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Overburdened Communities


One of the ways that corporations move catastrophe around is finding the least empowered communities to dump toxic waste and other pollution. I mean this quite literally–there is a ton of documented evidence on how they pick communities for these sites. Chemwaste once did a deal with George Wallace’s son-in-law to get a permit in a Black community in Alabama, for example. Part of the justification is that white people don’t care. That’s why what is happening in New Jersey is important:

New Jersey proposed a new environmental justice rule Monday that officials believe will be the toughest in the nation by carving out half the state’s population as living in “overburdened communities” and limiting the types of polluting businesses that can be built there.

Under the rule, the DEP could deny any proposal for a new or expanded power plant, recycling facility, incinerator, sludge operation, landfill, sewage treatment plant, recycling facility, scrap yard, or other major source of potential pollution within an overburdened block group. Officials hope to adopt the rule by the end of the year.

“This is a big deal because New Jersey is the first state in the entire country to wrestle meaningfully with addressing the accumulated impacts of pollution that are disproportionately experienced by low income, Black, brown, and Indigenous communities,” Shawn LaTourette, the DEP commissioner, said last week during a press briefing.

The goal is to protect areas with concentrations of low-income or sizable populations of Black and brown residents such as Camden from further pollution. The criteria used to determine those neighborhoods also put sections of many towns not normally thought of as overburdened such as Voorhees, Cherry Hill, and Deptford into the mix of potentially protected areas, according to an Inquirer analysis.

As much of this needs to go into the rich white communities as the poor black ones. Make Tony Soprano eat his waste.

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