Office of Environmental Justice


Environmental Justice at New Jersey State Agencies

Executive Order No. 23 (E.O. 23) (pdf) was signed by Governor Philip D. Murphy on April 20, 2018. In E.O. 23, Governor Murphy recognized that, historically, New Jersey’s low-income communities and communities of color have been exposed to disproportionately high and unacceptably dangerous levels of air, water, and soil pollution, with the on-going potential for increased impacts on public health. These communities continue to be disproportionately affected by environmental degradation, health risks, housing challenges, and inadequate access to resources that affect their quality of life. Recognizing this history and the continued need to address environmental justice, E.O. 23 emphasizes that residents of all communities should receive fair and equitable treatment in decision-making that affects their environment, communities, homes, and health.

E.O. 23 directs the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to develop guidance for all state departments to incorporate environmental justice considerations into their actions. The guidance document will provide a framework for Executive Branch agencies and departments on how to consider environmental and health impacts of their programs and policies in overburdened communities. It seeks to bring state agencies and departments together to tackle the many complex environmental justice issues related to quality of life, including housing, health, transportation and strategic enforcement actions.


Environmental Justice Enforcement Initiative

Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal and Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Catherine R. McCabe collaborate for a new environmental justice enforcement initiative designed to support communities that have historically suffered some of the worst environmental harms in the state. They are taking an unprecedented step forward in changing that reality by filing lawsuits to protect the environment in these areas. This first-of-its-kind statewide environmental justice enforcement action should make one thing clear, “to the polluters that have run amok in these communities: Not on our watch. We’re going to make New Jersey a national leader on environmental justice,” said AG Grewal. “Cleaner environments promote stronger communities. For too long the residents of urban areas and other communities have not had their voices heard and have had to bear the burden of disproportionate sources of pollution and the consequent health effects,” said DEP Commissioner Catherine R. McCabe. “It is imperative that we take actions such as these to substantively address these issues and restore the confidence of residents and their elected leaders that New Jersey is committed to improving day-to-day life for all New Jersey’s people, especially our most vulnerable populations.”

Attorney General and DEP Commissioner
AG, DEP Announce New Day
AG, DEP Announce “New Day” for N.J. Environmental Enforcement; State Files Six Major Lawsuits Focused on Contaminated Properties

August 1, 2018

State Files First New Lawsuits Seeking Damages for Harm to Natural Resources in Ten Years

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EJ at AG
Attorney General, DEP File Lawsuits Across New Jersey Targeting Polluters in Lower-Income and Minority Communities

December 6, 2018

AG and DEP Announce New Statewide “Environmental Justice” Initiative, Including Civil Actions, New AG Environmental Justice Section, and Community Listening Sessions

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EJ at AG
Attorney General, DEP File Six New “Environmental Justice” Lawsuits Targeting Polluters in New Jersey’s Lower-Income and Minority Communities

October 25, 2019

Filed in Superior Courts around the state, the six lawsuits focus on sites in Newark, Trenton (2), East Orange, Kearny and Camden.

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NJ Department of Health Environmental Public Health Tracking (EPHT)

The New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH) and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) continue to expand the New Jersey Environmental Public Health Tracking (EPHT) Network, which is part of a National EPHT Network developed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 25 states, and New York City.

NJDOH and NJDEP collect data on health, human exposures and environmental hazards. The New Jersey EPHT Network seeks to bring this information together. Tracking data can be used to help understand patterns and trends in environmental hazards, levels of Human Exposure, and patterns and time trends in diseases.