Table of Contents:   
1) Sandy Regional Assembly
2) Solid Waste Management Plan & East 91st St. Marine Transfer Station
3) Climate Change & NYC-EJA's work 
4) NYC-EJA in the News
5) Fundraising Appeal
June 2013 - Volume 4, Issue 1
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Sandy Regional Assembly

Recovery from the ground up: Strategies for community-based resiliency in New York & New Jersey  

Sandy Regional Assembly Recovery Agenda cover


On January 26, 2013, nearly 200 participants representing over 40 community, environmental justice, labor and civic groups from neighborhoods most impacted by Superstorm Sandy (and most vulnerable to future storm surges) convened the Sandy Regional Assembly to strategize how government officials should implement a Sandy rebuilding program. 


On Monday April 1, 2013, these groups from across the NY-NJ region unveiled their Sandy Regional Assembly Recovery Agenda.  The Agenda has 2 parts:


A) Community Priorities: Capital Projects & Plans: is a compendium of suggested capital projects.  Assembly participants identified priority capital projects using 3 criteria:

- Projects had to be in storm-surge vulnerable areas:

- Projects had to have some climate adaptation and/or resiliency benefits (i.e. had to offer some storm surge protections); and

- Projects had to be either already planned, designed or budgeted, and supported by both government and community.


B) Sandy Recovery: Policy Goals & Recommendations: Assembly participants developed dozens of innovative climate adaptation and community resiliency policy recommendations to advance 3 basic goals:


1) Integrate regional rebuilding efforts with local resiliency priorities;

2) Strengthen vulnerable communities & reduce public health threats, and

3) Expand community-based climate change planning, disaster preparedness & response.


The Sandy Regional Agenda has been presented to the federal Sandy Rebuilding Task Force, HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan, Governor Cuomo's Office, the federal Joint Field Office (led by FEMA under the National Disaster Recovery Framework) and the Mayor's Special Initiative for Rebuilding and Resiliency (or SIRR).


On the eve of the release of the Mayor's SIRR Report, we share with you the Sandy Regional Assembly Recovery Agenda.  Grassroots environmental justice and community leaders both impacted by Superstorm Sandy - and vulnerable to future storm surges and severe weather events - will be paying close attention to see if community-defined priorities make it into government recovery plans.


 To learn more about the Sandy Regional Assembly Recovery Agenda, please click here.  


Secretary Donovan meets Sandy Regional Assembly
HUD Secretary (and federal Sandy Rebuilding Task Force Chair) Shaun Donovan meets with Sandy Regional Assembly.

Solid Waste Management Plan and East 91st St. Marine Transfer Station: Privilege Run Amok

(Video footage below was taken by East Williamsburg/Bushwick activists, showing just some of the myriad environmental impacts associated with sub-standard, land-based waste transfer stations; their neighborhood processes nearly 40% of the entire City's waste stream.

The last 40-50 seconds are the Dante-esque operations at 2 transfer stations.)


Truck Transit

Click here for video clip. 


 For several months, a number of Mayoral candidates have undermined working class communities of color in Brooklyn, the South Bronx and SE Queens - with their sudden embrace of Upper East Siders' NIMBY position opposing the re-opening of their marine transfer station (MTS) on East 91st Street.  Some mayoral candidates - with no history of engagement or presence on this thorniest of issues - have gone so far as to propose up-ending the entire NYC Solid Waste Management Plan.  Despite claims to the contrary, this outrageous pandering is due to one privileged and entitled community's deep-pocketed resistance.  (For more on the financing of Upper East Side NIMBY opposition, see this NY Times article: Click Here )


For one community, these mayoral candidate dilettante's seek to ignore years of contentious debate, a hard-won compromise, and near unanimous support by the City Council in their adoption of the 2006 Solid Waste Management Plan - a Plan that promises to both provide relief for long-overburdened communities of color, and New York City as a whole.  
For some reason, the only "facts" these mayoral candidates offer are the questionable data lifted verbatim and uncritically from a deeply flawed study put out by the Upper East Side PR machine.  Among the questionable methodologies they use to come to the laughable conclusion that people of color would be disparately impacted by the E. 91st St. MTS are:

1) 6500 people of color living within a 1/4 mile radius of E. 91st MTS - a 1/4 mile radius is an arbitrary radius designed to mostly capture their one local NYCHA development - and ignore the overwhelmingly wealthy & disproportionately white community surrounding it.  Most environmental impact studies use a 1/2 mile radius to study impacts - why not use a 1/2 mile here?

2) they compare the population around E. 91st St MTS to all the other proposed MTS's populations; however, the disproportionate impacts to Latino and African American communities demands an "apples-to-apples" comparison.  Meaning they should have compared East 91st MTS to the South Bronx, East Williamsburg/Bushwick and SE Queens communities clustered with land-based waste transfer stations - where 70% of the City's waste is handled.  This is the disparity the Solid Waste Plan seeks to cure.  For an objective demographic (and apples-to-apples) comparison, please look at the Times' analysis from 2011, which debunks this claim: Click Here

Mayoral candidate opposition to reopening the East 91st MTS has direct consequences for the South Bronx.  For example, we now know the UES'ers proposed in their Nov. 2012 lawsuit papers to have the South Bronx handle the East Side's garbage. Click here for proposition.

At the top of page 42, Paragraph 126 - 128 clearly states that Upper East Side NIMBY opponents wanted the South Bronx's Harlem River Railyard considered as a waste export alternative.  In other words, not only must the South Bronx be burdened with Manhattan's commercial waste - Upper East Side opponents want to dump their residential garbage on the South Bronx also.  In short, there's a reason why the editorial boards of the Daily News,  NY Times and NY Post have all supported the reopening of the East 91st MTS for years.  Its rare indeed when all these papers agree.  Mayoral candidates trolling for Upper East Side campaign cash and votes need to comprehend the consequences of their actions.

NY Daily News Editorial
Sandy storm surge in Red Hook
NYC-EJA map of SMIA's & storm surge zones

Climate Change and NYC-EJA's work

NYC-EJA presents the Waterfront Justice Project at The Garrison Institute:
Eddie Bautista: The Waterfront Justice Project

In 2010, the NYC Environmental Justice Alliance (NYC-EJA) launched the Waterfront Justice Project, NYC's only citywide community resiliency campaign. Three years ago, NYC-EJA's research uncovered that NYC-designated communities called Significant Maritime & Industrial Areas (SMIA's) - where the concentration of heavy industrial uses and polluting infrastructure is officially sanctioned by City government policies - were all located in storm surge zones.  The photo on the left above depicts the Sandy storm surge flooding through Red Hook's iconic Civil War-era Beard Street Warehouse (fully occupied by industrial tenants) on the afternoon of 10/29/12 - hours before the worst of Sandy hit. The six SMIA communities - the South Bronx, Newtown Creek, Brooklyn Navy Yard, Red Hook, Sunset Park and Staten Island's North Shore - are all in classic "environmental justice" communities, i.e. - largely low income communities of color beset with disproportionate environmental burdens and health disparities (see SMIA map on the right above).

Above and below are links to adaptation and resiliency panels, where NYC-EJA was invited to share our research.

NYC-EJA presents Waterfront Justice Project @ NYU Law School's Milbank Tweed Forum on Climate-Proofing NYC.

Milbank Tweed Forum: Climate-Proofing New York

The clustering of our City's most toxic and heavy chemical uses right in the path of storm surges represents a clear, present and ongoing danger to our communities.
To date, NYC-EJA has produced over 100 GIS maps and data-sets, broadly analyzing toxic risk exposures presented by the storm-surge vulnerabilities of the SMIAs - as well as best management practices to increase climate adaptation & community resiliency efforts.

For three years, NYC-EJA, our members and our allies have tirelessly championed the need for government - at all levels - to partner with local environmental justice organizations, industrial businesses and manufacturers on pilot programs.  As envisioned by the Waterfront Justice Project, the pilots would expand on, identify and share: 
  • NYC-EJA's toxic risk exposure research with local SMIA stakeholders;
  • NYC-EJA's Best Management practices - specifically designed to increase climate adaptation and community resilience strategies among waterfront industrial businesses - to protect the workers and local residents; and
  • Technical and financial assistance from the public and private sectors to help local businesses adopt/implement these best management practices and increase their climate adaptability and resilience - again, to protect workers and local residents.
However, we are still waiting for commitments from our government partners.  Despite 15 different climate adaptation and resiliency studies by the City of New York (see attached matrix of adaptation studies), none address the specific problem of the storm surge vulnerability of industrial EJ waterfront communites. NYC-EJA calls on the Mayor's Office, EPA and NYS DEC to partner with our members and local businesses in industrial working waterfront communities to identify and reduce toxic risk exposures - before someone is hurt....
NYC-EJA In the News
Sandy Regional Assembly Recovery Agenda release; Solid Waste, Fair Share and the East 91st Marine Transfer Station

Sandy Regional Assembly Recovery Agenda release:

Solid Waste, Fair Share and the East 91st Marine Transfer Station:

Environmental Justice General Interest:

Sandy YMPJ forum
NYC-EJA presents @ Youth Ministries for Peace & Justice (Soundview).

Dear Friends:


We ask your help to sustain our campaigns for environmental justice.  Please support the NYC Environmental Justice Alliance (NYC-EJA) by making a tax-deductible online donation at NYC-EJA's website.

Founded in 1991, NYC-EJA, a 501(c)3 tax-exempt organization, is NYC's only federation of community-based organizations fighting for environmental justice in low income communities of color.  For over 20 years, NYC-EJA has successfully led reform campaigns on climate change, solid waste, power plant siting and brownfield remediation policies.

But we need your help to continue our successes.  Your tax deductible online contribution can be made securely on the Donation page at our website: (don't forget the hyphen!). Your donation will support NYC-EJA's ongoing campaigns, including the new challenges posed by climate change.  You can also mail a check payable to: New York City Environmental Justice Alliance, 166A 22nd Street, Brooklyn, NY, 11232.


Become an EJ Friend - $50.00

Become an EJ Ally - $100.00

Become an EJ Champion - $200.00 (our 200x200 campaign!) 


For more information on NYC-EJA's work (or better yet, to support that work with a tax-deductible donation), please visit our website at  You'll be glad you did!


Hasta la proxima,

Eddie Bautista,

Executive Director