Category Archives: Urban

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.

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.

Become a Newark treekeeper this summer with 3 free classes at Weequahic Park!

Newark Treekeepers 2016
Source: NJ Tree Foundation
NJ Tree Foundation’s FREE TreeKeepers workshops are back this June at Weequahic Park! Learn all about trees and how to properly care for them.

Tools and a light dinner are provided at each workshop. My sons and I took the workshop in 2014 and it was awesome.

The 3-session workshop series is free but you must RSVP to Elena. Seats are limited, so why not do it now?

Port Authority seems determined to kill off Newark kids by cutting them off from clean air

ej truck count tour
Source: Clean Water Action
The Village Voice reports that Port Authority diesel trucks make, “more than 1.4 million trips a year,” through Newark’s Ironbound radiating asthma and cancer-causing vapors everywhere. The smog is especially thick in the morning hours when students are walking to school.

The Voice quotes Newark Mom Tanisha Garner:

…and a few other locals are conducting a tour of sorts, pointing out where Sandy sent toxic water cascading through the neighborhood after the Passaic overflowed. Alexi Martinez, a 25-year-old student who has lived in the Ironbound his entire life, remarks that many of his friends carry inhalers. It wasn’t until he started working with the Ironbound Community Corporation that he discovered why.

“Learning about our problem here is going to be our best hope at solving it,” Martinez says. “Just going down to the port for the first time a few months ago was mind-blowing for me. There’s just so many trucks idling, so much pollution, trucks just chilling there for hours.”

A truck replacement service that was supposed to upgrade port service trucks to a safer form of combustible fuel caused more problems than it solved and was abandoned soon after getting started in 2010.

Learn about Clean Water Action and the Coalition for Healthy Ports NY NJ’s #ZeroEmissionsNow campaign to create healthier port neighborhoods in New York and New Jersey.

Flint decision makers no-shows at today’s Congressional hearings on Flint Water Crisis. Scary situation.

Flint Water Crisis hearings
Source: C-Span live stream

The Congressional hearing on the Flint Water Crisis was live streamed this morning, 03 February 2016.

Michigan Gov. Snyder and officials he appointed who made the decision for the City of Flint to stop receiving water from the Detroit Water Company and get it from the contaminated Flint River instead, have elected not to be present at the hearings. Detroit had been Flint’s supplier of clean, fresh water for over 50 years.

After Snyder nullified Flint’s election and put former “Emergency City Manager” Darnell Early in place there, the decision was made during his term of service from 2013-2015, to change the city’s water source to the Flint River. The decision to not spend $9000 for three months of corrosion control treatment to seal the pipes carrying the water was made, even though this is an EPA requirement. Treatment would have prevented the river’s contamination from causing lead and other heavy metals to flake off from corroding pipes to enter the city’s potable water supply.

High lead levels resulting from the corrosion have caused irreversible, permanent lead poisoning to all of Flint’s children who drank the contaminated water, which is probably all of the city’s 9000 children. Lead is a neurotoxin which shortly after ingestion, causes damage which commonly includes brain damage. Resident Mrs. Leeann Walters speaks of her own child and other Flint children whom suffer from a panoply of symptoms including liver damage, slow weight gain and poor eye health. On Earth reports:

Panel testifying at Flint Water Crisis Hearing
Source: C-Span

LeeAnne Walters’ four children started getting sick around November of last year. Her 14-year-old, J.D., was in and out of the hospital, and her four-year-old twins, Garrett and Gavin, would get scaly, itchy rashes whenever they took a bath. “I could see the water line on Gavin’s stomach,” Walters says. In February, the pediatrician wrote a note to the city saying that Gavin, who has a compromised immune system, couldn’t consume the water.

City officials came out to test the Walters’ tap that same month and found lead levels at 397 parts per billion. For reference, anything greater than 15 ppb—what the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency considers an acceptable level—can result in irreversible damage to a child’s brain.

Mr. Early chose to evade service of the subpoena summoning him to the Congressional hearings and is also not present. On a side note, Early was appointed by Gov. Snyder to serve as Detroit Public Schools “Emergency Manager” at an annual salary of $221,000 after leaving Flint in Jan 2015 . But Early has announced that he will step down from that position on 29 Feb 2016.

Cong. Stacey Plaskett of the US Virgin Islands, points out that Mr. Early received $181,000 for poisoning Flint’s children, and that this situation is an example of the powerful adverse health impacts that residents of environmental justice communities may experience.

Several Congressmen have asked the EPA representative present at today’s hearing to explain why the EPA failed to notify Flint residents when the lead and copper rule failure was discovered a year before the issue became known to the public.

Flint native and film maker Michael Moore is on the ground, researching and reporting on the situation. I’m sorry to say that it looks even worse up close than it does from a distance. Moore’s first point:

While the Children in Flint Were Given Poisoned Water to Drink, General Motors Was Given a Special Hookup to the Clean Water.

A few months after Governor Snyder removed Flint from the clean fresh water we had been drinking for decades, the brass from General Motors went to him and complained that the Flint River water was causing their car parts to corrode when being washed on the assembly line. The Governor was appalled to hear that GM property was being damaged, so he jumped through a number of hoops and quietly spent $440,000 to hook GM back up to the Lake Huron water, while keeping the rest of Flint on the Flint River water. Which means that while the children in Flint were drinking lead-filled water, there was one — and only one — address in Flint that got clean water: the GM factory.

Elijah Cummings
Source: bet.com
Rep. Elijah Cummings asked the most important question of the day: he wanted to know why so much blame is being assigned to the EPA when the decisions made to poison the people of Flint. He commented:

What you all have done has given us … a platform, the basic information … to go higher. I hope that the governor (Snyder) will understand that these are people who are suffering … About the water bills: If I’m being poisoned, can’t wash with the water, can’t drink the water and then I’m being asked to pay for the water, that doesn’t make any sense. (This is) about what happened – so you can correct it and so hopefully, it doesn’t happen again.

Michael Moore reports from Flint on the Flint Water Tragedy

Michael Moore on Flint Water Tragedy
Source: michaelmoore.com

Flint native and film maker Michael Moore arrived in the city a couple of weeks ago and went right to work gathering information about the origin and extended impact of what’s being nationally referred to as the “Flint Water Crisis”. He has released his article 10 Things They Won’t Tell You About the Flint Water Tragedy. But I Will.

Michigan AG seeks to block Flint from turning off poisoned people’s water altogether

Water shut-off notice Flint MI
Source: peopledemandingaction.org
Yet another nightmare has surfaced in the Flint, Michigan tragedy where residents are being systemically poisoned by city-supplied drinking water. The city is planning to shut-off water for unpaid bills, despite the fact that the water Flint has served is literally unfit for human consumption – and isn’t safe even for bathing.

The city’s top officials switched from clean water supplied by Detroit for a source that has corroded pipes and led to horrific health effects. The reason for the switch was not motivated by money.

Now, Attorney General Bill Schuette has launched an investigation and he hopes to provide relief to the beleaguered community. NBC reports:

Michigan’s top prosecutor said Monday that it’s an “outrage” that residents of Flint are being forced to pay for water that’s unsafe to drink — and his office may take action to stop the billing.

“Words can barely describe this tragedy. Things went terribly wrong,” AG Bill Schuette said. “I would certainly not bathe a newborn child or a young infant in this bad water and if you can’t drink the bad water you shouldn’t pay for it.”

Flint Residents Are Still Being Forced to Pay for Contaminated Water 0:19
Schuette said his office has begun investigating what steps it could take to provide financial relief to the people of Flint, who were subjected to chemical byproducts, E. coli, Legionnaires’ disease and lead after the city’s water source was switched to the corrosive Flint River in 2014.

It was unclear if Schuette could stop Flint from shutting off water to families who don’t pay their bills … Schuette’s office has launched a criminal investigation into the water emergency to see if any laws were broken, and he announced Monday that a former FBI chief and an ex-prosecutor will lead the probe and report directly to him.