By dialing two phone numbers, we can help save a bunch of kids from getting asthma. Not hopefully. Not maybe. But definitely. I’ll tell you what to do in a minute, but first some background from an OpEd by Errol Louis of the Daily News (or you can skip the background and go straight to the instructions in bold below):
“The latest chapter in New York City's saga of garbage politics - and political garbage - is being written on the West Side of Manhattan, where a group of allegedly liberal pols are, once again, bargaining away the health and very lives of children in Harlem, the South Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens.
I wonder how these politicians sleep at night. Right now, Manhattan generates 40% of the city's garbage. Nearly every last scrap of it - all the rotting food, dirty diapers, restaurant waste and nonrecyclable office trash - gets trucked outside the borough to other neighborhoods for sorting, packing and shipping to landfills.
This results in heavy concentrations of diesel-truck traffic, rodent infestations and smog in a handful of neighborhoods like the South Bronx- which, not surprisingly, have sky-high levels of asthma.”
The good news is that we can help the asthma kids. In 2006, New York City passed a new Solid Waste Management Plan (SWMP) that depends on new, state-of-the-art, environmentally-safe transfer stations based in the boroughs where the trash is generated, transportation of trash by barge and rail instead of trucks, and the elimination of truck-dependent clusters of transfer stations in the outer boroughs.
These features taken together will eliminate 5.5 million truck miles traveled in New York City each year, improving air quality and quality of life for City residents. Think of the diesel fumes the kids won’t have to breathe! The of the eliminated greenhouse gases! The plan is supported by New York’s major environmental organizations and by the New York Times.
But the entire plan faces catastrophe this week thanks to not-in-my-backyard politics in the New York State Assembly. Members Deborah Glick, Richard Gottfried and Linda Rosenthal, representing constituents on the west side of Manhattan, don’t want the plan’s associated recycling facility on the Gansevoort Penninsula just south of 14th Street or the transfer station at 59th Street (you can read more about the issues here and here and here). The assembly members are trying to ensure that the requisite legislation never gets to the Assembly floor.
Needless to say, I’m upset. I live very near the Gansevoort Peninsula, and inside the relevant Assembly district, but all the same, my representative is choosing to try to screw up the plan. Well, I don’t want little kids in the South Bronx and elsewhere paying the price for trash produced by me and my neighbors, especially when the price is not being able to breathe.
But we can fix the problem. I am hoping that those of you who are New York State residents will join me in making a couple of phone calls to let the State Assembly know that we want NYC’s solid waste plan enacted as it stands. The calls that need to be made are, first, to our own Assembly members (you can search for yours by zip-code here) and, second, to Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (his numbers are 212 312 1420 and 518 455 3791).
Please ask your assembly member to let Speaker Silver know that they support the "forthcoming amendment to the Hudson River Park Act (HRPA) that will allow for the construction of a Manhattan recyclables acceptance facility off of the Gansevoort peninsula" and that they want it brought to a vote. Then call Speaker Silver and say the same thing.
I’m told that 20 phone calls to an Assembly member’s office is a virtual landslide. But they need to be made today (Monday) or tomorrow. This is a case where we can really make a difference. So please help, and let me know you did by leaving a comment on the blog or emailing me privately. Thanks for your help!!!
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Colin Beavan (that's me!) is now leading a conversation about finding a happy, helpful life at Colinbeavan.com. If you want to know how people are breaking out and and finding authentic, meaningful lives that help our world, check it out the blog here and sign up to join the conversation here.