October/November 2023 E-Blast Updates Newsletter – Zombie Brownfields, Skeletal Infrastructure, and Corporate Ghouls!

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October – November 2022 Updates from Clean Air

Don’t let the corporate ghouls win!

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Remember to vote next Tuesday November 7, or during early voting – find your polling station today or see the list of all early voting locations.

For Erie County, click here for your polling station, and here for all early polling sites. For Niagara County, click here for your polling station, and here for all early polling sites.

Halloween, tomorrow October 31, is also the extended deadline for comments on the Town of Tonawanda’s draft zoning amendment click here to send a letter supporting Clean Air’s comments, particularly our call for the creation of an Environmental Justice Overlay zone for communities affected by Cumulative Impacts from pollution! You can also read our submitted comments as well as comments we solicited from national experts at Smart Growth America by clicking here.

While we especially want comments from Town of Tonawanda residents, we believe the successful adoption of this policy in Tonawanda could then lead to adoption in other municipalities throughout our region, so we encourage support from any and all!

Interested in reading more about what an EJ Overlay could look like? Check out this report from the Tishman Environment and Design Center at The New School, or click here to see a model zoning ordinance in Newark New Jersey!

With Bread and Roses,

Bridge, Chris, Cindy, Gia and Phil

Tonawanda Coke and River Road Updates

We have lots of updates to share about our watchdog work on the River Road corridor of Tonawanda – most notably, a preliminary draft Alternatives Analysis for Tonawanda Coke is now available to the public!

An “Alternatives Analysis” is essentially a document that lays out the different pathways for contamination clean up under consideration, with considerations for pros and cons for each pathway.

This document includes 8 potential pathways, and the alternatives can be found on pages 52 – 78. At this time, the site owner is recommending Alternative 5.

We will be hosting a meeting on Monday November 27 from 5:30-8:30pm at the Brounshidle American Legion/VFW Post at 3354 Delaware Ave in Tonawanda to share more information about the Alternatives and other important updates – click here to register to help us plan!

Learn about Cumulative Impacts at our November 16 General Meeting

Join us for our November 16 General Meeting – click here to register!

In addition to reviewing our 2023 campaign wins, we will also be discussing the new Cumulative Impacts bill that WEACT worked hard to pass in late 2022 with the support of Clean Air and environmental justice advocates all across NYS, and how we are already starting to work this new legislation into the strategy for our campaigns!

As usual, our meeting will be from 5:30-7pm and both online and in-person at the main hall at Trinity Church, 371 Delaware Avenue in downtown Buffalo.

Childcare and food will be provided, and additional accessibility services will be available with pre-registration.

Route 33 Expressway Environmental Assessment

The public comment period on the Route 33 Expressway Environmental Assessment has been extended to November 10. Click here to read the Assessment, or click here to submit a comment.

Clean Air submitted a comment last week calling for the public comment extension and for stronger environmental and public health actions, including a full Environmental Impact Study.

Community Air Monitoring Kickoff

Thanks to everyone who came to our October Kickoff Meeting for our Breathing Free Community Air Monitoring Project!

We will be setting up one-on-one meetings with Program Leaders over the next month. Click here to sign up to be a Program Leader!

North Tonawanda Meeting November 1

Join Clean Air and North Tonawanda Residents this Wednesday November 1 from 6-7:30pm at the Herschell Carrousel Factory Museum at 180 Thompson Street in North Tonawanda to hear about updates about Fortistar/Digihost and organizing in 2024! Be sure to register to help us better plan.

Gas Phase-down Retreat November 2-3

NY is on the road to decarbonization – but what hurdles stand in our way to ensuring that this is done in a just manner that does not leave anyone behind, and how can we get the message out to counter industry propaganda, especially given WNY’s strong connections to the use of methane gas?

Clean Air is convening a mini-retreat the afternoon of Thursday November 2 and Friday November 3 to discuss this topic more in-depth with a mix of labor leaders, environmental justice advocates, and frontline residents. We still have spaces for additional participants, especially Clean Air members and frontline residents – if you are interested in participating, please register by clicking here.

Seneca-Babock Updates

Housing Court Updates

The City of Buffalo’s Housing Court continues to show deference to Peter Battaglia, owner of the former concrete crushing operation on Seneca and Peabody Street.

After more than a decade in housing court, little has been done to address the problematic landowner. Most recently, Battaglia’s attorneys have told the court he intends to sell the property to a company that would clean it up, but after over a year no sale has taken place.

Despite the lengthy case, Clean Air member organizer Diane Lemanski continues to fight.

“Eleven years in housing court,” Diane said. “It saddens me that this property owner gets away with not doing one damn thing to give us a quality of life.”

In addition, Battaglia owes the city $188,000 for the demolition of a building on the Seneca Street property that was ravaged by a mysterious fire in 2021. The demolition happened nearly a year ago and the fee has still not been paid.

State Court Updates

Peter Battaglia, owner of the former concrete crushing operation on Seneca and Peabody Street, is currently the subject of a contempt hearing in State Supreme Court for his failure to complete a court-ordered cleanup of his commercial property. Peabody Street resident Diane Lemanski is a key witness in the state’s case.

Prior to this, the court ordered Battaglia to pay a $1 million fine for failure to comply with the terms of a settlement agreement, which was signed in August 2022.

This is a win for residents who have organized and called for accountability for over a decade. However, the lengthy legal proceedings continue in court, which has been frustrating for many.

Clean Air will continue to monitor the ongoing legal actions.

Survey on Mushroom-based Soil Remediation Strategies

$10 Gift Card for Participants!

Grassroots Gardens and the University at Buffalo are conducting a survey on mycelium-based (mushrooms) soil remediation strategies, and participants will receive a $10 giftcard while supplies last.
Click here to fill out the survey!

Climate Cafe

November 19

Explore your emotional responses and reactions to the climate crisis with fellow Clean Air members – click here to learn more!

2024 Emergency Prep Series Survey

We are preparing our 2024 course on Emergency Preparedness and Mutual Aid Organizing – click here to help us choose our class offering!

Clean Air’s COVID Safety and Event Accessibility Policies

As COVID rates increase, cold and flu viruses circulate, and with the onset of cooler weather that prevents opening windows, the staff at Clean Air would like to emphasize that masks and preventative vaccinations are strongly encouraged.

Many of our members are particularly susceptible to respiratory conditions due to the environmental injustices they have been exposed to, and taking preventative measures helps protect them against further harm – show your love by getting vaccinated!

Also just a reminder that all our public events are planned with childcare and food provided, and that additional accessibility measures, like interpretation, is also available with pre-registration.
Read more at bit.ly/CleanAirEvents.

NYS DEC East Side Environmental Forum

We hope you can join us at NYS DEC’s next East Side Environmental Forum on Wednesday November 8 from 5:30-7pm at the Merriweather Library, 1324 Jefferson Ave in Buffalo.

This meeting will also be livestreamed – contact Kayla Baker for more information at kayla.baker@dec.ny.gov or 716-541-9631.
Clean Air staff will be in attendance.

Ryan Carson Remembered

Our condolences go out to our friends at NYPIRG, who earlier this month lost their colleague Ryan Carson. Read NYPIRG’s statement here, and contribute to the GoFundMe supporting his immediate family and friends.

Supporting Jacob Johns

Jacob Johns, an Akimel O’otham and Hopi community organizer and a fellow member of the US Climate Action Network (USCAN), is currently recovering from a white supremacist attack on September 28. Read the press release, and here or here to support GoFundMe fundraisers.

DEC and EPA Regulatory Public Comment Periods

An EPA On-Scene Coordinator is involved in a potential CERCLA (Superfund) Action at 1061-71 Allen Street in Jamestown. Read more about this project by clicking here, or click here to see all Region 2 On-Scene Coordinator Actions.

Standing Rock Environmental Impact Study Comments

The fight to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline is still ongoing. Between now and November 13th, the Army Corps of Engineers has a comment period. Stand with Standing Rock again and call on the Biden Administration to shut down DAPL by sending a letter today.

Trainings and News of Note

Advocacy Institute Training on Relationship Building

Our friends at the Advocacy Institute are offering a training on Thursday, November 16th from 2:00 PM to 3:30 PM on Relationship Building for the Upcoming Session. They will explore effective strategies to connect with elected officials and key players and appreciate the importance of the legislative and budget cycles to inform your approach at different times of the year.

As a Clean Air member or supporter, access to AI trainings are free, and $15 per person for non-members. The deadline to register for this training is Tuesday, November 14th. Once you’ve registered, you’ll receive a calendar invitation, which will be updated with the Zoom link prior to the training, and – if you’re a non-member – a payment link. Payments are due by Wednesday, November 15th for non-members to receive the event log-in details.

AI Training - Relationship building for upcoming session

Free Class on Asthma Control by the Lung Association

Many of our members grapple with asthma and respiratory conditions due to the environmental injustices they have to live with. The American Lung Association offers a free class to help people learn more about asthma. This program is ideal for frontline healthcare professionals, such as school nurses or community health workers, as well as individuals with asthma, parents of children with asthma, and co-workers, friends and family who want to learn more about asthma.

That’s Gross, Buffalo

We were disgusted by this story about a sewage discharge by the City of Buffalo directly onto city streets on Buffalo’s East Side that had been ongoing for months due to a slapdash repair effort by the City. We are relieved to see repairs have been accelerated, but are distressed that this was an issue in the first place, and one directly attributable to actions by the city.
This is a clear example of an environmental injustice – it’s also worth noting that in Alabama issues of improper sewage management have led to an EPA Civil Rights probe and the spread of diseases and parasites such as hookworm.

UAW on the Road to Victory!

The UAW’s historic strike is ongoing, with everything from fair wages to organizing new sectors of autoworkers on the line. It’s beginning to show signs of success, with a big announcement last week of a tentative agreement with Ford, and news this weekend of a tentative agreement with Stellantis!
We will continue to keep tabs on local calls for action, and in the meantime call attention to two other labor fights currently ongoing –

D’Youville College

Milk-Bone Plant

Exceptional Events Loophole

We’re all still a bit rattled from the air quality emergency from the wildfires this past summer – so, we are a bit worried by this coverage by Public Health Watch about a little-known pollution rule which undermines federal regulations of pollution that contributes to large scale events like this, the “Exceptional Events” rule. This rule essentially allows regulators to waive pollution reporting caused by “natural” or “uncontrollable” events, such as the large wildfires we experienced.

Read this coverage by clicking here and here.

Supreme Court Rejects a Challenge to the Social Cost of Carbon

In a pleasant but unexpected turn, the Supreme Court rejected a challenge to one of the most important metrics used in U.S. climate policy, the “Social Cost of Carbon.”

This measure quantifies the hidden price of emitting carbon dioxide, such as flood damage, air quality impacts, and other environmental and public health impacts.

Read more by clicking here.

“The Capitalists Will Let You Drown”

NY experienced yet another record shattering weather event driven by climate change a few weeks ago when NYC was inundated by 10 inches of rain. We felt that this short reflection by author Joshua Hill about how this crisis is not simply one of weather disasters but rather the overarching crisis of capitalism, white supremacy, and the supporting military-police structure was a particularly impactful piece and encourage you to take a moment to read it as well.

IBEW, IUOE, LIUNA Sign Historic Three-Union Solar Agreement

Earlier this month, the presidents of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, the Laborers International Union of North America, and the International Union of Operating Engineers announced the signing a national tri-trade solar agreement governing the construction of utility-scale solar projects, making it easier for developers, contractors, and unions to bring critical renewable energy generation online to power America’s communities!
Read more from Prospect Magazine.

Short Film – “The Case for Public Rail Ownership”

We all remember the ominous looming black plume of smoke from the Norfolk Southern Railway derailment earlier this year.

Rail companies need greater regulation to prevent future derailments, and unions such as Railroad Workers United are on the frontline of this fight. RWU produced a short film about the movement to nationalize our rail lines to prevent future massive derailments.

Our Thoughts and Prayers for Buffalo Sewer Authority Employees

We were saddened and horrified by the gun violence against BSA employees last week which cost the life of Keyshawn N. Gault, 22, and put fellow employees  Myron L. Walker, 30, and Lamar T. Whitfield Jr., 23, in the hospital. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of these workers as well as all BSA workers.

Report a Polluter

See dark smoke or dust rising from an industrial site, or smell something foul?

Visit dec.ny.gov/regulations/67751.html to file a report, or, for rapid response, call 1-844-DEC-ECOS (1-844-332-3267) or the DEC Spill Hotline/Odor Hotline at 1-800-457-7362.

If you’d like CACWNY to support you, send us a copy of your report!

Upcoming Events Calendar


Community and Coalition Events

Public Comment Deadlines and Hearings

Also see our regularly updated list of events at bit.ly/CleanAirEvents and linktr.ee/cleanairwny

Mutual Aid

Do you need a N95 mask? We have a limited supply available at the office for our members – send us a quick email and we’ll send a few your way! We encourage wearing masks at our in-person events, particularly during seasons of peak COVID transmission.

Be sure to check out the Buffalo Mutual Aid Network Facebook group, where mutual aid services and calls for donations and donations are being posted on an ongoing basis. You can also click here to join the Buffalo Snow Brigade. We also suggest checking out the resources at mutualaiddisasterrelief.org as well as their new website relieftoolkit.com.

If interested in joining mutual aid efforts with Clean Air, particularly in the realm of community resiliency amid climate change,
please reach out to Bridge.

Monthly Staff Recs – favorite Halloween candy

This month we recommend giving out candy from unionized and/or fair trade chocolatiers!

Chris likes Almond Joy, Gia likes Twix and Cindy likes M&Ms. Phil likes Reese’s Cups OR Kit-Kats, and Bridge likes combining both!

Interested in joining our Tonawanda Tomorrow or River Road campaigns, Proof of Work campaign, or supporting NYRenews/climate justice?

Interested in joining our Peabody Street, TESLA campaigns, Energy Democracy Alliance, or other Just Transition campaign work?

Interested in joining our
American Axle campaign or supporting our work in the Delavan-Grider neighborhood?

Interested in joining our events committee, mutual aid team, or want to connect with CACWNY about an emerging campaign or issue?

Interested in supporting Clean Air’s grassroots fundraising efforts, or know of a grant opportunity that might support our work?

Want to donate to support our work?


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