Council Member Ben Kallos Statement on Intro 495

New York, NY – Council Member Ben Kallos (D-Manhattan) came out strongly against Intro 495 this morning at a hearing on the legislation, issuing the following statement:

"Introduction 495, is not waste equity, it is waste inequity. Rather than relieving burdens on environmental justice communities, it simply creates new environmental justice communities. Introduction 495 will: 

• Arbitrarily spread harms to create new environmental justice communities; 

• Unequally distribute waste, capping some communities, but not others, with a hidden loophole allowing an unlimited burden for districts with a Marine Transfer Station; and

• Ignore real solutions of reduction and recycling.

Distribution of waste by community district is arbitrary and capricious. The 59 community districts that make up this city are organized by neighborhoods irrespective of the number of residents.

Some simple math: In order to achieve a waste cap of 5%, that would require spreading waste to a minimum of 20 community districts. Yet few of the 59 community districts have zoning for manufacturing, meaning the placement of more transfer stations in 20 additional more residential neighborhoods.

According to testimony from the Department of Sanitation, if Introduction 495 is passed, at  least 13 Council Districts have “existing transfer station(s) that can accept increased waste”….

In addition the Department of Sanitation has identified 12 Council Districts with manufacturing zoned areas “most likely areas for transfer station development”…

Introduction 495 perverts the very meaning of equity, offering a 5% waste cap to some, while providing no waste cap for marine transfer stations throughout the city. 

Until waste can be built in 12 additional Council Districts, where will the waste go? 

Section 16-495 subsection b. may provide an answer. “This section shall not preclude the commissioner from applying to increase the capacity of waste permitted by the state department of environmental conservation at marine transfer stations operated by the department.” 

So while other transfer stations are having their capacity reduced, marine transfer stations will see an increase in the amount of waste dumped in their neighborhood when the commissioner is forced to apply for a capacity increase.

We’d all like to see a city where no community is unfairly burdened with waste, but the real solution to this problem is not to spread around the waste, but to reduce the waste altogether: Waste equity through waste reduction.

Rather than looking backwards by dumping waste destined for landfills in more than 20 residential neighborhoods, we must look forward to waste reduction and improving recycling from a dismal 15% to the national average of 35%. We can and must do better.

Lastly, it has been my honor to represent my brothers and sisters in the Mason Tenders District Council as an attorney protecting their members, contracts, pensions and benefits, and it is once again my pleasure to represent them again in the City Council… Those that are here represent a small portion of the living wage jobs you seek to destroy.

I call upon Committee Members and my fellow Council Members to oppose this legislation and favor of legislation to increase recycling and reduce harms to all communities."