Category Archives: Sustainable communities

EPA rebates fund cleaner schoolbuses in 5 New Jersey towns and 88 fleets around the US

Healthy-Buses-Healthy-Kids
Source: http://gasp-pgh.org

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today awarded more than $7.7 million to replace or retrofit 401 older diesel school buses. The funds are going to 88 school bus fleets in 27 states, each of which will receive rebates through EPA’s Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA) funding. The new and retrofitted buses will reduce pollutants that are linked to health problems such as asthma and lung damage.

In New Jersey, the five school systems that receiving retrofit funding are Orange, Lakewood, North Brunswick, Wall and Toms River.

“Thanks to DERA funding, we are protecting our children from breathing diesel emissions as they travel to school,” said Christopher Grundler, director of EPA’s Office of Transportation and Air Quality. “Nearly 17,000 of our country’s schools are located within steps of a heavily traveled road, potentially exposing more than six million children to traffic-related pollution at a time when their developing lungs are particularly vulnerable to the harmful effects of air pollution.”

Applicants replacing buses with engine model years of 2006 and older will receive rebates between $15,000 and $25,000, depending on the size of the bus. Applicants also had the option of retrofitting school buses with engine model years between 1994 to 2006 with a Diesel Oxidation Catalyst plus Closed Crankcase Ventilation system (DOC plus CCV) to reduce toxic emissions. EPA will fully fund the cost of these devices up to $4,000.

EPA has implemented standards to make newer diesel engines more than 90 percent cleaner, but many older diesel school buses are still operating. These older diesel engines emit large amounts of pollutants such as nitrogen oxides and particulate matter, which are linked to instances of aggravated asthma, lung damage and other serious health problems. 

The full list of 2016 DERA school bus rebate recipients are:

State  City     Selectee Funding   Buses
AZ Marana Marana Unified School District #6 $465,000  20
CA Moorpark Moorpark Unified School District $25,000 1
CA Soquel Santa Cruz City Schools  $155,000 9
CA Tulare Sundale Union Elementary School $20,000 1
CO Glenwood Springs Yampah Mountain High School $20,000 1
CT Ashford Town of Ashford $20,000 1
FL  Orlando School Board of Orange County, FL $240,000 20
FL Fort Pierce The School Board of Saint Lucie County $200,000 10
IA Bondurant Bondurant-Farrar Community School District $70,000 3
IA Lawton Lawton-Bronson Community School District $80,000 4
IA Sioux City Sioux City Community School District $20,000 1
IL St. Charles Community Unit School District 303 $20,000 1
IL Frankfort Lincoln Way Area Special Education District 843 $75,000 5
IL Mt Vernon Spring Garden School District 178 $20,000 1
IN Greensburg Decatur County Community Schools $75,000 3
IN Waterloo DeKalb County Central United School District $100,000 5
IN Goshen Fairfield Community Schools $40,000 2
IN  Gary Incandescent Transportation Solutions LLC $25,000 1
IN Versailles South Ripley School Corporation $55,000 3
KS Emporia Unified School District # 253 $40,000 2
KS  Sublette Unified School District # 374 $20,000 1
KS Ottawa      Unified School District # 290 $40,000 2
LA Alexandria Rapides Parish Schools Board $100,000 5
ME Kennebunk Regional School Unit 21 $160,000 8
ME Sullivan Regional School Unit 24 $40,000  2
MI Haslett Haslett Public Schools $60,000 3
MI Hudsonville Hudsonville Public Schools $60,000 3
MI Whittemore Whittemore-Prescott Area Schools $60,000 3
MO Jamestown Jamestown C-1 School $55,000 3
MO Louisiana Louisiana RII Schools District $25,000 1
MO  Sullivan Sullivan School District $40,000 2
MO Wheaton Wheaton R III School $40,000 2
NE Arlington Arlington Public Schools $20,000 1
NE Wahoo Wahoo Public Schools $20,000 1
NJ Orange Belair Transport Inc. $145,000 7
NJ Lakewood Klarr Transport Service Inc. $200,000 10
NJ North Brunswick North Brunswick Township Board of Education $85,000 5
NJ  Wall Student Transportation of America $200,000 10
NJ Toms River Toms River Regional Schools $180,000 9
NY Brocton Brocton Central School District $40,000 2
NY Belmont Genesee Valley CSD $20,000 1
NY Huntington Station Huntington Coach Corporation  $200,000 10
NY  Huntington Station Huntington Coach LLC  $200,000 10
NY Craryville Taconic Hills Central School District $20,000 1
NY  Verona Vernon Verona Sherrill Central Schools $60,000 3
NY Whitesboro Whitesboro Central School District $30,000 2
OH Sullivan Black River Local Schools $20,000 1
OH Rawson Cory-Rawson Local Schools $70,000 3
OH Lynchburg Lynchburg Clay Local Schools $60,000 3
OH Thornville Northern Local School District  $60,000 3
OH Andover Pymatuning Valley Local School $80,000 4
OH Canton Stark County Board of Developmental Disabilities $60,000 3
OK Boswell Boswell Public Schools $20,000 1
OR  Lakeview Lake County School District #7 $40,000 2
OR Pendleton Mid Columbia Bus Co. Inc  $180,000 9
PA Carlisle Deitch Buses Inc. $80,000  4
PA Glenmoore George Krapf, Jr. & Sons, Inc. $60,000 3
PA Philadelphia School District of Philadelphia $165,000 10
SC Columbia SCDOE (For Anderson 1 School District) $100,000 5
SC Columbia SCDOE (For Charleston County School District) $200,000 10
SC Columbia SCDOE (For Chester County School District)  $40,000 2
SC Columbia SCDOE (For Colleton County School District) $140,000 7
SC Columbia SCDOE (For Dorchester 4 County School District)  $80,000 4
SC Columbia SCDOE (For Greenville County School District) $200,000 10
SC Columbia SCDOE (For Kershaw County School District) $100,000 5
SC Columbia SCDOE (For Lexington 4 County School District) $80,000 4
SC Columbia SCDOE (For Orangeburg 5 County School District) $80,000 4
SC Columbia SCDOE (For Spartanburg 3 County School District) $40,000 2
SC Columbia SCDOE (For Spartanburg 6 County School District) $80,000 4
SD Hayti Hamlin Public School District $20,000  1
TX Rockport Aransas County ISD $105,000 5
TX Uvalde Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District $20,000 1
UT St. George Washington County School District $250,000 10
UT West Haven Weber School District $100,000  5
VA Alexandria Alexandria City Public Schools $64,000 16
VA Charlotte Court House Charlotte County Public Schools $100,000  5
VA Norfolk Norfolk Public Schools $200,000 10
VA Salem Roanoke County Public Schools $215,000 10
WA Vancouver Evergreen Public Schools $235,000 10
WA Lind Lind-Ritzville Transportation Co-Op $20,000 1
WA Longview Longview Public School District #122 $95,000 4
WA Northport Northport School District $20,000 1
WA Quincy Quincy School District No. 144 $50,000 2
WA Sumner Sumner School District $20,000 1
WI Spencer Burnett Transit $40,000 2
WI Dousman Dousman Transport Co., Inc.  $200,000 10
WI Beloit  School District of Beloit Turner $40,000 2
WI Shell Lake School District of Shell Lake  $20,000 1

For more information about this rebate program, visit http://www.epa.gov/cleandiesel/clean-diesel-rebates.

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Mayor Baraka appoints Nathaly Agosto Filion as Newark’s Chief Sustainability Officer

newark sustainability
Source: City of Newark NJ

nathaly-filion
Source: Pinterest
The awesome Nathaly Agosto Filion has been appointed by Mayor Baraka to the position of Newark’s Chief Sustainability Officer. Big congratulations! We can look forward to exciting and impactful new innovations from this impressive young Latina.

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Newark passes country’s first Environmental Justice Ordinance to protect residents

Newark Drawbridge & Skyline by Bridge Street by erodzen
Source: Newark Drawbridge & Skyline by Bridge Street by erodzen via Mapio
Newark, NJ – The City of Newark made history when the Newark Municipal Council passed a first-in-the-nation Environmental Justice and Cumulative Impacts Ordinance which will require the Board of Adjustment and Central Planning Board to receive additional information from development applicants in order to build in a healthy and sustainable way.

“I want to thank the Newark Municipal Council, Mayor Baraka and his Administration for passing the First Environmental Justice and Cumulative Impacts ordinance in the country,” said Kim Gaddy, Newark resident and Environmental Justice Organizer for Clean Water Action. “I started this fight 9 years ago with my colleagues and today I’m so proud of my City and the Leadership. Newark will be a vibrant and sustainable city. Kudos to the Newark Environmental Commission for keeping this Ordinance as a priority for the City.”

The City of Newark and urban communities face higher levels of pollution from multiple sources including toxic waste sites, industrial plants, and heavy city and port traffic. The “cumulative impacts” of these pollutants are making people, especially children, sick. In the City of Newark, asthma is the city’s biggest crime. Statistically speaking, more people die of asthma than homicides. School age children in Newark have double the state and national average rate (25%) for asthma resulting in most missed school days and unaffordable medical bills.

Newark residents face the nation’s 2nd greatest cancer risk due to diesel emissions. The city is home to the largest trash incinerator in the Northeast, which pollutes the air and costs the city over $9 million in disposal costs. The city is also the 3rd largest port in the nation with 7,000 trucks making an estimated 10,000 trips daily. Many of these toxin-spewing rigs are antiquated and pollute at least 10 times more than modern trucks.

The goal of the Environmental Justice & Cumulative Impacts Ordinance is to advance Environmental Justice, good stewardship, and sustainable economic development in furtherance of the priorities outlined in the Newark Sustainability Action Plan and the Newark Master Plan. Through this Ordinance, the City of Newark seeks to:

  1. Protect the health of all residents, regardless of race, culture or income, from exposure to pollution linked to adverse health effects, including the cumulative impacts that may be worsened as an unintended by-product of new development or redevelopment, and to ensure the enforcement of laws, regulations, and policies in a manner consistent with the principles of Environmental Justice.
  2. Take appropriate action to avoid, minimize and mitigate pollution from all sources within Newark’s jurisdiction through partnerships, innovation, and enforcement.
  3. Encourage proposals for development or redevelopment that contribute positively to Newark’s environmental, economic, and social health or, at minimum, that do not contribute net new pollution to the environment or adversely impact public health.

“As a Newark resident and parent, this legislation will protect the residents from the disproportionate health burdens experienced because of the zip code we live in,” concluded Kim Gaddy.

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Newark makes history – council passes 1st in Country Environmental Justice & Cumulative Impact Ordinance

By Envision Blue/Green
By Envision Blue/Green
Today on July 7 2016 the City Council of Newark unanimously and historically made into law the first ever Environmental Justice and Cumulative Impacts Ordinance, with their vote showing that Councilpeople value the health and wellbeing of Newark residents over commercial interests.

The law’s passage in a testimony to years of hard work by environmental justice leaders in the city and allies across the state.

Stand by for more info.

08 July 2016 see complete details about the ordinance and its passage here.

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Your own backyard is a great place to help butterflies and bees

Butterflies in field
Sourece: Judy Kesser via Monarch Joint Venture
Naturalist Don Torino suggests using your own backyard to help the butterflies and bees survive and thrive:

…There is still much more for us to do, especially in our own backyards.

This spring dig under some of that useless lawn, remove some non-natives and put aside some room in your flower beds for some milkweed and native wildflower nectar sources. Many local garden centers now carry multiple species of milkweed which will work in the backyard. Some better garden centers are now even setting aside spaces for native wildflowers like Milkweeds Goldenrod, Joe-pye weed and NY Ironweed to name a few.

Unlike many environmental issues which at times can seem overwhelming, this is an issue we can do something about. We don’t need to write to our Congressman or the Governor and hope that something gets done. Just plant some milkweed and other native wildflowers that provide nectar and you’ve just made our environment a better place.

Together we can turn our local communities into environments that are welcoming to the Monarch butterfly and that will give a fighting chance to a creature that can sure use our help.

If you have any questions on milkweed or other native plants feel free to contact me at Greatauk4@gmail.com

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Bergen Cty residents can purchase reduced price rain barrels and composters at the BCUA


For the convenience of Bergen County residents the BCUA offers 55 gal. rain barrels at the discounted price of $59 and Earth Machine composting bins for $60. Pick up is by appointment only at the Little Ferry plant at the foot of Mehrhof Road. Schedule your appointment by calling the BCUA Environmental Programs hotline 201-807-5825.

The BCUA accepts only checks or money orders. For more information about this and other community greening programs visit bcua.org.

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How converting farmland to solar fields affects rural residents’ quality of life & the future of agriculture

Solar Array
Solar Array is in Fuquay-Varina Source: Raleigh’s News & Observer
Maybe a few silly things were said by residents of Woodland, North Carolina about yet another solar farm proposal for town land. But there are excellent reasons for residents to reject a fourth solar installation. Woodland Councilman Ron Lane shares the facts:

The Strata Solar project was not doomed by irrational fears. The photovoltaic panels were proposed just 50 feet from residential homes, and the project was too close to State Route 258 leading into town.

Raleigh News & Observer reporter John Murawski explains that converting farmland to solar fields is not only a quality of life issue for local residents – it may be an important agricultural issue for our nation as well:

…resistance often flares up in areas that have become magnets for solar farms – agricultural communities with cheap farmland near electrical substations where solar farms can interconnect to the power grid, said Stephen Kalland, executive director of the N.C. Clean Energy Technology Center.

But the state’s remarkable transformation of soybean fields into rows of indigo panels is also alarming some agriculturalists. In a Nov. 30 letter to the state’s extension agents, N.C. State University crop science professor Ron Heiniger warned that the rapid spread of solar farms “may well be one of the most important agricultural issues of our generation.”

Heiniger’s call-to-arms, reproduced in at least one local paper, predicts that solar farms could shift land use to such an extent that “it is highly unlikely this land will ever be farmed again.”

Thanks to Thomas Beckett for setting the record straight concerning this matter. I joined the social media crowd in poking fun of Woodland’s residents but obviously, this is no joking matter.

About the webinar: What is Energy Democracy and Why Does It Matter?

Denise Fairchild
Source: Webinar Archive of What is Energy Democracy and Why Does It Matter?
Streamed live on Nov 12, 2015
Featuring:
Janet Redman, Institute for Policy Studies (moderator)
Denise Fairchild, Emerald Cities Collaborative
Meghan Zaldivar, PUSH Buffalo
Miya Yoshitani, Asian Pacific Environmental Network

As the climate crisis heats up, and its impacts on the economy and people’s lives become more pronounced, concerned people everywhere are looking for new alternatives. Energy democracy seeks to replace the current corporate fossil-fuel economy with one that puts racial, social, and economic justice at the forefront of the transition to a 100% renewable energy future.

By energy democracy we mean bringing energy resources under public or community ownership and/or control, a key aspect of the struggle for climate justice and an essential step toward building a more just, equitable, sustainable, and resilient economy.

We’ve invited key energy democracy leaders to kick-start a conversation on why energy democracy is so important.

Here’s the webinar archive:

Speak out on NJ State DEP plans to redevelop the Meadowlands

The Federal Government has created a national competition to award $1 Billion dollars to assist communities with becoming more resilient to disasters. The New Jersey DEP has submitted an application for more than $326 million dollars in funds to create berms in the Meadowlands, a NJTransit garage in Teterboro, and Resiliency Planning Assistance to municipalities throughout the state. The New Jersey application (see it in English and Spanish) proposes a pilot project “service area” in the municipalities of Carlstadt, East Rutherford, Hackensack, Hasbrouck Heights, Little Ferry, Moonachie, Rutherford, South Hackensack, Teterboro, and Wood-Ridge.

It is critical that the State hear everyone’s thoughts on how this money should be spent. This project will affect our neighborhoods, our schools, our businesses and our quality of life.

There will be a meeting for residents to find out more about this application; assistance in providing comments will be available.

National Disaster Resilience Competition Residents’ Meeting
Monday 05 Oct 2015 | 6-9:30pm
North Jersey Vineyard Church
370 North Street, Teterboro, NJ 07608

(Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/824726964314802/)
If you can’t make the meeting, you can submit your comments from now through October 9, 2015, at 5:00 p.m.

By E-mail: ndrcpubliccomments@dep.nj.gov
By Postal Mail:
Office of Flood Risk Reduction Measures
Attention: Dave Rosenblatt
501 East State Street
Mail Code 501-01A
P.O. Box 420
Trenton, NJ 08625-0420

How CSOs (combined sewer/water systems) work, why they’re bad

CSOs
USEPA and New Jersey Future
CSOs are Combined Sewer Overflow systems put in place centuries ago when stormwater was considered to be as much a public inconvenience as sewage is – instead of being regarded as the asset it really is. After all, nobody can live without water and for various reasons, we have less clean water today than any other time in history, so there’s a growing awareness of how much we need to treasure and protect our water resources.

In the CSO model, both clean street stormwater and sewage waste are channeled through municipal pipes into the municipal sewage waste treatment facility. That’s a waste of taxpayer funds right out of the box, because there’s no need to treat street water that’s already, just about clean. And even worse, the CSO system becomes a huge public health hazard when there’s a big weather event and CSO-connected sewage plants close off their incoming pipes to avoid becoming overwhelmed and flooding. When this happens, both effluent and water in the municipal pipes are pushed out into nearby natural bodies of water.

This is not only a truly icky phenomenon. It’s also damaging to the waterways’ ecosystems and obviously makes using them for recreation while sewage is present, entirely out of the question.

In a NJ Spotlight Opinion Piece, Daniel J. Van Abs offers a synopsis of the CSO problem:

The Romans developed a technology, now called combined sewers, to move sewage and stormwater off the streets and out of the city. London revived the use of combined sewers in the 1800s. Many cities in this country also built combined sewers from roughly 1860 to the 1920s, including 21 New Jersey municipalities, where they still exist. Initially, the combined sewage and stormwater were discharged directly to rivers, lakes, and bays, getting it out of the city as quickly as possible. Only later was treatment added – sometimes.

H2 Oh No! is a short video about CSOs from the Center for Urban Pedagogy.

Both Rutger’s Water Resources Department in New Jersey and New York’s Riverkeeper recommend on-site treatments to contain stormwater where it falls by sequestering it in the leaves of plants and trees at street height or in green roofs, getting it to percolate into the ground or capturing it in cisterns and rainbarrels for later use.

Here’s a CSO factsheet from Riverkeeper showing on-site treatments effectively provide for stormwater management. This keeps stormwater away from sewage lines and consequently, reduces the incidents of CSO pollution.