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Launch of the Hudson Climate Coalition (HCC), on Climate Action

Launch of the Hudson Climate Coalition (HCC), on Climate Action

Submitted by Ashwani Vasishth, PhD, Founding Advisor, Sustainable Jersey City and Associate Professor of Sustainability at Ramapo College of New Jersey 

Following up on the April 2019 Hudson County Climate Town Hall held in Jersey City City Hall, the five organizations that initiated the Town Hall, came together to officially launch the Hudson Climate Coalition (HCC).  Convening at the Barrow Mansion on June 25th, 2019, Food & Water Watch, the Hudson County Sierra Club, Sustainable JC, and The Climate Mobilization (Hoboken Chapter) joined together, supported by the JC Environmental Commission to kick off the Coalition (HCC).

The June Kick-off Meeting began with Matt Smith, Food and Water Watch, introducing the Coalition, and the objectives of this particular “call to action.”  At its heart, the concern we have is as follows:  If it is true that we are squarely in the grip of a climate crisis, then why are we not, individually and collectively, acting urgently to change this “sorry state of affairs entire”?  And, more specifically, how do we mobilize rapidly growing numbers of activists in the battle to mitigate and adapt to climate change?

Following introductions, the group broke into two clusters, one to discuss the Green New Deal, and the other to consider local action and activism.  The session on the Green New Deal discussed how to promote such a massive economic stimulus & jobs program, designed to tackle our climate crisis, to our public officials. The discussion focused entirely on Hudson County’s congressional representatives. There was much interest in meeting with Congressman Albio Sires (8th District)—and, after that, with Congressman Donald Payne (10th District)—to lobby them to support the Green New Deal. It was agreed that these meetings would take place in the Fall—in part, so students from the Sunrise Movement would be around—and, between now and then, we would discuss strategy. Over 20 people said they wanted to participate in these efforts.

The cluster on local action and activism looked broadly at the case of urban forestry in Jersey City, and strategized ways to substantially increase the city’s tree canopy within a decade.  The group discussed Tree Legislation being considered by Jersey City’s City Council, as well as ways in which citizens could meaningfully provide input into the process.  The formation of a JC Shade Tree Commission was talked about, with a much-needed discussion about ways of ensuring that whatever oversight body might be created had enough power to push the city toward the ambitious but realistic and necessary goal of substantially increasing its tree canopy within the next decade.

This local action and activism break out group also focused on ways to work with local government and bringing forward a resolution to the Jersey City City Council to move the City toward carbon neutrality.

Halfway through the meeting, we switched things around again, breaking out into three clusters, with one focusing on organizing for Community Activism, one focused on stopping new fossil fuel infrastructure projects in Hudson County, and one on local and regional political action, which rolled up as follows.

During the session on fighting fossil fuel infrastructure, local residents and advocates discussed the two fossil fuel power plants currently proposed in Hudson County, one in North Bergen Township which would send electricity to NYC, and a second proposed by NJ Transit in Kearny to provide grid resiliency.  These two proposed fracked-gas power plants would be among the largest carbon emitters in New Jersey.  Furthermore, Hudson County, which would be most impacted by the two power plants, already has an “F” rating from the American Lung Association for ground-level ozone, a dangerous by-product of natural gas power plants that is known to exacerbate asthma and other respiratory illnesses.  Learn more about natural gas power plant air pollution impacts here.

According to a 2018 report by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), we may now have as few as 11 years to reach critical levels in stopping greenhouse gas emissions before the Earth reaches a dangerous temperature. A Rutgers study notes that sea level may rise almost three feet by 2100. New Jersey must work quickly to mitigate climate change, and that starts by enacting a moratorium on all new fossil fuel expansion projects. 

Many participants in this session have already actively engaged in the campaign to stop the power plant proposed in North Bergen Township, many of them joining the recent “March For Our Lungs”, a student-led action that saw 500 local residents march to the site of the proposed power plant to call on Governor Murphy to stop it.  Some had also attended local forums and lobbied their local elected officials to pass a resolution opposing the power plant in North Bergen Township.  The main conclusion from the discussion is that we need to engage more people in these important issues with more petitioning, door to door canvassing, more educational events, more media and social media, and other grassroots organizing tactics.   

The Hudson Climate Coalition now has an email address <hudsonclimatecoalition@gmail.com> and a Facebook and Instagram presence: @hudsonclimatecoalition.

Finally, the JC Office of Sustainability is preparing to release a Climate Action Plan (CAP), which will soon be rolled out for public input and comment.  If you would like to engage with climate change actions within Jersey City, please send an email to sjc.climateactionplanning@gmail.com, with the Subject Line: Engaging the JC CAP Process.

Stay tuned for next steps.  In the meanwhile, follow us on Facebook and Instagram.  Or send HCC an email, to join our mailing list.

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Urgent Development - NJ Legislation on Food Waste Recycling, Please Voice Your Concern!

Dear SJC Members:

We need your help.  As many of you know, we have been working to educate the Jersey City community about the many health, environmental, and economic benefits of food waste recycling. Moreover, the New Jersey Composting Council, one of our partner organizations, has been working diligently to support state-wide legislation that would benefit the food waste recycling industries in New Jersey. However, the New Jersey legislature is about to pass severely flawed legislation – Bill S1206 – that considers landfilling and incineration of food waste to be “recycling.” 

Please contact your Senator immediately and voice your concerns about this shortsighted bill ahead of a congressional vote scheduled to take place this Thursday, June 27th. You can find your elected representatives contact information here. For your convenience, below is a brief but informative commentary on the bill by our friends at the New Jersey Composting Council.

 

New Jersey’s Food Waste “Recycling” Bill S1206

New Jersey Composting Council

Currently working its way through our state legislature is Bill S2106, which claims to require the “recycling” of food waste by large food waste generators. In theory, this bill is based on similar legislation passed in Massachusetts, Connecticut and most recently by our neighbors across the Hudson in New York. These bills, generally speaking, have been very successful, with Massachusetts having generated $175 Million in economic activity in its first two years of implementation. Given these economic and environmental successes in an age of economic and environmental insecurity, it makes sense for New Jersey to pass similar legislation.

The New Jersey Composing Council has been actively advocating for such environmentally progressive legislation in New Jersey this past year. Unfortunately, the most recent version of Bill S1206 smuggles environmental benefits out the back door by treating landfills and incinerators as appropriate food waste “recycling” facilities – this notwithstanding the fact that incinerators and landfills alike pollute the atmosphere with noxious methane and carbon emissions and eliminate or contaminate scarce nutrients that should be returned to our soils in support of local, sustainable agricultural systems. 

Whatever the merit of landfills and incinerators, they do not “recycle” food waste. Moreover, our food waste has already been going to landfills and incinerators for years. Raising the question, what's the point of the bills as currently drafted?

If drafted properly, food waste recycling bills have the potential to support the development of organics recycling infrastructure, a critically important aspect of the sustained agricultural and economic health of our state. To address the massive food and organic waste challenges facing New Jersey, we must reduce overall food waste by donating our leftovers and recycling whatever is left back into our regenerative agricultural systems. The problem is, we don't currently have the infrastructure in place to recycle food waste at scale. Properly drafted food waste recycling bills should incentivize the movement of organics waste volume into true recycling facilities, not landfills and incinerators.

Organics recycling is a challenge, but also a tremendous opportunity. Both aerobically and anaerobically produced compost has numerous benefits, including the potential to sequester carbon from the atmosphere, rehabilitate soil against erosion and nutrient loss, protect against flooding, and generate meaningful jobs. As such, food waste recycling legislation is a positive step for any state – but only when used to implement true recycling systems, not just enshrine the status quo for the benefit of a few vested interests.

 New Jersey Composting Council

www.njcomposting.com

 For more information or questions about how you can help please contact us at: jairo@njcomposting.com

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Next Week's Events - Learn & Socialize With Us !

Dear Friends,

We have 2 great events we are hosting this coming week and wanted to invite you to BOTH !

Next Week's Events - Learn & Socialize With Us ! Mon Nite June 3rd & Wed Nite June 5th !!!

  1. Monday Nite 6:30pm at Hudson County Community College (HCCC), LEARN about Developers’ Perspectives on Buidling Green Infrastructure & Greener Buildings in Jersey City ! Understand their financial considerations and also learn about new mandates NJ State is going to put in place for municipalities to go green ! George Vallone Guest Speaker - Complete Session Details & George Vallone Bio here.

    • Location is HCCC Library Room # 237, just a short walk from the Journal Square PATH - Arrive early to meet others, let Security in Lobby know you will joining Sustainable JC Class Session upstairs !.

  2. Wednesday Nite 6-9pm, Green Drinks +ART @ LITM bar restaurant downtown - SOCIALIZE with like minded sustainability folks, drink a little, chat a little and enjoy the LITM June ART Show launching this weekend ! Located at 140 Newark Avenue, a short walk from the Grove Street PATH. First drinks on us while comps last :-) Here’s the event listing we posted earliier in May !

Sustainable JC is working hard to EDUCATE THE PUBLIC ABOUT QUALITY OF LIFE PRIORITIES for Jersey City, particularly Climate Change Planning Opportunities ! AND, in doing so, we are looking to build community and build an activist base that is interested to work with us on these issues. Please join us at these events if your schedules permits, and let’s talk about ways we can do neighborhood projects together !

Hope to see you at one or both of these events and feel free to invite others - all are welcome !

Warm regards,

Deb Italiano

Founder & Chair, SustainableJC.org

917-447-9839

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Important: Community Input Needed For MORE Green Infrastructure In Jersey City !

Community Input Needed For MORE Green Infrastructure In Jersey City !

Submitted by Deb Italiano, Founder & Chair, SustainableJC.org

Hello Folks !

I’m writing to you on behalf of SJC’s participation on the Jersey City Resiliency Planning Working Group (START) and as Partner in the Sewage Free Streets and Rivers Campaign, a statewide initiative spearheaded by NJ Future (we suggest you receive their newsletter updates !)

Right now, the Jersey City Municipal Utilities Authority (JC MUA) is in the last phase of a preliminary assessment of various options to remedy the stormwater management issues that we experience in Jersey City. As a CSO city, most of use are aware of the challenges of managing sewage overflows in Jersey City, which have polluted both our Hudson and Hackensack Rivers, and even exasperated our streets during storm events. The JCMUA has been doing a great job in replacing aging infrastructure, but is now needing to make some major decisions on how investments for the next 20-30 years are going to be spent to fix and prepare for future storm events that impact the JC sewer system - this is a big deal !.

SJC and our Partners, including the NJ Department of Environmental Protection (NJ DEP), are encouraging Green Infrastructure intervention strategies - more streetscape Trees, Green Roofs, Rain Gardens & Bioswales, Neighborhood Cisterns & Rain Barrels, Permeable Pavement (great for parking lots) - to capture and divert stormwater above ground before it enters the sewer system, preventing a huge amount of the overflow problem from becoming an overflow problem !

The obvious secondary benefit of more Green Infrastructure for Jersey City encompasses higher quality of life opportunities for residents and businesses, who will be primarily responsible for paying for the cost of sewer infrastructure upgrades (billions of dollars). Why not lower the cost of these infrastructure upgrades 30-50% like other cities are doing by using Green Infrastructure intervention strategies to prevent CSOs ahead of the turn ? Quick peak at the quality of life benefits available by taking a look at the JC OpenTreeMap which calculates the lower heat on city streets, energy use and better air quaility, etc.!

The JC MUA report, including community feedback about the options they will select thru this Long Term Control Plan Survey (LTCP Survey), is due to the NJ DEP by July 1st, 2019 !

Thanks so much and if I can answer any questions you might have about this issue or this outreach initiative, please feel free to reach me directly at debitaliano@gmail.com or 917-447-9839.

Warm regards,

Deb Italiano

Founder & Chair, SustainableJC.org / Green Infrastructure

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World Ocean’s Day is on June 8th Saturday! Starting in Jersey City - Register Now !

World Ocean’s Day is on June 8th Saturday! 

We are counting down the days for an unforgettable World Ocean’s Day celebration in Jersey City and NYC!  Event kicks off in Jersey City, downtown at 15 Exchange Place - Register Now !

This year we’ve partnered with some amazing brands and local shops to bring the best experience and we’re always looking for more to make this better! If you or others are interested to sponsor or donate to our work and these activites - please Contact Us! 

Our goal is to turn the Jersey City waterfront BLUE with all who are wearing blue t-shirts and walking along the waterfront! Our only request of you is to wear an ocean blue t-shirt. If you don’t have one we have them available for you to purchase upon registration through BeNatural.World

What is it?

3 Human Formations

2 Clean-ups

1 Amazing Walk around the Hudson - where you can join us for as short or as long as you want! 

Overview

While the majority of the activities will be taking place between Jersey City and Weehawken - the walk will continue much further towards the George Washington Bridge and return on the other side of the Hudson down to Battery Park. 

The walk is in collaboration with the FreeWalkers - please check their website for their empowering and inspiring mission to get Americans of all ages on their feet, remaining active for any or no reason at all, and keeping healthy and fit! Just keep on walking. This year they joined us to create a collaborative event as they walk along the Hudson River for 30 miles remembering and reminding us of our tie to the ocean, regardless of where we are. 

Did you know that 80% of all ocean pollution is land based? 

Start - To - End, Here’s What The Day Will Look Like -

As we start at 7:30am we will be doing a human formation at the Exchange Place waterfront - getting ourselves into a marine shape - and getting a photo with the Freedom Tower behind us - as we’re all going to be wearing BLUE t-shirts as a symbol of the Ocean. Both because we believe all creatures of the ocean deserve to be Free (as opposed to captive in pools) and also because we are blessed to have the FREEDOM to make our own choices for the impact we want to have on the world.

We’ll continue our walk to Hoboken - where at 9:30 we’ll be met by our friends at Trader Joe’s for refreshments and some cool drinks! No plastic please! 

At 10am we will have another Human Formation this time right by the Empire State Building. 

Did you know that the earth’s surface is 70% ocean? WE look like a blue marble from outerspace!

For those who would like to participate in a clean-up we will have a chance to take a shuttle to go to Liberty State Park to join a beach clean-up at Caven Point - right behind the Statue of Liberty. #wereallinthistogether Here we will be met by our friends of Liberty State Park as well as the Big Blue Ocean Clean-up crew who will be in town all the way from London. 

At the end of that cleanup there will be another human formation on the beach - between 12 - 12:30 with the statue of liberty and the skyline in the distance before we get back onto the shuttles and return to meet the walkers - if you wish. Otherwise a little bit of walking and a healthy cleanup - that could be the end of the events for you. 

Did you know that every second breath you take is enabled by the ocean? The ocean provides 50% of our oxygen.

As the walkers continue along the Hudson up to the George Washington Bridge - we will be gathering at the Riverside Park for another clean-up at 2:30pm. Feel Free to join us here and then continue the walk all the way down to the Freedom Tower/Brookfield Place. 

All we ask is to wear a BLUE t-shirt. Don’t have one? Don’t fret - you can get one after you Register for the event via Freewalkers and Eventbrite.

All proceeds go to help the Big Blue Ocean Clean-up effort organizing clean-ups all around the world. 

Did you know that there really is one ocean on our beautiful big blue? Even though we like to divide it up to names, it is all just one big connected body of water! #wereallinthistogether

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