Tag Archives: pollution

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.

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.

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.

Speak up for NJ law to use only environment-saving native plants for state roadway areas

Native Plant legislative alertA proposed law would help clean New Jersey waterways by requiring all new Jersey roadway authorities to use ONLY native plants for landscaping, land management, reforestation and habitat restoration.

Plant and grass fertilizers are a huge source of pollution for natural waterways, but native plants need no fertilizers. Native plants are also hearty and drought resistant, so they tend to thrive even when water becomes scarce – so they can keep on doing their job well: growing deep roots that retain topsoil and keep plants healthy. Those roots help stormwater seep into the ground where it gets channelled to the underground aquifers that

Please write or call your State Senator and Assemblyperson. Consult this handy guide to find your New Jersey State legislators.

Aussie MP lights a river on fire – it’s that full of fracking gas

River being lit on fire
Source: Jeremy Buckingham via YouTube
Australian Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham introduces this video on YouTube:

Gas explodes from Australian river near fracking site. I was shocked by force of the explosion when I tested whether gas boiling through the Condamine River, Queensland was flammable. So much gas is bubbling through the river that it held a huge flame.

More coverage from:
Buckingham’s web page
RT News

Matt Smith, Dr. WhoHat tip to Matt Smith for the share! By the way, our sharer is not the eleventh Dr. Who.


DOJ Files Complaint Against Volkswagen, Audi, Porsche for Clean Air Act Violations

EPA actions against VW
Source: EPA website

Find out if your vehicle is affected and what to expect.

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Justice, on behalf of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, today filed a civil complaint in federal court in Detroit, Michigan against Volkswagen AG, Audi AG, Volkswagen Group of America, Inc., Volkswagen Group of America Chattanooga Operations, LLC, Porsche AG, and Porsche Cars North America, Inc. (collectively referred to as Volkswagen). The complaint alleges that nearly 600,000 diesel engine vehicles had illegal defeat devices installed that impair their emission control systems and cause emissions to exceed EPA’s standards, resulting in harmful air pollution. The complaint further alleges that Volkswagen violated the Clean Air Act by selling, introducing into commerce, or importing into the United States motor vehicles that are designed differently from what Volkswagen had stated in applications for certification to EPA and the California Air Resources Board (CARB).

“With today’s filing, we take an important step to protect public health by seeking to hold Volkswagen accountable for any unlawful air pollution, setting us on a path to resolution,” said Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for enforcement and compliance assurance at EPA. “So far, recall discussions with the company have not produced an acceptable way forward. These discussions will continue in parallel with the federal court action.”

“Car manufacturers that fail to properly certify their cars and that defeat emission control systems breach the public trust, endanger public health and disadvantage competitors,” said Assistant Attorney General John C. Cruden for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “The United States will pursue all appropriate remedies against Volkswagen to redress the violations of our nation’s clean air laws alleged in the complaint.”

“VW’s illegal defeat devices have resulted in thousands of tons of excess NOx emissions in California, a state where more than 12 million people live in areas that exceed air quality standards set to protect public health,” said CARB Chair Mary D. Nichols. “The California Air Resources Board is fully coordinating its investigation with the federal EPA and DOJ to address the environmental harm VW has caused.”

Consistent with EPA’s Notices of Violation, issued on September 18, 2015 for 2.0 liter engines, and November 2, 2015 for certain 3.0 liter engines, the complaint alleges that the defeat devices cause emissions to exceed EPA’s standards during normal driving conditions. The Clean Air Act requires vehicle manufacturers to certify to EPA that their products will meet applicable federal emission standards to control air pollution. Motor vehicles equipped with illegal defeat devices cannot be certified.

The complaint alleges that Volkswagen equipped certain 2.0 liter vehicles with software that detects when the car is being tested for compliance with EPA emissions standards and turns on full emissions controls only during that testing process. During normal driving situations the effectiveness of the emissions control devices is greatly reduced. This results in cars that meet emissions standards in the laboratory and at the test site, but during normal on-road driving emit oxides of nitrogen (NOx) at levels up to 40 times the EPA compliance level. In total, the complaint covers approximately 499,000 2.0 liter diesel vehicles sold in the United States since the 2009 model year.

The complaint further alleges that Volkswagen also equipped certain 3.0 liter vehicles with software that senses when the vehicle is undergoing federal emissions testing. When the vehicle senses the test procedure, it operates in a “temperature conditioning” mode and meets emissions standards. At all other times, including during normal vehicle operation, the vehicles operate in a “normal mode” that permits NOx emissions of up to nine times the federal standard. In total, the complaint covers approximately 85,000 3.0 liter diesel vehicles sold in the United States since the 2009 model year.

NOx pollution contributes to harmful ground-level ozone and fine particulate matter. These pollutants are linked with asthma and other serious respiratory illnesses. Exposure to ozone and particulate matter is also associated with premature death due to respiratory-related or cardiovascular-related effects. Children, the elderly, and people with pre-existing respiratory disease are particularly at risk of health effects from exposure to these pollutants. Recent studies indicate that the direct health effects of NOx are worse than previously understood, including respiratory problems, damage to lung tissue, and premature death.

Today’s filing of a civil complaint under Sections 204 and 205 of the Clean Air Act seeks injunctive relief and the assessment of civil penalties. A civil complaint does not preclude the government from seeking other legal remedies. The United States will seek to transfer its case and fully participate in the pretrial proceedings now initiated in the related multi-district litigation in the Northern District of California. The United States’ investigation is ongoing, in close coordination with CARB. EPA and CARB have been in active discussion with Volkswagen about potential remedies and recalls to address the noncompliance, and those discussions are ongoing.

Affected 2.0 liter diesel models and model years include:

Jetta (2009-2015)
Jetta Sportwagen (2009-2014)
Beetle (2013-2015)
Beetle Convertible (2013-2015)
Audi A3 (2010-2015)
Golf (2010-2015)
Golf Sportwagen (2015)
Passat (2012-2015)

Affected 3.0 liter diesel models and model years include:

Volkswagen Touareg (2009-2016)
Porsche Cayenne (2013-2016)
Audi A6 Quattro (2014-2016)
Audi A7 Quattro (2014-2016)
Audi A8 (2014 – 2016)
Audi A8L (2014-2016)
Audi Q5 (2014-2016)
Audi Q7 (2009-2015)

More at Mother Jones

Information about EPA actions on Volkswagen at epa.gov/vw

Suggested Energy Master Plan talking/writing points from Environment NJ

climate change
Brazil’s 50graus produces street signs stickers that show true climate realities
Doug O’Malley, Director of Environment New Jersey, comments: “We need to compel the BPU to meet the goals of the 2007 Global Warming Response Act. Specifically, we need to tell them what a good Clean Energy New Jersey Energy Master Plan should look like. Here are some sample talking points I helped put together for this week’s hearings – feel free to share them widely so folks feel more comfortable taking a piece and expanding on it.”

Doug also suggests focusing in on just one or two points and expanding on them. For example, if you can tie in a single point with a personal story or concern, that can be very powerful.

Doug O’Malley’s Energy Master Plan 2015 Talking Points List

  • Less fossil fuel pipelines, oil trains, off-shore LNG facilities and fracking waste, and fossil fuel power plants in our neighborhoods like the Newark Energy Center.
  • More solar and wind generation, specifically with 3,000 MW of off-shore wind energy
  • 30% of our electrical energy to come from renewable sources by 2020 through a stronger Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS)
  • 30% reduction in energy use by 2030 through an Energy Efficiency Resource Standard and a robust Combined Heat & Power program
  • 80% of our energy (for both electricity and total energy) to come from renewable sources by 2050 through a visionary Renewable Portfolio Standard.

    We should be moving the state forward, not backwards, towards clean energy. New Jersey’s energy future should be built on increased solar and wind generation and more energy efficiency. We need demand response programs, green job creation, and a commitment to reducing our dependence on fossil fuels. The BPU needs to stop promoting doubling down on fossil fuels and work towards energy efficiency and clean energy programs.

    The 2011 Christie Administration Energy Master Plan hurts New Jersey’s environment and economy and undermines clean energy and green jobs. This plan will continue to send jobs and money out of New Jersey while adding more pollution, and hurting our public health.

  • Christie denies Sandy is result of climate changeWe need much more aggressive clean energy goals and the Christie Administration has slowed our advances in clean energy – like the ones in the 2008 Energy Master Plan that called for 30% of our electrical energy to come from clean, renewable sources by 2020. New Jersey was on track to meet the 2008 goals, until Governor Christie repealed the previous plan’s aggressive goals. The Christie Administration rolled the 2020 goals back to 22.5% and there’s concern this standard will be cut even further.
  • The BPU Energy Master Plan doesn’t acknowledge the importance of the state Global Warming Response Act. The legislation, passed in 2006, mandated carbon reductions of 20% by 2020 and 80% by 2050, which sets forward an aggressive timeline for carbon reductions over the next 35 years.
  • The Energy Master Plan still strongly endorses the expansion of fossil fuel infrastructure across the state, especially expanding gas pipelines and gas power plants in our communities. From the fights against the South Jersey Gas pipeline through the Pinelands to the efforts to stop the bi-state PennEast pipeline that has been proposed in Mercer and Hunterdon County to the placement of four new gas power plants in the state, including in the heart of the Ironbound community in Newark, expanding fossil fuels is harmful to New Jersey residents.
  • The BPU Plan is silent on the EPA Clean Power Plan, which will federally reduce power plant pollution by 32% over the next 15 years. While the reductions are less in New Jersey (23%), it still means we need more investment in clean energy and energy efficiency to reduce New Jersey’s overall base load power demands.
  • We need a more aggressive solar energy carve-out: New Jersey was second in the nation in solar before the Christie Administration took office and we are now seventh in solar installations. We previously had 10,000 jobs in solar and we now have only 5,500, as other states have caught up to New Jersey’s policies.
  • We need to ramp up invest in energy efficiency, especially for weatherization for the residential sector, and Combined Heat & Power programs for the commercial sector. Energy efficiency programs can be a boon for consumers and businesses alike, but New Jersey has now fallen to the 19th state in the country making progress on energy efficiency, from being previously in the top 10. We are massively behind on the 2011 Energy Master Plan goal for 1500 MW from Combined Heat & Power program for commercial businesses. The Energy Master Plan should explicitly be clear that the state budget process needs to stop continually raiding the Clean Energy Fund, which has now lost $1 billion during the Christie Administration.
  • We’ve already hurt our state by pulling out of RGGI: Gov. Christie’s initial decision to pull us out of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) cost our state $50 million a year in revenue and more than 1800 jobs in 2011. The program has gotten stronger in the last 4 years, and New Jersey has now squandered close to $200 million that could be invested in energy efficiency program that would save consumers money.
  • We’re stalled on the 2011 Energy Master Plan goal for Off-Shore Wind: New Jersey was poised to be the first state in the nation with offshore wind, especially after Gov. Christie signed off-shore wind legislation into place five years ago calling for 3000 MW of off-shore wind, although the 2011 EMP only set a 1100 MW goal. Offshore wind projects could provide a vast majority of our energy needs but now other states are leapfrogging ahead of us.
  • The Energy Master Plan needs to do more to support and expand clean energy, energy efficiency and public transportation, VMT (Vehicle Miles Travelled) reduction programs and zero emission vehicle infrastructure, which reduces air pollution and our dependence on fossil fuels. Energy efficiency is the most cost effective way to reduce greenhouse gases and help lower energy costs. Energy efficiency cuts peak demand, preventing the use of peaker plants, which prevent blackouts, air pollution, and saves New Jersey residents’ money. Energy efficiency creates jobs and will reduce our greenhouse gas pollution. Public transportation clearly provides an opportunity for residents to avoid traffic and their carbon emissions by taking NJ Transit, VMT reduction program can fund measures to encourage corporate and private car-pooling and electric vehicle charging stations, with enough penetration in public streets and private parking lots can provide a way to relieve range anxiety.

Thanks for the share Klaus Rittenbach. Klaus also comments:

The energy calculation issue is a huge issue. We are not going to hit the 2011 EMP stated goal of 22.5% of renewables from electricity generation by 2020 as per the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS). BPU is saying we are on track. It would be good to challenge their numbers directly.

The EMP is a narrowly focused document and does not get to the full energy picture. The biggest issue is that the EMP doesn’t deal with energy used for transportation at all, which is the biggest source of carbon emissions in the state.

NJ Assemblyman Den Benson shared his own list of what a strong EMP should contain.

What NJ’s 2015 Energy Master Plan needs to include: Take 1

NJ State emp graphicThe New Jersey Board of Public Utilities holds three hearings this month (August 2015) to collect public input in preparation for upding the state’s Energy Master Plan (EMP). Individual state goals for cutting power plant emissions are laid out in President Obama’s new national Clean Power Plan. Assemblyman Dan Benson explains their impact on New Jersey’s EMP:

States can .. decide for themselves how to get there .. (but) if New Jersey fails to produce our own plan in compliance with the Clean Power Plan, we may be forced by the federal government into a program of its design.

This is the Assemblyman’s list of characteristics of a strong state EMP – which you can freely incorporate into your spoken or written testimony. You can also review Environment New Jersey’s list of suggested talking points:

  • Obtains input from policymakers, energy suppliers, utilities, consumers, and other stakeholders
  • Coordinates specific state implementation planning so that it will adhere to the Federal Government’s Clean Power Plan’s standards and other Federal rules
  • Includes both supply and demand-side requirements
  • Focuses on energy efficiency programs and renewable energy goals
  • Builds upon a record of the past, what was successful and what needs to change
  • Seeks to provide a blueprint for the future, with achievable and specific goals
  • Examines the impact of consumer behavior on energy usage, and how does education and other policymaking modify market and consumer behavior in a beneficial manner

The Sierra Club will help you sign up and prepare testimony for an EMP hearing.

There’s Clean Energy Call to Action rally outside Newark’s Aug 11 EMP hearing. Feel free to join in – or just check out the materials.

What is polluted urban air doing to exerciser’s bodies?

bike riding in smog
New York metro environmental specialist Dr. Ana I. Baptista muses, “This story and study on how much air pollution we take in while exerting ourselves raises interesting questions for EJ communities.”

From the WNYC article on air pollution and exercise:

Fine particles, many of which are made up of black carbon, are linked to a wide array of heart, respiratory and other health problems. Using statistical models, city health officials estimate fine particles cause more than 2,000 premature deaths and 6,000 emergency room visits and hospitalizations each year. Most of those are in vulnerable populations: the very young, the very old, and people with conditions such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, heart disease and hypertension.

But actually measuring fine particles, particularly at the level of specific streets, is tricky. Measuring how many of them get into the lungs is even trickier. And linking that exposure to health outcomes is trickier still.

If you’re interested in participating in the WNYC – Columbia U exercise study on this health issue, sign up here.

Say no to Hess’ deadly bait-&-switch at Newark power plant

NEC Hearing flyer
The granting of Hess’s permit to create a new power plant in Newark depended on agreements to limit local air pollution. In return for a tall smoke stack and a decrease in the amount of toxins that make up the cocktail of fuel the plant will burn, the city granted tax abatements to Hess while New Jersey State guaranteed a locked-in a low price for all the gas required to fuel the plant – pledging that NJ taxpayers would foot the bill whenever gas prices were higher than Hess’ guaranteed low rate. But the entire agreement has unravelled thanks to corporate skullduggery. Without serious legal intervention, it looks like plant owners will re-neg on protections they pledged to put in place – and intend to instead rake in huge profits at the expense of local air quality. In effect, Newark’s innocent children and vulnerable adult residents will be made to pay with their lives for financial gain that others will enjoy.

Hess sold the Newark Energy Center (aka NEC, previously named the HESS Plant) to an energy investment company, which immediately petitioned the DEP to make changes in the building plan that was originally approved in May 2012. NEC developers have applied for two new secret, “emergency” building permits. But the actual emergency is that these changes may result in a SIGNIFICANT increase to local air pollution. With one in four Newark residents already suffering from asthma, how much more pollution can be added to city air without dire consequences?

NEC owners plan to change their smoke stacks’ heights and diameters, causing more concentrated emissions to be released; and to increase by 400% the quantity of toxic chemicals over what was originally agreed upon. They also want to use city drinking water as its main water source instead of gray water, which the original plans call for.

And by the way, no emergency protocols have yet been developed for this site, although accidents are common at sites using the type of chemicals NEC is threatening to use. In fact, the very same chemicals have caused explosions before in Newark, itself.

Speak out for Clean Air!

Together, Newark and allies can make sure the New Jersey DEP protects residents’ health, community, and environment. Here’s how:

  1. Attend the Public Hearing on HESS/NEC “emergency” application
    Tuesday February 3 2015 @ 7pm
    Newark City Hall
    920 Broad Street, Newark, NJ
  2. Submit a public comment to the DEP. Learn how at the DEP website, where you can also see the permit requests for the changes NEC wants to make.
  3. For more information and coaching on how to submit a public comment, contact Molly Greenberg ICC Environmental Programs Coordinator 973-817-7013 x215 mgreenberg@ironboundcc.org or ejactions@ironboundcc.org
  4. Please share these flyers with your neighbors!