Jun 17, 2019

Judge Griffin rules with the people of New Orleans, says City Council did not substantially comply with Open Meetings Law Press Release

NEW ORLEANS, June 14, 2019 – At Orleans Parish Civil District Court today, Judge Piper Griffin ruled in favor of local groups and residents who sued the New Orleans City Council for violating the Open Meetings Law. The ruling focused on public meetings in which people were shut out prior to the Council voting in favor of Entergy’s application to build a new, polluting gas plant in New Orleans East. Judge Griffin determined that the Council did not substantially comply with the Open Meetings Law and its policy for ensuring that citizens’ voices are heard. She also found that Entergy’s use of paid actors in the Council meetings “undermined” the Open Meetings Law. Her decision delivers a victory to residents and local groups who sued the City Council for denying basic rights to a fair process and open meetings when the Council approved the Entergy gas plant in 2018. Click Here to Continue Reading...

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May 15, 2019

Moisture/Mold Awareness & Moisture Assessment Workshops Rapid Response Training

December 17, 2018 - As a result of flooding that occurred due to Hurricane Harvey, many Houston residents have been concerned about potential health effects that they are experiencing or could possibly experience due to the disaster. In particular, many homes were flooded and residents were interested in knowing if the area where they spend the most time, their home, had mold or could potentially have mold growth. Mold can cause some individuals to experience adverse upper respiratory issues as a result of water intrusion and/or excessive water events like Hurricane Harvey. Thus, moisture/mold awareness and moisture assessments workshops were specially developed to address the needs of the Houston community. The workshops included information which raised participant awareness about general moisture and mold information, health effects associated with excessive indoor mold growth, appropriate protective equipment to wear when cleaning up disaster related debris, conditions needed to promote mold growth, and moisture prevention and control. Hands-on workshops were conducted and engaged participants by teaching them how to: Properly don and doff protective equipment used when cleaning after a disaster Perform moisture mapping and assessments Operate a moisture meter to determine water content in the building materials in their home Ultimately, the awareness and hands-on workshops provided participants with information on how to address water intrusion and active moisture and mold growth issues in their homes as well as how to identify hidden moisture that could lead to mold growth.   Approximately 20 individuals attended the workshops on December 1st and 15th, 2018. Workshops were taught by Deep South Center for Environmental Justice environmental technical trainers, Kim Dunn and Bruce McClue, along with assistance from Andrew Rollins, assistant instructor at Texas Southern University. Participants represented communities from the 5th Ward and Pleasantville in Houston, TX. At the end of the training sessions, residents were given a moisture meter to do an assessment in their home and to share with other family and community members. The rapid response training was funded by the JPB Foundation.    ...

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May 14, 2019

Gulf Equity Water Corps: Youth Raising Awareness about Sea Level Rise and Flooding Along the Gulf Coast

The Gulf Equity Water Corps. is an intergenerational project designed to develop climate justice leaders in the Gulf Coast Region. The Gulf Equity Water Corps is comprised of HBCU student interns from Dillard University and Texas Southern University, as well as, high school students from New Orleans, LA and Houston, TX respectively. The HBCU interns are conducting research on drainage capacity and flooding in the Lower Ninth Ward in New Orleans and the Pleasantville Community in Houston, TX. The Interns are assisting faculty mentors and community leaders with research and the development of a curriculum to design a water focused project to raise awareness about sea-level rise, flooding, and water asset mapping in their communities. The HBCU interns will present the results of their research and final curriculum in five (5) stages: (1) interactive training to high school students (2) the HBCU interns and high school students, also known as The Corps, will present via webinar, (3) students give a presentation at a community meeting, and (4) a student train-the-trainer session in the Fall of 2019. The Corps will also have an opportunity to present their research (stage 5) at the 7th Annual HBCU Climate Change Conference, November 13, 2016, 2019. The Gulf Equity Water Corps Project is allowing students to develop the skill set to advocate and become trainers for other youth within their communities. The project goal is to build youth awareness on how to build community capacity and collaboration around the issues related to sea level rise and flooding to improve community resiliency. This project is funded by the Bezos Foundation.  ...

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Apr 17, 2019

Congratulations 2019 Environmental Career Worker Training Program Graduates!

The Deep South Center for Environmental Justice (DSCEJ) Spring 2019 Environmental Career Worker Training Program (ECWTP) was held at 9801 Lake Forest Blvd in New Orleans East, January 21 – April 10, 2019. The twelve week training consisted of a six-week basic skills training that utilizes a work-based learning curriculum and six-weeks of technical skills training. On April 12, 2019, twenty-five (25) aspiring young men  and women graduated from the training receiving certificates in forty (40) hours hazardous waste operator, thirty-two (32) hours Asbestos Abatement Worker, sixteen (16) hours Mold Remediation, sixteen (16) hours Lead Abatement Worker, ten (10) hours OSHA General Industry, forty (40) hours Construction, and forty (40) hours Weatherization Installer. The graduation ceremony was held at City Park, Park View Terrace. The ceremony featured trophies and gifts for graduates who were recognized for significant achievement by their instructors, counselors, and program staff. Joshua Mitchel was named “Best All Around Student" for his excellent performance in all aspects of the training. The guest speaker this year was, Hakim Kashif, a Motivational Speaker and Life Coach.  Job placement efforts are underway to place graduates into viable and sustainable employment. The DSCEJ has trained young men and women in environmental health and safety for over twenty-four years. The next New Orleans ECWTP training will be held in the Spring of 2020. The Environmental Career Worker Training Program is funded by the National Institutes for Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS). For more information about our training, please call 504-272-0956 or visit our website at http://www.dscej.org/our-work/worker-health-and-safety-training. Environmental Career Worker Training Program    ...

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Apr 11, 2019

Rolling Hills Still Plaguing Wedgewood Residents 5 Years Later

 Five years after the Rolling Hills Construction and Demolition Facility had its permit revoked by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, the pit is still, at best, a headache for its neighbors. At worst, it's an ongoing health hazard. The pit is polluting nearby ground and surface water and emitting "objectionable odors," according to the DEP. Additionally, residents of the surrounding Wedgewood, Olive Heights and Rolling Hills neighborhoods assert toxins from the pit are causing them respiratory disease, cancer and early deaths. To help give residents the most up-to-date information on the pit's status, the DEP will host an informational open house 5-7 p.m. Thursday at the Marie K. Young-Wedgewood Community Center, 6405 Wagner Road. There will be no formal presentation at the two-hour open house. Instead, DEP subject matter experts will be on hand to share information on the status of the pit's closure, the next steps in the process, the state's ongoing enforcement actions and the groundwater and surface water impacts from the facility. Representatives from Escambia County and Department of Health will also be available to speak to residents.  Read More ...

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Mar 28, 2019

Gas Plant Fight Heads To Court

The Deep South Center for Environmental Justice and local groups have sued the New Orleans City Council for violating laws when it approved Entergy's gas plant application. In our lawsuit, we present ten legal errors by the City Council that include violations of constitutional due process, decision-making that is arbitrary and capricious, and violations of local ordinances. We filed this suit in April 2018 after the Council’s vote in favor of the gas plant. The Council delayed the court hearing on our lawsuit twice, but we finally had our day in court on March 26 2019. We are now awaiting the Judge's decision. We are making three main points: 1. New Orleans residents were denied a fair process by the City Council, which violates both the US Constitution and the Louisiana State Constitution. The Council ignored the unfairness created by its utility advisors having a conflict of interest. The advisors wrote the decision for the Council to approve Entergy's gas application after they set up a prior agreement between the Council and Entergy for a new gas plant and, later, advocated for the gas plant as a party to the Council's proceeding. In addition, we are facing a situation where the decision maker -- the Council -- was not neutral or impartial because of its prior agreement with Entergy for a new gas plant that is the same as the one that Entergy applied for two years later and the Council approved on March 8, 2018. To make matters worse, the Council failed to disclose the existence of this prior agreement during its proceeding on the gas plant. 2. The Council would sacrifice neighborhoods in New Orleans East to more than a million of pounds of toxic air pollution each year from the gas plant. The Council would also force residents and businesses to pay the estimated $210 million cost of the gas plant. However, the Council has not evaluated alternative options to determine what is the best choice for New Orleans. The Council simply ignored its own order requiring that this be done. 3. In addition, the Council is violating several local ordinances. For example, two ordinances require the Council to follow sound utility practice and comply with FEMA standards for flood damage prevention. However, the Council approved building the gas plant in a FEMA designated "high risk flood hazard area." FEMA policy discourages building power plants in this type of area and utility companies have established a standard of practice that avoids building in these areas and relocates utility substations and equipment away from these areas. Here’s what we are hoping will happen: the Judge will set aside the Council's decision to approve Entergy's gas plant application. If the Council decides to re-open the process, it would have to follow instructions from the Judge to ensure a fair process for New Orleans residents to be heard and allow for careful consideration of alternative options, impacts on our health and quality of life, as well as cost protections for ratepayers. The City Council’s advisors are representing the Council in the lawsuit. What’s so bizarre about the advisors representing the Council is that the advisors are the ones who set up the prior agreement between the Council and Entergy for a new gas plant, then advocated for the gas plant during the Council's proceeding, and wrote the Council's decision approving the gas plant. So, basically, the people who created the legal problems for the Council are now representing the Council in this lawsuit. The plaintiffs in this case are the Deep South Center for Environmental Justice, Alliance for Affordable Energy, 350 New Orleans, and the Sierra Club. Entergy is an intervenor in this case. Petitioners Reply Brief...

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Mar 25, 2019

Environmental Justice and Community Science: A Social Movement for Improvement, Compliance, and Action Panel - 2019

Environmental justice (EJ) advocates and activists have for decades used community science to raise awareness about EJ concerns, inpower residents, increase community capacity, and translate research to action. Environmental justice (EJ) advocates and activists have for decades used community science to raise awareness about EJ concerns, inpower residents, increase community capacity, and translate research to action. Panelists discuss their community-driven research efforts to understand and address: 1) environmental justice and military wastes in Alaska; 2) goods movement, ports, and refineries in Oakland, California and Detroit, Michigan; 3) lack of basic amenities in North Carolina; and 4) environmental justice, hurricanes, and health disparities in the Gulf Coast and Puerto Rico. Panelists will describe the challenges of doing community science, detail successes, and share lessons learned, best practices, and issues yet resolved. Click to Watch Video ...

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Mar 16, 2019

HBCU Climate Change Consortium participate in The Climate Reality Leadership Training Corps

HBCU Climate Change Consortium Co-Director, Dr. Beverly Wright organized a delegation of members from the HBCU Climate Change Consortium to participate in the 2019 Climate Reality Leadership Corps Training in Atlanta, GA from March 14 – March 16, 2019. The Consortium’s partnership with the Climate Reality Project helped bring a diverse group into the Climate Reality Project training space. This year, the focus of the training came from an environmental justice lens. Environmental justice experts, faith leaders, students, and people of color community leaders gave heartfelt and sobering presentations about the devastating impact that climate change is having on vulnerable communities in the southeast region of the United States and around the world. HBCU Climate Change Consortium, Co-Director and Distinguished Professor of Urban Planning and Environmental Policy at Texas Southern University, Dr. Robert Bullard, facilitated a breakout session, “A Safe Place to Live, Work, Play and Pray: 30 Years of the US Environmental Justice Movement” and participated on a panel with Former Vice President Al Gore, Dr. J. Marshall Shepherd, Distinguished Professor of Geography and Atmospheric Sciences and Dr. Kim Cobb, Georgia Power Chair, “The Climate Crisis and Its Solutions,” session.  Al Gore said, “We all live in this house (Earth), we can’t ignore the fire in the bedroom or kitchen. The fire impacts all of us. We should not just say, Not in My Back Yard (NIMBY) but NOPE, Not On Planet Earth.”  Members of the Consortium had an opportunity to network and expand their knowledge about renewable energy, community resilience, and green jobs to equip environmental justice communities with the resources and knowledge to develop sustainable and resilient neighborhoods for all. Climate Reality Leadership Training    ...

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Feb 26, 2019

Capitol Hill Panel on the Inclusion of Renewable Energy Economy Powered By Green Jobs

  On February 26-27, 2019, Environmental Justice champions from around the country visited Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. to elevate their concerns about the myriad of environmental and health issues disproportionately affecting low-income communities and communities of color. In particular, the EJ leaders wanted the elected officials shaping the Green New Deal to not only understand our concerns with the current resolution but also to build relationships so that they can work with the communities they represent – to ensure that it emerges as a just and equitable Green New Deal for all. The purpose of the hearing was to learn first-hand about environmental issues, concerns, and needs from experts in the field to help develop the budget for the EPA and other agencies. Meeting with Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) and Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) of the Senate Climate Action Task Force at the U.S. Capitol Hill Meeting with Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and the leaders of the Sunrise Movement and the New Consensus Panel (L-R): WE ACT’s Director of Legislative Affairs Kerene N. Tayloe, Esq. (moderator), WE ACT’s Deputy Director & Director of Policy Initiatives Cecil Corbin-Mark, Deep South Center for Environmental Justice’s Founding Director Dr. Beverly Wright, Power 52 Co-Founder & CEO Rob Wallace, and Green Door Initiative President & CEO Donele Wilkins   Capitol Hill Panel on the Inclusion of Renewable Energy Economy Powered By Green Jobs ...

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