Home > Uncategorized > Murphy DEP Climate Rule Proposal Entirely Ignores Environmental Justice Issues

Murphy DEP Climate Rule Proposal Entirely Ignores Environmental Justice Issues

DEP Makes a Mockery Of Gov. Murphy’s Ex. Orders and Environmental Justice Law

An Incredible Political Betrayal and Policy Blunder

Doremus Ave., Newark, NJ

Doremus Ave., Newark, NJ – one of NJ’s “worst”

We’ve heard a lot of rhetoric from Gov. Murphy and his DEP Commissioner about their commitment to environmental justice (EJ) and many pledges to reduce disproportionate pollution burdens in those communities to alleviate disparate health impacts on EJ communities.

The Gov. has issued several Executive Orders on EJ – Executive Order #23 (4/20/18) directed DEP specifically:

The Department of Environmental Protection (“DEP”), in consultation with the Department of Law and Public Safety and other relevant departments, shall take the lead in developing guidance for all Executive branch departments and agencies for the consideration of Environmental Justice in implementing their statutory and regulatory responsibilities.

Repeat: DEP is required to consider “Environmental Justice in implementing their statutory and regulatory responsibilities.”

Later, the Legislature passed a so-called “historic environmental justice” law the Gov. signed that requires DEP to consider EJ impacts is specific EJ communities, including consideration of cumulative impacts:

“Today we are sending a clear message that we will longer allow Black and Brown communities in our state to be dumping grounds, where access to clean air and clean water are overlooked,” said Governor Murphy. “This action is a historic step to ensure that true community input and collaboration will factor into decisions that have a cumulative impact for years to come. I’m incredibly proud that New Jersey is now home to the strongest environmental justice law in the nation.”

Recognizing the core relationships between EJ and climate issues, the Gov. and the DEP Commissioner also repeatedly have linked the climate emergency to the EJ issue, and pledged to address the EJ issue in climate adaptation and greenhouse gas emissions mitigation programs: (Gov. press release)

“We cannot achieve environmental justice in New Jersey unless we confront the real and growing threat of climate change,” said Acting Attorney General Andrew J. Bruck.

So, after this barrage of rhetoric, I must say that I was absolutely stunned – but somehow not surprised – that the DEP’s climate PACT rule proposal designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (a misnomer, it’s actually limited to just CO2) completely ignored the EJ issue!

Hit the link and read the DEP proposal for yourself.

You will not find the words “environmental justice”; “stressor”; “disproportionate burden” mentioned at all, nor the EJ law cited as a legal basis for the proposal.

Amazingly, the DEP does mention adverse health impacts in “urban” areas from climate related problems, including heat waves and increased ground level ozone levels. But they fail to connect this science to the EJ issue.

Shamefully, DEP limits the consideration and discussion of these adverse EJ health impacts to the economic impact section – where DEP analyzes the “Monetized value of CO2 emission reductions” (see p. 78):

Additionally, the co-benefit reductions of SO2, NOx, VOC, methane, PM, and hazardous air pollutants will benefit New Jersey and its residents by reducing the number of premature deaths, minimizing risk of lowered productive work hours and lost work days, lessening the number of health care visits, and reducing health care and hospitalization costs.

(and if you really want your head to explode, turn to page 102 where – despite ignoring EJ community impacts – DEP conducts a detailed impact assessment of adverse health impacts on agricultural crops and livestock!)

These are the perverted values and policies you get with a former corporate lawyer as Commissioner of DEP and a former Wall Street vulture as Governor – they sure know how to “monetize” people and planet!

Additionally, the Murphy DEP climate proposal completely ignores the “cumulative impact” issues.

The term “cumulative” is used 7 times, but only to summarize the “cumulative economic benefits” of the proposal, not cumulative impacts on EJ communities. Read the rule proposal yourself and confirm that.

No one seriously thought Gov. Christie would be a champion of EJ issues. So when the Christie DEP ignored EJ issues in DEP clean air regulations, the NJ Environmental Justice Advisory Council blasted Christie DEP Commissioner Bob Martin, see:

The dissenters recommend that the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (Department) conduct robust and transparent stakeholder meetings that result in the development and implementation of a coherent cumulative impacts policy. This policy should be incorporated in the Department’s decision-making process, including permitting, in the near future. While we do not oppose continued research into the cumulative impacts of toxic air contaminants on sensitive subpopulations and the general public, we cannot support the recommendation that additional research substitute for the actual development and implementation of a coherent policy. The dissenters find such a recommendation antithetical to good public policy while our citizens, particularly those in communities Of Color and low-income neighborhoods, bear the burden of continuing, and often increasing, threats to public health and welfare.

But Gov. Murphy and his DEP Commissioner – who have rhetorically championed the EJ and cumulative impact issues – have been given a pass by the EJ advocates, despite the betrayal in this important clean air climate rule proposal.

I’m sure that the manipulators in the Gov.’s Office and at DEP have whispered in the EJ community’s ear to keep their powder dry in hopes of DEP proposing a strong environmental justice and cumulative impact rule to implement the new EJ law.

But, that’s just another cynical game – and it ain’t gonna happen (and I’ve explained why in numerous prior posts).

[End Note: This is not some inadvertent oversight by DEP or unique disconnect between DEP and the Gov.’s Office. It is policy and practice.

Check out Gov. Murphy rhetoric in his recent Executive Order #274:

WHEREAS, minority and low-income communities are disproportionately affected by climate change, including by the health effects of higher temperatures and increased air pollution, and by the displacement of coastal and low-lying neighborhoods from sea level rise and flooding;

I’ve called bullshit on this several times. We have a pattern here, see:

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:
You must be logged in to post a comment.