Tonawanda Coke Confirms Waste Tunnel Collapse

In May, The Tonawanda Coke Corporation confirmed our allegations that the waste heat tunnel at their facility had collapsed, possibly causing toxic emissions to spew into the surrounding community.

The waste heat tunnel is a concrete tunnel that runs underground the length of the battery, all 60 coke manufacturing ovens. The main purpose of the waste heat tunnel is to collect the waste combustible heat from the ovens. Now that the tunnel has collapsed, gases can’t normally flow into the facility’s chimneys, and the company can’t draw enough fresh air into the manufacturing process. Without enough fresh air drawn into the process, the coking process will possibly create toxic releases into the ambient air, and into the surrounding community.

One of the chemical’s of concern is benzene, a known carcinogen linked to leukemia and other types of illnesses.

You can view the press coverage here from the Buffalo News, WIVB Channel 4,and WGRZ, Channel 2.

We call on the Environmental Protection Agency, the US Attorney General’s Office and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to perform a full investigation of the incident. We are calling on state and federal agencies to determine the cause of the tunnel collapse, risks posed to workers, and risks posed to the surrounding community.

If you live or work in the area and are noticing dark smoke or odors coming from the facility, submit a complaint to the New York Department of Conservation by calling 851-7000 or completing and mailing in this complaint form.

We will keep you posted as this situation progresses.



Final City of Budget Public Hearing!

This past January, hundreds of residents went to City Hall for City Budget Public Engagement day to tell the Common Council how Buffalo should spend its $500 million dollar City Budget.

Buffalo residents will have  final public hearing to hold the Common Council accountable to the demands of city residents. Common Council can approve, deny, or re-assign funds for the 2018 City Budget.

To hold Common Council accountable to your community needs, we need you to be at the final public hearing!

 



Thank You to This Year’s Annual Dinner Sponsors!

THANK YOU TO OUR SPONSORS!

We are excited to announce Clean Air’s 9th Annual Dinner Sponsorship Partners. We are grateful to have the support of so many incredible businesses and organizations. Together, we will ensure that Western New York continues to strive for healthy, just and equitable communities.

 

PREMIER SPONSOR

Eagle Hawk

PLATINUM SPONSOR

Collins & Collins Attorneys, LLC

GOLD SPONSORS

Communications Workers of America, AFL-CIO

Roswell Park Cancer Institute – Tobacco Free Erie Niagara

The Foundation for Jewish Philanthropies

David Feuerstein & Family

M&T Bank

Austin Air

Lipsitz & Ponterio, LLC – Attorneys at Law

Gallagher Printing, Inc.

SILVER SPONSORS

Western New York Area Labor Federation, AFL-CIO

Dolce Panepinto Attorneys at Law

Heart of the City Neighborhoods Incorporated

Allen Street Consulting

Geico

Roswell Park Department of Diversity

Coalition for Economic Justice

BRONZE SPONSORS

Buffalo Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO

Hip Gypsy

Western New York Council for Occupational Safety and Health

Kenmore Teacher’s Association, NYSUT, AFL-CIO

Block Club

Congressman Brian Higgins

Make Communities

Buffalo Teachers Federation, Inc.

Citizen Action of New York

Hover Networks

Teamsters Local No.264

Communications Workers of America Local 1122 AFL-CIO

University at Buffalo Department of English

Communications Workers of America Local 1168, AFL-CIO

Clean Air Board of Directors

Local Initiatives Support Corporation

Towne Auto

Civil Service Employees Association Western Region 6

PUSH Green

CONTRIBUTING SPONSORS

Comprehensive Rehabilitation Consultants, Inc.

Kenmore Garden Club

Delta Sonic

Lexington Co-operative Market

Try-It Distributing

Anderson’s Frozen Custard



Congratulations to our 2018 Golden Gas Mask Award Winners!

The Golden Gas Mask Award honors people that have exemplified dedication and leadership in the fight for environmental health, justice and equity in Western New York.  These individuals are movement builders that have committed countless hours of their time to leading our region towards a better tomorrow. They have demonstrated a deep commitment to action on behalf of working class people and people of color, and have contributed to the development of powerful strategies to improve community health, the environment, and equity.

Mary Blue

Mary Blue resides in the Kensington neighborhood and has extensive ties to the Delavan Grider community. A friend introduced Ms. Blue to Clean Air in early 2017, and she has been a member of the American Axle Steering Committee ever since. Ms. Blue has been a valuable and tireless advocate for cleanup of American Axle, a site that has been leaking toxic PCBs and hazardous waste for over 20 years. Most of her family has lived near the site, including herself at one time, spurring her dedication to working with the community to find out what is going on with the site and demand action. As a member of the campaign, she has collected petition signatures, attended community meetings and steering committee meetings, made phone calls, and met with key decision makers in state government.  Ms. Blue is also a member of the Masten Block Club Coalition and the University District Block Club Coalition, where she has worked with teenagers, many of whom are grown up and still visit her. She is a graduate of the University at Buffalo’s Nursing School. Ms. Blue is a proud grandmother, great-grandmother, and great-great-grandmother. In her free time, she enjoys bowling and line dancing.

Maria Tisby

Maria Tisby is a resident of the Town of Tonawanda. She was introduced to Clean Air Coalition in 2013, and has been a member ever since. Maria is a leader on Clean Air’s Tonawanda Tomorrow and Huntley Just Transition Campaign Teams. Through the opportunity to be involved in this work, she has led community actions that supported Clean Air’s various campaigns. Maria views justice as a critical element of public health and safety issues. That’s why she’s dedicated to working with Clean Air as they successfully fight for health, justice, and equity across the Western New York region.
Maria believes that one of the most important things a person can do is utilize the skills they have to be an advocate for other people. She spends much of her time educating herself about contemporaneous social justice issues that affect her neighbors, whether it’s housing, public funds, or quality of life.
Maria holds a bachelor’s degree in nursing from D’Youville College. She is a Parish Council Member and Lector at Saint Stanislaus Church in Buffalo, NY. She also serves as a Lector at Saint Amelia Church in Tonawanda. In her free time, Maria enjoys swimming as well as bicycling on the Tonawanda bike trails.

Dellla Miller

Della Miller has extensive hands on experience working with various community development projects such as, establishing food cooperatives, directing regional educational programs, and operating, consulting and managing commercial kitchens. After retiring, Ms. Della became involved in many exciting new avenues of work. She applied for and was accepted in 2014 & 2015 as a Champion of Change with One Region Forward and the UB School of Architecture and Planning. After attending their Citizen Planning School, she was inspired to find a way to share this beneficial information with others. In 2016, she was introduced to Participatory Budgeting (PB) and Clean Air Coalition, when she participated in the PB process as a community resident. The experience was so powerful, the next year she joined Clean Air’s PB Campaign Team and involved herself in all aspects of the PB planning process.  Ms. Della is a dedicated and active member in PB and is committed to promoting and educating citizens. She believes PB is a positive way for community residents to improve the quality of their neighborhoods and city. Ms. Della volunteers with several projects: St. John United Credit Union and community entrepreneurship and food service operations. Ms. Della is a graduate of Empire State College.

 

Join us to celebrate these fierce leaders at our Annual Dinner on May 3rd! Get your tickets here. 



Save the Date! 9th Annual Dinner May 3rd!

 

Nominations Open for the 2018 Annual Awards!

Each year our organization recognizes the work of our members and supporters at our Annual Dinner. Our work is based on the principle that no one can accomplish anything alone. We work with many people in many neighborhoods who deserve recognition. Who should we shine the light on this year?  Make your nomination today!



Strategic Plan (Almost) Finished!

After over a year of discussions, readings, and debate we’re finally getting close to finishing our 5-year Strategic Plan to put before our Board of Directors.  Our draft plan was created through:

  • numerous discussions and evaluations by our strategic planning committee,
  • a membership survey to assess the organizations strengths, growing edges, and potential 5 year goals,
  • interviews with staff, members, current and past board members to learn what people have been thinking about the direction of the organization, current challenges and strengths of both our front line work and work behind the scenes,
  • interviews with a number of local organizations who share some similar aims and desired outcomes,
  • 2 strategic planning retreats with campaign leaders, staff and board members about how to answer some of the key questions that have surfaced, and how we can ensure that the organization is living up to its values,
  • Hours of conversation between the staff and board executive committee to wordsmith and revise our draft planning document.

And now we are almost finished!

Before we get there, however, we’d like to open another opportunity for members to come together and offer some insight prior to finalizing our plan.  We will be hosting a conference call on Monday, March 19th from 5:30-6:30pm to discuss how the direction of our strategic plan aligns with member’s vision of the organization and the work that needs to happen to achieve a world where our environment promotes health and equity and where systems place communities at the forefront of decision making.

To RSVP to this call, email Rebecca@cacwny.org with the subject “Strategic Plan RSVP” by March 16th to receive the call in information. If you RSVP and are a member in good-standing, you’ll be sent a CONFIDENTIAL draft of the Strategic Plan to review before the call so that you can join with thoughtful responses. You are also welcome to call to RSVP at 716-852-3813 (ask for Rebecca).

SUGGESTED READINGS TO GET THINKING LONG TERM….

(The following readings may help shape thinking on how Clean Air can move forward in the long term)

A Brief History of Environmental Justice (video)

Demand Everything: Lessons of the Transformative Organizing Model 

Transformative Organizing: Towards Liberation of Self and Society

 



Towards Energy Democracy – Workshop February 22nd!

From energy access and community owned solar to workers’ rights, people across the world are taking back power over the energy sector,  re-imagining how energy might be produced, distributed and used. Join us to learn from leaders across the state on approaches to make our energy system renewable, equitable, accountable and local.

This two hour, interactive workshop will cover the basics of the traditional energy system, who has benefited from our system and who has been harmed, an introduction to community solar and an overview of on the ground, real world examples of how communities have shifted renewable projects to be more equitable and democratic.

Thursday, February 22nd from 6-8pm 

The American Legion  Brounshidle Post  

3354 Delaware Ave. in Kenmore
Light refreshments will be provided. 

 

Trainers include:

Adam Flint currently serves as Southern Tier (NY) Solar Works Program Manager for the Binghamton Regional Sustainability Coalition, which he co-founded in 2008. From 2011-2013 he ran the Energy Leadership Program at Cornell Cooperative Extension of Broome County, where Adam also coordinated the Southern Tier Regional Green Jobs Green New York Outreach effort which led the state in home audits and retrofits. He has worked as an educator in the Southern Tier for more than twenty years, including more than a decade in higher education, serving on the faculty as Assistant Professor of Sociology at Hartwick College and as a lecturer in Environmental Studies at Binghamton University. Adam is a founding member of the NY Energy Democracy Alliance, currently serving on the steering committee. He works on NY State energy policy, particularly in relation to the ‘Reforming the Energy Vision (REV)’ and related proceedings, and coordinates COSHARE, the Community Owned Shared Renewables Group on behalf of the Alliance. He is also a founding member of the Tier Energy Network of the Southern Tier.
Shiva Prakash is an Equal Justice Works fellow sponsored by Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld at the New York Lawyers for the Public Interest (NYLPI) where her work centers on addressing the legal barriers to community-owned renewable energy and other climate justice and energy democracy oriented campaigns in New York City and State. Before joining NYLPI, Shiva completed legal internships at the Natural Resources Defense Council, New York State Office of the Attorney General, Conservation Law Foundation, and a judicial internship with the Honorable Judge Thompson on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit. Prior to her legal career, Shiva worked at New Ecology Inc., a Boston-based non-profit, where she was a project manager on affordable and public housing projects incorporating energy efficiency, renewable energy systems, and other aspects of environmentally sustainable and socially conscious design. Shiva received her J.D. from Northeastern University School of Law where she was a Public Interest Law Scholar, a Master’s in City Planning (MCP) specializing in Housing, Community, and Economic Development from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and a B.S. in Economics also from MIT.

 

Kelly Roache currently works as Senior Program Manager, Solstice. Kelly has years of experience working as an organizer and advocate for social justice and human rights in the U.S. and abroad. Formerly with the US State Department, she helped achieve a humanitarian evacuation in Syria, advanced the U.S.-India bilateral relationship, and led an Ambassador-level review and overhaul of the goals and objectives of the U.S. Embassy to the UAE. Kelly spearheaded a campaign to divest Princeton University’s endowment from corporations complicit in human rights violations in the Middle East, which won majority support among the student body. She has likewise organized for LGBTQ+ rights in New Jersey for over a decade. At Solstice, Kelly harnesses this same passion for equity to expand community solar energy access and affordability, in particular to low-income and environmental justice communities. She also serves on the Steering Committee and chairs the Policy and Intersectionality Working Group and of the NY Energy Democracy Alliance. Kelly is a Co-Founder of Symbiosis, a confederation of grassroots groups building a direct democratic, ecological society from the ground up. She also sits on Solstice’s Board of Directors. Kelly earned her BA cum laude and an MPA, both from Princeton University.



Clean Air Annual Meeting Saturday, February 3rd

What a year it has been at Clean Air! Our organization has made a tremendous impact in our communities and, most likely, right in your own neighborhood. We’ve won a commitment from the DEC to begin cleaning up the former American Axle site on East Delavan, which has been leaking PCBs for more than 20 years. We engaged with 1,000 residents and workers to create Tonawanda Tomorrow, a comprehensive economic development plan to rebuild Tonawanda’s economy following the Huntley coal plant closure. And we facilitated a second round of participatory budgeting in Buffalo’s Niagara District. These are just a few among many highlights.

Now, it’s time to celebrate another year of exciting victories and developments at Clean Air. Without the investment and work by members — and the belief in the power and possibility of organizing our communities — none of our work in 2017 could have been possible.

Join us at our Annual Meeting to celebrate these successes and prepare for another year of smart, grassroots organizing. Our membership and partners from across the region will come together to learn from each other, and share their successes and challenges from the past year. Our meeting is open to anyone who wishes to attend, however only members are able to vote on this year’s incoming board of directors. If you wish to become a member, or renew your membership – do so online today or call our office at 716-852-3813.

The member meeting is scheduled for Saturday, February 3rd, 2018 from 11am to 1:30 p.m at the Buffalo Employment and Training Center, UB Gateway Room – 77 Goodell St. in Buffalo. Light refreshments will be served. Childcare is available by request (Call Rebecca at 716-862-3813 by January 22nd to request).

CLEAN AIR 2018 BOARD CANDIDATES SLATE

All board members serve 3 year terms. Board members fulfill the following responsibilities:

  • To provide guidance and assistance in implementing the strategic goals and objectives of the organization
  • To fundraise and build organizational capacity
  • To evaluate the Executive Director
  • To participate actively on at least one board committee; events, personnel, finance or sustainability and attend organizational events and membership meetings as able

New Board Candidates (the following board candidates are up for their first three year term)

Andre Mayes Andre is a lifelong resident of the City of Buffalo. Andre was born on the east side, raised in Allentown and currently resides on the west side with his wife Sara. Andre is eager to learn more about grassroots organizing, fundraising, and how he can apply his skills and passion to build power in his community.  An avid musician, he is the lead singer of the band Electric Salmon. He currently works as a Sheet Metal CAD Designer for JW Danforth and is a member of the Sheet Metal Workers Union Local 71.

Nick Reed Nick has been a member of Clean Air since 2015. Nick has played an active role working for a Just Transition in Tonawanda in the wake of the Huntley coal plant closure, and has supported members organizing in Seneca Babcock for the enforcement of Battaglia Recycling. An active member of the Labor movement for 11 years, Nick has a background in health, safety and chemistry and wants to bring his expertise to affect positive changes in the communities that both he and our membership live and work. Nick formally worked at Honeywell as a Research Technician and currently works as Occupational Safety and Health Specialist at the Civil Service Employees Union (CSEA). Nick is a resident of Grand Island where he lives with his wife and two children.

Returning Board Candidates (the following board candidates are up for a second three year term)

Lindsday Amico Lindsay Amico grew up in the City of Tonawanda and now lives in Buffalo, NY. She’s been involved with Clean Air since 2010, originally working on campaigns such as Tonawanda Coke and the Participatory Budgeting (PB) process for the Tonawanda Coke criminal fines in 2014. Lindsay has served as the Vice President of the board for the last two years and headed up our Buffalo Brunch Fundraiser this past fall. Lindsay graduated from Northeastern University with a dual degree in Environmental Studies and Political Science. She is passionate about environmental justice and social equity and strives to create change locally. She currently works as a Youth Coordinator at Tobacco-Free Erie Niagara at Roswell Park Cancer Institute where she organizes youth to fight big tobacco and prevents young people from starting to smoke. She’s also a life and wellness coach and loves to read and practice yoga.

Thomas Roulley Thomas Roulley has been on the Board of Directors at Clean Air for the past three years, served as board Treasurer for the past two, and is current chair of Sustainability Fund Committee. An active member of Communication Workers of America (CWA), he serves as the Political and Legislative Committee Chairman for Local 1122 and the Treasurer and Political and Legislative Committee Chairman for the Western New York CWA Council where he coordinates CWA’s Western New York endorsements and the E.J. Mays Scholarship Fund. Tom also acts as Treasurer and Niagara County area Chair for the Western New York chapter of the Working Families Party, which fights for progressive legislation and policies across New York State.  He is on the board of the George J. Woloszyn Jr. Memorial Scholarship. Tom was born and raised in Niagara Falls and now lives in Lewiston.

Catherine Zweig Cathy has been a supporter of Clean Air since 2013, and a board member for the past three years. Cathy grew up in a family with autoimmune disorders and asthma and has been concerned about the impact of pollution on human health and the environment for a long time. Cathy currently works as a social worker providing therapy to people with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and other anxiety problems at the Erie County Medical Center’s outpatient behavioral health program on Main Street in Buffalo. She has a Masters of Arts in psychology and is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LSCW-R). Experienced in board governance, she is a former board member of the Prochoice Network, Mercy Hall, Pick of the Crop Dance, and the Aurora Waldorf School. Cathy is the mom of three children and is honored to be a part of Clean Air.

 



City of Buffalo Proposal Day!

The City of Buffalo is hosting it’s first ever Budget Proposal Day where residents are invited to speak on their proposals for the $500 Million Dollar City Budget! This is the first time in city history where the public has been invited to influence the budget before it’s created!
Bring a friend, bring a neighbor, and bring your proposal on how the City of Buffalo should be spending our $500 Million Dollar budget.
The open hearing will take place Tuesday, January 16 from 5:30 to 7:30 PM at City Hall (65 Niagara Sq.) in Council Chambers (13th Floor).
If you have questions or would like to know more about how the city spends our tax dollars call Brian at 716-852-3813


$25K in 25 Days!!!

This is it! Today we launch our $25K in 25 Days Campaign!

This past year, Clean Air members consistently came together across lines of difference to organize our communities and make sure that we are building a world we all want to live in. Our campaigns have had to face shifting policies, the threat of dismantlement of the EPA and other agencies we rely on to enforce laws, and much more. And yet, we continue to win major environmental justice and public health victories for our neighborhoods.

Given this political moment, here are a few things we can all be proud of this year:

 

  • In Tonawanda, 1,000 residents and workers came together to create Tonawanda Tomorrow, a comprehensive economic development plan to rebuild Tonawanda’s economy in the wake of the Huntley Coal Plant closure. The plan lays out a vision and action steps to rebuild and shore up the revenue gap left by the plant’s retirement. Our work on a just energy transition was featured nationally by Grist, Mother Jones and Bill Moyers – lifting up the stories of our members and partners in organized labor.

 

  • Despite the fact that Participatory Budgeting was not included in the City of Buffalo’s 2017 budget, our PB steering committee adapted and facilitated a second round of Participatory Budgeting in the city’s Niagara District. This effort funded projects like technology upgrades and snow plows for community centers. More than 250 residents participated in this process. By developing projects, meeting with decision makers, designing outreach materials, speaking with the press, running polling sites, and voting, they directly decided on where a portion of their tax dollars are being spent in their neighborhoods.

2017 was a landmark year for our community and for our country. It will certainly go on record as one of the most challenging years in recent history – the changing of federal administrations has affected every neighborhood in different ways. We are at a critical point. The current political climate leaves us fighting many battles and facing continued threats that directly impact our ability to take care of ourselves, our families, and our communities. Clean Air believes that we need to continue to invest in community controlled, democratic institutions that build our people’s capacity for self-governance. We are dedicated to doing this by knocking on the doors of people we don’t know, meeting one on one with strangers, and bringing working class people together to share problems, find solutions, and take action to demand change! 



Help us make that 25K goal, and give as generously as you can today!

And if you believe that we need institutions and community that is built to last and ready to respond through changes and political shifts  –  make a sustaining monthly commitment!

 

Thank you for your vision, your hopefulness and your generosity!

Love,

The Clean Air Team

Rebecca, Natasha & Brian