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

 

 

EPA Webinar – Easy Modeling to Assess and Address Near-Road Air Quality – April 20

We received the notice below by email from the EPA Environmental Justice Listserv.  For a heads up on what how their modeling tool works and what it does, check out this video.

 

UPCOMING WEBINAR

Easy Modeling to Assess and Address Near-Road Air Quality

Thursday 20 April 2017 at 2pm – 3:30pm Eastern

Register Here Today!

Summary

Sometimes the groups most exposed to near-road air pollution are also the most disadvantaged and marginalized to do something about it. Land values near roads are typically devalued because of noise, pollution, and visual blight. Long-term exposure to near-road pollution can have serious health effects, contributing to diseases such as cancer and respiratory illness; and short term exposure can exacerbate existing conditions, like childhood asthma attacks. Children, elderly, and folks with pre-existing conditions are especially sensitive to roadway pollution.

This webinar will present the Community-LINE Source Model (C-LINE) (https://www.epa.gov/healthresearch/community-line-source-model-c-line-estimate-roadway-emissions): a scientifically sound, near-road air pollution model that plays almost like a video game, available to any user with a computer or tablet.

C-LINE allows users to not only evaluate what is going on in their local area, but also what might happen if things change, such as from increases in traffic or diesel trucks cutting through town. Users can easily manipulate model inputs to also examine upwind and downwind effects, or estimate the areas most influenced annually by near-road pollution. In addition to roads, railways and railyards, ports, ships, and industrial sources also influence near-source neighborhoods.

The model is being further developed to include these and other sources for public use. Would you use this model? How? How might we help you do that? Learn more in this interactive webinar!

C-Line Webinar – Estimating Roadway Emissions in Communities with EJ Concerns

Speakers

  • Betsy Smith is a research biologist in the EPA Office of Research and Development. She has worked for the Agency for 20 years primarily in the areas of interdisciplinary science using spatial analysis to identify patterns and trends that can inform local- to national-scale decision-making. Betsy is currently the lead for EPA’s Sustainable Port Communities Study.

  • Tim Barzyk is a research scientist at the EPA. Tim works with community organizations, state and local agencies, EPA Regions and Program Offices, and academic partners to develop and apply near-source air quality models, citizen science portable sensor technologies, and decision analysis methods for use in local scale environmental health assessments. While focused on environmental health, his research acknowledges that local values and knowledge about social, environmental, and economic conditions must inform the assessment process in order to support evidence-based decision making by local residents, policy makers, or commercial interests to improve environmental conditions.

  • Vlad Isakov is a research scientist at the EPA. His current research focuses on the development and testing through applications and innovative approaches to model spatially and temporally resolved air quality concentrations in support of exposure and health studies.

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If you are not already a member, the Office of Environmental Justice would like to invite you to join the EJ ListServ. The purpose of this information tool is to notify individuals about activities at EPA in the field of environmental justice. By subscribing to this list you will receive information on EPAs activities, programs, projects grants and about environmental justice activities at other agencies. Noteworthy news items, National meeting announcements, meeting summaries of NEJAC meetings, and new publication notices will also be distributed. Postings can only be made by the Office of Environmental Justice. To request an item to be posted, send your request to environmental-justice@epa.gov and indicate in the subject “Post to EPA-EJ ListServ”

Protecting Kids from Traffic and Polluted Air

Share Carolina Martinez’ conversation with Yesenia Ceballos and support the #ZeroEmissionsNow campaign.

Yesenia Ceballos had long been concerned about her children’s safety negotiating the traffic and toxic paint vapors coming from the auto body and repair shops in her neighborhood near the port in Old Town National City, California. She was intrigued when she met up with friends who were celebrating a hard-won victory to have street lights and crossing signs to protect children from the traffic. She asked them why their t-shirts all said “EHC,” and that began her involvement with the Environmental Health Coalition.

Carolina Martinez, Policy Advocate with Environmental Health Coalition in National City California, spoke with Yesenia Ceballos, environmental justice promoter in Old Town National City about what motivates her to improve quality of life in her neighborhood. Here are excerpts from their conversation, which you can hear on StoryCorps.me.

YESENIA CEBALLOS: Tenemos los talleres de mecánica, talleres de carrocería y pintura, talleres de soldadura, tenemos muchos contaminantes, tenemos el freeway 5 que está muy cerca de aquí de nuestras escuelas, de nuestras casas. Entonces tenemos revuelto lo que son casas y negocios, entonces eso es una bomba constante para nuestros niños … Por ejemplo, yo vivo a dos calles, a dos casas de ahí de ahí de uno de estos talleres, en donde pintan barcos. Entonces, todo ese olor de pintura sale, diariamente están pintando carr—barcos, igual carros también hay muchos talleres cerca. Entonces, a tres casas más está la escuela, entonces todo esto lo están respirando nuestros niños cuando salen a hacer su deporte, ellos están respirando todo esto. Entonces, si juntamos lo del freeway, lo del puerto, porque también tenemos un puerto cerca. Entonces, si juntamos todos esos contaminantes, es algo que está dañando nuestros niños, sus pulmones, que puede causarles asma, son muchos factores que tienen ellos.

 

YESENIA CEBALLOS: There are mechanical workshops, paint and body shops, welding shops, and there are many contaminants, and on top of that Freeway 5, which is very close to our schools and our houses. Therefore, we lived on top of each other, houses and businesses scrambled together, which was a ticking bomb for our children … For example, I live two blocks away, two houses from one of these repair shops, where they paint ships. Every day, all that paint odor comes out, because of all the paint they use for ships, and there are also many paint shops for cars nearby. Three blocks after, there is the school. So all our children are breathing this when they go out and play sports, they are breathing all of this. Then, if we combine the pollution from the freeway and the port–because we also have a port nearby–, well, if we combine all these, it is really harming our children. Damaging their lungs, which can cause asthma, there are many factors involved.

 

Es una lucha constante hacer que estas industrias y negocios tengan en cuenta nuestro bienestar. El puerto tiene un gran impacto en la salud de nosotros, y debe tomar responsabilidad con sus vecinos. Pero esto no pasa si nosotros no estamos ahí, luchando, participando para que este cambio se pueda hacer. Nosotros también tenemos derecho a vivir en una comunidad saludable. 

 

It is a constant struggle to make these industries and businesses aware of our wellbeing. The port has a major impact on our health, and we should take responsibility for our community. However, this will not happen if we are not there, fighting and participating to make this change happen. Because we also have the right to live in a healthy community.

PLEASE JOIN Carolina and Yesenia in the #ZeroEmissionsNow campaign to reduce diesel emissions in our communities. Share their conversation using the social media buttons above to show your support for #ZeroEmissionsNow.

LEARN MORE about the work they are doing to improve the quality of life in San Diego County by following Environmental Health Coalition.

LISTEN to other conversations in our StoryCorps project, with people who are fighting for #ZeroEmissionsNow in their communities across the United States.

Nikola announces “The end of diesel engines”, promises zero-emissions semi-truck with 1200 mile range by 2020

On December 1, Utah start-up Nikola Motor Company unveiled a fully operational truck they say spells the end of diesel-powered trucking – the Nikola One – a zero-emissions Class 8 semi-truck with sleeper cab that will carry a full load for a very long distance.

“Say goodbye to the days of dirty diesel…” 

                                                             Trevor Milton, CEO of Nikola Motor Company

This is truly a zero emissions truck, with solar-generated hydrogen used in a fuel cell under the hood to charge batteries that power electric motors on each wheel.  The only emissions are water vapor. The truck will generate over 1000 horsepower (twice that of most production trucks), and have a range of 1200 miles and a huge amount of torque.  The specifications for the truck are nothing short of amazing – check them out here.

To provide the national infrastructure needed, Nikola plans to build a network of almost 400 solar-powered hydrogen generating and refueling stations, and to lease the trucks through the Ryder System, which will also provide maintenance and other services.  The cost – just $5-7,000 per month to lease a truck, with free fuel for the first million miles.

 

The truck promises many other advantages – including faster acceleration and a shorter stopping distance than diesel-powered rigs, and an in-cockpit computer system that will allow owner-operators to book freight while on the road. Nikola is also offering a ‘day cab’ version of the truck called the Nikola Two. View the video above for more on that topic and others.

As an added bonus, the refueling stations will sell hydrogen to any customers, which could lend impetus to the development and sale of Zero Emissions cars based on the same hydrogen-electric technology.

Will this really happen? Things look promising.  The company claims to have pre-orders for over $3 billion in trucks.  It plans to announce the location of their $1 billion manufacturing plant in 2017, and to begin construction of the refueling stations in January 2018.

For more information, check out the articles below, and the Nikola Motor Company website.

Hydrogen Could Help Heavy Trucks Clean Up Their Act, NBC News

Nikola Motor Company Unveiling — Details On “Zero Emissions” Semi Truck, CleanTechnica

A Tesla-Inspired Truck Might Actually Make Hydrogen Power Happen, Wired Magazine

Nikola Motors Introduces Hydrogen-Electric Semi Truck, Fortune Magazine

New electric Class 8 truck: 1,000 hp, 1,200-mile range, Overdrive

Port of Houston to build Zero Emissions Freight System

The Port of Houston is partnering with the Texas A&M Transportation Institute to build a Zero Emissions freight system to move freight containers between its two container terminals, Barbour’s Cut and Bayport.  The Freight Shuttle System (FSS) will move freight containers five miles on a track built above Texas Highway 146 at a cost of about 10 cents per mile, reducing traffic congestion and air pollution.

Adrian Shelley, executive director of MFN member Air Alliance Houston, and Stephanie Thomas of Public Citizen recently visited Texas A&M to watch the unveiling of the FSS and learn more about it from Dr. Stephen Roop, chief scientist at Freight Shuttle International and professor at the Texas A&M Transportation Institute.

Adrian Shelly and Stephanie Thomas at Texas A&M University

Adrian Shelly and Stephanie Thomas at Texas A&M University

Learn more about their visit and this very promising technology in Stephanie Thomas’ blog post, Can the Freight Shuttle Reduce Cngestion and Clean Houston’s Air?

For more information, check out the video and news links below.

Houston port shuttle hailed as potential freight-handling breakthrough, Houston Chronicle

Texas A&M Transportation Institute unveils freight shuttle prototype, TheEagle.com

Forget Hyperloop: This Awful-Looking Thing Can Move Your Stuff, Wired Magazine

 

Come to the IVAN Air Monitoring Launch Friday, Sept 30 in Heber CA

Comite Civico Del Valle and their partners are doing AMAZING citizen science work in the Imperial Valley. Come celebrate with them tomorrow, Friday, September 30 in Heber, California and learn about their 40 station air monitoring network.

Heber is less than two hours east of San Diego, California and under an hour from Yuma, Arizona. Check out the links below for more information.

Tracking asthma threats in the Imperial Valley’s hazy air, Desert Sun

“It is Up to Us”: Citizen Science in Imperial County, Sierra Club California/Nevada Desert CommitteeDesert Report

IVAN-Air-Monitoring-Launch-093016

The next generation of environmental justice leadership: Juan Parras talks with Yudith Nieto

Share Juan and Yudith’s conversation and support the #ZeroEmissionsNow campaign.

Yudith Neito was born in Mexico and grew up in Manchester, an east Houston neighborhood surrounded by oil refineries and other heavy industry. She first became involved with environmental justice organizing when she attended public meetings to translate for her grandmother. She learned about environmental causes for the asthma, heart disease and other ailments that plagued her family and community. The more she learned, the more deeply committed she became to improving the quality of life in Manchester and addressing the larger systemic problems at the root of her community’s suffering.

Yudith was interviewed by her mentor and friend Juan Parras, Director of Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services, about what motivated her activism and what hopes she has for the future. Here are excerpts from their conversation, which you can hear on StoryCorps.me.

 

YUDITH NIETO: We first got here in 1995 or ’96. We emigrated from Mexico. So Manchester is one of the cheapest places in Houston to settle, to live, actually for newcomers or immigrants or low-income people.

 

The best of my community is that it’s a very tight-knit community. I grew up with a lot of my friends, and a lot of their families still live there. We are very connected in the sense that my whole family is there. The worst part of it, of course, is all the pollution that surrounds it. We’re surrounded on all sides — from petroleum refineries to metal-crushing facilities, to water treatment plants. So that’s the worst of it. We get a lot of the contamination and the pollution in our air, and even our soil, our water is polluted. So the worst is also being pushed to the margins, where a lot of political people do not come in to do anything or talk about the issues in our communities.

 

In our community people get used to certain things. They often say that you get used to the smells. But that apathy that I was confronted with sometimes, when I asked questions, sort of inspired me to do something about it.

 

One of the big things we’re working on right now is the Zero Emissions campaign, where we’re talking about eliminating emissions from certain facilities and adopting zero emission technology to help communities deal with the pollution and take a step into a better way of making energy. So that’s one of the things that our communities are a part of right now. I’m actively working on getting more people involved – more young people. So that we can have a strong, youth-based organization that can lead the way in finding better solutions.

PLEASE JOIN Juan Parras and Yudith Nieto in the #ZeroEmissionsNow campaign to reduce diesel emissions in our communities. Share their conversation and show your support.

LEARN MORE about the work Juan Parras and Yudith Nieto are doing to improve the quality of life in Houston by following T.E.J.A.S.

LISTEN to other conversations in our StoryCorps project, with people who are fighting for #ZeroEmissionsNow in their communities across the United States.

Community groups EYCEJ & LBACA “Exposing Injustice at the LA River”

East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice hosted a very successful and well attended LA River Toxic Tour in July. Participants included folks from the Long Beach Alliance for Children with Asthma and the EYCEJ program La Cosecha Colectiva.

Check out this excellent story in Random Lengths News:

Exposing Injustice at the LA River

Entonces Ahorita Estamos a Tiempo en Hacer Este Cambio

Share Laura Cortez’ conversation with Maribel Mireles and show your support for the #ZeroEmissionsNow campaign.

 

Maribel Mireles lives in Long Beach, California and became involved in environmental justice organizing after her son was diagnosed with asthma. She has been advocating for policies that would reduce truck traffic and diesel pollution from the port of Long Beach.

 

Maribel was interviewed by Laura Cortez, Assistant Project Manager for Long Beach Alliance for Children with Asthma. Here are excerpts from their conversation, which you can hear on StoryCorps.me.

 

MARIBEL MIRELES: El primer paso que tome para convertirme en una persona de cambio en nuestra comunidad fue mi hijo, porque el fue diagnosticado con asma. Entonces eso fue lo que me motivo a interesarme en este tema porque la verdad no estaba muy enterada de lo que era el asma y lo que conllevaba en asma. Y los cuidados que tenía que tener con esa enfermera.

The first step I took in becoming a change agent in my community was my son, because he was diagnosed with asthma. That is what motivated me to become interested in this topic because I really wasn’t informed about what asthma was and what it entailed. And the care he needed to get from the nurse.

El impacto que yo tengo en mi vida es que — yo vivo en el norte de Long Beach y estoy en un cruzo de dos autopistas importantes de aquí y en el sur de California. Son la 710 y el 91. También estoy un poco cerca al puerto de Long Beach entonces los camiones pasan diariamente por la autopista para llegar a cargar su mercancía. Entonces estos camiones después toman la interestatal 91 para dirigirse hacia los valles, hacia lo que es Riverside y donde están las bodegas más grandes. Entonces esa afecta nuestra salud por el diesel que emiten esos camiones. Y esto a su vez tiene un efecto dómino porque con el tiempo pues más gente se va enfermar de asma. Más niños y más adultos.

The impact it has in my life is that — I live in North Long Beach and I’m by two important freeways in southern California. The 710 and the 91. I’m also a little close to the port of Long Beach, so the trucks pass on a daily basis through the freeway to go and load their merchandise. Then these trucks take the 91 freeway to head to the valleys, toward Riverside where there are large warehouses. This impacts our health because of all the diesel pollution that is emitted from the trucks. And this has a domino effect because with time more people are going to get asthma. More children and more adults.

El tema más importante en el que estamos trabajando en la organización de LBACA para mi es la expansión del 710 y eso es algo que afecta a miles de personas, tanto niños como adultos porque solamente en la ciudad de Long Beach tenemos más de 15,000 niños con asma. Entonces que nos espera en un futuro cuando se expanda el freeway? Cuantas más emisiones de diesel van a ver con una expansión así tan grande y cuantos niños mas van a sufrir las consecuencias de esta expansión?

For me one of the most important topics we are working on in the LBACA (Long Beach Alliance for Children with Asthma) organization is the 710 expansion because it impacts thousands of people, not just kids but adults as well. In Long Beach we have more than 15,000 children with asthma. So what can we expect in the future if this freeway is expanded? How much more diesel emission would there be with that huge expansion and how many more children will suffer the consequences for this expansion?

Pues que piensemos en el futuro de nuestros hijos y nuestros nietos que ellos son los que van a quedar con esto, estos contaminantes que afectan no solamente en el asma sino también es algo cancerifico que también provoca el cáncer. Entonces ahorita estamos a tiempo en hacer este cambio.

Let’s think of the future of our kids and grandkids because they are the ones that will be stuck with this, these pollutants that not only affect asthma but can also be carcinogenic and lead to cancer. We are in time to make a change.

PLEASE JOIN Maribel Mirales and Laura Cortez in the #ZeroEmissionsNow campaign to reduce diesel emissions in our communities. Share their conversation and show your support.

LEARN MORE about the work they are doing to improve the quality of life in Long Beach by following Long Beach Alliance for Children with Asthma.

LISTEN to other conversations in our StoryCorps project, with people who are fighting for #ZeroEmissionsNow in their communities across the United States.

Environmental Health Coalition Says Proposed Tenth Avenue Marine Terminal Expansion Detrimental to Community

Port’s plan will add 800 diesel truck trips through Barrio Logan – per day

SAN DIEGO, August 23, 2016 – The Port of San Diego plans to expand the Tenth Avenue Marine Terminal, including a tremendous increase in the use of diesel trucks and ships operating dangerously close to Barrio Logan. According to Environmental Health Coalition (EHC), an organization fighting toxic pollution in San Diego and Tijuana, the project’s draft environmental impact report outlines imminent impacts of the plan, while neglecting to address its damaging repercussions on the quality of life caused by increased air pollution and effects of climate change on the neighboring community.

“Within one-half mile of the proposed terminal expansion are parks, schools, neighborhoods and health care facilities that would be impacted by a nearly 600 percent increase in air pollution and the resulting health hazards,” says Diane Takvorian, executive director of EHC. “The Port needs to go back to the drawing board to reduce its plans for expansion and increase its use of zero-emission trucks and electric shore power for ships.” 

Barrio Logan and the port from city report

 The expansion plan for the Tenth Avenue Marine Terminal proposes to increase cargo throughput to as much as 589 percent of the current volume and could increase greenhouse gas emissions by up to 540 percent of the current level. The draft environmental impact report estimates the expansion will add more than 800 diesel truck trips through Barrio Logan – every day — for a total of close to 982.

 In response to the plan, EHC submitted a letter outlining its concerns. The National City-based organization cited increased health risks for cancer and respiratory disease that would result from the added air pollution. The California Air Resources Board (ARB) also submitted a comment letter with similar concerns.

 “The long-term operation of diesel vehicles and equipment will have significant impacts in the region, especially given the proximity to residences,” says Heather Arias, freight transport branch chief at the California Air Resources Board. “Although the draft environmental impact report includes some features that begin to mitigate the air quality and health impacts from the proposed project, as recommended in our NOP comment letter, and given the health and air quality impacts, ARB suggests further incorporating more zero and near zero technologies that are commercially available now and by full build-out in 2035.”  

 Barrio Logan residents have lived alongside the Tenth Avenue Marine Terminal for decades and remain a community with one of the highest rates of children’s asthma hospitalizations in San Diego County. According to the California Environmental Protection Agency and its cumulative impacts screening tool, CalEnviroScreen, Barrio Logan is among the worst five percent of neighborhoods suffering from cumulative pollution burden in California. 

“The Port has an opportunity and a responsibility to bring freight practices to our communities that won’t harm our families, won’t pollute our air and won’t destroy our future,” says Takvorian. “We urge the Port to revamp this plan into a model of sustainability and environmental leadership. By working together with the community, both economic growth and healthy communities are possible.” 

To learn more about the harmful impacts of toxic pollution in the San Diego/Tijuana region, please visit http://www.environmentalhealth.org.

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 ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH COALITION: Founded in 1980, Environmental Health Coalition (EHC) builds grassroots campaigns to confront the unjust consequences of toxic pollution, discriminatory land use and unsustainable energy policies. Visit us online at http://www.environmentalhealth.org.

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