Environmental Justice Prevails in the South Bronx: It’s a New Day!

Congratulations to the South Bronx!

At a press conference held on August 11 by US Congressman Ritchie Torres (left) in front of the Bronx Children’s Museum’s future home, Executive Director Carla Precht points out the proximity of the proposed power converter station as part of her remarks. Also in attendance were Miriam Tabb, President of Friends of Mill Pond Park (right), and Chauncy Young, Coordinator, Harlem River Working Group (hidden in background).

 

Thanks to our indomitable US Congressman Ritchie Torres, our fabulous local elected officials – Assembly Member Joyner, and Council Members Gibson and Ayala – and our tireless community leaders who have been advocating for environmental justice for decades, Forward Power has formally agreed to relocate a high-voltage power converter station that was proposed to be built across the street from Bronx Children’s Museum’s new facility in Mill Pond Park. The station was included in the Clean Path New York proposal, of which Forward Power is a partner, to NYSERDA to bring renewable energy to NYC.


At a press conference held by Congressman Torres in front of the Museum yesterday, he announced, “We have a commitment in writing that there will be no siting of any high-voltage infrastructure in any residential neighborhood in the Bronx, which is a win for environmental justice and a win for public health.”


(See Letter from Clean Path New York)


The Congressman went on to say, “I want to thank Forward Power for engaging with us in good faith and responding to the legitimate concerns of the community. This is a win-win for everyone.”


According to an article by reporter Liz Donovan in City Limits today, “Forward Power confirmed that it will not consider siting a power station anywhere in the Bronx and that it will only consider siting the plant on industrial property.”


(See https://citylimits.org/2021/08/11/rep-ritchie-torres-strikes-deal-to-keep-proposed-high-voltage-converter-out-of-south-bronxs-asthma-alley/)



Background

The construction and operation of the converter station, proposed to New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) by New York Power Authority and Forward Power, would have posed a significant, negative impact on a high-density neighborhood that is home to a newly-renovated destination public park; Bronx Point, a brand-new affordable housing project developed by L + M Development Partners; public and parochial schools; BronxWorks; Hostos Community College; the Universal Hip Hop Museum; transitional housing; an emergency family shelter; and a bustling shopping hub that serves the South Bronx, not to mention the Bronx Children’s Museum itself.


Our Role and Mission

Bronx Children’s Museum reaffirms our mission and commitment to support children and their families by inspiring children to treat everyone with dignity and respect, to speak out against discrimination of any kind, and to discover and exercise their voices.


To walk our walk, we reached out to our leaders, spoke up, and acted swiftly on behalf of our community and our children when we heard about the power station proposal. This time our voices were heard. We thank you.


Call to Action

We applaud NYSERDA’s effort to bring renewable energy to the City as one important way to help decrease the city’s carbon footprint, but not at the expense of our community’s well-being.

Sources indicate community engagement for the Tier 4 Project is solicited by NYSERDA only after a proposal has been approved and the permitting process begins. We still believe NYSERDA’s approval process should incorporate the concerns of local stakeholders prior to determining which applicant has the most environmentally safe, just, and effective proposal.


Our current call to action is to request a pause in the NYSERDA review process to include an Environmental Impact Statement with alternatives reviewed before a decision is made among all 7 proposals. For more details, please see the open statement and letter put out by Bronx Council for Environmental Quality.


Link: Bronx Council for Environmental Quality Open Letter to the New York State Energy Research Development Authority


More resources:


News12 Bronx: Elected officials, activists push back against high voltage converter stations


Link to Clean Path New York Proposal (PDF)


Link to NYSERDA Tier 4 – New York City Renewable Energy website


Link to Bronx Institute for Urban Systems. (July, 2021). An Unjust Transition: A Report on the Environmental Impact of Clean Path NY’s High-Voltage Infrastructure in the South Bronx. (PDF)