NEWARK – Urban officials long have complained that whenever someone wants to build a trash dump or a sewer plant, cities top the list of possible sites.
No more – at least in New Jersey.
Gov. Phil Murphy Friday morning signed legislation making it harder to locate trash, sewer and other industrial plants in “overburdened” communities.
In more blunt terms, the bill aims to stop undesirable facilities from being placed in mostly low income and non-white towns.
Republicans opposed the bill, claiming it could stymie business development and the creation of needed jobs.
That’s a fair point, but there is always a trade-off. To use a hypothetical example, a landfill on an abandoned lot could create jobs, but how does a garbage dump enhance the value of a community? It is also true that in the past, many Republican officials on all levels have fought plans to develop trash facilities in their region.
The bill’s premise is that over the years, landfills, sewer plants and the like have been unfairly placed in cities.
A speaker today said that her rather small Ironbound neighborhood is home to a trash incinerator and more than one sewer plant.
Under the bill, companies wanting to build just about any plant that produces heavy amounts of air pollution would have to go through a new review by the state Department of Environmental Protection. And that application can be denied if the DEP concludes a new plant would significantly add to environmental pressures the town already is facing.
As is his wont with these things, Murphy made the bill signing into a small party of sorts for 75 to 100 people at Tichenor Park. The governor said the bill amounted to “monumental reform.”
Cory Booker, who is pushing similar legislation on the federal level, spoke, as did Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver, state Sen. Troy Singleton, Assemblyman John McKeon and a number of local activists.
The governor lavishly introduced every one; Oliver, for example. was “the one, the only, the singular.”
Then Murphy ceremoniously signed the bill multiple times so he could give out numerous pens to supporters.