthy Community Planning NJ is Live

NJDEP in partnership with the New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH) launched the Healthy Community Planning New Jersey (HCPNJ) website, which provides municipal-level reports to help local governments and the public understand and address environmental threats to public health faced by their communities.

The website features an interactive map where users can click by county and municipality to access environment and health reports. Explore the glossary of environmental public health terms and associated FAQ for additional information.

EJ Community Engagement Sessions

Did you know that OEJ hosts EJ Community Engagement Sessions across the state?

EJ Community Engagement Sessions provide opportunities for OBC members to engage with DEP and other agencies to share EJ concerns and create meaningful connections.

You can access notes and recordings from previous sessions by visiting our Attend a Meeting page. Each session is listed by county and date.

Overburdened Communities (OBCs)

Pursuant to New Jersey’s Environmental Justice Law, NJ has published a list of block groups identified as Overburdened Communities (OBCs), an Environmental Justice Mapping Tool, and associated data. The data used to identify OBCs has been updated with the latest US Census data as of 2020, as required by the EJ Law. Click here for OBC data.

Participate in Administrative Order 2021-25 Public Hearings

Click here for public notices relating to EJ Law permit applications

NJ’s Draft Environmental Justice Rules

The EJ Rule proposal and comments relating to the rule proposal are available online.

For more information about the EJ Law and to access previous stakeholder meeting recordings, visit the EJ Law, Rules and Policy page.

Potential Lead Exposure Mapping (PLEM) – Housing

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and New Jersey Department of Health have released the first phase of a statewide online mapping tool that uses publicly available data to indicate potential sources of lead exposure.

Click here to use the tool.

Examples of DEP’s EJ Projects

Supplemental Environmental Projects (SEPs)
Supplemental Environmental Projects (SEPs)

A Supplemental Environmental Project (SEP) is an environmentally beneficial project that an entity voluntarily agrees to perform as a condition of settling an enforcement action. Since January 2010, seventy-two SEPs have been implemented. Submit potential projects to be funded by future enforcement actions.

Community Collaborative Initiative Assunpink
Community Collaborative Initiative

The Community Collaborative Initiative (CCI) works closely with diverse partners in urban communities to support their vision for revitalization and growth. NJDEP’s traditional role is evolving through the use of a single DEP point-of-contact to leverage resources and expertise that brings innovative solutions to complex environmental challenges.

Brownfield Site Reuse Success Stories
Brownfield Site Reuse Success Stories

The Office of Brownfield Reuse works diligently with the public and private sector to move brownfield properties through the remediation and redevelopment process. When a brownfield redevelopment project comes to fruition, local communities experience benefits such as neighborhood revitalization, increased tax revenue, or reclamation of land for open space.