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New Jersey Climate News

News Aggregation from the NJ Climate Change Resource Center

Rusted barrels containing hazardous waste


Rutgers University to Receive Almost $800K to Help Small Businesses Across NJ Reduce Hazardous Waste

Pollution Prevention Grant will advance Environmental Justice

EPA – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has chosen Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey to receive nearly $800,000 in funding under EPA’s Environmental Justice in Communities program to assist NJ small businesses in cutting the hazardous waste that they generate. The Rutgers project, led by the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy and the New Jersey Climate Change Resource Center, is a partnership with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP). The funding, which was made possible by President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, is to develop and adopt practices that prevent pollution at the source in local communities. Rutgers is one of 24 recipients across the country that were selected to collectively receive nearly $16 million in pollution prevention grants. “There are often relatively simple and low-cost steps businesses can take to reduce the hazardous materials that they use and generate and at the same time help their financial bottom line,” said Lisa F. Garcia, EPA Regional Administrator. “But small businesses may not know where to start or how to identify those steps. This federal funding, available through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, will support Rutgers’ program to provide the technical assistance needed to these businesses.” EPA has selected Rutgers University to receive $787,527 to provide technical assistance to small businesses that lack information and resources to reduce the hazardous substances that they generate. Technical assistance will include establishing a working group that will provide on-site assistance led by the NJDEP and includes an important community assistance component that will be led by community-based collaboratives that will receive financial support from Rutgers. Working with the state and communities, Rutgers’ project will focus on reducing facilities’ use, generation, and release of hazardous substances in communities traditionally overburdened by pollution. These communities will be identified using EPA’s EJ SCREEN and Rutgers’ NJADAPT suite of data tools.
NJADAPT screenshot

NJADAPT can be used to map a wide range of hazards, including flooding, heat, and hazardous materials, within overburdened communities.

“This initiative contributes to New Jersey’s efforts to advance community-led solutions to minimize hazards that are exacerbated by changing climate conditions,” said Jeanne Herb, Executive Director of the Bloustein School Environmental Analysis & Communications Group and Co-Director of the New Jersey Climate Change Resource Center at Rutgers University. “Reducing exposures to hazardous materials that may be used, generated or transported in flood-prone areas, especially in environmental justice communities, is a win-win for communities and businesses both.”

“Bringing environmental equity to and improving the health of people who live and work in our overburdened communities is of the highest priority to the Murphy Administration,” said New Jersey Environmental Protection Commissioner Shawn M. LaTourette. “My DEP colleagues and I wish to express our gratitude to Administrator Garcia and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for providing this funding to Rutgers University to help small businesses reduce or eliminate the hazardous substances they use. The Department of Environmental Protection looks forward to working closely with Rutgers and community organizations to provide the technical assistance that will make these goals a reality.”

“This federal investment in New Jersey will empower small businesses to improve health and the environment across our state,” said U.S. Senator Cory Booker. “I’m proud to see Rutgers University receive this funding so that it can provide small businesses with the technical assistance to reduce the harmful impact of hazardous substances in disadvantaged communities.”

“Today, more transformational funding to prevent toxic pollution is on its way to New Jersey from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law,” said U.S. Representative Frank Pallone (NJ-06). “The Pollution Prevention Grants to Advance Environmental Justice Program breaks down barriers to resources and access to information so facilities can more easily reduce hazardous substances that harm public health. I congratulate Rutgers University for receiving a grant to carry out this important work for New Jerseyans and thank President Biden for his partnership in prioritizing environmental justice.

The Environmental Justice in Communities grant program will provide pollution prevention technical assistance to businesses to improve human health and the environment in disadvantaged communities. The Environmental Justice Through Safer and More Sustainable Products grant program will assist businesses to increase the supply, demand, and use of safer and more sustainable products, such as those certified by EPA’s Safer Choice program, or that conform to EPA’s Recommendations for Specifications, Standards and Ecolabels for Federal Purchasing.

EPA’s Pollution Prevention Grant Program advances President Biden’s Justice40 Initiative, which aims to deliver 40 percent of the overall benefits of certain federal investments to disadvantaged communities that are marginalized by underinvestment and overburdened by pollution.

Ensuring greater availability and use of safer and more sustainable products can reduce harmful chemical exposures and their human health and the environmental impacts in disadvantaged communities and create a more sustainable and accessible marketplace. These efforts will continue to benefit businesses and communities across the nation by capturing what works and what can be adjusted in other communities. Recipients will share successful practices that are new or not widely known, as well as lessons learned, so that future businesses and communities can continue to innovate.

EPA anticipates awarding the grants once all legal and administrative requirements are satisfied.

The United States generates millions of tons of pollution each year and spends billions of dollars per year controlling this pollution. Once in our environment, this pollution harms human and environmental health, which disproportionally impacts underserved communities. Preventing pollution at the source, also known as P2 or source reduction, rather than managing waste after it is produced, is an important part of the solution landscape, and advances a sustainable infrastructure that supports local economies while better protecting public health and the environment. P2 practices can reduce exposure to toxic chemicals, conserve natural resources, and reduce cleanup and financial costs for businesses, particularly for waste management and environmental liability. Practicing P2 is essential for protecting public health and improving environmental conditions in and around disadvantaged communities that have long been overburdened by pollution.

Between 2011-2021, EPA’s Pollution Prevention program has issued nearly 500 grants totaling more than $50 million, which have helped businesses identify, develop and adopt P2 approaches. These approaches have resulted in eliminating 19.8 million metric tons of greenhouse gases, saving 49 billion gallons of water, reducing 917 million pounds of hazardous materials and pollutants, and saving more than $2.2 billion for business.

President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is boosting these efforts by providing a historic $100 million to support the program’s continued efforts. Thanks to the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, state and Tribal programs that are awarded grants will not be required to provide matching funds, which has helped expand access to these resources and broadened the applicant pool.

For more information about EPA’s Pollution Prevention Grant: Environmental Justice Program, visit EPA’s P2 website.

For more information about EPA’s tools for identifying communities that face disproportionate burdens, visit EPA’s EJ Screen page.

Follow EPA Region 2 on Twitter and visit our Facebook page. For more information about EPA Region 2, visit our website.


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Meet the Climate Corps

Angel Alguera, Rutgers Climate CorpsAngel Alguera
I am a first-year Atmospheric Science master’s degree student in the Department of Environmental Sciences, and my work focuses on meteorology and applications of climate change resiliency. My professional interests include severe weather forecasting and community preparedness regarding weather-related disasters. I work with Dr. James Shope at the NJ Climate Change Resource Center to produce applied research and reports relevant to New Jersey stakeholders. I currently assist with climate change data analysis, large dataset management, and report writing.

Daniel GilkesonDaniel Gilkeson
I’m a second-year master’s student in the City and Regional Planning Program with a concentration in environmental planning. As a planner, I hope to build more resilient communities in the face of increased risk due to climate change. With the Climate Change Resource Center, I am working on a project to aid the state in an update of its floodplain buyout program, known as Blue Acres, to be more proactive and comprehensive. Prior to this position, I interned in the Community and Economic Development Office at the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Association. I’m also an AmeriCorps alum, having completed a year of service working on affordable housing in Nashville, Tennessee.

Benjamin GoldbergBenjamin Goldberg
I am a second-year Master of City and Regional Planning student concentrating in climate adaptation and resiliency planning, with experience in sustainable food systems. I joined the Climate Corps last summer to help develop a GIS-based food waste recovery tool, and currently support community resilience through flood vulnerability analysis. I hold a B.A. from Middlebury College and a Certificate in Ecological Horticulture from UC Santa Cruz.

Surya Jacob, Rutgers Climate CorpsSurya Jacob
I am a graduate student in the Master of City and Regional Planning program at the Bloustein School concentrating in community development, focused on housing, land and finance, as well as pursuing the Real Estate Development/Redevelopment Certification. Prior to Bloustein, I worked as an architect and interior designer in India and Canada and am pivoting towards a career in urban planning to engage in extensive projects at the macro level. My interests include affordable and mixed income housing, urban redevelopment, and housing finance, and I am deeply passionate about climate resilience in community planning. Being part of Climate Corps is a foundational step towards helping to solve equity issues in vulnerable communities along the coastal region.

Vineesh Das Kodakkandathil, RutgersVineesh Das Kodakkandathil
I am an urban planner with five years of professional experience in community-led ecotourism development and land use and environment management planning in ecologically sensitive areas. I have worked on and conducted extensive environmental sensitivity analyses, flood and landslide vulnerability assessments, and human impact assessments with the help of GIS tools. I’m currently pursuing my master’s in City and Regional Planning at Bloustein School with a concentration in Transport Planning and GIS.

Douglas LeungDouglas Leung
I am working with the Climate Change Resource Center to identify vulnerable communities and places affected by climate-induced flooding in coastal New Jersey municipalities. I am a Master of City and Regional Planning candidate at the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University. As a planner, I want to develop strategies and solve problems affecting our cities and communities that enable more equitable outcomes in housing and transportation. I am also a recent Army veteran, having served as a company commander of recruiting in the northern suburbs of Chicago and as a reconnaissance platoon leader in the 10th Mountain Division. For fun, I enjoy weightlifting, running, reading fiction, and board games.

Nihar MhatreNihar Mhatre
I am a master’s candidate in city and regional planning at Rutgers University’s Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy, focusing on urban design and land use planning. Before being accepted at Rutgers, I worked as an architect at JD Studio and had my own architectural practice, Vastu Insights. My research interests revolve around designing and developing climate change adaptation and resilience strategies to promote equity in urban landscapes. Having the opportunity to work on real-world projects through Climate Corps will be an essential step in the development of my understanding of addressing climate change issues in vulnerable regions.

Justin MorrisJustin Morris
Justin is a master’s student at Rutgers University studying discovery informatics and data sciences. He is working under Professor Mark Rodgers to develop an optimization model that will act as a decision support tool for university financial investments with the end goal of eliminating Rutgers’ scope 2 emissions. He is excited to apply his background in data analytics and mathematical programming to help the university fight climate change.

Josephine O'GradyJosephine O’Grady
I am a first-year student in the Master of Public Policy program. Through the Coastal Climate Risk and Resilience (C2R2) certification, I am focusing a significant portion of my graduate coursework on topics including coastal geomorphology, environmental justice, and hazard mitigation planning. Before beginning my studies at the Bloustein School, I received my bachelor’s degree in public health from Kean University, where I first became interested in how coastal dynamics shape lived experiences. I previously served as an intern at the New Jersey State Policy Lab and currently work for the Megalopolitan Coastal Transformation Hub (MACH) team.

Jessica Parineet Jessica Parineet
I am a first-year Master of Public Policy student at the Bloustein School with a strong interest in climate change policy and related topics. In my previous work, I gained experience in a number of dimensions of climate change issues through carbon capture storage research, urban heat island research, and community level engagement as I am currently on the Student Advisory Board for the Rutgers Office of Climate Action. I am excited to expand on my interests in environmental justice and local level resilience planning through my involvement in the Climate Corps.

Dillon Patel Dillan Patel
I am a second-year Master of City and Regional Planning student concentrating in Environmental Planning and International Development. I have previously worked as an economist performing cost-benefit analysis and conducting monitoring and evaluation for renewable energy in developing countries. I have also spent a summer in western Massachusetts mapping stormwater infrastructure and working with planners to identify suitable places for green stormwater infrastructure.

Moira Sweeder, Rutgers Climate CorpsMoira Sweeder
I am a graduate student enrolled in the Master of City and Regional Planning program at the Bloustein School. My concentration is environmental planning with a focus on coastal resilience. Before pursuing my master’s degree at Rutgers, I studied sustainability at Stockton University. During this time, I interned for the PSEG Institute of Sustainability Studies, the Jacques Cousteau National Estuary Research Reserve, and NJ Audubon. I am thrilled to now be a part of the Climate Corps, researching coastal resilience as a part of the Megalopolitan Coastal Transformation Hub (MACH) team.

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