One Step Backwards, One Step Forwards

BY ON March 1, 2012

Marcia G. YermanSometimes I wonder about how to handle the downward trajectory when good news becomes bad news.

I’m sure I shared those feeling with others concerned about the environment when Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla) filed a Congressional Review Act against the newly minted Mercury and Air Toxics Standards, which had been triumphantly announced by Lisa Jackson on December 16. Inhofe (who at one time stated, “Global warming is a hoax.”) has been joined by those in the industrial sector (including the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity and the National Mining Association) in efforts to overturn the landmark legislation.

What does this mean?

Well, like Sisyphus, those who care about clean air will have to roll the rock up the hill yet once again. Moms Clean Air Force is mobilizing via their website, with a link to contact elected representatives.

Am I disgusted? Yes. Am I discouraged? No.

This month—on a state and local level—I also saw how those in government, as well as average citizens, can and will take decisive action in the fight to keep the planet viable.

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman filed a lawsuit in Federal District Court in Manhattan (February 10) on behalf of New York and ten other states, with the mission of compelling the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to issue new regulations on soot pollution. Poised to protect his constituents he stated, “Clean air is a public right.” The complaint asked the court to order the EPA to “adopt new air pollution standards promptly.” Those living in New York City are at increased health risks because of the fine particulate matter pollution that is generated by buses, diesel trucks, and power plants. Particularly vulnerable are children, the elderly, and those with chronic illnesses such as lung disease and asthma.

On a hyperlocal level, approximately ten blocks from where I live, those from the halls of Congress, the Statehouse, and the City Council have joined in pushing back against calls to site a Marine Transfer Station in a neighborhood of approximately 14,000 residents. The fact that the locality is home to three city parks, as well as an athletic complex that serves children and adults, has not deterred the city’s plans to move ahead with implementation of an unwanted garbage waste treatment facility.

With a densely populated neighborhood that encompasses New Yorkers from all income strata, there has been a vocal outcry. People are mad, and over one hundred demonstrators gathered in the rain on February 16 to vocally object to the potential impact that the area would suffer.

I contacted the office of State Senator Liz Krueger, who has been at the forefront of the controversy, along with Rep. Carolyn Maloney, State Assembly Member Micah Keller, State Assembly Member Dan Quart, City Council Members Jessica Lappin and Dan Garodonick and Residents for Sane Trash Solutions. She said, “Our community has been clear in our opposition to the construction of this facility, but now residents of the East Side have reason to be doubly outraged. In soliciting bids before completing a host of other necessary steps, the City government has attempted to jump the gun and short-circuit its responsibility to safeguard the East River environment and our communities. The City’s ‘no permit, no problem’ approach is cavalier, and shows a lack of respect for our community and the law itself.”

One step backwards, one step forward. Eventually we will get there.


TOPICS: Activism, Asthma, Politics, Pollution