NJ Assembly Democrats Stymie Environmental Justice During John Lewis’ Funeral

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Trenton, NJ — The NJ Environmental Justice Alliance, Ironbound Community Corp. and Clean Water Action issued the following statement in response to the NJ Assembly Democrats refusal to conduct a previously scheduled final vote today on a critical environmental justice bill (A2212-S232, McKeon- Singleton) that has already passed the Senate and has unusually strong support from Governor Murphy, Senator Booker, NJ Urban Mayors Association, and over 250 labor, faith and justice groups.

In the middle of John Lewis’s funeral, New Jersey Assembly Democrats failed to deliver justice to New Jersey environmental justice communities. We are extremely disappointed the Speaker did not even give this bill a chance. It would merely give some measure of correction to communities already overburdened by air and water pollution.

A final request from Congressman Lewis in an opinion piece he wrote shortly before his death that was  published in the New York Times on the day of his funeral. The civil rights pioneer wrote in part: “When you see something that is not right, you must say something. You must do something… Though I may not be here with you, I urge you to answer the highest calling of your heart and stand up for what you truly believe”.

The NJ Assembly failed to honor this impassioned call to action and by doing so also did not honor the legacy of John Lewis today. They did not stand up for justice for those who need it most.

This bill would give state officials the authority to evaluate the environmental and public health impacts of certain facilities, the largest polluters (e.g., power plants, incinerators, landfills etc.) in low income communities and Of Color communities when reviewing a subset of permit applications.

Assembly Democrats now have a month to look themselves in the mirror and decide whether they really mean Black lives matter when they say it. Any further weakening of this bill defeats its purpose. The Assembly must pass the bill as is at the next Assembly session.

Environmental justice in New Jersey cannot withstand another moment’s delay. People are getting sick and dying while the New Jersey Assembly refuses to vote on a bill that would help them.

It is said the arc of the universe is long but it bends towards justice. Which side of history will Assembly Democrats stand on?