New York, NY – Today, the Progressive Caucus joined Caucus Council Members Antonio Reynoso and Stephen Levin, as well as environmental justice advocates, on the steps of city hall to rally for the passage of Intro 157, a bill to cap the amount of waste processed by overburdened communities. The bill has been a part of the Progressive Caucus’ legislative agenda for two terms, which includes a platform for environmental, climate, and racial justice. This bill is a crucial step towards fair share reform through equitable distribution and allocation of the city’s resources and facilities.
The legislation came from a need to address an important environmental and racial justice issue in New York City; low income communities of color are historically overburdened by a staggeringly disproportionate amount of our City’s waste. This disproportionate amount of waste storage exposes communities of color to more dangerous diesel truck traffic, elevated air pollution, and hazardous environmental impacts, as garbage trucks trickle in and out of these low income neighborhoods.
For twelve years, since the City’s Solid Waste Management Plan introduced the idea of reforming the City’s waste capacity system, community advocates, elected officials (including the Progressive Caucus), and environmentalists have fought to bring fairness into the waste processing system. Intro. 157 will finally deliver environmental justice to frontline communities while setting a historic precedent for the fair share distribution of burdensome and polluting facilities in the New York City. Further reforms targeting long and inefficient waste collection routes, air pollution, worker abuse, and low recycling rates are expected to be announced by the Department of Sanitation this summer.
“The passage of Intro 157 is a momentous achievement in the fight for environmental justice and the reform of our City’s private waste management system,” said Council Member Antonio Reynoso, Member of the Progressive Caucus, sponsor of Intro. 157, Chair of the Council’s Sanitation and Solid Waste Management Committee. “Currently, low-income communities of color handle a staggeringly disproportionate amount of our City’s waste. Residents are exposed to dangerous truck traffic, elevated air pollution, and hazardous environmental impacts— contributing to historical inequities in resource distribution along economic and racial lines. Intro 157 will finally deliver environmental justice to frontline communities and ensure that no other neighborhood suffers the same fate, while setting a historic precedent for the fair share distribution of burdensome and polluting facilities in the City of New York. This is a first, crucial step toward reforming the City’s commercial carting industry.”
“Communities of color, including one I represent, have been disproportionately impacted by waste transfer stations and the pollution they produce,” said Council Member Diana Ayala, Co-Chair of the Progressive Caucus. “The South Bronx, Southeast Queens, and North Brooklyn continue to face environmental challenges, including public health concerns, because of the lack of borough equity for handling waste. As the Co-Chair of the Progressive Caucus, I am thrilled to join my colleagues in championing Introduction 157, as it will ensure borough equity is established and environmental justice is served.”
“For years, waste has been unevenly distributed in our city, with the majority of it passed to low-income communities,” said Council Member Keith Powers, Vice-Chair of the Progressive Caucus. “Your zip code should not determine how much trash is in your neighborhood. I thank Council Members Reynoso and Levin for this legislation that looks to fairly manage waste.”
“Waste is not something that just happens to a community. It is the direct result of how we decide to collect, transport, and dispose of it. Unfortunately, like so many other aspects of New York City, some communities are more overburdened with waste collection sites than others, and these communities are almost always communities of color, immigrant, or low-income. Since every New Yorker has a right to clean air, clean water, and clean streets, justice demands that we more equitably distribute our waste so that no one, through no fault of their own, is exposed to pollution and disease. This bill is a powerful step in the direction of this environmental justice,” said Council Member Carlos Menchaca, Vice-Chair of the Progressive Caucus.
“This is a time of reckoning for an industry that routinely mistreats its workers and has for decades shouldered a handful of communities with the burden of processing waste for an entire city,” said Council Member Stephen Levin, Member of the Progressive Caucus, co-sponsor of Intro. 157. “It’s time to put an end to this injustice. Int. 157 is a sensible and measured first step to bring relief to Southeast Queens, North Brooklyn, and the South Bronx. It will also protect other neighborhoods from becoming overburdened in the future as our city’s population grows. I’m proud to join Speaker Johnson and Council Member Reynoso in their fight to pursue justice, protect workers, and stand firmly on the side of the people.”
“In recent weeks, the reckless and negligent operations of New York City’s private waste haulers have finally gotten the attention they deserve, including the awful working conditions these companies force on their largely immigrant, Latino, and Black workforce,” said Council Member Donovan Richards, Member of the Progressive Caucus. “We as elected officials can no longer sit idly by. It is high time that we hold the private sanitation companies responsible not only for their awful practices when collecting waste, but also when dumping and processing waste. Int. 157 is the first step towards bringing true accountability to an industry in desperate need of reform. I’d like to thank Speaker Johnson and Council Member Reynoso for championing this important legislation for the communities of Southeast Queens, the South Bronx and North Brooklyn.”
“Intro 157 is an important step in combating waste management inequality, another unfortunate example of maltreatment of our low income communities,” said Council Member Brad Lander, Member of the Progressive Caucus. “Marginalized communities currently suffer a disproportionate share of the risks associated with waste management, including dangerous pollution, truck traffic, and environmental consequences. I join with my colleagues Antonio Reynoso and Steve Levin in calling for passage of Intro 157 to further environmental justice in our City.”
“For far too long, a handful of communities in our city have unfairly borne the brunt of our trash handling system. They have been forced to live with the air pollution, noise, and other impacts coming from the waste facilities themselves, as well as the hundreds of trucks that visit them daily. With Intro 157, we have a real opportunity to bring environmental justice to these communities and establish a precedent for the fair share distribution of waste-handling facilities across the five boroughs. Let’s pass this bill and complete what the Solid Waste Management Plan started. Thank you to Council Members Reynoso and Levin for their leadership on this critical issue,” said Council Member Helen Rosenthal, Member of the Progressive Caucus.
“By capping the amount of waste processed in the most overburdened neighborhoods, Intro 157 will bring needed relief to low-income communities of color that have long been treated as a dumping ground for the rest of the city’s garbage, and take a bold step to secure environmental justice for all New Yorkers,” said Council Member Margaret S. Chin, Member of the Progressive Caucus. “No single community should have to deal with noxious air pollution or have its quality of life compromised by the inordinate amount of waste being trucked to its streets every day. I thank Chair Reynoso, Council Member Levin, Speaker Johnson and advocates for their exemplary leadership on this legislation, which will ensure that every neighborhood does its fair share to protect our environment.”
In addition to the Progressive Caucus, the bill is supported by Teamsters Joint Council 16, Teamsters Local 813, New York Lawyers for the Public Interest, New York City Environmental Justice Alliance, The Natural Resources Defense Council, and many other community groups and environmentalists.