Another World is Possible

 

Another world is possible. 

 

In her poem “ V’ahavta”, author, poet, organizer and artist Aurora Levins Morales invites us to imagine a new world. So much more than a visioning exercise, she invites us into the practice of collective imagination that we need to sustain and enliven our work for health, justice and liberation. Boldly, Aurora proclaims that yes, another world is possible and yes, it is our duty to build beyond what we can see now to bring about what we all need to thrive. At Clean Air, our staff, members and supporters work dutifully and boldly to build a world where our environment promotes health and equity and where systems place communities at the forefront of  decision making.

 

In a year full of uncertainty as our team navigated transitions and our community navigated through an ongoing, global pandemic, one thing was certain: we never stopped working  towards a new world. Our staff, members and supporters have carried our rage, grief and longing and transformed it into action; we imagined more. 

 

Fifteen years ago, it felt impossible to imagine the three smokestacks at Tonawanda Coke topple down, but they did. Five years ago it felt impossible, foolish, to imagine that children on Peabody street wouldn’t breath in silica dust while playing in their backyards, but now they can sleep knowing that no one will ever operate a crusher behind their homes again. Three years ago it felt impossible that workers could pursue justice from one of the richest men on earth, but now workers are connecting and building with one another and healing from trauma. One year ago it felt impossible to imagine the State would acknowledge the ongoing impact of environmental racism in the Delavan-Grider community, and now residents have built a body to hold the state and developers accountable to our health and justice. 

 

Aurora asks us to imagine winning and then imagine more. We need and deserve healthy, thriving, vibrant communities. And we know that requires transformation: of ourselves and our communities, and of the systems profiting off our sickness, suffering, and deaths. 

 

We’re looking ahead to 2022 with excitement and hope, because we know another world is possible. We’re raising $75,000 so that we can continue to show up, live out our values, and build a bold vision for the world we all deserve. 

 

Your support for our work in 2022 and beyond will directly impact our ability to imagine and create more for our communities. Please join us this season by renewing your commitment to our movement and helping us to reach our goal of $75,000. 

 

In solidarity and determination,

Chris, Emily, Bridge, and Linnea

P.S. Please consider making a sustaining gift of $5, $10, or $20 a month to ensure Clean Air is always ready to take on the challenges ahead. Thank You!



A Message From Our New Executive Director!

Dear Clean Air Members and Supporters,

It is with great pleasure and excitement that I write to you to introduce myself as the new Executive Director for Clean Air! I am honored and humbled by the opportunity to uphold the legacy of strong and bold leadership by our past Executive Directors Erin and Rebecca. Their work, along with the teams they led, have built so much at this small but mighty home for those fighting for justice. Home is exactly what it feels like to me in my first week on board. I also want to acknowledge the incredible work of the staff, directors, and member leaders who have stepped up to not only weather a year of uncertainty and transition, but have driven the organization forward and gained significant wins.

I was born in Niagara Falls, NY and come from a family with strong working class roots. My grandfather was a World War II veteran with a grade school level education and was able to land a job as a welder at what was then Hooker Chemical Company after the war. Through his hard work and the unpaid work of my wonderful grandmother, they were able to put 5 kids through college and move the next generation of my family into the middle class. The resources that benefited my family and many others came at a terrible price to the land and people’s health from the toxic legacy of a fossil fuel based extractive economy. As I grow in my understanding of the issues we face, I have also realized that these opportunities were not available to everyone and the harm from pollution has disproportionately affected the working class and communities of color. Undoing the legacy of pollution and injustice is the core reason I am driven to do this work.

I have spent the last decade of my career at Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper, and the last six years as Director of Community Engagement, where I have worked and crossed paths with many of you. I was lucky to collaborate with lots of amazing people and have left a lasting legacy, having helped build a strong team and robust programing to inspire current and future generations of water protectors. During this time I have gained experience in nonprofit management, fundraising, and staff supervision and mentorship. I worked hard to lead Waterkeepers efforts to become a more equitable, just, and diverse organization as I believe the Environmental Movement must include anti-racism if we are to truly achieve our missions.

As many of us in the field have come to grips with, passion for our lands and waters and educating individuals on issues is not enough. We have to continually provide opportunities to work on root causes of inequities in intersectional ways. Embracing this, I have been energized through work with Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ) Buffalo to organize other white people to show up and take action to achieve racial justice. I am very excited to continue this work as it ties closely with our fiscal sponsorship of Black Love Resists in the Rust, which SURJ works in solidarity with. I am also proud to have been a founding Board Member of the Friends of Broderick Park in 2020 with our mission to tell the story of the history of the Underground Railroad in Buffalo to trace this legacy to the present day.

I have gained inspiration from working with fellow members in the past few years on the American Axle, Tonawanda Coke, and Huntley Campaigns through my role at Waterkeeper, and am proud of the work done to unite both organizations to work together more. From this direct work and throughout the interview process, what continually called to me is the power of member led and centered campaigns and the lifting of member voices in organizational decision making. I will passionately uphold this core value as we move forward.

As we are all aware, the past five years have been tumultuous, with our movement seeing tremendous gains in the fight for racial and environmental justice followed by stark reminders of how far we need to go to achieve the world we all know is possible. I am attracted to Clean Air because we have always been an independent voice seeking to work on the root causes of issues. It is essential that we continue to build our grassroots fundraising to do the work our members need to gain justice in their communities. I am diving right into this work with all of you as we launch, Another World Is Possible, our 2021 Appeal tomorrow on Giving Tuesday. We have a big goal of raising $75,000 in grassroots donations by year end but I know we can do it together!

Look for continuing communications in the coming weeks for ways to connect and participate with us, and I look forward to seeing you digitally or safely in person soon!

In Solidarity,

 

Chris Murawski

Executive Director

Clean Air Coalition of WNY

chris@cacwny.org



Welcome Chris!

 

We are incredibly excited to share with our members, supporters, and community that Chris Murawksi has joined our team as our Executive Director! 

 

Chris brings over 10 years of experience leading and building strong teams, mentoring new generations of leaders, fundraising, and coalition building. His environmental science experience and passion for environmental justice will complement and support our Organizing Team to drive our member-led campaign work forward.

As an active member of both Clean Air and Showing Up for Racial Justice’s Buffalo chapter, Chris has been working towards creating a more just, healthy community for Western New York. Over the past year as both a Clean Air member and the Director of Community Engagement at Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper, Chris has participated in our member-led campaign teams for Tonawanda Coke and American Axle, pushing for transparency and resident-knowledge to be at the forefront of remediation. Chris’ experience and leadership is an asset that will help continue to grow Clean Air in our fight for the world we know we deserve. 

 

We are looking forward to introducing you to Chris with all his passion and energy over the coming week!

 

With great excitement for our next chapter,

Joel Bernosky, George Boger, Sydney Brown, and Jenn Carman
Clean Air’s Board of Directors



Upcoming current and former American Axle/GM meeting!

 

Are you or someone you know a former worker at the American Axle/GM plant on E. Delavan? We want to talk with you!

Our American Axle team is looking to talk with current and former workers at the American Axle/GM factory at 1001 E. Delavan. We know that the people who worked at the plant day in and day out have a wealth of knowledge that we need to continue our organizing work for health and justice in Delavan-Grider.

 

Join our virtual meeting on Wednesday, October 27th from 12-1:30pm.

Join Zoom Meeting
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82711564387?pwd=VDcrMVJ2dHp6clV0TGwwdzN0ekZHUT09

Join by phone: +1 646 558 8656
Meeting ID: 827 1156 4387
Passcode: 1234

 



Clean Air and Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper join over 600 organizations and businesses statewide to halt cryptocurrency mining in New York State 

Western New York Environmental Justice Organizations Call on Governor Hochul to Act on Cryptocurrency Mining 

Clean Air and Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper join over 600 organizations and businesses statewide to halt cryptocurrency mining in New York State 

 

Western New York environmental justice organizations join over 600 representatives from environmental, community, labor, and business groups and elected officials from across New York State to call on Governor Kathy Hochul to take immediate action on cryptocurrency mining. Clean Air Coalition  and  Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper are joining the call for Governor Hochul to establish a five-year moratorium on  “Proof-of-Work” Cryptocurrency Mining in NYS and to deny  the granting of air emissions permits for the Greenidge Generating Station and the Fortistar North Tonawanda Facility. Proof-of-work cryptocurrency mining is currently unregulated in New York and goes against New York’s ambitious climate goals set in the 2019 Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act. 

 

“New York must take the lead on studying the impact of and creating regulations for proof of work cryptocurrency mining. Time and time again poor and working class people and people of color have borne the brunt of environmental and public health disasters caused by regulations rooted in racism, corporate greed and environmental shortsightedness. Governor Hochul must put her money where her mouth is on climate and take action today to advance environmental justice ”, — Jim Jones, Clean Air member and Tonawanda resident 

 

In New York, data mining operations using warehouses full of computers have set up shop in upstate areas siphoning electricity from New York’s grid, “re-powering” defunct fossil-fueled power plants, and seriously jeopardizing the state’s progress on and meeting mandates for reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. In Western New York, the Fortistar gas plant in North Tonawanda is on its way to being transformed into a cryptocurrency mining facility by DigiHost despite public outcry about the public health impact of increasing air emissions and water pollution into the surrounding community. 

 

GHG at the Fortistar North Tonawanda facility would exponentially increase should it become a Bitcoin facility as has been proposed. As a Bitcoin mining facility, emissions would skyrocket – the permit application states that the power plant’s potential CO2 emissions to be approximately thirty times its 2020 CO2 emissions.  The plant is also estimating large increases in several other harmful co-pollutants including sulfur oxide, nitrous oxide, carbon monoxide, and particulate matter that will impact local air quality and public  health.

 

“The Fortistar and Greenridge plants are the canary in the crypto coal mine. We urge Governor Hochul to take action to protect the health and dignity of people living near fossil fuel plants across New York State. There is no time to wait–we need action now before the whole house of cards falls down on working class people across the state”, Emily Terrana, Director of Organizing, Clean Air Coalition of Western New York

 

 The statewide coalition is in Albany today calling on Governor Hochul’s office and urging her to take swift action on instituting a five-year moratorium to study the impact of proof-of-work cryptocurrency mining on public health and the environment. The submission of the letter to Governor Hochul comes on the same day as the DEC’s hearing on the Title-V air quality permit for the Greenidge Generating Station, a current cryptocurrency mining operation, to urge the Hochul administration to deny the permit.  The Title IV air permit of the Fortistar facility is up for renewal by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation in November. 

 

Clean Air encourages concerned community members to take action by visiting their toolkit at bit.ly/takeactioncrypto or by visiting their website at www.cacwny.org

 

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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.



Take action for health and justice in Delavan-Grider!

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First ever Community Advisory Group meeting on American Axle!

After so much strategic organizing, hard work and tenacity, the first Community Advisory Group meeting on the cleanup at American Axle is scheduled for Monday, September 13th at 6pm! Join us online to hear from the NYSDEC, developer and owner of the site Jon Williams and his engineering team and community members on the status of the cleanup, next steps and what we need the people in charge to do to protect our health and environment. This meeting will be held online over Zoom. The image on this page includes the call in number and/or a QR code that will bring you directly into the Zoom meeting on the 13th.

You can join the meeting by clicking this link or by calling in with the number below:

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/81710794699 or by dialing in at (646) 876-9923, Meeting ID: 817 1079 4699.

For more information about our work at American Axle, check out our past Facebook live events at www.facebook.com/cleanairwny

Questions? Email Emily@cacwny.org.



Cryptocurrency mining: A step backwards for NT and NYS

The fight is far from over on the proposed cryptocurrency and blockchain gas-fired powerplant in North Tonawanda!

We have created a toolkit for you to take action and have your voice heard. We need a full study of the environmental and public health impacts of this totally unregulated new industry and we need it now.

We want to be very clear; every single action we take together matters. It may feel like we are yelling into the void and that the powers that be will always win, but we know for a fact that this isn’t true. When we feel powerless, they win.

Fossil fuel powered blockchain and cryptocurrency mining is a step backward for New York State. Data mining facilities are a drain on natural resources, significantly compete against legitimate electric and internet resources, do not create family-sustaining jobs, and do not prepare our communities for the realities of climate change or the impacts of decades of environmental injustice in poor and working class communities and communities of color.

We know that environmental and public health harm impacts our people first, worst and hardest, and the impacts of unregulated cryptocurrency mining is no different. We must take action now before cryptocurrency mining takes hold throughout our communities, doing untold harm to public health, the environment and our future.

If you would like to get even more involved in this fight, please email Emily@Cacwny.org



Tonawanda Coke fire needs immediate investigation and air monitoring

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Tonawanda Coke fire needs immediate investigation and air monitoring  

Thick black smoke and a burning rubber stench concerns Clean Air members after afternoon blaze at Tonawanda Coke 

A major fire at the former Tonawanda Coke site was reported late afternoon, August 10th, 2021. Residents in the surrounding neighborhood have posted disturbing photographs of thick black smoke plumes coming from the Tonawanda Coke Site, now owned by Jon Williams of Riverview Innovation and Technology Campus. Community members have reported a noxious odor of what smells like burning rubber during and after the fire. As of 5:15pm, the NYSDEC reported that they are working with local fire departments to assess the environmental impact of the event and whether the fire has been contained. 

Clean Air Coalition of WNY is calling for the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to conduct a full scale investigation into the causes of the fire, collect air samples at the site and downwind of the facility in the residential community and create a full audit of the current developer’s safety management protocols. While accidents do happen, such a large scale fire is cause for concern as unaddressed hazardous waste has proven to be a major problem at the site. 

Earlier today I was at the 7-11 on Sheridan and Elmwood Avenue in the Town of Tonawanda and I saw the huge smoke plume coming from the Tonawanda Coke site. The smell was just awful; it smelled like burning oil and rubber. I am deeply concerned about the remediation work being done at the site and want the NYSDEC to get to the bottom of this frightening situation”, Sue Kelley, Clean Air member and City of Tonawanda resident. 

Clean Air members continue to have concerns about the stability of the site and its potential threat to human health and the environment. Tonawanda Coke is one of the most well known hazardous waste sites in the country. In 2014, the site was recognized as the only company in the history of the United States that was found guilty of 14 criminal accounts of violations of the Clean Air Act and Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, the federal law that governs ground contamination of hazardous waste. 

 

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

 



A farewell from Julia – Grassroots Development Organizer

Dear Friends and Comrades,

I’m writing to let you know that Friday, July 16th will be my last day as Clean Air’s Grassroots Development Organizer. Three and a half years ago, I entered Clean Air’s office for the first time… I was interviewed by a group of Clean Air members that told me about their vision to build a community of members and supporters that was strong, loving, and ready to take on the most well-funded adversaries. I feel lucky to have been chosen to help bring that vision to reality over the past several years.

Through the work of Clean Air’s Membership Team and the grassroots development work that I have helped lead, Clean Air has become an even stronger landing spot for hundreds of people in our community to come together and organize for health and justice. I feel confident that as I head onto my next chapter, Clean Air’s inspiring staff and members will continue forward without skipping a beat.

Clean Air’s Membership Team recently put in the work to turn their vision into a mission statement: We believe in the power of organized membership to win liberation for all. We do this through growing our grassroots movement—financially, socially, and physically. We create transformational relationships rooted in mutual interest and lived experiences that enable us to organize for collective wellbeing that centers care, joy, laughter, and celebration.

I feel humbled that I got to be a part of this community that is so caring, creative, and mighty. As I transition out of my staff position at Clean Air, I am excited to continue to organize for our collective wellbeing with each of you.

Thank you for an incredible three and a half years. While I’m leaving my position at Clean Air, I can assure you that I’m not going far. Buffalo is my community and home, and I will be sure to see you at the next rally, protest, training, or event. After Friday, if you wish to reach me, you can email me at juliawhite7@gmail.com.

In continued solidarity,

Julia