WE ACT Issues Statement on New York State Legislation
to Reduce the Cumulative Impacts of Pollution
on Disadvantaged Communities
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 28, 2021
Contact: Chris Dobens, 212-410-1963, firstname.lastname@example.org
NEW YORK – Low-income communities and communities of color have historically been burdened by a disproportionate number of pollution-generating facilities such as factories, power plants, bus depots, sewage treatment plants, garbage dumps and transfer stations, and trucking centers. This inequitable siting has turned these communities into environmental sacrifice zones, with the cumulative impacts of these multiple sources of pollution exponentially harming their residents, causing health impacts such as asthma, lung and heart disease, increased birth defects, and learning impairments. Yet current laws and regulations do not take the cumulative impacts of pollution into account when approving such facilities, instead treating them as if they were the only source of pollution that residents will have to endure.
To address this core environmental justice issue and put an end to decades of environmental racism, WE ACT for Environmental Justice is actively supporting New York State Senate bill S.1031C and New York State Assembly bill A.2103C, which will ensure that cumulative impacts are taken into consideration in the State’s Environmental Quality Review process when siting such facilities. The Senate bill, which is sponsored by New York State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins (D35), moved out of the chamber’s Environmental Conservation Committee – chaired by Senator Todd Kaminsky (D9) – today. The Assembly bill, sponsored by Assemblymember J. Gary Pretlow (D89), is being reviewed by that chamber’s Environmental Conservation Committee, chaired by Assemblymember Steve Englebright (D4).
“WE ACT earned its reputation on hard-fought wins that have helped reduce the cumulative impacts suffered by communities in Northern Manhattan, including the North River Sewage Treatment Plant, the majority of the MTA’s Manhattan’s diesel bus depots, and the Department of Sanitation’s marine transfer station,” said Sonal Jessel, Director of Policy at WE ACT for Environmental Justice. “But we need a law to safeguard all communities from this undue burden.”
“We saw disadvantaged communities across the state suffer higher rates of illness and mortality during the COVID-19 pandemic, with studies linking the higher incidence of chronic diseases to the adverse health impacts of air pollution and other forms of pollution, which studies also link to the cumulative impacts of exposure in these communities,” added Jessel. “We need to stop treating these communities as dumping grounds for pollution and other hazards, and that is the aim of this legislation.”
“We thank Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Committee Chair Todd Kaminsky, and all the members of the Senate Environmental Conservation Committee for their leadership in moving their bill out of committee. We also thank Assemblymember Gary Pretlow, Environmental Conservation Committee Chair Steve Englebright, and Speaker Carl Heastie (D83) for their leadership on this in the Assembly, and hope it passes through their committee as well.”
# # #
WE ACT for Environmental Justice is a Northern Manhattan membership-based organization whose mission is to build healthy communities by ensuring that people of color and/or low-income residents participate meaningfully in the creation of sound and fair environmental health and protection policies and practices. WE ACT has offices in New York and Washington, D.C. Visit us at weact.org and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.