Newark passes nation’s first ‘environmental justice’ ordinance

Requires city planning officials to get more information from developers to ensure healthy, sustainable projects.

July 18, 2016 |
Newark passes nation’s first ‘environmental justice’ ordinance

Newark, N.J. Photo: A. Duarte/Creative Commons.

The City of Newark, N.J., enacted the first of its kind “Environmental Justice and Cumulative Impacts Ordinance” that requires the city to take into account the impact of developments on residents’ health and the city’s environment.

The ordinance directs the Board of Adjustment and Central Planning Board to receive additional information from development applicants regarding health and sustainability. The aim of the new law is to reduce the amount of pollution impacting health. 

Advocates of the ordinance say Newark and other urban communities face higher levels of pollution from multiple sources including toxic waste sites, industrial plants, and heavy city and port traffic. The cumulative impacts of these pollutants make people sick. 

In Newark, school age children have double the state and national average rate for asthma. Other pollutants, including diesel fumes and emissions from the largest trash incinerator, also cause health problems, advocates say.

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