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Industry will no longer be able to build polluting facilities like power plants, warehouses, and garbage dumps in communities that already have more than their fair share of environmental contamination, according to a bill passed by the New York state legislature the last week of April. Once the bill is signed into law, New York will join New Jersey, which passed a similar law in 2020, as the two states with the most ambitious environmental justice protections in the country.

The New York law will require that the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation take a hard look at the cumulative pollution burden that a neighborhood would face before granting any permits for facilities in that community. That, in and of itself, is not unique — last month the Biden administration restored part of the National Environmental Policy Act to require federal agencies to consider the cumulative impacts of their actions and several states have similar rules.

But the New York legislation goes further by prohibiting the state agency from carrying out any actions or approving any permits that might cause or contribute to a “disproportionate or inequitable” pollution bur... Read more

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