Dr. Nicky Sheats speaks on environmental justice

On September 6, EELC hosted a meeting with the New Jersey Environmental Justice Alliance (NJEJA) that featured Dr. Nicky Sheats, director of the Center for Urban Development at Thomas Edison University and well-known authority on environmental justice. Dr. Sheats spoke about the federal Clean Power Plan and its impact on minority and low-income communities.

Dr. Nicky Sheats gave a powerful presentation on the lack of environmental justice provisions in the U.S. EPA’s Clean Power Plan. Dr. Sheats pointed out that high cumulative impacts from environmental hazards positively correlate with the percentage of minority residents and poverty levels. Since carbon trading could actually increase emissions in environmental justice communities, Dr. Sheats advocated against a pure carbon-trading approach and in favor of mandatory reductions at all power plants in environmental justice communities.  Dr. Sheats proposed stakeholders meetings as a way to address issues with power plants and to promote advocacy for environmental justice communities

EEL Executive Director Aaron Kleinbaum opened the meeting with a discussion of a recent legal success: Newark’s passage of a Cumulative Impacts Ordinance.  Community advocates then discussed several issues, including the community-led response to Superstorm Sand and using StreetWyze software to map Newark’s West Ward for resiliency problems.

In attendance were Newark of lawyers, advocates for the environmental justice community, and members of the public.  EELC attorney Raghu Murthy found the meeting to be “a lively discussion of the environmental justice community’s achievements.” However, Murthy added, “there is still much work left to do.”