Table of Contents:  NYC-EJA in 2013 
1) Waterfront Justice Project - Climate Change & Resiliency
2) Sandy Regional Assembly, the Mayor's SIRR and federal Task Force on Rebuilding
3) Solid Waste
4) NYC-EJA In the News
5) Fundraising Appeal
December 2013 - Volume 4, Issue 3
Join Our Mailing List

NYC-EJA in 2013
From start to finish, 2013 has been a banner year for NYC-EJA.  We began the year by welcoming back Sustainable South Bronx as a member, and concluded it by hiring Natasha Dywer as NYC-EJA's Policy Organizer (look for more about Natasha in our next edition). In between, NYC-EJA won a string of policy accomplishments - some that were many years in the making.
Waterfront Justice Project: Climate Change & Resiliency
NYC-EJA map of SMIA's & storm surge zonesNYC Waterfront Revitalization Program: Since 2010, NYC-EJA's Waterfront Justice Project has researched and advocated for the protection of industrial waterfront communities designated by the City as Significant Maritime & Industrial Areas (or SMIA's).  SMIA's are mostly low income communities of color that are all vulnerable to storm surges - and potential hazardous risk exposures, due to their clusters of toxic chemical and polluting uses.  NYC-EJA worked with our members in SMIA communities on a reform campaign to overhaul NYC's coastal zone management plan known as the Waterfront Revitalization Program (WRP). Approved by the City Planning Commission and City Council in October, the WRP will for the first time:
  • consider climate change impacts - climate adaptation measures are included in Policy 6 (flooding and erosion) and are woven throughout the WRP, including in Policy 2 (maritime and industrial development);  
  • mandate vulnerability assessments by new industrial businesses seeking to site in SMIA's; 
  • ensure that vulnerability assessments reveal potential impacts on residents and workers; 
  • consider risks associated with open storage of hazardous materials during extreme weather;
  • include design guidelines for coastal development.  
However, some additional reforms were not included.  The final step for the WRP is approval by the NYS Department of State for inclusion into the NYS Coastal Zone Management Plan. NYC-EJA hopes the Department of State will consider additional reforms to protect the SMIA's.
Sandy storm surge in Red Hook  
Intro. 1102 - Amendment of Community Right-to-Know Law: The improvements in the WRP only apply to new businesses - existing businesses are exempt.  Over 620,000 New Yorkers both live within a half-mile the City's SMIA's and are vulnerable to storm surge - of these, over 430,000 are New Yorkers of color.  
At the invitation of the City Council, NYC-EJA advised Council staffers on proposed amendments to the Community Right-to-Know law (which requires facilities that handle hazardous substances to annually report what chemicals are used/stored, in what quantities. and how their emergency planning protects response personnel and the public in the case of fire, spills or accidental chemical release during emergencies).  Passed by the Council on December 19th, the amended Right-to-Know law now includes coastal storm surge and hurricane evacuation zones as part of the geography established to: a) require that facilities report the presence of hazardous substances; and b) develop a "risk management plan" to prevent the release of hazardous substances during potential flooding and other extreme weather events, including storm surge, earthquake, power outages and high winds.
UPROSE community meeting to discuss UPROSE's Climate Justice Center and resiliency research
New research partnerships with the RAND Corporation, the LifeLine Group, UPROSE, NYS Department of Environmental Conservation and NYS Pollution Prevention Institute:  In collaboration with member group UPROSE, NYC-EJA has partnered with environmental engineers and public health scientists from the RAND Corporation and The Lifeline Group to design/address research questions studying the vulnerability of the community to hazardous exposures in the event of severe weather. This interdisciplinary research team has been funded by the Centers for Disease Control, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and the NYC Donors Collaborative to study the vulnerability of recovery workers and low-income residents in the Sunset Park SMIA industrial waterfront to potential hazardous exposures. 

In partnership with the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (NYS-DEC) and the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) NYS Pollution Prevention Institute, NYC-EJA will assess existing conditions of local industrial operators in the South Bronx SMIA. This research supported by the USEPA studies the characteristics of local industrial businesses (particularly in the autobody repair industry) to understand their vulnerability to climate change. The project will identify best management practices for climate adaptation, and provide technical assistance to implement pollution prevention strategies. We expect that both research projects will generate replicable mitigation strategies for other SMIAs.


International Urban Climate Change Research Network (UCCRN)NYC-EJA was invited tto present the Waterfront Justice Project to an International Urban Climate Change Research Network UCCRN) 2013 workshop, an international audience of scientific and urban planning researchers, who met at Columbia University to plan the group's upcoming assessment of climate change impacts in urban areas.  Our SMIA research triggered an invitation to participate in the creation of the Second UCCRN's Assessment Report on Climate Change and Cities (ARC3-2) to help inform discussions on EJ issues, and potential lessons from the NYC SMIAs for other coastal areas.

Sandy Regional Assembly, Mayor's SIRR & federal Task Force on Rebuilding

Sandy Regional Assembly Recovery Agenda cover

 On January 26, 2013, NYC-EJA co-convened 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) to form the Sandy Regional Assembly to strategize how government officials should implement a Sandy rebuilding program. 


On April 1, 2013, these groups from across the NY-NJ region unveiled their Sandy Regional Assembly Recovery Agenda, a mix of suggested capital projects and policy recommendations to advance adaptation and community resiliency       strategies for the region's most vulnerable communities.  The Sandy Regional Agenda was presented to the federal Sandy Rebuilding Task Force, HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan, Governor Cuomo's Office, the FEMA-led federal Joint Field Office (under the National Disaster Recovery Framework) and the Mayor's Special Initiative for Rebuilding and Resiliency (or SIRR).


  Sandy Regional Assembly SIRR Analysis coverFollowing the release of the Mayor's SIRR Sandy Rebuilding report, NYC-EJA and the Sandy Regional Assembly issued our SIRR Analysis - the only comprehensive community analysis and response to Mayor Bloomberg's sweeping SIRR Sandy Rebuilding plan.  Released in July, our SIRR Analysis examined how the Mayor's SIRR Report addressed the vulnerable community priorities identified by the Sandy Regional Assembly Recovery Agenda, and what the SIRR failed to include (click here to read our press release).  The SIRR Analysis made recommendations for how the federal Sandy Rebuilding Task Force could address the gaps and briefed federal Task Force officials.  The federal Sandy Rebuilding Task Force led by HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan released their report in August.  The federal Report included several Sandy Regional Assembly priorities missing from the SIRR, and highlighted the problem of environmental justice and industrial waterfront vulnerability to storm surges (see p. 132.)  NYC-EJA continues to support the Sandy Regional Assembly and is partnering with the NY-NJ Harbor Coalition to identify Sandy rebuilding capital and planning opportunities to implement the Sandy Regional Recovery Agenda.

Solid Waste
East 91st MTS rendering
Artist rendering of E. 91st MTS
Despite ongoing Upper East Side NIMBY opposition, construction on the East 91st marine transfer station (MTS) continues apace, promising the beginning of waste equity among the boroughs - and the lessening of environmentally unjust concentrations of over 70% of the entire City's waste burdens on North Brooklyn, the South Bronx and SE Queens.  A turbulent mayoral debate over the fate of the Upper East Side MTS flared this year.  To ensure the voices of environmental justice were heard, NYC-EJA organized a protest at the South Bronx mayoral debate in June at Hostos Community College (see NYC-EJA In the News section).  However, there were many other real developments in NYC-EJA's solid waste campaigns this year, as the implementation of the Solid Waste Management Plan (SWMP) rolled on.
Fair Share 4.12.11
NYC-EJA, City Councilmembers and allies protest proposed incineration pilot projects.
 The Bloomberg Administration's planned pilots for "waste-to-energy" incineration-based technologies like gasification and plasma arc - vigorously opposed by NYC-EJA and our allies - thankfully never materialized.   However, other mayoral solid waste initiatives - i.e., expanded recycling, the first-ever commercial organics diversion mandate, the ban of polystyrene containers and the grand opening of the Municipal Recycling Facility along the Sunset Park waterfront, etc. - were warmly welcomed by environmental justice advocates.  
Two of the most exciting developments were:
Intro. 1160A - the Clean Carting Trucks bill: Over 8000 heavy-duty diesel trucks - accounting for 20% of all particulate mater (PM) generated by heavy duty trucks in NYC - collect millions of tons of commercial waste annually.  Commercial carting trucks haul this waste to waste transfer stations clustered in a handful of low income communities of color, dramatically impacting local air quality and public health. Adopted by the City Council on December 19th, Intro 1160A seeks to ensure that by 2020, all licensed waste haulers use only trucks that meet the U.S. EPA's 2007 emissions standards for diesel trucks, or are fitted with the best available retrofit technology. 
Transform Don't Trash Coalition launch rally
Transform Don't Trash Campaign launch - City Hall, Oct. 2, 2013
 Transform Don't Trash NYC commercial waste campaign:  In October, the new Transform Don't Trash NYC coalition officially debuted, launching our campaign and releasing a new report that outlined how the commercial waste industry is highly polluting, inefficient, costly to the City, disproportionately burdensome on low-income communities and communities of color, and dangerous and exploitative for workers. Transform Don't Trash marks the first time that a broad-based labor, environmental justice and community coalition has united around recommendations to improve commercial solid waste management in New York City. The new coalition presented the report as a roadmap to creating a more sustainable City to mayoral candidates.  Click here to read the Transform Don't Trash NYC press release and click here to read the report.  (See NYC-EJA In the News section below for Errol Louis' column on the new campaign.)
For decades, environmental justice advocates and community activists had to soldier on alone in the Garbage Wars of NYC, struggling against deeply resourced and powerful communities stubbornly clinging to an unjust status quo.  Not anymore. The partnership between EJ and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Joint Council 16 and Locals 813 & 831, NYC Central Labor Council, SEIU 32BJ and Laborers Local 108 (as well as our allies NY Lawyers for the Public Interest, ALIGN and American Lung Association of NY) signals a quantum shift in the City's solid waste debate. 
We look forward to working with Mayor-elect deBlasio, the new Council Speaker and incoming Council class to Transform NYC on solid waste issues, ranging from transfer station capacity reduction in overburdened communities to full SWMP implementation to commercial recycling.
NYC-EJA In The News (June - December 20113)
Post Sandy Regional EJ Summit pic 2 - 12.1.12
Sandy Regional Assembly

Happy Holidays 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: 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