Town of Tonawanda Virtual Public Meeting July 25

The Town of Tonawanda will be hosting a virtual public meeting on Tuesday July 25 starting at 6pm to review and discuss the draft zoning code.

Click here to receive an email reminder of the meeting, and visit the town’s webpage at tonawanda.ny.us/development/comprehensive-zoning-law-amendment.html to find the link on July 25!

We strongly encourage our members and supporters to request an extension of the current comment period as part of your remarks in this meeting. At present, the comment period is scheduled to end August 31.

Learn more about the town’s rezoning from our prior blog post.



Draft Zoning Now Open to Public Review, and Huntley Eminent Domain

We have lots of updates to share from our Tonawanda Tomorrow Team!

If you are interested in engaging with this work, either as a resident of the Tonawandas who wants to see equitable development, or as an professional or armchair urbanist who enjoys working for equitable development, then please click here to sign up for our team and we will be in contact with you shortly! We also will be canvassing in the Tonawandas this summer – click here to sign up for a canvassing shift!

Town of Tonawanda Draft Zoning Open for Public Review

The Town of Tonawanda has publicly released the draft zoning code and map for review!

We strongly encourage residents of the Town of Tonawanda as well as those in WNY who care about implementing just transition development in the town to take a moment to review the new draft code and map – good zoning, as we have discussed, is crucial for fighting environmental injustices.

If you would like to submit a comment to the town Planning and Development department, then please click here to fill out our comment form, or call their office at (716) 871-8847 or email jhartz@tonawanda.ny.us.

Comments are currently being accepted through August 31, but it is anticipated that this comment period will be extended into the fall.

The town should also be holding a virtual engagement meeting  later this month – as soon as we have more information, we will share it with you. We plan to hold our own neighborhood meetings to engage residents in August and, assuming the comment period is extended as anticipated, in September as well.

Town of Tonawanda Wins it’s Eminent Domain Court Case on Huntley

We were happy to see the news this month that a panel of Justices of the NYS Appellate Division dismissed a petition filed by NRG, which sought to prevent the Town of Tonawanda from seizing the former Huntley property through eminent domain. NRG has been dragging it’s feet in moving forward not only with the clean up and redevelopment of the facility, but also of the clean up of the coal ash ponds adjacent to the hulking structure.

However, this fight is far from over – we will continue to advocate all throughout the Expression of Interest process for an equitable reuse of the structure that incorporates the visions of the Tonawanda Tomorrow Plan, and, with clarification on the future of the site, will be increasing our pressure on NRG for a just clean up of the ash ponds.

If you are interested in fighting for equitable redevelopment of the Huntley facility, please join our Tonawanda Tomorrow Team, and if you want to push NRG to take action to clean up the ash ponds, please join our River Road Watchdogs team!

Take Action to Strengthen Federal Regulations

Speaking of the coal ash ponds at Huntley, the Environmental Protection Agency is currently considering updates to strengthen nationwide regulations on coal ash ponds at legacy facilities. You can read more about these proposed changes from EarthJustice’s press release and at Grist.org, which published some fantastic in-depth reporting on this topic. We strongly encourage sending a letter to the EPA encouraging robust regulations using EarthJustice’s one click toolComments are due July 17.

The EPA is also finalizing rules around carbon pollution standards at power plants still in operation – click here to send a letter to the EPA using another one click tool from EarthJustice. Comments are due August 8.

 



June-July 2023 Monthly Email Udates

Click here to subscribe to our monthly e-newsletter, and view this month’s edition by clicking the “Read More” link below.

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Justice delayed (again) for Seneca-Babcock

The City of Buffalo’s Housing Court has given Peter Battaglia, the operator of Battaglia Demolition, an illegal concrete crushing operation, another pass for his derelict properties in the Seneca-Babcock neighborhood. 

Today in court, Judge Patrick Carney decided to give Battaglia an additional 60 days to clean up or complete an alleged sale of the industrial property he owns on Seneca Street. It did not address his decrepit residential property on Peabody Street. The sale, which is only rumored to be in process, has been spoken about by Battaglia’s attorneys for the better part of a year, but no public action has taken place. 

In this case, justice for the neighborhood has been delayed for nearly a decade. But through it all, Clean Air member organizer Diane Lemanski has continued to fight. Even though it’s discouraging to see Battaglia receive deferential treatment and not be held to full account for his code violations, that has not stopped Diane from remaining steadfast in her mission and showing up to nearly every court date that is scheduled.

“Eleven years in housing court and the only thing that was accomplished today is Battaglia has two weeks to cut the grass that has been not been cut since April 2, 2018,” Diane said. “It saddens me that this property owner gets away with not doing one damn thing to give us a quality of life.”

Diane epitomizes what it means to be a member and organizer with the Clean Air Coalition. 

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. 

Separate from the case in city housing court, Battaglia is also in the midst of a public lawsuit brought by the state Attorney General’s Office in state Supreme Court. A contempt hearing is scheduled in July. 

Clean Air has ongoing legal expenses to ensure that the residents have a seat at the table during these court proceedings. Please support Diane and her efforts with Clean Air.

“Please help us in the Seneca-Babcock community by donating to the Clean Air Coalition so they can keep helping us fight this battle,” Diane said. “I thank you with all my heart for any donation.”

You can donate here: https://www.cacwny.org/donate/



Practical Safety Tips for Wildfire Smoke

Check out our post from yesterday on the basics of the Air Quality Index and Air Monitoring Resources!

There is no such thing as a climate haven. No more sacrifice zones.

As the hazy, smoky air today proves, as a region we must take steps to not only reduce our carbon emissions (click here to send a letter to your reps calling on them to support the CCPF and NYHeat Act this week!) but also to mitigate the impacts that are already here.

Unfortunately, this shift will take time. Our leadership has failed to act fast enough, so we must organize as communities and individuals to protect ourselves.

Here are some practical tips you can follow and share with peers for reducing the health impacts of the wildfire smoke –

  • Check on friends and family who may be more vulnerable to the smoke (IE, people with respiratory or cardiovascular conditions, seniors, and children.) Make sure medications are on hand and watch for signs of heart attacks. Check out today’s press release from Erie County DOH for more information.
  • Be aware that wildfire smoke can also trigger anxiety attacks, which can feel very similar to an asthma attack, and feed into one another. If you find yourself breathing unusually hard, find a space with clearer air to take a break.
  • Try to stay indoors as much as possible with windows closed and air conditioners set to recirculate/HVAC air intake systems shut off.
  • Create a “Clean Room” in your home and office, where outside air is blocked off and an air filter is running. The EPA has guidelines here.
  • Don’t have an air filter, but do have some leftover furnace filters, a box fan and some duct tape? You can DIY a Corsi-Rosenthal Box, which can reduce wildfire smoke by 75%!

  • Bring pets inside. Small animals, especially birds, will be impacted by smoke before people will.
  • If you do need to venture out, wear a mask, preferably an n95 or better.
  • Safety googles will help reduce eye irritation. If you do not have safety goggles, saline or moisturizing eye drops will also help.
  • Drink lots of water and take things slow.
  • Skip the yardwork and outdoor exercise. Nothing strenuous outside!

At present, meteorologists with the National Weather Service are predicting that the smoke will diminish by Friday. So far, over 600 square miles have burned so far in Quebec, compared to a normal of 1 square mile for this time of year, so it is entirely possible we may see more smoke make it’s way south. We advise continuing to watch the AQI reports from NYS DEC and PurpleAir monitors. Wildfire smoke also persists in the atmosphere, so even if it’s no longer visible, the AQI may still be unhealthy. You can also track the predicted path of wildfire smoke plumes using this website.

We also encourage signing up for this Saturday’s Emergency Preparedness training, which will focus on summer weather risk. Click here to sign up now!



Air Quality Index

Let’s talk about the Air Quality Index! AQI is a measurement of how healthy the air is, with readings from 0 to 500.

AQI above 100 is unhealthy for people in sensitive groups – children, seniors, and those with respiratory conditions like asthma, for example.

Readings above 151 are ranked as unhealthy for everyone, no matter what your health status is. Limiting heavy outdoor activities, for example, should be considered.

Readings between 201-300 are ranked as very unhealthy – and readings above 300 are ranked as hazardous. When the AQI is this high, everyone should take precautions. Wearing a mask, for example, will reduce the impact of the poor air quality.

NYS DEC and the EPA use a network of monitors in WNY to set a regional rating. This rating is not always reflected by the conditions you see on the ground, as this is a regional average. Also check out the EPA’s AirNow.gov website, which will give a reading by zip code.

You can also check out the PurpleAir monitor map – these monitors are consumer grade, so are not as accurate as the official state-managed monitors, but will generally give an accurate read. Sometimes these monitors are able to pick up local readings that will be more accurate than the regional reading, but at the same time, this may not be reflective of all the air quality in the neighborhood – a high reading may be from a diesel engine idling nearby, for example.

We are getting ready to soon launch our Community Air Monitoring project with the DEC, in which we will be distributing a large number of PurpleAir monitors to leaders throughout Erie and Niagara County. Stay tuned for the sign up form!

More Resources –

NYS DEC Air Quality Main Page

NYS DEC Regional AQI Ratings

NYS DEC Air Quality Index (AQI) Legend and Additional Information



May-June 2023 Monthly Email Updates

Click here to subscribe to our monthly e-newsletter, and view this month’s edition by clicking the “Read More” link below.

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Supreme Court Decision on Sackett vs. EPA Severely Weakens the Clean Water Act

Clean Air strongly condemns the 5-4 split decision from the US Supreme Court on Sackett vs EPA, which fundamentally weakens the Clean Water Act. The decision puts millions of acres of wetlands and many other water bodies under threat of pollution or destruction. This decision is a major step backwards for the protection that wetlands need during the extinction and climate crisis that we are in the midst of today. 

This continues a concerning trend in which the court’s conservative supermajority is ignoring robust scientific evidence and research to side with corporate polluters and developers, as well as  gut long standing protections. In 2022 we wrote a statement with similar sentiment on the decision of West Virginia vs. EPA, which weakened the Clean Air Act that we rely on to keep people in our community safe from deadly air pollution. Our people are wise enough to know that this case is not about an individual family’s property and was in fact pushed through with representation from the Pacific Legal Foundation, a pro-polluting astroturf industry organization which also backs other far right libertarian policies, such as rolling back affirmative action policies and tenant’s rights. We face this in our work daily when polluters bankroll large legal and PR firms to resist being held accountable. 

We recommend that folks educate themselves on this case by reading these articles from Earthjustice and Earther. We call on our federal elected leaders to rebalance the Supreme Court, which has clearly become partisan and continues to make decisions that disregard scientific evidence and are out of step with the desires and will of everyday working people in the United States. An immediate action we can all take is to join an organization like Clean Air that continues to fight for health and justice and to elevate the voice of poor and working class people. 

Become a member today here.



May 14, 2022

One year ago a NYS homegrown white supremacist terrorist traveled from a small suburban town outside of Binghamton NY to the Tops on Jefferson Avenue on Buffalo’s East Side with the explicit goal in mind of murdering as many black folk as he could manage. Prior to his killing spree, he posted a statement that he copied word for word from the Christchurch New Zealand shooter’s manifesto, one that was steeped in ecofascism and white supremacist sentiment.

We honor the memory of the victims and wish ongoing healing for the survivors as we continue to organize for health and justice in Buffalo. We know that white supremacy is a threat to all of us and that the thoughts and actions of the murderer are present within our community. We must all continue to take direct action toward dismantling the oppressive systems that were present way before 5/14.

Please give grace to each other and the space to heal during this week of remembrance and mourning. We continue to say the names of the victims.

Aaron Salter Jr, 55.
Celestine Chaney, 65.
Roberta A. Drury, 32.
Andre Mackniel, 53.
Katherine Massey, 72.
Margus D. Morrison, 52.
Heyward Patterson, 67.
Geraldine Talley, 62.
Ruth Whitfield, 86.
Pearl Young, 77



Another blown deadline at Battaglia Demolition

Earlier this year, the owner of Battaglia Demolition, Inc. was given 30 days to clear the concrete rubble still left on its property at Peabody and Seneca Streets. That target date passed on April 27 and the debris remains. 

It’s another in a long line of blown deadlines for the company and its owner, Peter J. Battaglia. His company has already been ordered by New York State Supreme Court to pay a $1 million fine for failure to comply with the terms of a settlement agreement in a timely fashion. The agreement was signed in August 2022, after over a year of inaction. 

WGRZ Channel 2 News in Buffalo recently dropped by the property to report on the matter. They said the company did not respond to their questions.

Check on the full story here: