NEWARK, New Jersey, October 2, 2007 (ENS) – As part of the Clinton Global Initiative held in New York last week, the Apollo Alliance and the city of Newark made a commitment to help Newark become a national showcase for sustainable development. The aim of this effort is to ultimately engage and touch the lives of Newark’s two million residents, especially those in its most economically and environmentally distressed communities, the partners said in a joint statement.
The first effort will be to hold Newark’s Green Future Summit. It is planned for next spring in collaboration with the mayor’s office to identify best practices and mobilize the resources to make Newark a model of clean and efficient energy use, green economic development and job creation, and equitable environmental opportunity.
The project will bring together a diverse group of resource people and community leaders to give time, dollars, expertise and enthusiasm to planning and hosting Newark’s Green Future Summit.
They intend to develop a roadmap for sustainable development in the city of Newark with ideas emerging from the Summit.
In addition, they will expand and support an ongoing national advisory network on sustainable community and economic development to report to the mayor and support the city in developing green urban initiatives that create jobs, increase community welfare and expand economic opportunity.
“The Clinton Global Initiative has provided an incredible opportunity for us to come together to focus our collective resources on helping build a green, prosperous Newark that will be a leader in the clean energy economy,” said the partners in their statement of intent.
“Newark is a city of great assets: her people, her geography, her history, her beauty. At the same time, the city is at a critical moment where it needs to use those assets strategically to build a more equitable, sustainable and economically stable future,” they said.
Newark Mayor Cory Booker, in office just six months, has a vision for a Newark composed of healthy, efficient, equitable communities. The Summit will be designed to help the mayor and his community partners realize this vision.
“Our mission is clear,” said Mayor Booker. “Newark will set a national standard for urban transformation by marshalling its tremendous resources to achieve security, economic abundance and an environment that is nurturing and empowering for families. It is crucial that all of us rise to meet these bold goals.”
Newark has many long-standing environmental problems. The Ironbound district, for instance, is an old, densely populated, industrial community that is among the most polluted in the nation. This diverse community encompasses at least 54 different ethnic groups and has new immigrants arriving daily.
The Ironbound district is bounded by highways – Routes 1, 9, 21, 78, and the New Jersey Turnpike – polluted waterways – the Passaic River and Newark Bay – and by the Newark International Airport.
Within it are numerous brownfields and hazardous waste sites, including the Diamond Shamrock Superfund site that contains the world’s largest concentration of dioxin.
There are over 100 Ironbound sites on the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection’s List of Known Contaminated Sites.
Ironbound’s Zip Code, 07105, ranks it among the worst pollution emitters in the region, and the worst in New Jersey.
The socio-economic conditions of the Ironbound community have provided obstacles to the natural facilitation and coordination of information and participation in environmental justice issues. In general, the overwhelming majority of the 45,000 people in the community fall into one or more of the following categories: low income, non-English speaking, people of color, recently immigrated.
At least 90 of its 125 streets, some in heavily residential locations, have facilities – over 200 in total – that store and use hazardous substances, accounting for over 30 percent of such facilities in Essex County while Ironbound makes up only eight percent of its area. Three of these facilities store over 10 million units of hazardous substances.
The Essex County Recovery Plant, the state’s largest garbage incinerator, is located within half a mile of two low income federal housing complexes and adjacent to two of the community’s poorest census tracts of 8,000 people.
In May, New Jersey Attorney General Stuart Rabner announced the filing of a state lawsuit charging an Essex County meat rendering plant with being a persistent polluter, and seeking a court-order requiring that the plant immediately correct long-standing violations of environmental law.
The plant, which processes more than a million pounds of meat waste per week, is located on Bay Avenue in the Ironbound section of Newark.
Under its commitment to the Clinton Global Initiative, the partnership will identify new projects and policies, attract new investment and industries, and work toward a greener future for Newark. The group said, “We will focus on concrete projects to build Newark’s green economy, create new jobs and ” pathways out of poverty” into these jobs, and capture energy savings that the city can re-invest in new green projects in the future.”
The partners said they will consider the Summit a success if it results in a clear roadmap to Newark’s green future that is grounded in the Mayor’s vision of that future, and that includes a concrete set of implementation steps.
Other measures of success will be the creation and expansion of the Newark Green Future Network, an expert advisory group on green jobs and sustainable community strategies to provide ongoing support to the Mayor and city government. In addition, the group’s ability to generate interest in and future financing for Newark’s green future action plan will be an important measure of success.