By Rachel Vick
The public comment period for the Environmental Justice for All report is now open as the city moves on to the next phase of the plan to address environmental issues that disproportionately affect low-income communities of color.
New Yorkers will be able to give their thoughts on how the project reflects the issues they see on the ground.
“Tackling environmental injustice and racism requires responsibility, reflection and collaboration,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “The Environmental Justice for All report must be shaped around the lived experiences and expertise of New Yorkers. Their voices will be the cornerstone of the City’s plan for environmental justice and equity for the future.
The finalized scope will define the list of environmental justice concerns under consideration and the methods that will be used to review the city’s programs, policies and public engagement processes to address environmental justice issues.
In the first draft – which used a public inquiry into issues impacting the community like urban heat, flooding, and access to food and clean water – the city identified issues that were critical to low income or minority communities.
According to the city, nearly 70 percent of the 1,070 survey participants came from environmental justice zones and cited access to healthy food and poor indoor air quality – like mold – as their most big concerns.
The city will also look at infrastructure issues such as public transport, waste management, and building compliance with environmental laws.
“This framing process is a chance to prioritize the needs and concerns of frontline communities,” said CUNY law professor Rebecca Bratspies, who sits on the Environmental Justice Advisory Council.
“We have the opportunity to put long-standing environmental and health risks on the City’s agenda,” she added. “Public input will be essential in making the Environmental Justice for All report a document that reflects the needs and priorities of those most affected by environmental injustices. “
Comments can be made until September 5 online at nyc.gov/ejstudy or by emailing [email protected]; by phone at 212-788-4144; or in person at the New York City Summer Hall on Environmental Justice on August 18.