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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.”
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.
Summer is a time for children to enjoy the freedom of playing outside, but some communities in our country are so overburdened by air pollution that it’s healthier to stay indoors. There are communities near our ports and highways where the rates of asthma, cancer and heart disease are soaring. This is the case in the Imperial Valley in Southern California, where one in five children has asthma and Onyx Bazulto keeps her young daughter inside to protect her from the exhaust spewing from the line of diesel trucks idling outside her window.
Young people who’ve grown up in these conditions are engaging in a campaign calling for an end to the toxic diesel pollution poisoning their communities. This summer they’ve launched a multi-media art contest that asks children to imagine a world without pollution.
Yudith Nieto, one of the organizers of the contest, grew up with asthma in the Manchester neighborhood of Houston, which is surrounded by the sights, sounds and smells of polluting industries. Addressing the environmental issues impacting her community soon led her to engage with national organizations, including the Moving Forward Network and its Zero Emissions Now campaign. She explains, “It’s important for youth to be part of the zero emissions campaign because they are the ones who will inherit a future with deregulated extractive industries, unjust policies, toxic pollution, and the legacy of disproportionate health impacts.”
Dr. Bruce Strouble has been working with Yudith and other young leaders from across the country to find ways to engage their generation in the fight for clean air. He sees the art contest as a way to invite children in his Tallahassee community to think deeply about the reality they are living with and imagine alternatives: “The children are the future. If we are ever going to have a world with zero pollution, it is going to be youth that will make it happen.”
Artwork can be submitted until August 31st. All participants must email their art submissions to email@example.com. Along with the submission, participants must provide their name, age, and city of residence.
After a year of campaigning by the Moving Forward Network (MFN), a coalition of residents and their local organizations living near the nation’s sea and inland ports and freight corridors, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy has agreed to take the immediate steps requested by the group to address the environmental health and climate impacts from freight facilities.
In a June 2, 2016 letter to Angelo Logan, MFN’s Director, McCarthy announced her intention to meet the MFN’s requests to:
Set up an agency-wide working group to address toxic freight pollution, which medical and public health researchers have found to cause extremely high rates of asthma in children and premature deaths from lung cancer, heart disease, stroke and neurological disorders in adults.
Develop a strategy to take the measures necessary over the next two years to ensure that commercially available lower- and zero-emissions truck technology be used at all of the nation’s sea and inland ports.
Develop an engagement planto work with affected communities to develop a freight transportation strategy aimed at reaching zero-emissions as quickly as possible.
MFN’s year-long campaign included petitions to McCarthy signed by tens of thousands of port area residents and their supporters, thousands of letters, meetings with EPA Regional Administrators and other managers and staff, and expert testimony at meetings of EPA’s National Environmental Justice Advisory Council.
MFN’s affiliates are located in nearly all of the nation’s sea and inland ports, including Los Angeles/ Long Beach, the largest U.S. port complex; Newark/NY, second largest; Savannah, the second largest container port on the East Coast; Baltimore; Charleston SC; Houston; Oakland; Seattle; and the inland ports of San Bernardino, Kansas City, and Chicago.
MFN members have responded positively to Administrator McCarthy’s decision. Kim Gaddy, Environmental Justice Organizer for Clean Water Action and MFN Regional Representative for NY/NJ, expressed what many members feel when she said, “Kudos to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy for hearing and responding to the concerns and letters from residents in port communities and taking action to address the air pollution.”
Angelo Logan, Moving Forward Network Director, expressed satisfaction with the outcome, and the need for the MFN and EPA to work hard to achieve success, “We are pleased that Administrator McCarthy has responded by making these commitments to mobilize EPA to work closely with us to end deadly diesel emissions poisoning port communities, particularly now that the technology to do so is available. We will pay close attention to the effectiveness of this process as we participate. EPA’s efforts over the next few months and during the next administration will be crucial to getting the job done.”
The importance of solving this serious public health problem cannot be overstated. Forty-five million people live in neighborhoods adjacent to ports and rail yards and along freight routes with heavy diesel truck traffic. As a result, many suffer serious and life-shortening illnesses. These neighborhoods often have extraordinarily high rates of asthma in children, and similarly high rates of premature death from lung cancer, heart disease, stroke and neurological disorders in adults. The overwhelming majority of the affected areas are working class, poor communities of color, making deadly diesel pollution one of this nation’s most important environmental justice issues.
The two major problems created by diesel exhaust—illness and climate-changing greenhouse gas emissions—have available solutions. For example, technology now exists that can substantially reduce emissions from long-haul trucks and entirely eliminate them from trucks that serve local routes or are used in ports and railyards. A growing number of major international manufacturers have expanded production of zero-emission technologies for the freight industry, such as shore power for ships, battery-powered electric trucks, and electric cargo handling equipment.
The problem to overcome is the resistance of the logistics industry and their allies in political office and on the boards and staff of port authorities to shouldering the cost of the new technology. For years, these companies have been allowed to shift the nearly incalculable costs of the illnesses their diesel trucks have imposed—medical bills, lost work days, on top of pain and suffering—on the residents of port communities.
No voluntary programs have worked to reduce diesel exposure significantly. It is now time for the EPA, the nation’s lead environmental regulatory agency, to prevail upon the port authorities in every port city to require the use of low- and eventually zero-emission vehicles as a condition for entry into their ports. The cost of ensuring that shipping and trucking companies purchase and use new, cleaner technology pales in comparison with the social costs imposed by the pollution and its health impacts.
This week, the Taiwan-based shipping firm Wan Hai announced an agreement with the Advanced Environmental Group to build a barge outfiltted with the Advanced Maritime Emission Control System (AMECS), an innovative and highly effective pollution scrubbing system. Wan Hai will use the AMECS system to clean the emissions of their ships when they call at the Port of Long Beach, protecting the health of port workers and the community.
“We believe that environmental sustainability and economic prosperity are two sides of the same coin and we are always looking for new approaches to reach our zero emissions goal. We applaud Wan Hai for their commitment to green operations.” Port of Long Beach CEO Jon Slangerup
The AMECS is very efficient and can be quickly and easily deployed. It removes 96 percent of particulate matter, 98 percent of NOx, and 99 percent of SO2. It has been certified by the California Air Resources Board as a replacement for shore-power in California’s At-Berth emission reduction program, and can be used by any ship.
Ruben Garcia in front of the AMECS. Image: AEG
The AMECS was developed at the Port of Long Beach by the brilliant entrepreneur Ruben Garcia, and is a fascinating American success story. The Port of Long Beach and Mr. Garcia worked together closely to test the system. Read more about Mr. Garcia in the article linked below.
AMECS was used in 2015 to clean the emissions from the largest container ship to ever visit North America, an Ultra Large Container Vessel capable of carrying 18,000 ocean containers.
Wan Hai is a 30-year-old shipping company that calls on over 40 international ports using a fleet of almost 100 ships. For more information read:
As we prepare for our Independence Day celebrations, I want to share two victories that we are proud to have accomplished.
For the past two years, Clean Water Action as part of the Coalition for Healthy Ports (CHP) and national Moving Forward Network (MFN) have led a campaign to reduce deadly diesel emissions in our transportation sector and in port communities. Together, we have gathered hundreds of thousands of letters and petitions urging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to take action for clean air and healthy ports. I am excited to announce that Gina McCarthy, national EPA Administrator, responded to our request that the EPA establish an internal “freight team” charged in the next 2 years with developing strategies to significantly reduce diesel emissions from freight operations.
As the NY/NJ Regional Representative for the MFN and Environmental Justice Organizer for Clean Water Action who Chairs CHP, I am thankful to our members, canvassers, and coalition partners, including the North Shore Waterfront Conservancy, who went door to door in their communities urging people to take action and sign the EPA petition. Our voice was heard.
“We agree that now is the time to integrate and build upon EPA’s existing work on goods movement and to ensure that front line communities are an integral part of that process,” said Administrator McCarthy during the announcement.
In addition, CHP recently held a joint press conference with Newark Mayor Ras Baraka on the steps of City Hall. Together with Newark Municipal Council President Mildred C. Crump, U.S. Senator Cory Booker’s Aide Zach McCue, Newark resident Lito Miranda, Teamsters, clergy, environmentalists and community activists, we told the Port Authority of NY&NJ (PANYNJ) – “Employ us, Don’t Poison Us!”
The PANYNJ should be requiring diesel trucks serving the port to use already-available low emission engines, pollution controls on ship smokestacks while at dock, as well as hire more Newark residents for higher paying port jobs. The Coalition for Healthy Ports is pressing the PANYNJ to reinstate its scheduled ban on trucks with engines older than 2007 (similar to the nation’s largest port complex in Los Angeles and Long Beach, California). In January 2016, the PANYNJ rescinded its announced plan to ban older trucks from entering the port starting January 1, 2017 on the grounds that it would cause the port to close. CHP and its allies noted that NYNJ shippers and trucking companies would conform to the new rule as they did 10 years ago on the West Coast if they understood that the Port Authority would not back down.
“It’s time for the Port Authority of NY&NJ to become a good neighbor to the residents of Newark, and support a clean air plan that includes a fleet of 2007 and newer model engine trucks,” said Amy Goldsmith, Clean Water Action State Director and Coalition for Healthy Ports Chair.
The price of continuing to allow diesel truck pollution to flow through Newark’s neighborhoods is the extraordinarily high incidence of childhood asthma and premature deaths of adults from lung cancer, heart disease, stroke and neurological disorders, as documented by medical doctors and public health researchers all over the U.S. including Robert Laumbach, MD at Rutgers University, and Andrea Hricko, Professor of Preventive Medicine at the University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine, advisors to the Coalition for Healthy Ports. The PANYNJ is enabling irresponsible shippers and trucking companies to cause hundreds of millions of dollars in medical expenses and lost days at work in port communities, costs that are unfairly shifted onto the backs of Newark residents.
“Hire us, don’t poison us,” said Mayor Baraka. “The Port Authority has the power to end the diesel-truck poisoning of port communities like Newark. It can require shippers to use lower and near-zero emission truck engines, as some other ports have done. Yet the Port Authority continued to allow shippers to profit at the expense of our health and our lives. This must end here and now.”
As a resident of the South Ward and mother of three children with asthma, I think it’s time for the City of Newark to secure a community benefits agreement from the PANYNJ that provides mitigation funds to address the health injustices our families are experiencing due to the diesel pollution from the Newark Port. Let’s continue to keep the pressure on and remember the fight for environmental justice is a civil rights issue. As we celebrate Independence Day and reflect on our rights and freedoms, we can’t forget the overburdened port communities who are disproportionately polluted upon because of the zip code they live in.
In partnership with Pasha Stevedoring and Terminals L.P., and funding from theCalifornia Air Resources Board, the port recently announced the Green Omni Terminal Demonstration Project, which use modern, cleaner technologies to dramatically reduce air pollution.
Among on-shore technologies promised are electric terminal trucks, which are available commercially from vendors like Orange EV, and electric on-road drayage trucks, which are being demonstrated, but not yet sold on the open market.