Thursday, September 22, 2016

So. Cal Air Regulators Should Not Ignore San Onofre Nuclear Plant

Air quality regulators are considering seeking an increase in vehicle registration fees for millions of Southern California drivers to help pay for smog reduction programs. The South Coast Air Quality Management District is burying its head in the sand though by not addressing the closure of San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS).  The amount of money they recommend to spend on an array of air pollution mitigation approaches could pay for one or two new nuclear power units.  It could also easily pay for a fix at SONGS (replacement of the steam generators -- cost approximately $1 billion each for two new steam generators).

Increasing annual vehicle registration fees collected from more than 10 million drivers across Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties by $30 would generate an additional $300 million a year for pollution-reduction programs.  The South Coast air district currently collects $2 per vehicle in annual registration fees through the Department of Motor Vehicles.

A draft plan released in June by the South Coast district proposes cutting smog-forming emissions from cars, trucks, oil refineries, ports, logistics centers and an array of other sources largely through voluntary, “nonregulatory” measures that encourage, rather than force, polluters to adopt cleaner technology. The plan, which could go to a vote of the AQMD governing board as early as December, relies on finding $1 billion a year for emissions-cutting incentive programs — a 10- to 20-fold increase over what is spent today.

The plan targets ozone, the lung-searing gas in smog that triggers asthma and other respiratory problems. Ozone reaches the nation’s highest levels in Southern California’s inland valleys and mountains. To meet a key federal deadline for reducing the pollutant, the region must slash emissions of smog-forming nitrogen oxides by 2031.

To meet federal health standards, the region must cut emissions of ozone-forming nitrogen oxides to under 100 tons per day by 2031, or 55% beyond all existing regulations, from the current level of about 500 tons per day. 
Central to the plan is a proposal to spend $11 billion to $14 billion on emissions-cutting incentive programs over the next 15 years, a nearly 20-fold increase from the $56 million a year in incentive funds the district receives now.
The plan identifies some traditional regulations to cut pollution from industrial flares, as well as from cooking burners in homes and restaurants. It also includes a proposal for additional pollution cuts to a cap-and-trade program for oil refineries and other major facilities that is likely to face opposition from the petroleum industry. But the strategies for cutting emissions from facilities in the freight sector -- including ports, warehouses and rail yards -- would be executed on a voluntary basis.  (L.A. Times, 9/21/2016, L.A. Times, 6/30/2016))

Friday, August 05, 2016

Clean Energy Initiative Program Credits Sought for Low-Income Communities

The Environmental Protection Agency should require states to allocate at least half of all credits available under the proposed Clean Energy Incentive Program to projects in low-income communities
Advocates at an Aug. 3 hearing in Chicago also recommended the EPA adopt a flexible definition of “low-income community,” giving states and tribes wider opportunities to use the Clean Energy Incentive Program (CEIP) to address economic and demographic conditions within their control.

Environmental justice groups called on the EPA to develop rules emphasizing local control and local benefits for renewable projects receiving assistance. Such requirements, they said, would address the difficult legacy of environmental harm suffered disproportionately by Americans living in low-income and minority communities.

EPA will be accepting comments on the design features of the proposed incentive plan through Sept. 2.

Voluntary Measures Rewarded

The EPA's proposed Clean Energy Incentive Program (RIN:2060-AS84) rewards states with additional emissions allowances or emissions rate credits for early efforts to comply with the Clean Power Plan, which limits carbon dioxide emissions from the existing fleet of power plants. While the states are not required to participate, more than a dozen have called on the EPA to finalize the Clean Energy Incentive Program, permitting them to participate. The incentive program originally was designed to reward investments in wind and solar generation. In June, EPA adjusted the program by adding hydropower and geothermal generation to the criteria of projects eligible for emissions reductions credits.

Eligible projects would be granted two emissions credits for every megawatt-hour of electricity demand reduced through energy efficiency in low-income communities beginning Sept. 6, 2018, and one credit for each megawatt-hour of zero emissions generation for projects that begin commercial operation after Jan. 1, 2020. The EPA also would provide matching credits up to the equivalent of 300 million short tons of carbon dioxide emissions reductions to be distributed to states on a prorated basis.

Although the U.S. Supreme Court stayed implementation of the Clean Power Plan, pending judicial review. EPA believes it has legal authority to push forward on voluntary components of the plan, including the incentive program.  Community organizations and environmental justice groups are demanding changes to the incentive program to ensure that at least half the credits go to projects in low-income communities. (The Bureau of National Affairs, 8/3/2016)

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Clean Air Interstate Rule (CAIR) Allowance Trading Rule Ends

Dear CAIR Designated Representatives and Authorized Account Representatives:

As you know, the Clean Air Interstate Rule (CAIR) trading programs ended after 2014. This e-mail is to inform you that EPA will remove all remaining CAIR NOx ozone season and NOx annual allowances from all allowance accounts on Wednesday, August 10th, 2016. When the allowances are removed you will receive an e-mail confirmation report for your records.  After removal of these allowances, EPA will end account representative associations with CAIR for both compliance and general accounts in the CAMD Business System (CBS). A few items such as updating screens in the CBS will be finished later.

If you have any questions about these activities, please contact any of the following persons:
Paula Branch at (202) 343-9168 or
Kenon Smith at (202) 343-9164 or
Robert Miller at (202) 343-9077 or

Janice Wagner, Chief
Market Operations Branch
Clean Air Markets Division


Alternate Designated Representatives
State Holding Account Primary Representatives
State Holding Account Alternate Representatives

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Exelon Would Save FitzPatrick Nuclear Plant If NY State Approves Subsidies

Entergy aims to sell FitzPatrick nuclear plant by mid-August

Fitzpatrick plant.JPG
Entergy Corp. has confirmed that it is negotiating to sell the FitzPatrick nuclear plant in Oswego County to Exelon Corp. Entergy said it will close the plant in January, as previously announced, if the sale cannot be completed.

Entergy said in a news release that it aims to complete the negotiations with Exelon by mid-August. The transaction depends on approval by the New York Public Service Commission of a new nuclear subsidy program that was proposed Friday as part of the state's clean energy standard.

The proposed nuclear subsidy program, estimated at $482 million a year split between FitzPatrick and three other nuclear reactors in Upstate New York, still faces review by the commission. The PSC scheduled a brief 10-day period for public comments on the proposal, which would allow the commission to consider it at its Aug. 1 meeting.

Entergy announced in November 2015 that it would close FitzPatrick in January 2017 because the plant loses money. Gov. Andrew Cuomo, whose administration helped facilitate the negotiations, issued a statement today applauding the developments.

A sale to Exelon would require regulatory approval by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission and others before it could be finalized.That process is likely to take nine months to a year, company officials said.  Entergy said it will begin preparations for both of the plant's possible futures -- a shutdown, or continued operation and sale. (Syracuse .com, 7/13/2016)

Monday, July 11, 2016

Subsidies for New York Nuclear Plants?

State utility regulators today released a proposal to subsidize Upstate nuclear plants with annual payments totaling an estimated $482 million a year. The public has a brief opportunity to comment -- until July 18 – an indication that the PSC is likely to rule on the proposal at its Aug. 1 meeting.

Note: Only Nine Mile Point and Ginna have one cooling tower each.
Exelon Corp., which owns three of the four Upstate nuclear reactors, recently told the commission that the oldest two facilities might close unless subsidies were approved by September.  The proposal unveiled recommends that the PSC sign 12-year agreements with nuclear operators, as Exelon had previously recommended. The subsidies would be set administratively by the PSC.

According to estimates provided in the proposal, the subsidies would start at $17.48 per megawatt-hour for the first two years and rise gradually to $29.15 per MWH in years 11 and 12. At the expected combined output of 27.6 million MWH for the Upstate nukes, the total cost would be up to $482 million a year during the first two years, rising to $805 million per year for the final two years.

Those estimates appear to anticipate the continued operation of the FitzPatrick plant, which is scheduled to close in January 2017. FitzPatrick typically accounts for more than 20 percent of the Upstate nuclear output. The subsidies are based on wholesale electric prices of about $39 per MWH. If future prices rise above that level, as the PSC staff expects, the subsidies will decrease commensurately.

The PSC staff argues that the cost, which would be borne by utility ratepayers, would be dwarfed by the benefits of preserving reliable sources of carbon-free electricity. The staff proposal estimates that continued operation of the nuclear plants provides benefits of at least $2.5 billion a year, including the societal benefit of preventing additional carbon emissions plus other positive impacts such as jobs and property tax payments provided by the nukes.

Nuclear operators have complained that wholesale electric prices are too low in Upstate New York to sustain the cost of operating nuclear plants. Entergy Corp. announced last fall that it would close the 850-megawatt FitzPatrick plant in Scriba in January 2017. Exelon told the PSC last month that the 620-megawatt Nine Mile 1 reactor in Scriba and the 580-MW Ginna nuclear plant in Wayne County might close next year too unless subsidies are approved soon. Nine Mile 1 is scheduled to be refueled next spring, a $55 million expense Exelon might forego if the plant is still losing money, company officials said.

According to a study by The Brattle Group, paid for by Exelon and Upstate Energy Jobs, the four nuclear power reactors in Upstate New York are responsible for $3 billion in economic activity and nearly 25,000 jobs.  (Syracuse. com, 7/8/2016)

Friday, July 01, 2016

Low Gasoline Prices at the Pump

The national average for gasoline is $2.29 a gallon. That’s 48 cents cheaper than last year on the same date and 4 cents cheaper than a month ago. Throughout 2016, prices nationally averaged $2.07, compared with $2.43 in 2015, $3.36 in 2014 and $3.50 in 2013.
The drop in price is a reflection of the huge worldwide surplus in crude oil. Production in the United States has jumped as companies used a process called fracking and horizontal drilling to extract oil from shale, while Iran saw its exports soar with the lifting of economic sanctions after it agreed to reign in its nuclear program. Iran’s reentry into the global market came as Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf region players continued to pump freely as well.
Crude is about $48 per barrel right now.  
Low gas prices ranged this week from $1.99 a gallon in South Carolina up to $2.90 in California.
Gas prices tend to be higher in the Washington area than the nation as a whole. Within the District, the average on Wednesday was $2.54 a gallon, according to, a website that tracks gas prices at 130,000 stations in the United States and Canada. Just over the D.C. border in Bethesda, prices topped $3. Prices were hovering around $2.40 in Silver Spring and $2.30 in Tysons Corner. Gas in Manassas is averaging above $2 and around $2.20 in Annapolis. It’s below $2 a gallon in Virginia Beach.  (Wash Post, 6/30/2016)

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

AAEA President A Featured Speaker at NBCC 24th Annual Conference

Johnson Publishing Sells Ebony to Clear View Group

Chicago-based Johnson Publishing has sold Ebony, its African-American lifestyle magazine, and the now digital-only Jet magazine to Clear View Group, an Austin, Texas-based private equity firm, for an undisclosed amount.  Johnson Publishing will retain its Fashion Fair Cosmetics business and its historic Ebony photo archives, which remains up for sale. The deal, which closed in May, also included the assumption of debt.
A family-owned business throughout its history, Ebony has documented the African-American experience since it first hit newsstands in 1945. It has shaped culture ever since, coming into its own as it reported from the front lines of the civil rights movement during the 1960s in powerful photos and prose.
In recent years, though, Johnson Publishing has seen declining media revenues as it struggled to evolve from print to digital platforms.
Linda Johnson Rice, chairman of Johnson Publishing and daughter of founder John Johnson, will serve as chairman emeritus on the board of the new company.
The new publishing entity, Ebony Media Operations, will maintain the magazine's Chicago headquarters and its New York editorial office, as well as much of the current staff, according to Michael Gibson, co-founder and chairman of African-American-owned Clear View Group.  It is the first investment in the publishing business for Clear View.
Cheryl McKissack, who has served as chief operating officer since 2013, will assume the role of CEO of the new publishing entity under Clear View, operating out of the magazine's Chicago office. Kierna Mayo is stepping down as editor-in-chief of Ebony to pursue other opportunities, Gibson said.
Chicago-based Kyra Kyles, who has headed up digital content for Ebony and Jet since last June, will add the role of editor-in-chief of Ebony, Gibson said.
Desiree Rogers, the former social secretary for President Barack Obama who has been steering Johnson Publishing since 2010, will remain CEO, focusing on the cosmetics business, which represents about half of the company's total revenue.
In January 2015, Johnson Publishing put its entire photo archive up for sale, hoping to raise $40 million. The historic collection spans seven decades of African-American history, chronicling everyone from Martin Luther King Jr. to Sammy Davis Jr.  The collection is still for sale.  (Chicago Tribune, 6/15/2016)

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

SCOTUS Leaves Intact EPA Mercury Rule

The Supreme Court on Monday left intact a key Obama administration environmental regulation, refusing to take up an appeal from 20 states to block rules that limit the emissions of mercury and other harmful pollutants that are byproducts of burning coal. The high court’s decision leaves in place a lower-court ruling that found that the regulations, put in place several years ago by the Environmental Protection Agency, could remain in effect while the agency revised the way it had calculated the potential industry compliance costs. The EPA finalized its updated cost analysis in April.

Power plants are the largest source of mercury in the United States. Mercury is a neurotoxin that can damage children’s developing nervous systems, reducing their ability to think and learn. All told, for every dollar spent to make these cuts, the public is receiving up to $9 in health benefits.

In March, a month after voting againsy the Clean Power Plan — the Obama administration’s signature regulation on climate change — Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. rejected a separate request to stay the Mercury and Air Toxic Standards rule.

More than 20 states had joined a lawsuit opposing the MATS rule, arguing that the controversial pollution controls mandated by the regulation are too expensive relative to the health benefits.

The White House and environmental groups argued that the rule was not only economically sound, but also an important public health measure. Decades of mercury pollution from coal-burning also has contributed to elevated levels of the toxin in fish. In April, the EPA issued an updated analysis of the estimated costs and benefits of the regulations, arguing that the cost for the industry to comply would amount to a fraction of annual revenue and probably would not lead to steep increases in customer bills. As the fight over the MATS rule has worked its way through the courts in recent years, many utilities have already complied with the new requirements.  (Wash Post, 6/13/2016)

Friday, June 10, 2016



By Norris McDonald

I have worked on energy issues for 36 years and felt that I had a pretty good handle on the issue until recently.  Now don't get me wrong, energy has always been a complex issue area, but lately things have gone upside down on me. The biggest confounding variable in my energy thinking has been the mixed phenomenon of fracking and horizontal drilling.  This technology changed the entire American energy game.

Fracking has been around for decades but when it was combined with horizontal drilling, it revolutionized the recovery of natural gas and petroleum. About a million wells used fracking before it was seriously applied to horizontal drilling.  Now, instead of being dependent on Arab or OPEC nations for oil, America is exporting oil and natural gas.  Amazing.  I am still trying to digest the full implications of how this technology has revolutionized American energy policy.

I also suspect that although only one percent of our electricity is currently generated by oil, I think this will go up by several percentage points in the next decade.

Below is some interesting energy information from the U.S. Department of Energy Energy Information Administration.


Americans use many types of energy

Petroleum, natural gas, coal, renewable energy, and nuclear electric power are primary sources of energy. Electricity is a secondary energy source that is generated from primary sources of energy.

Energy sources are measured in different physical units: liquid fuels in barrels or gallons, natural gas in cubic feet, coal in short tons, and electricity in kilowatts and kilowatt hours. In the United States, British thermal units (Btu), a measure of heat energy, is commonly used for comparing different types of energy to each other. In 2015, total U.S. primary energy consumption was about 97.7 quadrillion (1015, or one thousand trillion) Btu.

In 2015, the shares of total primary energy consumption of the five energy-consuming sectors were:

  • Electric power—39%
  • Transportation—28%
  • Industrial—22%
  • Residential—7%
  • Commercial—4%

  • The electric power sector generates most of the electricity in the United States, and the other four sectors consume most of the electricity it generates.

    The pattern of fuel use varies widely by sector. For example, petroleum provides about 92% of the energy used for transportation, but only 1% of the energy used to generate electricity.

    Domestic energy production is equal to about 91% of U.S. energy consumption

    In 2015, energy produced in the United States was equal to about 89 quadrillion Btu or about 91% of U.S. energy consumption. The difference between production and consumption was mainly in net imports of petroleum.

    The three major fossil fuels—petroleum, natural gas, and coal—accounted for most of the nation's energy production in 2015:

    The mix of U.S. energy production changes

    The three major fossil fuels—petroleum, natural gas, and coal—have dominated the U.S. energy mix for more than 100 years. Several recent changes in U.S. energy production have occurred:

    • Coal production peaked in 2008 and trended down through 2015. Coal production in 2015 was about the same as production was in 1981. The primary reason for the general decline in coal production was the decrease in coal consumption for electricity generation.

    • Natural gas production was higher in 2015 than in any previous year. More efficient and cost-effective drilling and production techniques have resulted in increased production of natural gas from shale formations over the past ten years.

    • Crude oil production generally decreased each year between 1970 and 2008. In 2009, the trend reversed and production began to rise. More cost-effective drilling and production technologies helped to boost production, especially in Texas and North Dakota. In 2015, crude oil production was at nearly the same level as in 1972.
    • Natural gas plant liquids (NGPL) are hydrocarbon gas liquids that are extracted from natural gas before the natural gas is put into pipelines for transmission to consumers. NGPL production has increased along with increases in natural gas production. In 2015, NGPL production was about two times greater than it was in 2005.

    • Total renewable energy production and consumption both reached record highs of about 9.7 quadrillion Btu in 2015. Hydroelectric power production in 2015 was about 18% below the 50-year average, but increases in energy production from wind and solar helped to increase the overall energy production from renewable sources. Energy production from wind and solar were at record highs in 2015.


Electricity Generation By Energy Source

In 2015, the United States generated about 4 trillion kilowatthours of electricity.1  About 67% of the electricity generated was from fossil fuels (coal, natural gas, and petroleum).
Major energy sources and percent share of total U.S. electricity generation in 2015:
  • Coal = 33%
  • Natural gas = 33%
  • Nuclear = 20%
  • Hydropower = 6%
  • Other renewables = 7%
    • Biomass = 1.6%
    • Geothermal = 0.4%
    • Solar = 0.6%
    • Wind = 4.7%
  • Petroleum = 1%
  • Other gases = <1 li="">
Preliminary data; based on generation by utility-scale facilities.


Wednesday, April 27, 2016

New York Mayor Should Support AAEA-Drafted EJ Bill

Letter of Support

Mayor Bill de Blasio
City Hall
New York, NY  10007

Re: Environmental Justice Act [Int. No. 886]

The African American Environmentalist Association supports Council Member Inez Barron’s Environmental Justice Act [Intro 886]. The legislation has numerous cosponsors and I sincerely hope that it will be passed by the council and that you will sign it into law.  We encourage you to let the New York City Council know that you support the legislation and intend to sign it upon its passage by the Council.

Your OneNYC was recently the recipient of harsh criticism from environmental justice activists who said that it does not reflect equity.  The criticism can be silenced if you support this legislation, which assures that the executive agencies and environmental justice activists will work together to bring about a just future.

The legislation is vitally important in protecting communities throughout New York City.  At present, there is no national or state law that protects these communities.  Int. No. 886 is a local law to amend the administrative code of the city of New York, in relation to identifying and addressing environmental justice issues. Int. No. 886 sets up an interagency task force to develop agency-wide plans to assure that environmental justice in incorporated into the planning and implementation of agency duties. The legislation also creates an associated environmental justice advisory board, reflecting geographic balance, comprised of pertinent committee chairs or their designees, appointments from environmental justice community boards health or environmental committees, at least seven appointees who are directors, members or employees of environmental justice organizations and at least two appointees who are directors, members or employees of organizations engaged in research related to human health.

I drafted the Environmental Justice Bill for Councilman Charles Barron in 2003 and Councilmember Charles Barron introduced the bill (Int. No. 404) in 2004 with seven cosponsors.  After meeting with Councilwoman Inez Barron in 2014 to request re-introduction of the legislation and after much review and revisions by the Committee on Environmental Protection, Councilwoman Barron introduced the legislation that we are considering today. 

We encourage you to let the New York City Council know that you support Int. No. 886 in order to help accelerate passage of this legislation.

Sincerely yours,

Norris McDonald


Thursday, April 07, 2016

Guy Williams New President & CEO of Detroiters Working for Environmental Justice

Guy Williams
Detroiters Working for Environmental Justice (DWEJ) today announced that Guy O. Williams will become its first full-time President and CEO. Williams previously worked as a consultant and special advisor to the DWEJ Board of Directors and has worked closely with the organization since 2011.
The creation of this new position is driven by DWEJ’s desire to utilize organizational best practices. For the past five years, as special advisor to the Board of Directors, Williams has provided leadership that has positioned DWEJ to play a major role in Detroit’s transformation to a global model of sustainable redevelopment and a place where all thrive in environmental, economic and social health.
A graduate of Bucknell University, this summer Williams will be honored with the prestigious Bucknell University Alumni Board of Directors Award for Service to Humanity. Named 2014 Michigan Green Leader by the Detroit Free Press, Williams currently serves on the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy Board of Directors and Chair Emeritus of the Great Lakes Leadership Academy Board of Governors. A Director on the Boards of Eastern Market Corporation and Pesticide Action Network North America, he also serves on the Advisory Board for the Center for Urban Responses to Environmental Stressors and the Great Lakes Integrated Sciences and Assessment Center.
A frequent speaker and presenter at conferences locally and nationally, Williams is known for his commitment—both in the trenches and at the table—to fostering clean, healthy and safe communities through innovative policy, education and workforce initiatives. Over the years, he has gained the respect of people at all walks of life, from residents of Detroit to policy makers in Lansing and community leaders across the country, making him a powerful change agent.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

AAEA Submits Comments to Nuclear Regulatory Commission


According to 2010 Census data, 53 percent of the U.S. population residing within a 50-miles radius of IP2 and IP3 (approximately 17,231,000 individuals) identified themselves as minority.  With such a large minority population within this 50-mile radius of Indian Point 2 and Indian Point 3, environmental justice merits more scrutiny.  AAEA has provided such information for more than a decade.  The short version is that the major benefits of the plant should be included in the impact analysis.

We do not understand the NRC’s seeming reluctance to include these benefits in its environmental assessments.  IP2 and IP3 prevent significant numbers of hospitalizations and deaths from asthma and other respiratory and pulmonary problems.  Such benefits speak directly to the importance or renewing the operating license for the facility.


Thursday, February 04, 2016

Flint Water Crisis Fight In Senate Threatens Energy Bill

The fight over the water crisis in Flint, Michigan is threatening to tank the Senate’s energy bill [S. 2012Energy Policy Modernization Act of 2015]. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), who has taken the lead in negotiating for Flint aid with Republicans, has warned that her caucus could block the energy bill if it isn’t satisfied with the aid package for Flint.
Democrats want a $600 million aid package, with $400 million to match state funds to repair and replace old pipes in the city and the balance going to a research and education center on lead poisoning.
Republicans oppose the cost of the package and are angered by the threats to delay the underlying bill, which has had bipartisan support. The bill includes a number of measures aimed at modernizing the country’s energy systems and policy.
The water supply for Flint, a city of 100,000 people, was switched by an emergency manager appointed by Gov. Rick Snyder in 2014 from Detroit’s municipal supply to the Flint River for budgetary reasons.  Water from the Flint River is more corrosive; without the proper corrosion controls, it caused lead from old pipes in the city to leach into the drinking water, making it far too dangerous to drink.
Senator James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, has introduced a compromise package worth $200 million that would expand loan programs to help out Flint and other cities with lead problems. But it would use money taken from the Energy Department’s advanced vehicle manufacturing loan program, a high priority for Michigan.  Michigan’s delegation took that as an insult.
Two officials involved in the water crisis — the former emergency manager for Flint, Darnell Earley, and Susan Hedman, the EPA regional director who resigned in January — declined invitations to testify.  Chaffetz subpoenaed the two to appear before members. (The Hill, 2/3/2016)

Friday, January 29, 2016

AAEA Presents Testimony At EJ Bill Hearing Before New York City Council

          AAEA President Norris McDonald testified before the New York City Council Committee on Environmental Protection on Thursday, January 28, 2015.  According to committee Chairman Costa Constantinides, it was the first time in the history of the committee that someone testified by Skype [McDonald was in California].

McDonald drafted the Environmental Justice Bill for Councilman Charles Barron in 2003 and Councilmember Charles Barron introduced the bill (Int. No. 404) in 2004 with seven cosponsors.  After meeting with Councilwoman Inez Barron in 2014 to request re-introduction of the legislation and after much review and revisions by the Committee on Environmental Protection, Councilwoman Barron introduced the legislation that we are considering today.  The legislation has 37 cosponsors.

Inez Barron & Charles Barron

The New York EJ legislation is patterned after a national EJ bill I drafted that we still need to get passed in the U.S. Congress.  AAEA formed the Environmental Justice Coalition to work for the passage of the national legislation.  The national bill, New York bill, Maryland bill and Mt. Vernon bill are listed in the Environmental Justice Coalition blog.[1]

Costa Constantinides

The Bills

Int. No. 886, sponsored by Councilwoman Inez Barron, is a local law to amend the administrative code of the city of New York, in relation to identifying and addressing environmental justice issues. Int. No. 886 sets up an interagency task force to develop agency-wide plans to assure that environmental justice in incorporated into the planning and implementation of agency duties. The legislation also creates an associated environmental justice advisory board, reflecting geographic balance, comprised of pertinent committee chairs or their designees, appointments from environmental justice community boards health or environmental committees, at least seven appointees who are directors, members or employees of environmental justice organizations and at least two appointees who are directors, members or employees of organizations engaged in research related to human health.

Int. No. 359, sponsored by Environmental Protection Committee Chairman Costa Constantinides, is a local law to amend the New York City charter and the administrative code of the city of New York, in relation to requiring a study of potential environmental justice communities in New York City and the publication of the results of such study on the city’s website. Int. No. 359 calls for a study of potential Environmental Justice communities in New York City, an identification of pollution sources, recommendations to mitigate adverse environmental impacts and a publication of the results of the study on the City’s website.


AAEA supports both bills and McDonald provided specific recommendations that would improve the legislation.  Although we like the Environmental Working Group and the Advisory Board provisions of Int. No. 886, the bill needs additional protections for vulnerable communities.  The additional protections from our national legislation that should be included in Int. No. 886, include:

Providing a citizen lawsuit provision to allow potential victims of environmental race discrimination to enforce the EJA and the regulations promulgated thereunder.

Providing a citizen endorsement provision to allow potential beneficiaries of nonpolluting economic development to enforce the EJA and the regulations promulgated thereunder.

Establishing the criteria for determining potential violations and endorsements based on comparative community health statistics, comparative community pollution sources and comparative community economic development.

Addressing: acts of discrimination and investigating all community complaints and recommendations related to development projects, whether filed before or after issuance of construction and operating permits.

Empowering citizens, and DEP at the request of citizens, to obtain injunctions to prevent construction and operation of discriminatory polluting facilities and operations that violate the EJA regulations.

Empowering citizens, and DEP at the request of citizens, to endorse the construction and operation of nondiscriminatory nonpolluting facilities and operations that do not violate EJA regulations.

Providing a definitive permitting process regarding demographics for citizens, developers, government agencies and investors.

Directing the DEP to develop EJA regulations.

Int. No. 359 should include types and amounts of pollution at the sources called for by the bill.  AAEA produced pollution studies[2] for Washington, DC that included types and amounts of pollution at each facility listed as an emitter.  It will be very helpful to affected citizens to have this sort of information at their disposal.

AAEA Testimony

Committee Report

Committee Hearing Video

[2] Our Unfair Share 3: Race and Pollution In Washington, DC, 2000,

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

EPA Office of Civil Rights Proposal Weakens Civil Rights Protections

Agency Holds Hearings on Revision of Proposed Civil Rights Rule Revision

Environmental and community groups from five states that sued the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in July over the agency’s failure to take action on civil rights complaints are calling for the agency to significantly strengthen a rule it proposed last month to revise the way the agency handles civil rights complaints.
On Dec. 14, the federal register published the proposed rule that was intended to improve the way the EPA’s Office of Civil Rights responds to civil rights complaints it receives. The proposed revision, however, actually weakens existing protections by removing deadlines for the agency to respond and investigate complaints, according to the groups that filed suit.
Under the current rule, the EPA has five days to acknowledge receipt of a civil rights compliant, 20 days to decide whether the complaint merits an investigation and 180 days to make a preliminary finding of discrimination. However, the EPA’s proposed update would remove statutory deadlines, no longer requiring the agency to take action within any specific period of time.
The EPA, under the proposal, would no longer have to accept all valid complaints but would have discretion to decide which complaints to pursue.
The proposed rulemaking comes on the heels of an investigation by the Center for Public Integrity in August that found that the Office of Civil Rights has failed to investigate and act on claims filed under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which allows federal agencies to withhold funds from local and state governments that discriminate on the basis of race or national origin.
The investigation, which culminated in a seven-part news series,"Environmental Justice Denied"determined that the EPA dismissed 90 percent of claims it received alleging environmental discrimination and that it never issued a finding of environmental discrimination in its 22-year history of investigating civil rights complaints despite repeated national studies showing that communities of color face a disproportionate burden of environmental pollution.
In July, Earthjustice on behalf of groups around the country sued the EPA for allowing five separate civil rights complaints to stall for more than a decade. The complaints involve discrimination by the states in granting permits that subject already overburdened low-income communities of color to more big-polluting facilities. 
The EPA, launched a 60-day comment period on the rule, which began Dec. 14, and is holding five public hearings in January in Chicago, Ill.; Houston, Texas; Oakland, Calif.; Research Triangle Park, N.C. and Washington, D.C. to receive comments about the rule.
Available Resources
Earthjustice Feature: Righting Civil Wrongs
Earthjustice is a non-profit public interest law organization dedicated to protecting the magnificent places, natural resources, and wildlife of this earth, and to defending the right of all people to a healthy environment.

US Civil Rights Commission to Examine EPA, Civil Rights and Coal Ash

WHAT: The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights is holding a hearing on Friday, Jan. 22., to examine EPA’s  track record of protecting civil rights with regard to the placement of coal ash disposal facilities near minority and low income communities. Coal ash is the toxic waste that remains after coal is burned in power plants. 
EPA has found that communities of color and low-income communities suffer greater risk from coal ash pollution than the general population. 
Among those testifying are Lois Gibbs, who spearhead the response to  Love Canal, a suspect disease-causing industrial and chemical dumpsite, buried beneath homes, in Niagara Falls, N.Y. Gibbs’ work led to the designation of the first superfund site with federal funds designated for environmental cleanup. 
Earthjustice Attorney Lisa Evans, who has led the national effort to regulate coal will testify along with Earthjustice attorney Marianne Engleman Lado, who filed a civil rights complaint against the EPA  in 2013 for failing to protect the civil rights of residents of Uniontown, Alabama, a nearly all-black community that received 4 million yards of toxic coal ash from the largest coal ash spill in Kingston, Tenn in 2008. Kingston, Tenn., is a predominantly white community. 
Ester Calhoun, a resident of Uniontown Alabama, and president of Black Belt Citizens for Health & Justice, will testify at 9 am. 
Lisa Evans and Marianne Engleman Lado are scheduled to testify at 2:30 pm. 
WHEN: January 22, 2015 from 9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. ET 
WHERE: U.S. Commission on Civil Rights
1331 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Suite 1150
Washington, DC 20425 (Entrance on F Street NW)

Monday, January 04, 2016

National Black Chamber of Commerce Does Not Mislead Minorities


By Norris McDonald

I read Martin Luther King, III's Christmas present article to National Black Chamber of Commerce (NBCC) President Harry Alford and I have to disagree with his assessment.  I have known Mr. Alford for a couple of decades and I know his primary interest is in promoting Black business.  Period. And to the extent he does that, I totally support him.  Now we do not agree on everything, but we are on the same page when it comes to promoting Black business opportunities. Mr. Alford opposes ANYTHING that he considers to be a deterrent to Black business development.  I understand his mission completely.

AAEA is an environmental group that seeks to resolve environmental problems through the application of practical solutions. We are also the only environmental group working to increase African American ownership of energy infrastructure and resources, including the fossil fuels industries.  AAEA and NBCC are on the same page when it comes to Black ownership of energy resources and infrastructure.

With over three decades of Inside The Beltway experience, I also understand politics.  And Mr. King's article was strictly political. You have to pick a side and support it 110% or you are useless. Mr. King has picked a side.  Mr. Alford has picked another side.  Let's look at the sides.

The EPA global warming agenda is symbolic at best.  It will do nothing to slow global warming.  Just ask China and India.  It is political symbolism just like the recent United Nations climate change agreement among almost 200 countries.  These are the HOV lanes of climate change.  EPA acted because the Congress would not.  As with most other clean air regulations, these will flounder around in the litigation pool and alternative regs will be drafted at some future date. The Clean Power Plan will not mitigate global warming.  But our Energy Defense Reservations (EDR) Program would.  We are working to get the NBCC, the Obama administration and the energy sector to accept this approach as our front line offense for mitigating global warming [We would also welcome Mr. King's support].  It is a technology-driven program that will actually reduce global warming and create real jobs.

As far as the NBCC being funded by the energy sector: GOOD FOR THEM.  We would also love to be funded by the energy sector.  Make checks payable to AAEA.  We want more than luncheon and conference funding though. We want partnerships that promote Black ownership of energy infrastructure and resources.  The energy sector does not like it so much when we bring this up.  But they should understand that they could benefit from such partnerships [See our LNG work].

So-called 'clean energy jobs' WILL NEVER compete with the traditional energy sources.  If anybody tries to tell you different, THEY are the ones misleading you.  Moreover, Blacks own virtually none of the fossil fuels industry.  How can Blacks oppose using fossil fuels when we have never owned the mechanisms or materials or resources in this sector? This is why President Obama's true energy agenda includes ALL OF THE ABOVE energy sources.  His Clean Power Plan is largely political to appease the environmental movement and the liberal left.

Our electric power grid can reliably get baseload power from two sources: 1) nuclear power and 2) coal. Natural gas is such a premium fuel that I hate to see it used to produce baseload electricity. The super economies of China and India understand this.  Anyone who says renewables can reliably produce baseload power is misleading you.

Hydraulic fracturing has removed any energy vulnerability for our national security.  That is why Congress recently repealed the ban on the U.S. exporting petroleum.  America is in the process of exporting liquefied natural gas (LNG) too. President Obama's Clean Power Plan cannot reduce utility bills.  Botched deregulation in the 1990's and the reconciliation of that debacle will double electricity bills no matter what.

So Mr. King's shot across Mr. Alford's bow was political and useless.  Instead of blacks attacking each other for marginal political gain, we should be working together to aggressively get Black ownership of energy sector resources and infrastructure.