New Jersey legislators have approved a law that could make it easier for developers to build in environmentally sensitive areas.

Environmentalists had mounted a strong effort against the measure, saying it would drastically increase water pollution in spots like the fragile Barnegat Bay and other waterways across the state.

It would keep sewer service approvals in place for the next two years. It also prohibits governments from protecting land already eligible for development by removing it from the areas approved for sewer service.

The sewer boundaries are important because they determine where large-scale development can take place.

Proponents say the bill will help the state come out of a sluggish economy by creating construction jobs. But Tim Dillingham of the American Littoral Society says it will increase water pollution.

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)