Clean-energy investment is a way to tackle climate change and at the same time create jobs upon which futures can be built Investment in renewable energy nationwide, spurred by President Joe Biden’s “Build Back Better” campaign, represents even more than an opportunity to fight back against the health, safety and economic threats from climate change. Done right, it also has the potential to dramatically make work pay again for millions of Americans who’ve been shoved aside for too many years in an economy where the rich got richer and — well, you know the rest. Read the entire OpEd.
When Abraham Lincoln School in Garfield reopens in September, students will cram into a building constructed 50 years after the 16th president was assassinated and is showing its age: A sagging roof, water damage from leaks in the mortar, no air- conditioning. It gets no better in some schools in Paterson, where the local teachers union has reported mold, leaky ceilings and rodents. But they do have running drinking water, which is more than can be said of at least half the schools in Jersey City. Those schools are examples among dozens throughout New Jersey’s 31 so-called Schools Development Authority (SDA) districts that will fully reopen this school year in “deplorable conditions,” as the Education Law Center put it in legal filings. Hot, overcrowded, poorly ventilated classrooms have become a way of life for students and teachers in these districts that have been so down-at-the-heels that the Supreme Court ruled decades ago that the state is responsible for school repairs and replacement so students can get a “thorough and efficient” education. Read the full story here.
As the new school year starts, the National Coalition for Healthier Schools, coordinated by Healthy Schools Network, is calling for critical and immediate actions and $75 Million in funding to rapidly expand EPA’s capacity to mount education and technical assistance campaigns on clean indoor environments in the nation’s schools: Clean Air, Clean Water, and Clean and Healthy Products. “Clean air in every school should be a national priority for all k-12 schools and childcare facilities,” says Claire Barnett, executive of the Healthy Schools Network. “No child should suffer a full day of polluted and or cold and flu virus-filled indoor air. Teaching suffers; learning suffers; absences and asthma rise. Children are denied the future they and the nation need.”... “Students and staff deserve to learn and teach in healthy schools with adequate ventilation systems. Proper ventilation is important when it comes to good indoor air quality and reducing the spread of COVID-19. Funding must be authorized at the state and federal level to help achieve these goals,” said Heather L. Sorge, NJ Work Environment Council. Read the full article here.
"Heather Sorge is an organizer for Healthy Schools Now, a coalition under the umbrella of the New Jersey Work Environment Council. She said her organization has been advocating for stricter standards for years. The issue, she said, is a lack of awareness. “We’ve advocated for a statewide survey of where these floors are, testing to see if there is a mercury component and then funding on a statewide level because the districts shouldn’t be responsible for these costly repairs,” Sorge said. Not all of the floors are problematic, but it's impossible to know without testing. Mercury exposure can harm the brain and central nervous system. The risk is higher for young children, whose neurological systems are still developing, and who are lower to the ground where vapors linger. Even short-term exposure can cause a cough or sore throat, headaches and chest pain." It's critical that we identify these floors and have them tested and remediated. Read the entire article here.
Employers fined for COVID-19 safety lapses as advocates see rising numbers of workplace deaths Cecelia Gilligan Leto often fields calls from workers concerned for their safety while they do their jobs. As project director for the New Jersey Work Environment Council, Leto has trained people in workplace safety for years. So, when the novel coronavirus began to spread last year, workers in health care, retail, warehouses and in other occupations turned to her. “You had this invisible thing come into the workplace; people just didn’t know what to do with it, and there was a lot to learn in the beginning,’’ she said. “COVID was a new hazard, and in February and March those calls kept coming in and the people were fearful, and they were scared.” Read more here.
The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities on Wednesday awarded a combined 2,658 megawatts of offshore wind capacity to EDF/Shell’s Atlantic Shores Offshore Wind and Ørsted’s Ocean Wind II. The awards bring the state’s total planned capacity to more than 3,700 MW — or approximately half of Gov. Phil Murphy’s goal of 7,500 MW of offshore wind by 2035. Here’s what those numbers really mean: The energy produced by these two awards will supply power to 1.1 million homes in the state — in addition to the 500,000 homes that will be energized by the first award. Read more: https://www.roi-nj.com/2021/06/30/industry/energy-utilities/n-j-solidifies-role-as-hub-of-offshore-wind-energy-with-latest-bpu-awards/
Press Statement: Jersey Renews Thanks Sen. Loretta Weinberg for Supporting Full Transit Funding & An End to Clean Energy Fund Raids
Sen. Loretta Weinberg issued the below statement in support of full funding for New Jersey Transit and an end to Clean Energy Fund raids. (The full statement can also be viewed here.) The full FY22 state budget must be finalized and approved by the end of this month. Senate Majority Leader’s Weinberg’s statement reads: “NJ Transit has been a perennial budget issue thanks to the degradation of service suffered during the Christie Administration. Adequate funding is necessary to maintain service and to make much-needed capital improvements. “I am concerned, though, that the Governor’s proposed budget includes a $273 million reduction in the state’s subsidy to NJ Transit, while leaving in place longstanding transfers from the Clean Energy Fund and NJ Transit’s capital budget. Read the full press release here.
Testimony Given to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration on Whistleblower Protections
Testimony Given by Debra Coyle McFadden to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration Whistleblower Stakeholder Meeting on May 19, 2021 Thank you for the opportunity to testify. My name is Debra Coyle McFadden, and I am the Executive Director of the NJ Work Environment Council. We are a coalition of 70 labor, community, and environmental organizations, as well as many individuals advocating for safe, secure jobs and a health sustainable environment. The NJ Work Environment Council is also an affiliate of the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health Network as well as the national coalition to Prevent Chemical Disasters. Let me be direct. If workers are not truly protected when participating in safety or health activities, or reporting workplace hazards to their employer, they won’t do it. The consequence of this will be that more workers will die in workplace fatalities or become sick or injured on the jobs. The impact of not reporting health and safety hazards may also go well beyond the workplace. For example, if a refinery or chemical worker doesn’t feel protected from retaliation, they might not report a serious health and safety hazard that if reported and corrected could prevent a toxic catastrophe. [...]
We know that student debt impacts our current members, our future members and our students. We also know that student debt disproportionately affects people of color, adding it to the long list of social justice issues that must be addressed. That’s why the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA) is taking action. NJEA, with partners from the Work Environment Council (WEC), New Jersey Communities United (NJCU), New Jersey Citizen Action (NJCA), NJ Higher Education Student Assistance Authority (HESAA), and NJ Department of Education (NJDOE) have formed the “New Jersey Student Loan Debt Alliance” which seeks to tackle the issue of student debt and college affordability. Read the whole opinion article here.
A peer-reviewed study published in JAMA Internal Medicine finds that 85 people have been killed by the dangerous solvent methylene chloride in the last 4 decades. The study notes that even these numbers don’t capture the full scope of harm, because many deaths likely are unreported, and deaths likely to have occurred due to exposure may not have identified methylene chloride as the cause of death. The study assessed verified deaths from acute exposures but does not capture the harms, including cancer, caused by chronic exposure. Read more: https://www.nrdc.org/experts/daniel-rosenberg/methylene-chloride-deaths-highlight-need-epa-action