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VA law prevents utility shutoffs in extreme circumstances; MI construction industry responds to a high number of worker suicides; 500,000 still without power or water in the Houston area; KY experts: Children, and babies at higher risk for heat illness.

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The House passes the SAVE Act, but fails to hold Attorney General Merrick Garland in inherent contempt of Congress, and a proposed federal budget could doom much-needed public services.

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Enticing remote workers to move is a new business strategy in rural America, Eastern Kentucky preservationists want to save the 20th century home of a trailblazing coal miner, and a rule change could help small meat and poultry growers and consumers.

Report: Air quality worsens in NYC environmental-justice areas

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Tuesday, June 25, 2024   

A new report finds New York City environmental-justice communities face worsening air quality.

It's part of the Community Heat and Air Mapping Project for Environmental Justice. Hunts Point in the Bronx has the highest particulate matter exposure, exceeding national health standards.

Victoria Sanders, climate and health program manager, New York City Environmental Justice Alliance, said congestion pricing could have helped, but Gov. Kathy Hochul indefinitely paused the program. Sanders said the program would have helped with pollution mitigation.

"I believe there was a center that was planned in the Bronx for asthma and now, when that's in jeopardy, that funding is not there anymore, and so the benefits that were supposed to come from that new source of funding are likely to be lost if we can't make sure that happens," she said.

The MTA was prepared to spend $130 million on mitigation for that borough. But an environmental assessment shows congestion pricing would have increased pollution in the outer boroughs and New Jersey. The Bronx would have seen increased soot from the more than 700 trucks entering the borough daily.

The report recommends renewable energy investments and targeted policies to improve air quality caused by pollution hot spots. It also suggests asking city and state lawmakers to introduce legislation reducing hazardous air quality.

While air pollution declined in parts of the city over time, Sanders noted environmental justice communities haven't gotten a break. However, she said there are historic challenges to addressing environmental justice communities.

"Over the years, the built infrastructure has been put in into those communities where there is a lot of highly polluting businesses. There's waste-transfer stations, there's power plants, there's dense e-commerce truck routes and things like that," she explained.

Sanders added that well-funded owners of these businesses push back on policies and politicians making changes. The report also said lacking vegetation increases heat in neighborhoods, which affects nearby residential areas. City and state officials can use targeted investments for heat-mitigation efforts.


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