Senator Booker Announces The Environmental Justice Act of 2017

On October 23rd U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) was joined by local community leaders and advocates from across New Jersey and the nation in announcing a landmark bill that represents a major step toward eliminating environmental injustice.

This Bill would strengthen protections for communities of color, low-income communities and indigenous communities.

More specifically the Bill: 

  • Codifies and expands the 1994 Executive Order on Environmental Justice.

  • Codifies the existing National Environmental Justice Advisory Council (NEJAC) and environmental justice grant programs.

  • Establishes requirements for federal agencies to address environmental justice.

  • Requires consideration of cumulative impacts and persistent violations in federal or state permitting decisions under the Clean Water Act and the Clean Air Act.

  • Clarifies that communities impacted by events like the Flint water crisis may bring statutory claims for damages and common law claims in addition to requesting injunctive relief.

  • Reinstates a private right of action for discriminatory practices under the Civil Rights Act.

“For too long low income and communities of color in this country have suffered under the weight of cumulative, chronic and disproportionate pollution. This bill is a reminder of how critical it is to protect and restore these communities,” said Ana Baptista, Board Member, Ironbound Community Corporation.

“We must adopt substantive policies that will provide protections for communities Of Color and low-income communities from harmful pollution. This bill would help those communities and we hope everybody gives it the serious consideration it deserves,” said Dr. Nicky Sheats, Esq., New Jersey Environmental Justice Alliance.

“As a Newark School Board member and a mother of 3 kids with asthma, it’s clear environmental justice is a civil right. In my city and so many other EJ communities, there’s too much lead in our drinking water, raw sewage in our waterways and diesel emissions sending kids to the ER. Those are the kind of cumulative impacts Senator Booker’s legislation takes on,” said Kim Gaddy, Clean Water Action’s Environmental Justice Organizing Director.

 

More information: https://www.booker.senate.gov/?p=press_release&id=685

 

 

Environmental Health Coalition hosts Climate Change Workshop in Barrio Logan

The Environmental Health Coalition (EHC), located in the Barrio Logan community of San Diego, fights for social and environmental justice, and against environmental racism, “policies and activities of governments, corporations, educational institutions or other large organizations with the power to influence many people that, either intentionally or unintentionally, result in people of color and/or low-income people being exposed to greater environmental hazards.” This work includes several focus areas, including Toxic Free Neighborhoods and Climate Justice.

To ensure the communities they serve have a voice in State of California climate change plans, the EHC recently hosted a climate change workshop for the Environmental Justice Advisory Committee and the California Air Resources Board.  The meeting attracted over a hundred people who  talked about air pollution from the many industries located in their neighborhoods, the impact of climate change, and other topics, and provided ideas and recommendations for the draft update of the CARB Scoping Plan, which defines how California will reduce greenhouse gases to 1990 levels by 2020.

While welcoming the state’s intent to reduce greenhouse gases, Leticia Ayala, EHC Associate Director of the Healthy Kids Campaign noted that “there seems to be a tremendous disconnect between our state’s goals for addressing climate change and local projects that move us further from those goals, such as freeway expansions before investments in better public transit”, and emphasized that “Climate change is a global crisis, and our communities have great ideas and proposed solutions. Now, we need the resources to make things happen.”

To learn more, check out the EHC blog post, Thanks for urging the California Air Resources Boart to Protect #HealthHoods and the San Diego Free Press article linked below.

San Diegans Voice Concerns to State Officials About Air Quality, Environmental Justice, and Climate Change, San Diego Free Press

Feds propose to measure interstate highway air pollution, freight movement, and more

In an effort to begin managing and improving the performance of our highway transportation system, the U.S. Department of Transportation has proposed that states begin measuring key metrics, including air pollution emissions, reliability, congestion, and freight movement.

This is an important move, because traffic congestion is a huge contributor to air pollution emissions, as well as a major cost to shippers and consumers.

Transportation, including freight transportation, accounts for almost 1/4 of the greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S.  These emissions also cause serious health problems. Traffic related air pollution is linked to a large and growing list of adverse health effects, including asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, cardiovascular disease risk, premature birth and low birth weight, and premature death.

This information will be used to support the U.S. DOT Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement (CMAQ) Program, which supports highway projects that contribute air quality improvements and provide congestion relief, with an emphasis on reducing particulate matter air pollution.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said “The department is taking a major step to improve accountability and address the costly congestion problem that is plaguing our nation every day. Commuters and truck drivers from every state and region will be able to learn valuable information about how transportation investments are performing in delivering reliable highway travel with minimal delays and less air pollution. We are also taking a hard look at how to track progress on reducing greenhouse gas emissions from transportation, and I’m looking forward to what we hear back on this important topic.”

Perhaps not surprisingly, some of the folks who build roads are not keen for outcomes to be measured.  Politico quotes Nick Goldstein, vice president for regulatory affairs with the American Road and Transportation Builders Association, as complaining that “Everybody says they want more infrastructure projects, but they’re constantly throwing more regulatory hurdles in the way,”

For more information, see the news articles or review the notice of proposed rulemaking below.

A new Obama emissions play, Politico
Federal Rule Could Create New National Traffic Data Website, Government Technology
Tracking Carbon Pollution from Transportation Plans, NRDC
Notice of Proposed Rulemaking – National Performance Management Measures; Assessing Performance of the National Highway System, Freight Movement on the Interstate System, and Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program, U.S. Department of Transportation

Senator Booker Announces The Environmental Justice Act of 2017

Share Tweet Share +1 RedditOn October 23rd U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) was joined by local community leaders and advocates from across New Jersey and the nation in announcing a landmark bill that represents a major step toward eliminating environmental injustice. This Bill would strengthen protections for communities of color, low-income communities and indigenous communities. […]

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Comite Civico Del Valle honored as a Clean Air Hero

Share Tweet Share +1 RedditMoving Forward Network member Comite Civico Del Valle is being honored with a Clean Air Heroes award today by the South Coast Air Quality Management District for their ground-breaking IVAN Air Monitoring Network, which consists of 40 community-based air quality monitors in selected locations across the Imperial Valley. The award will be accepted […]

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Share Tweet Share +1 RedditThe California Cleaner Freight Coalition (CCFC) just sent us a wonderful video, which includes appearances by leaders and volunteers from several MFN member organizations, including Ms. Margaret Gordon of the West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project, Humberto Lugo of Comite Civico Del Valle, Silvia Reyes of the Alliance for Children with Asthma, and […]

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Leonardo DiCaprio joins forces with Comité Cívico Del Valle to expand Salton Sea air quality monitoring

Share Tweet Share +1 RedditTo my knowledge, no organization in the U.S. has achieved as much using citizen science as the Brawley, California community and environmental justice group Comité Cívico Del Valle. Comité Cívico, working with a network of academic, governmental, and other partners, has built a community-based air quality monitoring system consisting of 40 […]

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California plans to eliminate diesel exhaust black carbon within 10 years

The California Air Resources Board CARB) issued an outstanding report this week, Proposed Short-Lived Climate Pollutant Reduction Strategy, which provides a model for the Federal government and other states to improve public health and slow climate change,

In the report, the CARB details the ground-breaking work California has done to reduce black carbon, and proposes an approach to doing even more.

Black carbon is a potent climate change forcer which kills millions of people worldwide every year.  In U.S. urban areas, diesel engine exhaust – primarily from diesel freight trucks, is the primary source of black carbon.  Diesel exhaust black carbon is particularly insidious, because it is covered by as many as 40 carcinogenic and toxic compounds, and acts as a very effective toxin delivery system. When inhaled, the black carbon particles and their toxic payload is absorbed into the bloodstream, which delivers the poisons to every organ in the body, including the brain.

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