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The New Jersey Business & Industry Association is strongly opposing legislation that would result in 300 municipalities, encompassing 4.5 million residents, being designated as overburdened and thus would deny economic growth opportunities.

NJBIA Vice President of Government Affairs Ray Cantor will testify before the Assembly Environment and Solid Waste Committee today that while bill A-2212/S-232 is well-intentioned, it would result in the loss of well-paying manufacturing jobs.

It would also stop any expansion at colleges like Rutgers and Rowan universities, certain hospitals and laboratories and even the Hard Rock Casino in Atlantic City.

“This bill would greatly impact major manufacturers in this state, both existing and those who may have been willing to locate here,” Cantor said. “This bill closes the door to them.

“It would effectively ban the creation of any new or expanded recycling facility, just when the Legislature is seeking to expand recycling efforts. The recently enacted food waste bill (A-2371) will be rendered useless, as no new facility will be able to be sited within the 20-mile limit established in that law.”

From 1990 to 2010, New Jersey saw approximately 550,000 manufacturing jobs reduced to about 210,000 jobs. Over the last decade, however, there was a slight increase to about 220,000 manufacturing jobs.

“This bill would reverse the uptick and essentially prevent new or expanded facilities in New Jersey, and it will slowly result in the departure of existing facilities.”

In his testimony, Cantor acknowledges there are still environmental challenges in New Jersey, but that great improvements have been made without burdensome legislation that would essentially lock down economic opportunities.

Through vigorous environmental standards and industry actions, New Jersey is now in attainment with federal standards for PM 2.5, which is small particulate matter that causes localized air pollution. Ozone, which is largely due to out-of-state pollution sources that travel to our state, is also on the decline.

New Jersey has spent more than $30 million over the last decade to retrofit diesel buses to improve air quality in urban areas. More than 10,000 contaminated sites, many in urban areas, have been cleaned up since the enactment of the Site Remediation Reform Act in 2009.

“These efforts have shown on-the-ground benefits as hospitalizations for asthma have been declining significantly for the last decade,” Cantor said. “That is great news that shows the effectiveness of New Jersey’s air pollution program. We are hopeful that as more cars are electrified, incentivized by legislation passed this session, that the air will become even cleaner.”

Cantor also says in his testimony that “more needs to be done and certain areas still shoulder an unacceptable burden.”

To that end, NJBIA is recommending that a proactive approach such as the Community Collaborative Initiative (CCI), a program run under the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, which will have more meaningful impacts to residents’ lives than attempting to keep businesses out. The CCI program has already had success in Camden, Perth Amboy and Trenton.

Cantor said the requirements of the legislation range between extremely onerous to simply unattainable. It would necessitate a permit applicant to assess a myriad of factors beyond its control and quantify how they would impact a community – and there is no scientific way to make this assessment.

It also mandates that the state deny permits for projects in any community whose stressors are greater than stressors elsewhere.

“In blunt terms, it requires the DEP to look at the community burdens in a Paterson, as an example, and if they are greater than in areas such as Hunterdon County, the permit is required to be denied,” Cantor explains.

“This test effectively will prevent any listed facility, including universities or hospitals, from locating in half the state or expanding there.

“This bill flies in the face of smart growth principles and efforts to remediate and revive urban and older suburban areas, including old industrial sites. The standard applied in the context of environmental permitting for the last 50 years is to minimize pollution to the extent technologically possible and to set objective health standards to which permittees must comply. It has worked.

“This legislation would take us in a new, unprecedented direction and it will only serve to stop certain businesses from locating in certain areas, which would now be half the state.”

Cantor’s full written testimony can be found here.