Archive for the 'Healthy, Safer Families and Communities' Category

The Mouse that Roared: A Small New England Town Stands Up to Toxic Dollar Stores

Ashford Town Offices 17KW 5.15

By Susan Eastwood

Last week, our small town of Ashford, Connecticut held a Town Meeting to decide whether to sell a parcel of land to a developer who wanted to put up a Dollar General store. This old New England form of government, which lives on in some rural towns in CT, requires that the townspeople vote at a Town Meeting to approve the sale of Town owned land. The meeting was packed, instead of the usual 10-15 who show up at these meetings, there were over 100. Townspeople have their say at a Public Hearing and then a vote is taken. Read the rest of this entry »

The Invisible Epidemic: How Diesel Pollution is Suffocating American Families 

zeroemissionsnowBy Ashley Flach, Clean Water Action, Follow on Twitter

Clean Water Action co-leads the Coalition for Healthy Ports NY/NJ and has joined the national Moving Forward Network urging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) to address global climate change caused by diesel emissions at our ports, warehouses, and highways across the country. Together, our goal is to gather hundreds of thousands of signatures to demand #ZeroEmissionsNow – sign the petition here.

Deadly Diesel Impacts Us All

Infant mortality, asthma, heart disease, lung and bladder cancer, and neurological disorders are just a few symptoms associated with exposure to diesel emissions. Nationally, more people are killed every year by diesel emissions than gun homicides or drunken driving accidents.

In New Jersey, 68,000 people are treated for asthma attacks and 1,000 premature deaths occur every year due to this lethal pollutant. Families that live by busy diesel truck corridors and port communities are often hit the hardest. However, diesel pollution is emitted and breathed by people throughout the region, especially daily commuters and those who live, work and play near our busy major roadways. 

Port Authority Break Promise to New Jersey Families

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey recently reneged on their promise to ban pre-2007 diesel trucks from entry to the port by 2017 which would have reduced emissions by 90%, according to Amy Goldsmith, New Jersey Director of Clean Water Action and chair of the Coalition for Healthy Ports. Now, only 1994 and ’95  models will be prohibited starting January of 2018,  leaving 8, 901 diesel spewing port trucks congesting highways and lungs around the state.

Goldsmith reports, “one pre- 2007 truck is equal to 60 new trucks in terms of diesel emissions.” Although zero emission technologies exist and have been utilized effectively in Southern California ports, New Jersey families are still gasping for clean air and a solution.

Local Lives Matter

Kim Gaddy, environmental justice organizer for Clean Water Action and fourth generation Newarker, recently discussed how diesel emissions have impacted her family and community on WBGO radio. The City of Newark is located next to third largest port in the northeast where 1 in 4 children have asthma.

“All three of my children are asthmatic and I’ve lost two family members to asthma,” said Gaddy. ” With an asthma attack, you are helpless. We have had incidents where students playing football or baseball fall out on the playing field and die from an asthma or chronic heart attack. We are living in a death zone, it’s a silent killer and we don’t have the choice not to breathe.”

Gaddy says that diesel pollution is a problem “we just can’t escape” and urged the Port Authority of NY & NJ to follow the example of the Southern California ports to ban all 2007 and older diesel trucks still on the road.

“The Port Authority of NY & NJ does not respect the health of Newarkers and decided that because of money we are not going to follow through with this plan,”said Gaddy. “So now my life and my children’s life are in danger. They are putting a price on their head to say our lives are not good enough to save because we just can’t afford to remove these older trucks. I think this is an injustice to all the residents. The Port Authority is being a bad neighbor.”

The Solution to Pollution – How To Fix a Silent Epidemic    

The solution to pollution is education and action. In addition to organizing for Clean Water Action and the Coalition for Healthy Ports, Gaddy is a member of the NJ Department of Environmental Protection’s (NJDEP) Environmental Justice Advisory Council, founding member of the NJ Environmental Justice Alliance, and New Jersey President of the International Black Women’s Congress.

“We all need to learn about the harms of diesel pollution and reach out to decision-makers to stress the importance of reducing deadly diesel emissions,” said Gaddy. “Everyone should sign the petition and encourage elected officials and your friends, families and coworkers to do the same. It’s the only way we’ll fix this silent epidemic.”

Everyone deserves the right to breathe air free from poison. Please sign the #ZeroEmissions petition now and let’s stop suffocating our families.

“Our lives have value – that message needs resonate throughout the country,” said Gaddy.

Failing on Stormwater Protection


By Representative Lauren Carson, House District 75 (Newport)

The Rhode Island Department of Transportation has been called out by the federal government for years of failure to comply with the Clean Water Act, neglecting its drainage systems and allowing runoff from highways to pollute more than 200 bodies of water in our state for years on end. Read the rest of this entry »

Protecting Our Air from Fracking Operations


By Steve Hvozdovich, Pennsylvania Campaigns Director

Did you know that methane pollution is already currently responsible for a quarter of human-caused climate change, with the oil and gas industry accounting for the majority of human-made emissions? According Pennsylvania’s Climate Action Plan, the Commonwealth is the second largest producer of natural gas in the nation which makes it responsible for a roughly 1% of global man-made greenhouse gas emissions. That means  we have an incredible opportunity to make a significant difference in reducing greenhouse gas pollution…if we act. Read the rest of this entry »

Stand up for us, not the chemical industry

By Marley Kimelman, Massachusetts Environmental Health and Justice Intern

It was an unseasonably warm November day when I sat down in my political ecology class at Northeastern University. My professor, Danny Faber, an environmental justice champion in the Boston area, was showing us a film called “Toxic Hot Seat.” The topic seemed mundane: flame-retardants. But after sitting through the compelling and borderline shocking documentary, I was outraged. I had just watched a step-by-step breakdown about how flame-retardants, chemicals that are supposed to protect us from essentially bursting into flames, were nothing more than a tool in an industry ploy buried in a maze of misinformation.  I am living in buildings and on furniture that are covered in toxic chemicals, and I didn’t even know about it.  In addition, flame-retardants are being found all over the earth and are even accumulating in breast milk. I learned that firefighters are dying at incredibly high rates due to cancer and other diseases. Yet, similar to most situations like this, big industry was winning. They were denying the science, and putting profits over people’s health. The difference in this case was there was an actual tangible opportunity to make a difference.

Professor Faber told us that there was a public hearing and an opportunity to testify on a flame-retardants bill that would update The City of Boston’s fire code for public spaces.  Under the current fire code, theaters, universities, office buildings and hospitals, for example can only meet the requirements by using flame retardant chemicals in furniture. At first I had no idea what I would say, or how I could possibly sound coherent in front of city councilors, firefighters, and potentially even industry executives. But I decided that I would give it a shot and maybe a Boston student who showed he actually cared about something political would help point to how clear the decision to update the fire code to eliminate flame-retardants should be.

The day came and a group of five of us had decided we were going to testify together, one after another. As we prepared outside the council chamber we could hear each person as they stood up to provide their reasoning for why they wanted flame-retardants out of furniture in the city’s “assembly spaces”. Mothers, professors, scientists, furniture manufactures, health care executives, and community leaders all stood up for what was right. Then it was our turn. As I got up to close our group testimony, I made sure I hammered home the point that all of the people who testified and spoke before the councilors that day were begging them to do their job and protect our health, and it was up to them, as civil servants, to stand up for all of us and not the chemical industry. The feeling of actually taking action instead of just learning and discussing a problem was rewarding. In fact it was addicting. That feeling propelled me to apply and accept an internship with Clean Water Action this January to continue working on this campaign. So far it looks like I will have the platform to continue to speak up and work for meaningful reform, and hopefully help end the use of flame-retardants once and for all in Boston.

A Connecticut Fact-Finding Mission to “Sustainable Jersey”

By Patrice Gillespie, Connecticut Consultant

Visitors to Atlantic City Sheraton see many lavishly framed photographs of Miss America beauty pageants and the comely winners of yesteryear.

But last fall in the Grand Ballroom, a much different —more impressive — kind of achievement was being recognized.

Recipients of the 7th annual “Sustainable Jersey” leadership awards are the most successful of the 430 New Jersey cities and townships participating in this game-changing statewide program.  They are making significant strides in reducing carbon emissions, protecting water resources, reducing waste, building economic and social resiliency while earning incentive points for grants and technical assistance. Read the rest of this entry »

Putting Drinking Water First – Back to Basics

Not so much

Pure Michigan? In Flint, not so much

By Lynn Thorp, Campaigns Director – On Twitter (@LTCWA)

Our approach to drinking water protection – “Putting Drinking Water First” – feels light years away from the crisis in Flint, with seemingly nothing to offer based on what we have learned about the causes of this situation. Over 100,000 people are unable to use their tap water. Flint already had high levels of lead-poisoned children. Now those numbers have doubled. A Legionnaire’s disease outbreak may well be related. All because officials put the bottom-line first. Read the rest of this entry »


By Brent Bolin, Chesapeake Regional Director

The 2016 Maryland General Assembly session opens today, kicking off a frenetic 90 days during which Clean Water educates legislators and connects our members to their representatives. We expect 2016 to be a decisive session for a number of our longstanding campaigns and we need YOU to help us make good things happen. Read the rest of this entry »

Two Visions

Congress_National_Capitol_Building_Reflected_SmallerBy Michael Kelly, Communications Director – On Twitter: @MichaelEdKelly

Congress has barely been in session for two weeks. Unsurprisingly, the House has continued its streak of standing up for corporate polluters at the expense of the American people. Two of the first votes of this session put our water, our health, and our economy at risk. Read the rest of this entry »

Big Wins…Despite Big Opposition

2015_eCard_img1 (plain) New yer messageBy Bob Wendelgass, President & CEO – on Twitter, @BWendelgass

2015 was a year of big wins for Clean Water Action, despite well-funded opposition by polluters and their allies in Congress!

Victory #1:  In May of 2015, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized the Clean Water rule that restores protection to the sources of drinking water for 1 in 3 Americans.  Clean Water Action helped lead the campaign that made this happen, generating hundreds of thousands of emails, letters, and postcards to the EPA and the White House calling for strong action.
Read the rest of this entry »

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