West Harlem and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, USA


<div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Description</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld"></td><td class="columns"><div class="less">In 1988, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MAT) attempted to build a new bus depot in the already heavily burdened neighborhood of West Harlem in Northern Manhattan, New York City. Northern Manhattan is a predominantly African American and Latino part of the city that disproportionately hosts several pollution facilities that harm the health of their residents. Some of the environmental burdens located in Northern Manhattan at that time included: a waste water treatment plant, a marine transfer station, a system of highways surrounding the neighborhood that represent some of the most important routes for transporting goods in and out of Manhattan, and six out of the eight MAT bus depots located in Manhattan. The Northern Manhattan community's asthma mortality and morbidity rates were five to six times higher than the national average. The connections between the environmental burdens and health impacts made spark the controversy.</div><a class="seemore" href="#">See more...</a><div class="more" style="display:none">In 1988, as a result the disproportionate health impacts from environmental threats located in their neighborhood, local communities founded WE ACT for Environmental Justice, the first environmental justice organization in New York City. Since its foundation, the goal of this organization was to fight against the use of this part of Manhattan as the dumping ground of New York City.<br/><br/>In November 2000, WE ACT and several community residents filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Transportation alleging that diesel bus depots were disproportionately located in Manhattan's minority communities. This complaint also aimed to stop the proposal of building low income and seniors' housing over the bus depot. They co-filed the complaint with civil rights attorneys who asserted that the high number of depots in northern Manhattan violated Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, an act barring federal funding for any program that discriminates based on race. To support the complaint, WE ACT did a land use analysis that showed a high proportion of people of color living near the depots. In addition, WE ACT developed a media campaign and youth programs on diesel buses and air quality.<br/><br/>In 2004, in response to WE ACT's Title VI complaint of 2001, the Federal Transportation Authority found that MTA failed to comply with the required federal environmental impact analysis in constructing, rehabilitating and reconstructing of bus depots and other facilities. <br/><br/>After further local campaigns followed by pressure from state and local authorities, MTA started replacing hundreds of diesel fuel buses with alternative and cleaner vehicles, including ultra-low sulfur diesel (ULSD) and compressed natural gas (CNG) buses.<br/><br/><a class="seeless" href="#">(See less)</a></div></td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Basic Data</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Name</td><td>West Harlem and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, USA</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Country</td><td><a href="/country/united-states-of-america">United States of America </a></td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Province</td><td>New York</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Site</td><td>New York City</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Accuracy of Location</td><td>MEDIUM regional level</td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Source of Conflict</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Type of Conflict (1st level)</td><td>Infrastructure and Built Environment</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Type of Conflict (2nd level)</td><td>Transport infrastructure networks (roads, railways, hydroways, canals and pipelines)<br /> Pollution related to transport (spills, dust, emissions)<br /> Urban development conflicts</td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Project Details and Actors</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Project Details</td><td class="columns"><div class="less">Six out of seven MTA Manhattan bus depots are located north of 100th Street. </div><a class="seemore" href="#">See more...</a><div class="more" style="display:none">Particulate Matter (PM) represents the most dangerous air pollutant resulting from diesel bus combustion. Other pollutants that have a negative health impact include benzene, carbon dioxide, and nitrogen dioxide. <br/><br/><a class="seeless" href="#">(See less)</a></div></td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Type of Population</td><td>Urban</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Potential Affected Population</td><td>100,000-200,000</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Start Date</td><td>1988</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Company Names or State Enterprises</td><td><a href='/company/metropolitan-transportation-authority'>Metropolitan Transportation Authority</a> from <a href='/country-of-company/united-states-of-america'><small>United States of America </small></a></td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Relevant government actors</td><td>Department of Transportation (local, state, and federal)</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Environmental justice organisations and other supporters</td><td>WE ACT for Environmental Justice</td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">The Conflict and the Mobilization</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)</td><td>MEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">When did the mobilization begin</td><td>PREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Groups Mobilizing</td><td>Local ejos<br /> Neighbours/citizens/communities<br /> Social movements<br /> Ethnically/racially discriminated groups</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Forms of Mobilization</td><td>Blockades<br /> Community-based participative research (popular epidemiology studies, etc..)<br /> Development of a network/collective action<br /> Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism<br /> Media based activism/alternative media<br /> Official complaint letters and petitions<br /> Public campaigns<br /> Street protest/marches</td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Impacts</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Environmental Impacts</td><td><strong>Visible: </strong>Noise pollution, Air pollution<br /><strong>Potential: </strong>Global warming</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Health Impacts</td><td><strong>Visible: </strong>Other Health impacts<br /><strong>Potential: </strong>Deaths, Other environmental related diseases</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Other</td><td>Ashtma, Cancer, Cardiovascular diseases and other respiratory problems</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Socio-economic Impacts</td><td><strong>Visible: </strong>Loss of landscape/sense of place, Other socio-economic impacts</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Other</td><td>High asthma rates in children have negative consequences in their school performance (higher number of school absence, poor academic performance, etc.)</td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Outcome</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Project Status</td><td>Stopped</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Pathways for conflict outcome / response</td><td>Court decision (victory for environmental justice)<br /> Technical solutions to improve resource supply/quality/distribution<br /> The lawsuit was responsible for halting the construction of housing atop the depot.</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Do you consider this as a success?</td><td>Yes</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Why? Explain briefly.</td><td>The controversy sparked one of the most successful large scale environmental justice social marketing campaigns and the formation of a prominent Environmental Justice Organization. Today, New York's MTA has the largest fleet of hybrid-electric buses, and claims to have one of the cleanest transit fleets, in the United States. <br/><br/>However, since a disproportionate number of bus depots remains in the area, WE ACT and other environmental justice organizations continue their fight to press MTA to ensure a more sustainable depot operation. </td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Sources and Materials</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Legislations</td><td><table><tr><td><p> Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964<br/><a class="refanch small" href="http://www.justice.gov/crt/about/cor/coord/vimanual.pdf" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr></table></td></tr><tr><td class="fld">References</td><td><table><tr><td><p> Shepard, Peggy. "Breathe at Your Own Risk: Transit Justice in West Harlem." race, poverty & the environment (2005): 51-53.<br/></p></td></tr><tr><td><p> Shepard, Peggy M. "Issues of community empowerment." Fordham Urb. LJ 21 (1993): 739.<br/></p></td></tr><tr><td><p> The Greenest Cleanest Depot Possible: Rebuilding Mother Clara Hale Depot<br/><a class="refanch small" href="https://docs.google.com/fileview?id=0Bw10GZnFQvJGZmEyYWUzMGYtMjU2My00MTlhLWJmMmItMzZmMmRlOWNkNmZk&hl=en" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr></table></td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Links</td><td><table><tr><td><p> WE ACT<br/><a class="refanch small" href="http://www.weact.org/Home/WEACTTimeline/tabid/310/Default.aspx" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr><tr><td><p> Article on the New York Times "Environmental Group Files Complaint Against M.T.A"<br/><a class="refanch small" href="http://www.weact.org/Portals/7/NYTEnvironGroupFilesComplaintAgainstMTA.pdf" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr><tr><td><p> WE ACT's Title VI Complaint Against the MTA<br/><a class="refanch small" href="http://www.weact.org/Programs/EJAdvocacyGovtAccountability/MTAAccountabilityCampaign/MTATitleVIComplaint/tabid/307/Default.aspx" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr></table></td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Media Links</td><td><table><tr><td><p> WE ACT's Dirty Diesel Campaign<br/><a class="refanch small" href="http://www.weact.org/Portals/7/NO%20MORE%20BUSES%20RALLY.jpg" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr><tr><td><p> WE ACT's campaign is featured at local news<br/><a class="refanch small" href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_KdMVLkdrVs" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr><tr><td><p> MTA representative Tammy Petzios and Millicent Redick, co-chair of the Mother Clara Hale Task Force, lead a discussion on air quality issues<br/><a class="refanch small" href="http://www.weact.org/Portals/7/Mother%20Clara%20Hale%20BusDepot_3128.jpg" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr><tr><td><p> WE ACT's Campaign "If you live Uptown, breath at your own risk"<br/><a class="refanch small" href="http://www.weact.org/Portals/7/If%20You%20Live%20Uptown%20Poster.jpg" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr><tr><td><p> Locations of Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) bus depots across New York City's Communities of Color by US Census Tract in 1990. Source: WE ACT<br/><a class="refanch small" href="http://www.weact.org/Portals/7/Map%204.pdf" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr></table></td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Other Comments</td><td>This is one of the top 40 influential environmental justice cases in the United States identified from a national survey of environmental activists, scholars and other leaders by graduate students at the University of Michigan</td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Meta Information</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Contributor</td><td>Alejandro Colsa PĂ©rez, [email protected], University of Michigan School of Natural Resources and Environment</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Last update</td><td>08/07/2015</td></tr></tbody></table></div></div>
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