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New Jersey Passes Legislation To Keep Nuclear Plants Open

Senate and House legislators in New Jersey today passed S2313 and A3724, companion bills that will ensure the continued operation of the Salem and Hope Creek nuclear power plants in that state. Salem and Hope Creek power plants support more than 5,000 jobs, produce enough electricity to power 3 million homes per day and provide more than 90 percent of the state's zero-carbon electricity.  The bills preserve more than $800 million in annual economic activity across New Jersey.

AAEA testified at hearings in December 2017 and in February 2018 in support of the legislation.  Our phone calls to legislators and an Op Ed the day before the vote also hopefully helped in convincing legislators to support the bills. AAEA concentrated on the health effects of closing the plants.  

The passage of these bills in New Jersey comes in the wake of similar actions taken by lawmakers in New York, Illinois and Connecticut who recognized the economic and environmental benefits of commercial nuclear energy in those states. 

Norris McDonaldComment
Arizona, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York & New Jersey Nuclear Power Crises

Eight nuclear power plants in five states are facing closure.  This represents an extreme emergency in terms of electricity production and clean air protection.


An Arizona ballot initiative could prematurely close the state’s sole nuclear plant, Palo Verde.   If the ballot initiative succeeds in the November 2018 election, Palo Verde will close in 2024 instead of in 2044, according to its operator, Arizona Public Service (APS).   The initiative would require 50 percent of Arizona’s electricity to come from renewable sources like solar and wind.  The initiative excludes nuclear from the clean energy mandate.  In order to accommodate such a large increase in intermittent energy from solar and wind, APS believes it would need to close Palo Verde and replace it with natural gas.  The Palo Verde Generating Station is the largest power plant in the United States by net generation

Nuclear’s importance is especially acute in the Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Maryland (PJM) Interconnection system, America’s largest competitive power market, spanning 13 states.

Ohio's FirstEnergy plans to close three of its nuclear plants in Ohio and Pennsylvania.  The three nuclear plants that FirstEnergy plans to shut down by 2021, plus Exelon’s Three Mile Island nuclear plant, which is scheduled to close next year, produced more energy than all of the wind and solar generation combined in PJM.

Illinois moved to compensate nuclear plants for their zero-carbon value.  New York has implemented a similar program.  Both states have adopted zero-carbon energy credits, in which the state issues credits to nuclear plants for generating carbon-free power, which they can sell on the open market to raise revenue.  Unfortunately, Indian Point nuclear power plant was left out of the New York program.  When it closes, replacement power will come from inner city plants, which will increase negative health effects in those communities.

New Jersey is proposing a zero carbon program similar to the Illinois and New York models.  AAEA has testified at hearings in support of the legislation.  

Ohio considered a similar proposal, but it failed to advance, and no such mechanism exists in Pennsylvania, the two states where FirstEnergy’s closing plants operate.  Pennsylvania appears to be constrained by political considerations.  The election in November could be leaving legislators squeamish about advancing controversial energy legislation.  (Environmental Progress, Washington Examiner, 4/10/2018)

Norris McDonaldComment
New Jersey Nuclear Power Support Legislation - S2313 & A3724


A3724 is the identical bill in the Assembly


This bill directs the Board of Public Utilities (board) to establish a Zero Emission Certificate (ZEC) program. Under the bill, a ZEC is a certificate, issued by the board or its designee, representing the fuel diversity, air quality, and other environmental attributes of one megawatt-hour of electricity generated by an eligible nuclear power plant selected by the board to participate in the ZEC program.

To participate in the ZEC program, a nuclear power plant is required to:  (1) be licensed to operate by the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission by the date of enactment of this bill and through 2030 or later; (2) demonstrate to the satisfaction of the board that it makes a significant and material contribution to the air quality in the State by minimizing emissions that result from electricity consumed in New Jersey; (3) provide financial information to the board demonstrating that the plant will cease operations unless the nuclear power plant experiences a material financial change; (4) certify annually to the board that the nuclear power plant does not receive any direct or indirect payment or credit under a law of this State, or any other state, or a federal law, or a regional compact, that would eliminate the need for the nuclear power plant to retire prematurely, despite its reasonable best efforts to obtain any such payment or credit; and (5) submit an application fee to the board in an amount to be determined by the board, but which is not to exceed $250,000, to be used to defray the costs incurred by the board to administer the ZEC program.

The board is to determine the price of a ZEC each energy year under the formula provided in the bill.  Within 90 days after the conclusion of an energy year, each electric public utility (utility) in the State is required to pay each nuclear power plant that received ZECs for that prior energy year for the total number of ZECs received by the nuclear power plant multiplied by the percentage of electricity the utility distributed in the State as compared to other utilities in the State.

The board is to order the full recovery of all costs associated with the utility’s procurement of ZECs through a non-bypassable, irrevocable charge imposed on the retail distribution customers of the utility in the amount of $0.004 per kilowatt-hour.  This charge may be reduced by the board if certain conditions are met as specified in the bill.  Excess monies collected by utilities through the charge are to be refunded to their customers.

A nuclear power plant selected by the board to participate in the program is to initially receive ZECs through the end of the first energy year in which the plant was selected, plus an additional three energy years thereafter, and then is subject to review by the board triennially for renewed eligibility for additional, three energy year periods.

     A nuclear power plant selected by the board to participate in the program may suspend or cease operations under certain circumstances, including circumstances in which events prevent the selected nuclear power plant from continuing operations despite the plant’s reasonable efforts to continue operations.  If a selected nuclear power plant ceases operations during an eligibility period for any reason other than those specified in the bill, the plant is to pay a charge to the utilities that purchased ZECs from the selected nuclear power plant in an amount equal to the compensation received for the sale of ZECs since the board’s last determination of the selected nuclear power plant’s eligibility to receive ZECs.  A selected nuclear power plant would not be authorized to lay off personnel except for employee misconduct or underperformance issues.  Finally, the bill requires the board to conduct a study to evaluate the program within 10 years. 

Norris McDonaldComment
New Jersey Legislature Considers Nuclear Power Support

PSEG believes it will have to close its nuclear plants within three years without some form of assistance due to mounting competition from cheap natural gas.

The New Jersey State Legislature held a joint hearing of the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee and the Assembly Telecommunications and Utilities Committee to consider S. 877 to establish a Nuclear Diversity Certificate Program and A-2850 to establish and modify clean energy and energy efficiency programs, establish zero emission certificates program and modify the State's solar renewable energy portfolio standards.

AAEA President Norris McDonald testified at the hearing [full written statement].  AAEA is supporting the legislation and wants Governor Phil Murphy to sign the bill.

 NJ S877, lays out a path for subsidizing the state's nuclear power plants, overhauling the solar program and jump-starting offshore wind development.  Senate President Steve Sweeney is the bill's primary sponsor.  A-2850 is the House version of the Senate bill.

The bill would allow nuclear plant operators to apply for a subsidy from the Board of Public Utilities (BPU). If approved by the BPU, the subsidy would cost roughly $300 million annually. The solar amendment is expected to tack on an extra $423 million annually. There are no estimates yet for provisions related to energy efficiency or offshore wind.

The bill was voted out of committee along party lines, with Democrats largely in favor of the legislation. It was released from the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee 8-3 with one abstention. The Assembly Telecommunications and Utilities Committee cleared it 5-3.

The subsidy, as well as the provisions related to solar and offshore wind, would be paid for through charges on ratepayers' utility bills. 

The current legislation would require that 35 percent of the state's electricity come from renewable energy sources by 2025, and that 50 percent come from renewables by 2050. It also would call on the BPU to outline a method for installing 600 megawatts of energy storage by 2021, and 2,000 megawatts by 2030.  (Politico NJ, "After last-minute revisions, controversial energy bill heads to the Senate floor," By Danielle Muoio)

Norris McDonaldComment
2-Year Budget Bill Extends Nuclear Production Tax Credit

The 2-year budget bill passed last night extends the Nuclear Production Tax Credit.

The 2005 Energy Policy Act provided a tax credit of 1.8 cents per kilowatt-hour for electricity produced from new reactors, but set a deadline of 2020 for the plants to be in service. The new bill removes that deadline, which would ensure that the two Westinghouse AP1000 reactors being built at Southern Nuclear Operating Company's Vogtle site in George could benefit from the credit. 

AAEA President Norris McDonald at signing of Energy Policy Act of 2005

AAEA President Norris McDonald at signing of Energy Policy Act of 2005

[Note: The Center worked diligently for the passage of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, and particularly for the inclusion of the Nuclear Production Tax Crecit, and was invited to attend the signing of the legislation as a Special Guest of The White House in Albuquerque, New Mexico].

Unforeseen events—the Chapter 11 filing by Westinghouse, regulatory delays associated with first-of-a-kind engineering projects, and Fukushima—will result in the units coming online after 2020, therefore missing the opportunity to receive the PTC.

The tax credit is applicable to the first 6,000 megawatts of new nuclear capacity that come online. The completion of Vogtle 3 and 4 will leave a significant amount of remaining capacity that future small modular or advanced reactor projects will be able to access.

The small modular reactor design closest to construction is from NuScale Power LLC, which in January became the first to submit a design certification application to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. NuScale plans to build a first commercial power plant at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Idaho National Laboratory, owned by Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems and operated by Washington state-based utility Energy Northwest. It is expected to begin commercial operations by 2026.  (NEI, 11/2/2017, Background/NEI, Greentech Media, 2/9/2018)

October 6, 2017

Norris McDonaldComment
New Jersey Needs Hope Creek and Salem Nuclear Plants



[Link To Article]

It would be a huge step backward to close New Jersey’s largest sources of clean electric generation and replace them with fossil fuels

We all know of the bad stuff that flows into the air from fossil-fuel power plants. They emit CO2, which contributes to climate change; NOx and SOx, which contribute to acid rain; and particulates that adversely affect human health. Particulates are nasty — they contribute to early death in infants and the elderly, and impact individuals with decreased lung capacity, such as those with asthma.

I have firsthand experience. The memory of my young son’s reaction to my being intubated during an asthma attack is permanently seared in my memory. There are real-world, life and death and quality-of-life effects from putting more pollution in the air.

And the ill effects of air pollution, particularly particulates, are not shared equally by all in society. They fall hardest on those who live near power plants. I have never seen a coal or gas plant nestled in among suburban homes with rolling lawns and three-car garages. I have, however, seen them jammed between row houses in neighborhoods filled with poor families, many of them people of color.

Environmental injustice

Power plants fueled by coal or natural gas are prime examples — though far from the only examples — of environmental injustice: placing environmental hazards in neighborhoods of the un-empowered.

This is why I believe that New Jersey’s nuclear power plants should be preserved. In places where nuclear plants have closed, coal plants have been restarted or natural gas plants have run more, and even expanded. Air emissions rose considerably. It makes no sense to close New Jersey’s largest sources of clean electric generation and replace them with fossil fuels. It would be a huge step backward — and the burden would fall on those who can least afford it.

The amount of emissions is not insignificant. Replacing nuclear plants in New Jersey with fossil fuel-burning plants would have the same impact of adding 3 million more cars (gas combustion, not electric) to New Jersey’s roads.

A report by the Brattle Group estimates that closing the nuclear plants would result in 17,315 tons of additional particulates being released in the air and cost the state more than $100 million a year — mainly in increased medical costs and decreased productivity — again, falling mostly on those who can least afford it. This is on top of the nearly 14 million tons of CO2 that would be released into the atmosphere. The Brattle group found that the public health and environmental costs of closing the nuclear plants would exceed $700 million a year in New Jersey — a cost that will not be equally distributed.

Nuclear power is clean and, in New Jersey, situated in less-populated areas. They are safe neighbors; someone living near a coal pile is exposed to more radiation than someone living near a nuclear power plant.

Energy prices will climb

I need to add one more factor that often goes overlooked. If New Jersey’s nuclear plants close, the cost of energy will go up. Nuclear plants currently supply half of New Jersey’s electric generation. If those plants close, they will be replaced by more costly units — it is the way of free markets. In fact, the cost of electricity will go up much more than it would cost if we were to preserve these plants. This burden, too, falls disproportionately on those at the lower end of the economic spectrum. While their electric bills may be smaller than those who live in McMansions with in-ground pools, the percent of their income that goes to utilities is much higher. They simply cannot afford that burden, especially when it can be avoided.

The benefits of nuclear power are well-known — nuclear energy is good for the environment, ensures fuel diversity, and creates good-paying jobs. The cost of closing nuclear plants would be significant and spread across society.

Many will focus on the burden this will place on the workers at the plants and the communities that surround them. We need to factor in, as well, the impact on those who live near coal and gas plants that will be more active if nuclear plants close. We need to be finding ways to lessen the economic injustice of plants in the urban cities, not make it worse.

To learn more about the fate of New Jersey’s nuclear plants, please visit and sign up to stay informed.

Norris McDonald is president of the African American Environmentalist Association (AAEA). Founded in 1985, the AAEA is the nation’s oldest African-American-led environmental organization. The AAEA is dedicated to protecting the environment; enhancing human, animal and plant ecologies; promoting the efficient use of natural resources; promoting African-American ownership of energy resources and infrastructure and increasing participation in the environmental movement.

Norris McDonaldComment
New Jersey Hearing on Saving Nuclear Power Plants


Testimony of Norris McDonald


African American Environmentalist Association

Before the

New Jersey Legislature

Senate Environment and Energy Committee


Assembly Telecommunications and Utilities Committee

Public Hearing On

Strategies to Prevent the Premature Retirement of Existing, Licensed, and Operating Nuclear Power Plants

Committee Room 4, 1st Floor, State House Annex

Trenton, NJ

Monday, December 04, 2017 - 10:00 AM



My name is Norris McDonald and I am the founder and president of the African American Environmentalist Association (AAEA). We are the nation’s oldest African American-led environmental group and we are dedicated to protecting the environment, promoting the efficient use of natural resources, enhancing human, animal and plant ecologies, promoting increased African American ownership of energy resources and infrastructure and increasing African American participation in the environmental movement.

We support strategies to prevent the premature retirement of Hope Creek and Salem nuclear power plants.  These existing, licensed, and operating nuclear power plants are an invaluable asset in mitigating air pollution in New Jersey.  The state is in nonattainment for ozone, which is a component of smog, and negatively affects the health of New Jersey residents.  Any support the New Jersey state legislature can provide would be a Godsend to people suffering from asthma and other air pollution related illnesses.  Minority communities are particularly vulnerable to air related illnesses with the highest rates of asthma attack, emergency room visits and hospitalizations in the state.  These vulnerable communities are helped by ability of Hope Creek and Salem nuclear facilities ability to deliver incredible amounts of baseload electricity without producing any of the air pollution that hurts these areas.

Nuclear power plants represent our most important facilities for efficiently producing large amounts of baseload electricity while not producing air polluting emissions. It is for these reasons that we support the PSEG Nuclear nuclear fleet.  Hope Creek and Salem nuclear facilities are invaluable clean air assets in New Jersey.  Hope Creek and Salem are also uncredited assets in New Jersey’s ongoing goals to improve air quality.

We were the first environmental group in the United States to support nuclear power starting in 2001.  We support nuclear power because operating the plants do not create smog-forming gases or greenhouse gases.  We are also particularly interested in mitigating air pollution in New Jersey because African Americans represent most of the asthma hospitalizations in the vast majority of counties in New Jersey.

FULL 15-Page Written Statement

Norris McDonaldComment
New York City CO2 Reduction From Buildings Proposal

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) has a plan to force thousands of aging buildings there to become more energy efficient.  The initiative would mandate that owners of existing buildings larger than 25,000 square feet invest in more efficient heating and cooling systems, insulation and hot-water heaters in the years ahead.

If approved by the City Council, the requirements would apply to about 14,500 private and municipal buildings, which the mayor’s office says collectively account for nearly a quarter of New York City’s emissions. Most buildings would need to comply with new efficiency targets by 2030, or their owners would face penalties.

In 2014, de Blasio announced his “80×50” plan, with a goal to reduce those emissions 80 percent from 2005 levels by the year 2050. In June, de Blasio signed an executive order reaffirming the city’s commitment to the international Paris climate accord just days after President Trump announced his intention to withdraw the United States from the agreement.

The de Blasio administration will propose annual penalties that increase with a building’s size and its fossil-fuel usage. Beginning in 2030, a 30,000-square-foot apartment building that exceeds certain energy targets would pay $60,000 for each year it doesn’t meet the new standards, according to the mayor’s office. A building with 1 million square feet that was operating outside the required efficiency standards would pay as much as $2 million in annual penalties. Buildings not in compliance also would be prevented from receiving permits for major renovations.

The administration insists the new initiative could lead to lower long-term energy costs and create as many as 17,000 “green jobs” as older structures are retrofitted. But many owners are likely to face big upfront costs to meet the new requirements.

New York is not alone in working to curb greenhouse-gas emissions. After Trump’s announcement that he would pull the United States out of the Paris climate pact, numerous governors, mayors and businesses independently pledged to push forward with emissions reductions. A group called Climate Mayors — which has 377 members, including de Blasio — committed to working toward the goals laid out in the Paris agreement. (Wash Post, 9/13/2017)

Norris McDonaldComment
Practical Alternative Policies To Divestment


By Norris McDonald

Reducing Your Footprint, Practical Policies that Reduce Environmental Impact

In the aftermath of President Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Accord, several states and cities have responded by pledging to stay true to the goal of reducing emissions and protecting the environment. Some however, are stretching the argument and advocating for divestment of pension funds, like the mayor of Pittsburgh and state lawmakers in New York.

Pressuring countries, states, municipalities, endowments, and pension boards to divest from traditional energy-related assets may grab headlines, but in reality, it does nothing for our environment. Countless pension board officials who have been involved with divestment schemes in the past have noted that their actions did not significantly alter the way that the targets of these schemes operated. Fossil fuel companies, who produce and distribute a product much more ubiquitous than anything targeted by divestment advocates in the past, can see their stocks bought up on the secondary markets by stockholders not interested in the environment.

As a lifelong environmentalist, I have been long committed towards taking steps that will help our society reduce our footprint on the world. What kind of policies and actions should fellow environmentalists support?

Initiating greenhouse gas-reducing energy systems When Stanford University declined to divest, they promised to reduce greenhouse gas emissions on campus, pledging to achieve a 68 percent reduction in campus greenhouse gas emissions by the end of 2016. This was achieved through the creation of Stanford Energy System Innovations (SESI), which combined cutting edge solar technology, waste water recycling, and an overhaul of the heating systems. By implementing the SESI, Stanford will be able to eliminate 150,000 tons of carbon dioxide annually, the equivalent of removing 32,000 cars from the road.

Encouraging Renewable Energy Programs

Solar energy has come a long way in the last few years, in terms of reliability and cost. Government can encourage the use of solar panels and other renewable energy soruces. In Los Angeles, for example, the Residential Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) Program enables homeowners to install energy efficiency, renewable energy and water-saving improvements to their properties without putting any money down.

Encouraging Public and Green Transportation Options

Cities can and should encourage employers to provide financial incentives for employees to use public transportation, develop partnerships with regional transit agencies and increase infrastructure for bicyclists. Developing a bicycle infrastructure achieves many goals at once. It provides commuters and tourists with an alternative to fuel-burning busses and cars, improves public health, and reduces the amount of rainwater that a city needs to treat.

Energy Efficiency in New and Existing Buildings

Many different government entities at all levels provide financial incentives to build more energy-efficient and environmentally friendly structures, and upgrade existing facilities to be have a smaller footprint. There are policies and incentives in all 50 states currently, but they can always be expanded and strengthened.

Wastewater Recovery

Wastewater recovery and reuse helps sustain natural habitats based near or in metropolitan regions, reduce pollution, and encourage sustainability. Recovering wastewater helps reduce the environmental footprint of cities, towns, or counties with such measures. Recovering wastewater is a concrete, measurable, and tangible way that leaders can improve the environment. The city of Ramona, CA, for example, recovers 95% of its wastewater, irrigating golf courses and avocado groves. In Philadelphia, the city water treatment centers extract ambient heat from wastewater, and use it to heat municipal buildings, saving about $18,000 in energy costs every year.

Potential for Public Land Transfers Under the Trump Administration

AAEA believes federal lands should be privatized to the maximum extent possible.  Moreover, a reasonable percentage of such land should not only be turned over to the states but should be donated to African Americans as a reparation for slavery.

The federal government owns or controls over 640 million acres of land in the United States. Approximately 92 percent of the federal lands are located in the twelve western states. Except for a few million acres that are managed by the Department of Defense, the federal landholding is managed primarily by four agencies; the U.S. Forest Service (USFS), the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the National Park Service (NPS) and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS).  The extent of federal ownership varies by state, with Alaska having the largest federal landholding (223.8 million acres) and Nevada having the greatest degree of federal ownership (approximately 85 percent of all land.) 

In its 2016-17 platform statement, the Republican Party (GOP) called upon Congress to “immediately pass universal legislation providing for a timely and orderly mechanism requiring the federal government to convey certain federally controlled lands to states.” The GOP platform asks state and national leaders to exert their “utmost power and influence” to urge the transfer of federal lands to “all willing states for the benefit of the states and the nation as a whole.”  (Martin Law, 5/31/2017)

Mount Vernon, New York Mayor Proposes Environmental Justice Legislation
Mount Vernon Mayor Richard Thomas

Mount Vernon Mayor Richard Thomas

Mount Vernon Mayor Richard Thomas is proposing an environmental justice law that will protect its vulnerable communities and citizens from being exposed to disproportionate pollution.  The environmental protection proposal is similar to a bill signed passed by the New York City Council and signed by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.  

The legislation was developed in cooperation with the African American Environmentalist Association (AAEA), a Washington, DC-based environmental group with a local office in New York City.

The Mount Vernon Environmental Justice Act would establish an advisory board on environmental justice.  The advisory board would consist of members from city agencies and from the general public with interest or expertise inenvironmental justice issues.  The Mount Vernon City Council President and the Mount Vernon Mayor would jointly make the appointments.

The environmental justice advisory board would conduct such hearings and meetings at any place or places within the city designated by the board for the purpose of obtaining necessary information or other data to assist it in the proper performance of its duties and functions as it deems necessary. 

Duties of the environmental justice advisory board.include developing a procedural process for identifying environmental inequities, including an unjust distribution of environmental benefits and environmental burdens and recommendations for assuring that environmental burdens are not further distributed in a manner that increases the environmental burdens on communities already hosting a disproportionate share of pollution generating activities and that benefits are equitably distributed.

The Environmental Justice Advisory Board would also establish a Working Group.

The Working Group would provide guidance to City agencies on criteria for identifying disproportionately high and adverse human health or environmental effects on minority populations and low-income populations; assist in coordinating the data collection, maintenance and analysis required under this local law; examine existing data and studies on environmental justice; hold public meetings and otherwise solicit public participation and consider complaints; develop inter-agency model projects on environmental justice that evidence cooperation among city agencies, among other activities.

The working group would  hold public meetings and otherwise solicit public participation, as appropriate, for the purpose of fact-finding with regard to implementation of this act and prepare for public review a summary of the comments and recommendations provided.

The proposed legislation calls for a comprehensive pollution report and citizen petition rights regarding proposed facilities.   The legislation has a moratorium provision that would block a proposed polluting project in an already overly-polluted area.

Mayor Thomas has a long history of promoting protection of the environment.  This legislation is an extension of that environmental protection ethic.


Norris McDonaldComment
New York City Environmental Justice Law


Norris McDonald drafted the New York City Environmental Justice Bill 886 that was signed into law by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio on April 25, 2017.  McDonald drafted the original bill for Council Member Charles Barron in 2003 and he introduced the bill (Int. No. 404) in 2004 with seven cosponsors.  After meeting with Council Member Inez Barron in 2014 to request re-introduction of the legislation and after much review and revisions by the Committee on Environmental Protection, Council Member Inez Barron introduced the legislation that was signed by Mayor de Blasio.  


                                                                   Samara Swanston, Norris McDonald, Mayor Bill de Blasio


New York Mayor Bill de Blasio will sign the New York City Environmental Justice Act authored by City Council Member Inez Barron (Bills 886 & 395) on April 25, 2017. 

Inez Barron

Inez Barron

The African American Environmentalist Association (AAEA) drafted the original Environmental Justice Bill for Councilman Charles Barron in 2003 and Council member 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 is being signed by Mayor de Blasio. 

Charles Barron, Inez Barron, Bill de Blasio

Charles Barron, Inez Barron, Bill de Blasio

Bill 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 inter-agency task force to develop agency-wide plans to assure that environmental justice is incorporated into the planning and implementation of city agency duties. The legislation also creates an associated environmental justice advisory board, which reflects geographic balance and is comprised of appointments from the environmental justice community and members or employees of organizations engaged in research related to human health.

Costa Constantinides

Costa Constantinides

Bill No. 359 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 a study on the city’s website. It also calls for 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.

Mayor Bill de Blasio and Samara Swanston

Mayor Bill de Blasio and Samara Swanston

According to AAEA President Norris McDonald, “this is an historic day for New York City.  Its citizens now have formal environmental justice protections.  I would like to personally thank Charles and Inez Barron, Environmental Protection Committee Chairman Costa Constantinides and Counsel for the Environmental Protection Committee Samara Swanston for their work in getting this bill passed.”  [Committee Report]

Charles Barron, Norris McDonald and Inez Barron

Charles Barron, Norris McDonald and Inez Barron



 PRESS STATEMENT re April 25, 2017 Bill Signing


The Environmental Justice Plan, Intro 886A, that is being signed into law today is monumental. This new law is precedent setting. "First introduced by my predecessor, my husband, now Assembly Member Charles Barron, as proposed by the African American Environmentalist Association (AAEA), this law will address how citywide agencies will develop a proactive plan for communities to share equitably both the benefits and burdens of environmental concerns", said Council Member Inez Barron.

Environmental justice means the fair treatment and involvement of all persons, regardless of race, color, national origin or income with respect to the development, implementations and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, policies and activities and with respect to the equitable distribution of environmental benefits.

This law affirms that no group should bear a disproportionate share of the negative environmental consequences resulting from industrial, municipal and commercial operations or the execution of federal, state or local programs and policies; or receive an inequitably low share of environmental benefits.  

This Environmental Justice Plan establishes an Interagency Working Group IWG, composed of various agencies, that will provide guidance to incorporate environmental justice concerns into city decision-making; identify citywide initiatives for promoting environmental justice and provide recommendations for city agencies to bring operations and programs in line with environmental justice concerns. The IWG will issue progress reports on the implementation of the environmental justice plan annually and an update every five years.

This plan also establishes an Advisory Board which will make recommendations to the IWG, hold public hearings and consult with the IWG in developing environmental justice plans. Citywide initiatives will promote greater public engagement, transparency and participation. Agency recommendations will propose changes to programs to provide environmental justice capital project agency enforcement actions and public participation in citing of agency facilities in environmental justice areas. Additionally, this law requires that New York City maintain disaggregated data for the area surrounding facilities or sites expected to have a substantial environmental, human, health or economic effect on the surrounding population.

This legislation is a model that will be replicated around the nation. "I am pleased to see New York City in the vanguard of the movement to ensure that as we continue to become aware of ways to protect our environment and correct the harm we have done in the past, that all communities will be treated equitably", said Council Member Barron.

Barron continues, "I am pleased to have brought this legislation to my colleagues and to have gained such extensive support, which is indicative of their understanding of the impact of this legislation.

"I want to thank the originator of the bill AAEA; Mr. Norris McDonald; all of the environmental advocates; Speaker Melissa Mark Viverito; Chair Cosa Constantinides;  Roman Martinez; the Council Staff; my staff: Ndigo Washington, legislative director, Joy Simmons, chief of staff; and especially thanks to Environmental Committee Counsel Samara Swanston, for her untiring commitment and unwavering dedication over more than ten years to bring this legislation to fruition".


McDonald drafted the New York City Environmental Justice Bill 886 that was signed into law by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio on April 25, 2017.  McDonald drafted the original bill for Council Member Charles Barron in 2003 and he introduced the bill (Int. No. 404) in 2004 with seven cosponsors.  After meeting with Council Member Inez Barron in 2014 to request re-introduction of the legislation and after much review and revisions by the Committee on Environmental Protection, Council Member Inez Barron introduced the legislation that was signed by Mayor de Blasio.  

Samara Swanston, Norris McDonald, Mayor de Blasio, Inez Barron

Samara Swanston, Norris McDonald, Mayor de Blasio, Inez Barron

Norris McDonaldComment
NAACP Report on Utility Shut-Offs

Utility Disconnections Leave Thousands around the Nation “Out in the Cold” or Left in the Dark

NAACP Report Outlines Disproportionate Impact of Utility Shut-Offs on Poor and African American Communities

According to a new report from the NAACP, utility company shut off policies disproportionately impact low-income and African American communities, literally leaving thousands in the dark, stranded in the cold during winter or severely impacted by sweltering summer temperatures.

With 2016 on record as the hottest year to date, and January of this year documented as the 3rd hottest January on record, many are looking at the coming summer and winter months with fear and dread regarding the potential for utility shut-offs, that leave a disproportionate number of African American and poor communities in the dark and out in the cold.

The life-threatening fact that 16 of the 17 hottest years on record have occurred since 2000, means climate change and global warming are painful household realities for those whose heat, air-conditioning and power are shut off. Dangerous and unnecessary shut offs in the sweltering heat and frigid cold disproportionately impact low-income, the elderly and communities of color. 

The report issued by the NAACP’s Environmental and Climate Justice Program (ECJP) shows lower income communities spend a greater portion of income on electricity and heating costs than high-income communities. African Americans are twice as likely to live in poverty as non-African Americans and spend a significantly higher fraction of their household income on electricity and heating as non-African Americans, who spend more on energy used in the production and consumption of goods.

Since African Americans make up a higher percentage of low-income households, their vulnerability to high energy prices and in turn utility disconnections is exacerbated at levels disproportionate to other groups due to rate hikes or swings in weather.

The NAACP’s ECJP in analyzing state policies concerning utility shut-offs, showed:

  • customers with limited income bear a disproportionate burden of energy bills;
  • disconnections have a disparate impact on low-income communities and communities of color;
  • customers may be reliant on utility services for medical devices and life-supporting systems;
  • vulnerable customers' use of hazardous heating, cooling, and lighting measures can have harmful and even fatal results.

NAACP ECJP also highlights the inconsistencies in state shut-off polices, which makes it tougher to implement national utility reforms. States and the District of Columbia are uniform only in the fact that all are required to send out disconnection notices, yet:

  • 7 states offer no payment plans to cure delinquency;
  • 8 states have no medical protection policies on affecting disconnection of services;
  • 11 states have no disconnection limitation polices;
  • 14 states have no date-based protection policies. Date based – set specific dates of when customers cannot without due diligence be disconnected from a utility service;
  • 28 states have no temperature-based policies: Meaning regardless of how cold it becomes, utilities can be shut-off;
  • 11 states have no disconnection limitations; and
  • 36 states have reconnection fees.

These inconsistencies in consumer protections result in thousands of individuals and families each year ending up with no heat or power in their homes during the worst of times.

Unfortunately, these numbers are slated to expand tremendously due to President Donald Trump’s proposed elimination of the Low Income Heating and Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). The elimination of LIHEAP would disparately impact over a million African Americans, and nearly 7 million Americans who utilize LIHEAP.


Iowa - 85,777 households

Michigan - 623,549 households

Ohio - 454,520 households

Pennsylvania - 391,461 households

Wisconsin - 214,531 households

*Climate Nexus

The amount owed by low-income customers for unpaid utilities.

Cleveland Electric Illuminating Company (First Energy) 2015-2016

Executive            Base Salary         Total Compensation       Pay Increase

1                              $  1,118,558.00  $             4,238,701.00        $    3,120,143.00

2                              $     636,154.00  $             2,339,431.00        $    1,703,277.00

3                             $      510,231.00  $             7,054,125.00        $    6,543,894.00

4                              $     752,789.00  $             3,004,793.00        $    2,252,004.00

5                             $      599,176.00  $             2,135,552.00        $    1,536,376.00

6                             $      552,404.00  $             2,017,272.00        $    1,464,868.00

Total                     $ 4,169,312.00              $     20,789,874.00      $   16,620,562.00

A study of utility costs and spending in Cleveland, OH found that while customers with Cleveland Electric Illuminating Company who were facing disconnection owed nearly $12.3 million in unpaid bills between 2014 and 2015, the top executives for the same company were paid more than $16.6 million in performance bonuses.

Total Service Disconnections for Nonpayment

Jun 2014 – May 2015

Cleveland Electric Illuminating Company             14,594

Columbia Gas of Ohio   92,313

Dominion East Ohio       62,398

Orwell Natural Gas         $216

Total      169,521

According to the NAACP, there are several solutions that can implemented by states and utilities to begin to decrease the impact of shut-offs among poor and communities of color. The solution strategy begins with the establishment of a universal right to uninterrupted energy service, which would ensure that provisions are in place to prevent utility disconnection due to non-payment and arrearages.

The NAACP ECJP also calls for a moratorium on utility shut-offs and calls for utility companies to incorporate a basic set of principles into their policies including:

  • Secure ACCESS to utility services for all households;
  • INCLUSION of all customers in the development of utility policies and regulations;
  • TRANSPARENCY of the actions of and information held by utility companies, regulating bodies; legislatures, and utility affiliated organizations;
  • PROTECTION of the human and civil rights of all customers; and
  • Advance programs that help ELIMINATE POVERTY, so that all customers can pay utility bills.

Copies of the “Lights Out in the Cold” report can be found on our website at

Click here for a copy or email

(NAACP Press Release)

Norris McDonaldComment
Trump Executive Order on Energy Independence



Presidential Executive Order on Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth



By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, it is hereby ordered as follows:

Section 1.  Policy.  (a)  It is in the national interest to promote clean and safe development of our Nation's vast energy resources, while at the same time avoiding regulatory burdens that unnecessarily encumber energy production, constrain economic growth, and prevent job creation.  Moreover, the prudent development of these natural resources is essential to ensuring the Nation's geopolitical security.

(b)  It is further in the national interest to ensure that the Nation's electricity is affordable, reliable, safe, secure, and clean, and that it can be produced from coal, natural gas, nuclear material, flowing water, and other domestic sources, including renewable sources. 

(c)  Accordingly, it is the policy of the United States that executive departments and agencies (agencies) immediately review existing regulations that potentially burden the development or use of domestically produced energy resources and appropriately suspend, revise, or rescind those that unduly burden the development of domestic energy resources beyond the degree necessary to protect the public interest or otherwise comply with the law. 

(d)  It further is the policy of the United States that, to the extent permitted by law, all agencies should take appropriate actions to promote clean air and clean water for the American people, while also respecting the proper roles of the Congress and the States concerning these matters in our constitutional republic.

(e)  It is also the policy of the United States that necessary and appropriate environmental regulations comply with the law, are of greater benefit than cost, when permissible, achieve environmental improvements for the American people, and are developed through transparent processes that employ the best available peer-reviewed science and economics.  

Sec. 2.  Immediate Review of All Agency Actions that Potentially Burden the Safe, Efficient Development of Domestic Energy Resources.  (a)  The heads of agencies shall review all existing regulations, orders, guidance documents, policies, and any other similar agency actions (collectively, agency actions) that potentially burden the development or use of domestically produced energy resources, with particular attention to oil, natural gas, coal, and nuclear energy resources.  Such review shall not include agency actions that are mandated by law, necessary for the public interest, and consistent with the policy set forth in section 1 of this order. 

(b)  For purposes of this order, "burden" means to unnecessarily obstruct, delay, curtail, or otherwise impose significant costs on the siting, permitting, production, utilization, transmission, or delivery of energy resources.

(c)  Within 45 days of the date of this order, the head of each agency with agency actions described in subsection (a) of this section shall develop and submit to the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB Director) a plan to carry out the review required by subsection (a) of this section.  The plans shall also be sent to the Vice President, the Assistant to the President for Economic Policy, the Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy, and the Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality.  The head of any agency who determines that such agency does not have agency actions described in subsection (a) of this section shall submit to the OMB Director a written statement to that effect and, absent a determination by the OMB Director that such agency does have agency actions described in subsection (a) of this section, shall have no further responsibilities under this section.

(d)  Within 120 days of the date of this order, the head of each agency shall submit a draft final report detailing the agency actions described in subsection (a) of this section to the Vice President, the OMB Director, the Assistant to the President for Economic Policy, the Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy, and the Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality.  The report shall include specific recommendations that, to the extent permitted by law, could alleviate or eliminate aspects of agency actions that burden domestic energy production.  

(e)  The report shall be finalized within 180 days of the date of this order, unless the OMB Director, in consultation with the other officials who receive the draft final reports, extends that deadline.  

(f)  The OMB Director, in consultation with the Assistant to the President for Economic Policy, shall be responsible for coordinating the recommended actions included in the agency final reports within the Executive Office of the President.

(g)  With respect to any agency action for which specific recommendations are made in a final report pursuant to subsection (e) of this section, the head of the relevant agency shall, as soon as practicable, suspend, revise, or rescind, or publish for notice and comment proposed rules suspending, revising, or rescinding, those actions, as appropriate and consistent with law.  Agencies shall endeavor to coordinate such regulatory reforms with their activities undertaken in compliance with Executive Order 13771 of January 30, 2017 (Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs).

Sec. 3.  Rescission of Certain Energy and Climate-Related Presidential and Regulatory Actions.  (a)  The following Presidential actions are hereby revoked: 

(i)    Executive Order 13653 of November 1, 2013 (Preparing the United States for the Impacts of Climate Change); 

(ii)   The Presidential Memorandum of June 25, 2013 (Power Sector Carbon Pollution Standards);

(iii)  The Presidential Memorandum of November 3, 2015 (Mitigating Impacts on Natural Resources from Development and Encouraging Related Private Investment); and

(iv)   The Presidential Memorandum of September 21, 2016 (Climate Change and National Security).

(b)  The following reports shall be rescinded: 

(i)   The Report of the Executive Office of the President of June 2013 (The President's Climate Action Plan); and

(ii)  The Report of the Executive Office of the President of March 2014 (Climate Action Plan Strategy to Reduce Methane Emissions).

(c)  The Council on Environmental Quality shall rescind its final guidance entitled "Final Guidance for Federal Departments and Agencies on Consideration of Greenhouse Gas Emissions and the Effects of Climate Change in National Environmental Policy Act Reviews," which is referred to in "Notice of Availability," 81 Fed. Reg. 51866 (August 5, 2016).

(d)  The heads of all agencies shall identify existing agency actions related to or arising from the Presidential actions listed in subsection (a) of this section, the reports listed in subsection (b) of this section, or the final guidance listed in subsection (c) of this section.  Each agency shall, as soon as practicable, suspend, revise, or rescind, or publish for notice and comment proposed rules suspending, revising, or rescinding any such actions, as appropriate and consistent with law and with the policies set forth in section 1 of this order.  

Sec. 4.  Review of the Environmental Protection Agency's "Clean Power Plan" and Related Rules and Agency Actions.  (a)  The Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (Administrator) shall immediately take all steps necessary to review the final rules set forth in subsections (b)(i) and (b)(ii) of this section, and any rules and guidance issued pursuant to them, for consistency with the policy set forth in section 1 of this order and, if appropriate, shall, as soon as practicable, suspend, revise, or rescind the guidance, or publish for notice and comment proposed rules suspending, revising, or rescinding those rules.  In addition, the Administrator shall immediately take all steps necessary to review the proposed rule set forth in subsection (b)(iii) of this section, and, if appropriate, shall, as soon as practicable, determine whether to revise or withdraw the proposed rule.

(b)  This section applies to the following final or proposed rules:

(i)    The final rule entitled "Carbon Pollution Emission Guidelines for Existing Stationary Sources: Electric Utility Generating Units," 80 Fed. Reg. 64661 (October 23, 2015) (Clean Power Plan);

(ii)   The final rule entitled "Standards of Performance for Greenhouse Gas Emissions from New, Modified, and Reconstructed Stationary Sources: Electric Utility Generating Units," 80 Fed. Reg. 64509 (October 23, 2015); and

(iii)  The proposed rule entitled "Federal Plan Requirements for Greenhouse Gas Emissions From Electric Utility Generating Units Constructed on or Before January 8, 2014; Model Trading Rules; Amendments to Framework Regulations; Proposed Rule," 80 Fed. Reg. 64966 (October 23, 2015).

(c)  The Administrator shall review and, if appropriate, as soon as practicable, take lawful action to suspend, revise, or rescind, as appropriate and consistent with law, the "Legal Memorandum Accompanying Clean Power Plan for Certain Issues," which was published in conjunction with the Clean Power Plan.  

(d)  The Administrator shall promptly notify the Attorney General of any actions taken by the Administrator pursuant to this order related to the rules identified in subsection (b) of this section so that the Attorney General may, as appropriate, provide notice of this order and any such action to any court with jurisdiction over pending litigation related to those rules, and may, in his discretion, request that the court stay the litigation or otherwise delay further litigation, or seek other appropriate relief consistent with this order, pending the completion of the administrative actions described in subsection (a) of this section.  

Sec. 5.  Review of Estimates of the Social Cost of Carbon, Nitrous Oxide, and Methane for Regulatory Impact Analysis.  (a)  In order to ensure sound regulatory decision making, it is essential that agencies use estimates of costs and benefits in their regulatory analyses that are based on the best available science and economics.  

(b)  The Interagency Working Group on Social Cost of Greenhouse Gases (IWG), which was convened by the Council of Economic Advisers and the OMB Director, shall be disbanded, and the following documents issued by the IWG shall be withdrawn as no longer representative of governmental policy:

(i)    Technical Support Document:  Social Cost of Carbon for Regulatory Impact Analysis Under Executive Order 12866 (February 2010); 

(ii)   Technical Update of the Social Cost of Carbon for Regulatory Impact Analysis (May 2013);

(iii)  Technical Update of the Social Cost of Carbon for Regulatory Impact Analysis (November 2013); 

(iv)   Technical Update of the Social Cost of Carbon for Regulatory Impact Analysis (July 2015); 

(v)    Addendum to the Technical Support Document for Social Cost of Carbon:  Application of the Methodology to Estimate the Social Cost of Methane and the Social Cost of Nitrous Oxide (August 2016); and

(vi)   Technical Update of the Social Cost of Carbon for Regulatory Impact Analysis (August 2016). 

(c)  Effective immediately, when monetizing the value of changes in greenhouse gas emissions resulting from regulations, including with respect to the consideration of domestic versus international impacts and the consideration of appropriate discount rates, agencies shall ensure, to the extent permitted by law, that any such estimates are consistent with the guidance contained in OMB Circular A-4 of September 17, 2003 (Regulatory Analysis), which was issued after peer review and public comment and has been widely accepted for more than a decade as embodying the best practices for conducting regulatory cost-benefit analysis.

Sec. 6.  Federal Land Coal Leasing Moratorium.  The Secretary of the Interior shall take all steps necessary and appropriate to amend or withdraw Secretary's Order 3338 dated January 15, 2016 (Discretionary Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) to Modernize the Federal Coal Program), and to lift any and all moratoria on Federal land coal leasing activities related to Order 3338.  The Secretary shall commence Federal coal leasing activities consistent with all applicable laws and regulations. 

Sec. 7.  Review of Regulations Related to United States Oil and Gas Development.  (a)  The Administrator shall review the final rule entitled "Oil and Natural Gas Sector:  Emission Standards for New, Reconstructed, and Modified Sources," 81 Fed. Reg. 35824 (June 3, 2016), and any rules and guidance issued pursuant to it, for consistency with the policy set forth in section 1 of this order and, if appropriate, shall, as soon as practicable, suspend, revise, or rescind the guidance, or publish for notice and comment proposed rules suspending, revising, or rescinding those rules. 

(b)  The Secretary of the Interior shall review the following final rules, and any rules and guidance issued pursuant to them, for consistency with the policy set forth in section 1 of this order and, if appropriate, shall, as soon as practicable, suspend, revise, or rescind the guidance, or publish for notice and comment proposed rules suspending, revising, or rescinding those rules: 

(i)    The final rule entitled "Oil and Gas; Hydraulic Fracturing on Federal and Indian Lands," 80 Fed. Reg. 16128 (March 26, 2015);

(ii)   The final rule entitled "General Provisions and Non-Federal Oil and Gas Rights," 81 Fed. Reg. 77972 (November 4, 2016);

(iii)  The final rule entitled "Management of Non Federal Oil and Gas Rights," 81 Fed. Reg. 79948 (November 14, 2016); and

(iv)   The final rule entitled "Waste Prevention, Production Subject to Royalties, and Resource Conservation," 81 Fed. Reg. 83008 (November 18, 2016).

(c)  The Administrator or the Secretary of the Interior, as applicable, shall promptly notify the Attorney General of any actions taken by them related to the rules identified in subsections (a) and (b) of this section so that the Attorney General may, as appropriate, provide notice of this order and any such action to any court with jurisdiction over pending litigation related to those rules, and may, in his discretion, request that the court stay the litigation or otherwise delay further litigation, or seek other appropriate relief consistent with this order, until the completion of the administrative actions described in subsections (a) and (b) of this section.  

Sec. 8.  General Provisions.  (a)  Nothing in this order shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect:

(i)   the authority granted by law to an executive department or agency, or the head thereof; or 

(ii)  the functions of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget relating to budgetary, administrative, or legislative proposals.

(b)  This order shall be implemented consistent with applicable law and subject to the availability of appropriations. 

(c)  This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.


March 28, 2017.

Norris McDonaldComment
Michigan, Flint & Trump Admin To Replace 18,000 Lead Pipes

Michigan and the city of Flint have agreed to spend the next several years replacing roughly 18,000 aging underground pipes as part of a far-reaching legal settlement over the city’s ongoing crisis involving lead-tainted water.  A proposed settlement filed Monday will require the state to fund Flint’s efforts to replace the lead and galvanized water service lines by 2020. Under the agreement, the state will agree to pay $87 million for the undertaking and will keep another $10 million in reserve in case more pipes than expected need replacing. About $30 million of that money will come from the $100 million that Congress approved late last year in aid to Flint. The state will be responsible for the remainder.

A federal judge in Detroit on Tuesday must first decide whether to approve the settlement.

The agreement comes about a week after the Environmental Protection Agency formally awarded a $100 million grant to the state to fund upgrades to Flint’s outdated water system. While a portion of that money will go to ripping out old pipes that contributed to the city’s lead crisis, Flint also intends to spend a large portion of the grant money modernizing its water treatment plant, replacing meters and fixing distribution mains.

Under the terms of the deal, state officials also must continue to deliver bottled water to housebound residents and must continue to operate free bottled water distribution centers around the city through early September, though it could begin to phase out some sites after May 1 if demand fades. The state also will continue to go door to door in the city through December 2018 to make sure people have properly installed water filters and to provide new filters and replacement cartridges.

It has been nearly a year and a half since state officials acknowledged that Flint’s water was tainted with dangerous levels of lead, and more than two years since residents began complaining about problems with the water in the wake of a decision by a state-appointed emergency manager to switch the supply source to the Flint River to save money. Even now, many residents do not trust what flows from their taps, even as experts have reported that the water quality continues to get better.

For decades, Flint paid Detroit to have its water piped in from Lake Huron, with anti-corrosion chemicals added along the way. But in early 2014, with the city under the control of a state-appointed emergency manager, officials switched to Flint River water in an effort to cut costs.

State officials failed to ensure proper corrosion-control treatment of the new water source. That failure allowed rust, iron and lead to leach from aging pipes and wind up in residents’ homes. The catastrophe exposed thousands of children to high levels of lead, which can cause long-term physical damage and mental impairment, and water contamination also has been linked to the deaths of a dozen people from Legionnaires’ disease.

More than a dozen state and local officials have been charged with crimes in connection with the water crisis.  (Wash Post, 3/27/2017)

Norris McDonaldComment
NYC Environmental Justice Alliance Honorees

New York City Environmental Justice Alliance Honorees

New York City's Environmental Justice Alliance (NYC-EJA) 25th Anniversary Gala will honor the Magnificient Seven


Alexie Torres-Fleming, Executive Director of Access Strategies Fund

Omar Freilla, Founder of Green Worker Cooperatives

Mathy Stanislaus, Former EPA Assistant Administrator in EPA's Office of Land and Emergency Management

Michelle DePass, Dean of the Milano School of International Affairs, Management, and Urban Policy

Samara Swanston, Legislative Counsel to the Environmental Protection Committee of the New York City Council

Charles Barron, NYS Assembly Member 

Errol Louis, Political Anchor of NY1 News

Charles Barron

Charles Barron


Assembly member Charles Barron has been a community activist for over 45 years. In 1969, in need of a vehicle to express his desire for justice, Barron joined the Harlem branch of the Black Panther Party. After his Black Panther experience, he attended New York City Community College, now known as New York City College of Technology, where he obtained an Associate's Degree. He then attended Hunter College where he acquired his Bachelor of Arts Degree in Sociology with a minor in Elementary Education.

In 1979, Barron joined the National Black United Front (NBUF) and became the founding chairperson of NBUF'S Harlem Chapter. Shortly thereafter, he was appointed Chief of Staff to the Reverend Dr. Herbert Daughtry, Chairperson of the National Black United Front. From 1982-87 he served as Secretary General of Rev. Daughtry's African Peoples Christian Organization (APCO). He traveled across the United States visiting many college campuses, churches, prisons and communities organizing around international, national and local issues. As the founder and CEO of the Dynamics of Leadership Corporation, Charles also traveled the country presenting seminars and workshops on leadership development. He previously served on the board of the NYC Environmental Justice Alliance.

In 2001, Barron was elected to the New York City Council. He served as Chair of the Committee on Higher Education for over eight years and was a member of the Committees on Education; Consumer Affairs; Immigration; Land Use (Planning, Dispositions & Concessions); and Women's Issues. As a Council Member Charles Barron secured funding to renovate 3 parks totaling over $15 million; secured allocations for 2 new $80 million schools; was the number 1 Council Member in Brooklyn in securing real affordable housing; secured millions of dollars for funding of the Black Male Initiative for City University of New York (CUNY); and millions of dollars for a work force development project that generated over six thousand jobs in neighborhoods of high unemployment in New York City. At his final session of the City Council, Charles was described as "the conscience of the City Council."

He is a founding member of the East New York based organization Operation POWER (People Organizing and Working for Empowerment and Respect) and was elected to the New York State Assembly on November 4, 2014.

Assembly member Barron is known as a fearless fighter for human rights issues. He is described as "unbought and unbossed," speaking truth to power and delivering for his community and beyond.

Charles is married to Council member Inez Barron and they have 2 sons, Jelani and Jawanza.

Errol Louis

Errol Louis


Errol Louis is the Political Anchor of NY1 News, where he hosts "The Road to City Hall,"  a nightly prime-time show about New York City politics, on which he regularly interviews top political and cultural leaders, including Mayor Bill de Blasio and ex-mayors David Dinkins, Rudy Giuliani and Mike Bloomberg; Gov. Andrew Cuomo and ex-governors George Pataki, Eliot Spitzer and David Paterson; and dozens of city, state and federal officials.  Louis also serves as a CNN Contributor, providing on-air commentary on key events from presidential primaries to Election Night.

Louis has moderated dozens of debates between candidates for Mayor, City Council, Public Advocate, City and State comptroller, U.S. Senate and state Attorney General, and was a questioner in the final 2016 presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders.

Louis writes a weekly column for the New York Daily News on a range of political and social affairs and was recently ranked #40 on the list of the 100 most powerful people in New York City politics.

Louis serves as Director of Urban Reporting at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, where he has taught political and investigative reporting to dozens of students. He is co-editor of Deadline Artists, a two-volumeanthology of America's greatest newspaper columns published in October 2011. He previously served on the board of the NYC Environmental Justice Alliance.

Louis lives in Brooklyn with his wife, Juanita Scarlett, and their son.


Sarah Hope, Executive Director, Solutions Project

Hector Figueroa, President, 32BJ

Rhea Suh, President, Natural Resources Defense Council

Bill McKibben, Founder,

George Miranda, President of Teamsters Joint Council 16

Maritza Silva-Farrell, Executive Director, ALIGN






Ashni is a singer songwriter currently teaching, creating and performing in New York City. Listen to her work here.


DJ Big Lou

DJ Big Lou

DJ Big Lou


After the awards ceremony, DJ Big Lou will keep the party going. Check out his instagram page here.


Eddie Bautista

Executive Director, New York City Environmental Justice Alliance

Norris McDonaldComment
Polybutylene Water Piping Fails in 20-30 Years

Many homes built in the late 1970s to mid-1990s have pipes or water service lines made of polybutylene.  Plumbers say pipes made of polybutylene start to leak within 22 to 30 years, meaning ‘90s-era homes that were constructed with the piping are likely to leak sooner rather than later.

Polybutylene pipes, once considered a cheaper and more durable alternative to copper, will break. It’s just a matter of when because it gets brittle and becomes unstable.

A class action lawsuit against polybutylene manufacturers was settled for $950 million in 1995. Within the next decade, builders stopped using the material for pipes because of the potential hazard and shifting building codes.  If your house was built before 2000, plumbers say there’s a decent chance it might have polybutylene pipes.

(Photo: Don Reichert)

(Photo: Don Reichert)

The medium-weight plastic pipes are usually gray, white or blue, and the letters “PB” should appear somewhere on the printed label. A plumber can help identify if you have polybutylene in or near your home.

Common replacements for polybutylene are pipes made of PVC, CPVC and copper.  Replacing the pipes costs several thousand dollars. Predicting when they’ll break is a crapshoot because they deteriorate from the inside out.

If your polybutylene water service line starts to leak, you should replace it entirely, because repairs are expensive and will only last so long. If you have more easily accessible polybutylene pipes in your home, you could opt to repair them instead of replacing them.  But such repairs will eventually break again.  (Coloradoan, 2/28/2017)

Norris McDonaldComment
Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act

Today (March 9), Reps. David McKinley (WV-1) and Peter Welch (VT) introduced the House companion bill to S. 385, the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness (ESIC) Act.  This legislation would promote energy efficiency technologies, strengthen national model building codes, and encourage homeowner investment in energy efficiency upgrades through the incorporation of mortgage underwriting loans.

AAEA has been a longstanding supporter of energy efficiency efforts, which encourage job creation, reduce energy consumption, and drive the American economy.

Norris McDonaldComment
New Chairman of U.S. House Energy & Commerce Committee
Greg Walden

Greg Walden

Greg Walden represents the people of Oregon's Second Congressional District. Walden, 59, is a lifelong Oregonian whose ancestors came to Oregon by wagon train in 1845.

Walden graduated from the University of Oregon with a degree in journalism.

Walden got his start in Washington, D.C. after the "Reagan Revolution" of 1980, when he served as the communications director on the successful campaign that defeated Rep. Al Ullman, D-OR, a 24-year incumbent who was chairing the Ways and Means Committee. Walden went on to serve as press secretary and chief of staff to the victor, Oregon Rep. Denny Smith for six years. He moved back home after he and his wife bought the family radio business. Two years later, in 1988, he was elected to the Oregon House of Representatives where he helped engineer the GOP takeover in 1990 and became the youngest GOP Majority Leader in Oregon History. In 1995, he was appointed to fill out the last two years of a vacant seat in the Oregon State Senate.

Meanwhile, he and his wife expanded their radio station holdings from two stations to five. And in 1998 he was elected to the U.S. House, winning a seat on the Energy and Commerce Committee in 2001.

In addition to his small business and legislative experience, Walden also severed several years on various boards, including the local community hospital board, a community bank board, the Oregon Health Sciences Foundation Board, and the Associated Oregon Industries board. He's a member of the El's and Rotary International, and is an Eagle Scout.

He's served four years as Deputy Chairman of the NRCC and four years as chairman. He's also served on the House Committees on Agriculture, Natural Resources and Oversight and Government Reform. After the GOP takeback of the House in 2010, Walden was tapped to lead the Transition Team which brought about major reforms in the operations of the House.

His wife, Mylene, also graduated from the University of Oregon.. They celebrated 34 years of marriage in August 2016, and make their home in Hood River, Oregon, where they've been small business owners since 1986. Their son, Anthony, graduated from Wake Forest University in 2012.  (U.S. House Energy & Commerce Committee)

Norris McDonaldComment