City Council must step in to protect our water, air quality

By Teamsters Joint Council

An open letter to the New York City Council:

This Council has done much to protect New York City’s water and air quality, public health, and our civil rights.We need that commitment more than ever as we face the pending confirmation of an EPA administrator openly hostile to environmental regulations and a Congress that has already introduced legislation that would nullify climate change mitigation policies, would prevent the EPA from regulating greenhouse gases, and would prohibit the collection of data on race and demographics—key tools for civil rights advocates.In this atmosphere, we need city government to safeguard all New Yorkers’ rights to breathe clean air irrespective of where they live, what their income is, and what color their skin is.

One step the Council can take to protect our communities from the environmental attacks coming from Washington is passing Intro 495a of 2014.This legislation would cap the amount of trash that can be sent to any one community, addressing a longstanding environmental justice issue responsible for perpetuating unhealthy air quality in our city’s most overburdened communities.

As you know, the city’s 2006 Solid Waste Management Plan specifically calls on the Council to pass legislation to reduce the excessive amounts of garbage trucked in and out of a few historically burdened communities of color.

After years of delays to the plan and extended negotiations over this legislation, we believe the current version of the capacity reduction bill, Intro 495a, represents a modest but meaningful step toward environmental justice and a greener solid waste management system for New York City.

We look forward to seeing Intro 495a pass, along with other local laws that put the health and well-being of New York City’s most vulnerable and overburdened communities first, even as our federal government turns its back.

The time is now to stand up and continue to be strong advocates for environmental justice in your communities. Your efforts are appreciated.

Teamsters Joint Council 16

New York

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