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Community Activism Across New England in 2015: Congrats to all the amazing leaders working for healthier communities!
We at Toxics Action Center wish you a happy and peaceful holiday season. As we get ready to celebrate the holidays, we also take time to celebrate the work of heroic residents across the state protecting their neighborhoods and families from toxic pollution and making all of our communities more democratic and more sustainable. Our communities are all healthier because of their work. Certainly cause for celebration!
Curbing Toxic Pesticide Spraying
This year, Members of Protect South Portland started Bees, Bays and Backyards (BBB) to ban toxic pesticide use in their town. BBB is made up of experienced leaders including Rachel Burger, MJ Ferrier, Cathy Chapman, and Roberta Zuckerman. So far the campaign has resulted in a unanimous directive from the South Portland City Council for the city staff to write an ordinance that will end the use of toxic lawn chemicals.
Now BBB and Toxics Action Center are making connections with surrounding communities interested in passing similar ordinances. Kudos to the Portland Pollinator Partnership and the Portland Protectors working to similarly reduce pesticide use. Avery Yale Kamila and Maggie Knowles have brought a pesticide ordinance to the Portland City Council and organized speakers to provide testimony in support of the ordinance at the first public hearing. Portland residents are standing up to the chemical lawn care companies. This regional movement has the potential to make a bigger impact on Casco Bay and inspire communities around Maine and beyond to take positive steps to protect pollinators, local environments and health.
Stopping New Fossil Fuel Infrastructure
Burrillville Against Spectra Expansion (BASE) in Rhode Island is fighting both a proposed new power plant and the expansion of a gas compressor station. The compressor station already spews too many toxic air pollutants and expansion would exacerbate the problem. It has been great to work with Kathy Martley from BASE and Nick Katkevich from Fighting Against Natural Gas (FANG) to organize a campaign to stop the expansion and guarantee the safety of local residents and a healthy environment. Big thanks to BU School of Public Health student Taylor Williams who conducted a noise study.
Vermonters are fighting fracked gas too, working in Addison County to stop a proposed pipeline to bringing fracked gas from Canada through Vermont communities. The hard work of committed homeowners along the route like Mary and Randy Martin, Melanie Peyser, Jane and Nate Palmer, Maren Vasatka, George and Barb Wilson have helped make the fight against dependence on fracked gas a statewide issue. Thanks to their work they stopped the pipeline from going under Lake Champlain last February and have caused major delays in the pipeline going down to Middlebury.
New England Closer to Coal-Free
After the Mount Tom coal-fired power plant in Holyoke retired last year and Brayton Point in Somerset announced plans to retire, local leaders have kept up the fight for a just transition. Coalition for Clean Air South Coast is building support for clean energy in Somerset, including off-shore wind. We congratulate Pauline Rodrigues, Emily Johns, Connie Brodeur and others for their outstanding work to move towards a healthier new economy!
Kudos to the hard work of Citizens for Clean and Fair Power in New Hampshire. They’ve done some amazing work this year. PSNH is selling off its coal plants—a major step forward to retirement! In 2016, we’re looking forward to continuing our work to transition NH away from coal. We are also thrilled to have the help of from Conservation Law Foundation and NH Sierra Club on this important issue.
Shout out to the Healthy CT Alliance, working for a healthier and economically vibrant Bridgeport by transitioning away from coal-burning at the city’s aging coal plant, Bridgeport Harbor Station. They’ve made huge strides towards cleaner air in the past year! Thanks to our partners CT Coalition for Environmental Justice, CT Fund for the Environment, Conservation Law Foundation, 350 CT, and Sierra Club.
Fighting for a Clean Energy Future
Thanks to all who helped launch Mass Power Forward this past fall, a new coalition bringing together frontline communities, environmental groups, faith organizations, local businesses, and more to advocate for a clean energy future for Massachusetts. With leadership from community activists like Cathy Kristofferson, Jenny Daniell, and Alice Arena, this coalition is going places.
Standing Up to Polluters
After years of work with communities all around Vermont to clean up or close leaking landfills and illegal salvage yards, the first state Salvage Yard Rules are finally in effect thanks to input from activists from over a dozen communities that have fought junkyards in their hometowns. Big thanks to Shirley Knowlton in Weston, Jackie Hammond in Hancock, Beverley Freeguard in Whiting, and others for taking the lead on this issue.
Thank you to everyone that joined us at one of our best conferences yet! Nearly 350 activists from Greenwich, Connecticut to Old Town, Maine joined together at the 28th annual Local Environmental Action Conference. We were thrilled to have Director of NAACP Environmental and Climate Justice Program, Jacqueline Patterson, as our guest speaker. She was a huge inspiration!
This is only a small selection of the over 100 communities we have worked with in the past year -- thank you to everyone for their dedication to a cleaner environment for all!
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