Victory – A7389C/S6486D signed!

We’re happy to share that Governor Hochul signed A7389C/S6486D, the “moratorium on cryptocurrency mining” bill! Read more here by clicking here.

Our fight for a Just Transition and against the use of fossil-fuel based proof of work cryptocurrency mining using inefficient sunsetting fossil fuel infrastructure is far from over, and we are presently working with others to appeal the recent decision by the Public Service Commission to allow the sale of the Fortistar gas-fired power generation plant in North Tonawanda to Digihost Technology.

Support our work by donating today as part of our 2022 Annual Appeal!



Governor Hochul, the clock is ticking!


Countdown

Governor Hochul, stand for climate and community, not cryptocurrency!

The people of NYS need you to take action NOW – call A7389C/S6486D to your desk to sign before the December 31 deadline!

Send a letter to Governor Hochul today with our one-click toolkit, and join us for our community meeting in North Tonawanda this Thursday 11/10 at 5:30pm at the Herschell Carrousel Museum at 180 Thompson Street!



Clean Air Open House 2022!

Join Clean Air at our new office space for an open house!

Wednesday, November 16th from 6-7:30pm

371 Delaware Avenue, Buffalo 14202

We are excited to welcome you to our new space at Trinity Church, break bread and share about the powerful campaign work our teams have been working on in 2022.

Our open house will feature:

  • A self-guided tour of our new office space and Trinity Campus
  • Collaborative movement art making
  • Tabling by our campaign teams
  • Snacks and refreshments
  • Much more!

 

Register today at bit.ly/cacopenhouse22

 



Peabody Street Residents react to Battaglia Demolition Settlement

Residents Do Not Believe Battaglia Demolition is Paying its Fair Share Under Settlement for Years of Pollution in Seneca Babcock

A $50,000 fine is not enough for the longtime violator. Residents are concerned that concrete crushing will be allowed to resume for the remaining concrete on the property.

A year after a settlement agreement was proposed, the Office of the Attorney General and state Department of Environmental Conservation resolved a lawsuit against Peter Battaglia, Jr., who owns and operates Battaglia Demolition, 1037 Seneca St. The DEC and the Attorney General’s Office put out a press release which did not include the perspective of the residents of Peabody Street. This release is in response.

Battaglia Demolition, a waste transfer site, has plagued the Seneca-Babcock neighborhood’s quality of life for over a decade. During that time, Battaglia illegally operated a concrete crusher that blanketed the surrounding blocks in silica dust, which is known to cause respiratory illnesses such as asthma, lung disease and lung cancer. The operation also damaged the foundations of residents’ homes and  incessant truck traffic polluted the air with diesel fumes. The operation shutdown in 2018 after years of organizing by community residents with the Clean Air Coalition of Western New York (Clean Air).

The settlement agreement, signed Tuesday by Erie County Supreme Court, directs Battaglia to clean up the remaining debris, trash and concrete within 120 days. In addition, a natural, green space is to be created onsite. At minimum, Battaglia will pay a $50,000 fine. That penalty could reach $1 million if he does not comply with the agreement. However, even the maximum fine pales in comparison to the potential $26 million penalty Battaglia faced after years of violations, pursuant to Environmental Conservation Law for operating without an air permit from June 2013 to April 2018.

“Clean Air commends the Department of Environmental Conservation and Attorney General’s Office for taking action against Battaglia,” said Chris Murawski,

Executive Director of Clean Air. “But we believe the settlement agreement should have centered on the needs of the residents. After destroying residents quality of life for many years Battaglia Demolition will be able to crush the remaining concrete on site, pay an extremely lenient penalty and be able to profit from the future sale of the land while residents receive no restitution.”

After the 2018 shutdown, the property was abandoned. In the intervening years, the derelict site attracted illegal dumping, creating mounds of garbage and other refuse. That’s drawn rats and, after rain, a moldy odor that washed over the neighborhood.

The building also caught fire during the settlement process in 2021. The dangerous, burnt out eyesore remained largely untouched by Battaglia since then. Due to the lack of action, residents were forced to work with city officials to push for Honorable Judge Patrick Carney to grant the City of Buffalo an emergency demolition order in housing court that commenced Aug 8, 2022.

“The results of the settlement are a slap in the face to the residents of this neighborhood,” said lifelong Peabody Street resident Jack Wagner. “When my mother was alive and on oxygen, she could not even sit in the yard due to the dust and noise, could not even have dignity to enjoy our property. If it was not for the relentless work of the residents led by Diane Lemanski and Clean Air none of this would have happened”

Despite the order, piles of concrete remain on the property, which the agreement allows Battaglia to crush onsite. This will be emotionally traumatizing and could become another public health threat for the residents who have already had to endure years and years of this activity. The residents are demanding that no crushing takes place onsite and any concrete to be recycled must be taken to offsite crushing facilities.

“Yes, the shutdown is a positive thing but it is the bare minimum of what should be done. We deserve better after having dealt with breathing in silica dust, dealing with constant truck traffic, rats, and damage to our houses from constant shaking. It is unacceptable that Battaglia will be able to crush the remaining concrete behind my house. We want justice for what we have had to endure since 2009 and we will continue to fight,” said Peabody Street resident Diane Lemanski

Residents and community members see the demolition and signed agreement as a step in the right direction after 10 years of fighting for health and justice. Clean Air will continue to monitor the ongoing legal actions by the city to recoup the funds spent for cleanup and demolition of the site. The community envisions the best use of the land that will bring true justice is for the property to be gifted to the community and held by a Land Trust as green space and a carbon sink to make up for the years of suffering.

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The Clean Air Coalition builds power by developing grassroots leaders who organize their communities to run and win environmental justice and public health campaigns in Western New York.

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We have moved!

We’re still unpacking boxes, but we have officially moved into our new offices on the Trinity Church campus at 371 Delaware Avenue in Buffalo!

Please be sure to update your contact information for us –

The Clean Air Coalition of Western New York
371 Delaware Avenue
Buffalo, NY 14210

Please also be patient with us while we set up our phone lines this week – contacting us by email will receive a faster response.



Goodbye from Kiera: A Reflection on Her Time at Clean AIr

Dear Clean Air Members and Supporters,

After an amazing summer interning at Clean Air, I return to Toronto with fond memories of my time in the office and out in the field, and a renewed determination to push for environmental justice in Buffalo and elsewhere. 

When I began my internship, it had been nearly two years since I had been involved in any sort of organizing beyond the occasional protest. Organizing felt out of reach for me: a stressed-out college student too busy to devote time and energy required for successful movement work. I thought that I would never have the opportunity to be on the frontlines of issues that I cared about. That was something that seasoned activists did, and I certainly wasn’t one of them.

Then, I stepped into Clean Air’s cozy office space for my internship orientation, and my world changed. I learned that organizing could mean more than a sisyphean struggle where a better future was always out of reach, it could be joyful, energizing, and inspiring. I could fight against those that hurt my community with my dreams of a new, just world as the fuel for change rather than its endpoint. More than anything, Clean Air reminded me that I wasn’t alone in the fight for environmental justice and health equity.

Through day-to-day office work, advocacy training, and tabling, I gained a practical skill set that emboldened me to expand my engagement with issues of pollution and climate change. Through my attendance at our Movement Resilience program, I was reminded that the inspiration for environmental justice comes from the beauty of nature. In that sense, I became part of a community of activists, Western New Yorkers, and earth-based organisms all drawing strength from one another to create the future we wanted to see.

It has truly been a wonderful experience interning at Clean Air this summer, and I would like to thank all of the community members and organizers, at Clean Air and otherwise, that made my time at the organization as meaningful as it was.

In solidarity,

Kiera Quinlivan



A HUGE win in Seneca-Babcock

Join us in celebrating a huge win in Seneca-Babcock!

In our work for environmental justice at Clean Air, we know that we are in it for the long haul. When we take on a company or toxic site it is like standing at the foot of a mountain; a mountain that looks insurmountable and, sometimes, totally ridiculous. 

Yet we decide to step forward and begin to climb. 

We keep climbing when roadblocks get put in our way, when rocks fall in our path or there is an avalanche that slows us down. We keep climbing and bringing more travelers along with us when we are told “you shall not pass” and when the road seems to crumble before our eyes. We stop for water, for nourishment and to cheer each other on when we stumble. We stop to mourn, to celebrate, to dream of what is on the other side. We take the road forward step-by-step, inch-by-inch, until we suddenly turn around and see just how far we have climbed, together. 

 

Yesterday was a day where we got to turn around and see just how far we have climbed. After over 10 years of climbing, 10 years of fighting off obstacles and finding new ways around, demolition began at the former Battaglia Demolition site in Seneca-Babcock. After 10 years of silica dust swirling, diesel trucks idling, lots un-mowed and trash piling up to form new mountains … after 10 years of  unanswered calls, broken promises and bated breaths for action, we finally got to pause and see how far our community has climbed. 

 

On August 8th, City of Buffalo contractors began to knock down and clean up the charred and neglected remains of Battaglia’s operation. The work is being done because of the persistence and perseverance of Peabody Street residents, especially our beloved member, Diane Lemanski. Diane and other Seneca-Babcock residents have spoken clearly and loudly for over a decade demanding that their quality of life and dignity be restored after years of inaction and harm. 

 

While we still have a long way to go up the mountain, this major milestone signals a shift on our path for environmental justice and public health. It signals a brighter road where the community’s vision lights the way – a road where those who wish to put up obstacles are told to move out of the way to make room for progress. 

 

We will still need to be vigilant, we will still need to fight, but for now, we can celebrate as we climb. 

Please join us in celebrating this major milestone for Peabody Street by funding our fight for $5K by Friday, this will get us halfway to our $10K goal of our midyear appeal.   Our grassroots fundraising keeps our work accountable to our membership first so that we can do the hard and long-haul work for environmental justice.



Major step forward on Peabody Street

City of Buffalo Moves Forward with Process for Demolition at Former Battaglia Construction Facility

Residents, elected officials and community groups hope for accountability 

The City of Buffalo is proceeding with a demolition order for the former Battaglia Demolition site located at 1037 Seneca Street in Buffalo’s Seneca-Babcock neighborhood. The City’s order follows a final notice to the property owner on July 20th, which advised the owner to remove any and all belongings from the structure so the City can proceed with the demolition process. The demolition of the neglected, trash infested and burned-out dangerous property is now imminent. 

 

Since the 2018 shutdown of Battaglia Demolition, the property has fallen into abandonment, with piles of concrete dust still swirling from the site through the neighborhood air. The derelict property has become a site with illegal dumping, and is now full of garbage and refuse, attracting rats.  In addition, the building Battaglia Demolition once occupied mysteriously caught fire after a 2021 settlement was reached with New York State Supreme Court. It now sits vacant, leaving residents with an eyesore and a dangerous burnt out building in their backyards.

 

Council Member Mitch Nowakowski said, “The owner of this neglected and dilapidated facility has proven time and again that he does not care for the people who live in the neighborhood. While legal battles played out, residents continued to suffer from the blight created here, the rodents and wildlife that have made themselves at home, and the air pollution which makes it hard to breathe. As of today, it’s official: the City has put the owner on notice that demolition is imminent. The residents here deserve better. Whoever or whatever business occupies this space in the future must operate in harmony with the people who live here.”

 

The demolition order for 1037 Seneca Street comes after years of organizing from community residents and members of the Clean Air Coalition of Western New York. When operational, Battaglia Demolition, a waste transfer site that was illegally operating a concrete crusher, shook the foundations of residents’ homes, polluted the air with diesel particulates, and blanketed the neighborhood in silica dust, a pollutant known to cause respiratory illnesses such as asthma, lung disease and lung cancer.  

 

“It’s a shame that it has taken the City to step in and do what Mr. Battaglia should have done a long time ago. We have paid the price and suffered for so long and it is about time that he pays his fair share. Even though the demolition will not bring my neighbors back or fix my foundation, it is a small important step forward. I just want my neighborhood back from the trauma of the past 20 years with our very bad neighbor,” Diane Lemanski, Peabody Street Resident and member of Clean Air. 

 

Battaglia reached a settlement agreement with the NYS Attorney General and NYS Department of Environmental Conservation in 2021 under NYS Supreme Court Justice, the Honorable Judge Chimes. The settlement, which has yet to be signed by Mr. Battaglia, would include the demolition of the building, clean up of the debris left on site and levvyed a $50,000 fine. The yet-to-be-signed settlement agreement is just a drop in the bucket of the potential $14 million dollar plus fines Mr. Battaglia was facing after  years of violations. 

 

Council Member Brian Bollman said, “Last month I stood with residents in the Seneca Babcock Community calling for the removal of the remaining structure at 1037 Seneca Street. This eyesore has burdened neighbors for far too long and must be removed properly to protect neighbors quality of life. I am pleased to see the removal is now imminent as the owner was put on notice that the demolition will be moving forward. It is imperative that the building remains are cleared safely and the future usage of this property needs to align with the goals of community members.  The Clean Air Coalition has been a valued partner in calling out this eyesore in our community”

 

“For too long we have exploited and abused the environment for our own personal profit. It is important to highlight those elected officials, like Councilman Nowakowski, who not only look to benefit his constituency but the land in which we are so accustomed to forgetting. I commend the councilman for his tenacity and ability to mitigate issues through the correct channels, but more importantly for being a strong voice in his community and for the environment in which it exists.”

-Assemblyman Patrick B. Burke, AD 142

 

Residents and community members see the City demolition as a step in the right direction after over a decade of fighting for health and justice. Once the property is cleaned up, residents and the Clean Air Coalition look forward to working with the City and other stakeholders to develop a plan for the future of the site that centers the community’s vision, wisdom and concerns. 

 

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The Clean Air Coalition builds power by developing grassroots leaders who organize their communities to run and win environmental justice and public health campaigns in Western New York.