New York City Environmental Justice Act

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio signed the New York City Environmental Justice Act authored by City Council Member Inez Barron (Bill 886) & Environmental Protection Committee Chairman Costa Constantinides (Bill395) on April 25, 2017.  This is an historic law in that New York is the first major city to pass an environmental justice law.

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 was signed by Mayor de Blasio. 

Samara Swanston, Norris McDonald, Frank Fraley, Inez Barron, & Costa Constantinides

New York City Mayor 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.

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.

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]

Press Release

Op Ed


AAEA Support Letter To The Mayor

AAEA President Norris McDonald speacks at 8:39 into the video [Short version of the hearing]



AAEA President Norris McDonald speaks at 24 minutes into the video [Full Hearing]



 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".