Mayor Randall Woodfin Steps Up for North Birmingham

Mayor Randall Woodfin Steps Up for North Birmingham

Mayor Randall Woodfin Steps Up for North Birmingham

Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin this week sent a letter to the EPA urging the federal agency to place the North Birmingham Superfund Site on the National Priorities List. The EPA first proposed putting the site on the NPL in the fall of 2014. Gasp strongly advocated for NPLbecause it would have made available additional funding for cleanup as well as making it more likely that the responsible polluters pay their fair share for the contamination.

In the letter to Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler, Woodfin emphatically said, “I write to urge your consideration of immediately placing the North Birmingham 35th Avenue Superfund Site onto the National Priorities List.”

The move comes on the heels of the federal corruption trial that found one Drummond Company executive and one Balch & Bingham attorney guilty of corruption and bribery charges. Drummond owns ABC Coke, one of the polluters deemed “potentially responsible” for the contamination. Balch & Bingham represented Drummond on fighting the NPL proposal, as well as a separate (but related) matter in Tarrant.

“As a result of these illegal actions, thousands remain at risk including the 1,070 people living in 394 public housing units and 751 children attending Hudson K-8 school,” Woodfin wrote.

“The necessary remedies include, but are not limited to, screening and health care to address pollution related health issues, relocation and reconstruction of Hudson K-8 school, non-resident redevelopment of the North Birmingham 35th Avenue Superfund Site and reclamation of Village Creek.”

We could not be more thrilled with this action taken by City Hall. This is a significant course correction from the previous administration, which remained silent on the EPA’s proposal. We have reason to believe that silence was one of the many reasons the site has still not been listed on the NPL.

We hope that with this letter there will be renewed interest in placing the 35th Avenue Site on the NPL and helping to remediate and revitalize the communities so that they are a healthy place for everyone to live, learn, and worship.

We’re calling on other Alabama elected officials to follow the Mayor’s lead. Specifically, we’d like to see support from Sen. Doug Jones, Sen. Richard Shelby, Gov. Kay Ivey, Attorney General Steve Marshall, Rep. Terri Sewell, Rep. Gary Palmer, and Councilor William Parker. We encourage you to call these public officials and urge them to come out in favor of prioritizing the North Birmingham Superfund Site today.

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Gasp, Conservation Groups Demand Lance LeFleur’s Resignation or Termination

Gasp, Conservation Groups Demand Lance LeFleur’s Resignation or Termination

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Eleven Conservation Groups Call for ADEM Director’s Resignation or Termination ahead of Annual Job Evaluation

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (July 30, 2018) — The bribery and corruption trial U.S. v. Gilbert, et al yielded many disturbing revelations, including the failures of leaders at the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) and the Alabama Environmental Management Commission (AEMC) to avoid conflicts of interest with those whom they regulate.

There and in many other instances, ADEM Director Lance LeFleur has failed to lead the Department in a manner that advances its official mission “to assure for all citizens of the State a safe, healthful and productive environment.”

Coincidentally, LeFleur’s annual job evaluation and public comments are due today, July 30.

This morning, Black Warrior Riverkeeper emailed its evaluation of Director LeFleur to the Personnel Committee of the AEMC, which oversees ADEM. The letter calls for LeFleur’s resignation or termination due to his consistent failure to lead and advance ADEM’s mission.

Groups signing Black Warrior Riverkeeper’s letter include Alabama Rivers Alliance, Cahaba River Society, Cahaba Riverkeeper, Choctawhatchee Riverkeeper, Environmental Defense Alliance, Friends of Hurricane Creek, Friends of the Locust Fork River, Gasp, Little River Waterkeeper, and Tennessee Riverkeeper.

For more information, contact Black Warrior Riverkeeper Staff Attorney Eva Dillard at [email protected] or 205-458-0095.

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About Black Warrior Riverkeeper

Black Warrior Riverkeeper’s mission is to protect and restore the Black Warrior River and its tributaries. The citizen-based nonprofit organization promotes clean water for the sake of public health, recreation, and wildlife habitat throughout the Black Warrior River watershed.

Ask Trey Glenn to Recuse Himself

EPA Region 4 Administrator Trey Glenn was paid by Balch & Bingham and Drummond Company as a consultant on the 35th Avenue Superfund Site. He has a clear and lasting conflict of interest and therefore must recuse himself permanently from all EPA matters involving the 35th Avenue Site or former clients.

Advocates Reject the Trump Administration’s Rollback of Clean Car Standards

Advocates Reject the Trump Administration’s Rollback of Clean Car Standards

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

BIRMINGHAM ELECTED OFFICIALS, COMMUNITY LEADERS, AND STUDENT ADVOCATES REJECT THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION’S ROLLBACK OF CLEAN CAR STANDARDS

Leaders Urged Administration to Respect State Authority to Protect Residents from Dangerous Tailpipe Pollution

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (July 24, 2018) — Today, Birmingham-area elected officials, community leaders, and student advocates came together to denounce the Trump Administration’s planned rollback of the clean car standards. Speakers condemned Acting Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler and Acting National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Administrator Heidi King’s plan to reverse the clean car standards and restrict states’ authority to protect their citizens from harmful tailpipe pollution – an unprecedented violation of public health, air quality, and common sense. Even the EPA’s Scientific Advisory Board, which includes members handpicked by former Administrator Scott Pruitt, have questioned the scientific justifications for the rollbacks.

Speakers highlighted the pocketbook savings of the existing clean car standards. If these standards are left unchanged from the strong version put in place in 2012 with the support of automakers, environmental groups, and labor groups, the average Alabama family will save $2,650 at the gas pump over the life of their vehicle. In addition, Alabama could expect 11,900 new jobs by 2030 as a result of the standards.

“Americans overwhelmingly want cleaner, more efficient cars,” said Tammy Herrington, Executive Director of Conservation Alabama. “Making cars that go farther on a gallon of gas is common sense. It puts money back in our citizens’ pockets, lessens our dependence on oil, and reduces the pollution to our air and communities.”

“Only a few years ago, there were red flag warnings about the ozone levels in Jefferson County and metro Birmingham. Children could not play outside, people with breathing disorders were at very high risk from the exposure, and emergency rooms were filling up.” said State Senator Linda Coleman-Madison. “Through clean car standards, people began buying cleaner, more efficient vehicles. Everyone benefited, not just with cleaner air, but consumers saved money at the pump.”

“Clean cars help everyone” said Jefferson County Commissioner George Bowman. “They save money for local governments and protects our citizens’ health while helping to keep the global environment clean.”

Speakers also discussed the impact that the rollbacks will have on low-income families and communities of color. Low-income communities and communities of color are more likely to live in areas near highways and traffic zones, which have higher levels of air pollution. America’s clean car standards protect these communities from harmful tailpipe pollution and need to remain in place to safeguard the areas that are hit worst and first by climate change.

MEDIA CONTACT
Brian O’Shea
952-393-2986
[email protected]

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About Gasp

Headquartered in Birmingham, Gasp is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit health advocacy organization working to reduce air pollution in Alabama through education and advocacy. Our vision is a healthy, just, and sustainable Alabama. We strive to educate the public on the health risks associated with poor air quality and to encourage community leaders to serve as role models for clean air and clean energy development.


Below are Gasp Executive Director Michael Hansen’s remarks from the press conference:

My name is Michael Hansen and I am the executive director of Gasp. We are a nonprofit organization working to reduce Alabama’s air pollution through education and advocacy. At Gasp, we talk about air pollution through the lens of health. And that’s because air pollution is the single greatest environmental risk factor for premature death and disease in the world.

“I am here to represent hundreds of Gasp members and thousands of supporters across the Birmingham area who depend on strong public health protections like the clean car standards. Vehicle emissions are linked to a number of serious health problems. For example, it can trigger asthma attacks, exacerbate lung and heart conditions, and even lead to premature death.

“We strongly oppose actions by this administration to stall or roll back the national clean car standards. We cannot afford to go backwards. Rolling back the clean car standards will harm our health, our environment, and our economy. It will allow automakers to make dirtier cars that pollute the air and harm our health. More than half a million children and adults in Alabama suffer from asthma. Those people will be more at risk if we allow these public health protections to be rolled back.

“Not only does the pollution from vehicles hurt us today, but it puts us at risk tomorrow as well. Transportation is now the largest source of carbon pollution in the United States. Carbon pollution is a greenhouse gas, and greenhouse gases cause climate change. Pumping more carbon pollution into our air could lead to more intense and destructive extreme weather events like heat waves, flooding, wildfires and droughts. Rolling back the clean car standards would put millions of lives at risk and jeopardize the health of future generations.

“Finally, I want to emphasize that while air pollution does not discriminate, our policies can and do. In particular, I want to draw attention to the fact that mountains of research has shown that low-income families and communities of color are disproportionately exposed to and harmed by air pollution. Air pollution is especially harmful to children of color. Did you know that black kids are 10 times more likely to die from asthma? The Trump administration’s rollback of the clean car standards will hurt low-income families and communities of color most.

“Everyone — no matter where they live, how much money they have in the bank, or what color their skin is — deserves clean, healthy air to breathe.”

[Featured photo courtesy Dennis Pillion, al.com.]

Official Statement: Convictions a First Step in Securing Justice for North Birmingham

Official Statement: Convictions a First Step in Securing Justice for North Birmingham

OFFICIAL STATEMENT

Corruption Convictions First Step in Securing Justice for North Birmingham

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (July 23, 2018) — On Friday, July 20, a jury found Balch & Bingham Attorney Joel Gilbert and Drummond Company Vice President David Roberson guilty of six counts each of federal corruption charges, including: bribery, conspiracy, honest service wire fraud, and money laundering. The two men are expected to be sentenced in three months.

 

Former State Rep. Oliver Robinson pleaded guilty in 2017 to conspiracy, bribery, tax evasion, and four counts of fraud. Robinson received bribes totaling $360,000 from Drummond and Balch & Bingham through the Oliver Robinson Foundation to advocate against EPA efforts to clean up contamination in and around north Birmingham and Tarrant. He will be sentenced in September.

As a result of the guilty verdict, Gasp Executive Director Michael Hansen issued the following statement:

“This was a great outcome for the people of north Birmingham and all of Alabama. It is rare that corruption is rooted out, and it’s even more rare that those who do the corrupting are held accountable. We could not be more proud that our years of dogged legal and advocacy work led to the exposure of corruption.

While we are thrilled that justice was upheld for the people of north Birmingham, we are cognizant of the fact that this is not the end, but rather a beginning. We are calling all of our friends and neighbors to join us in committing to the fight for environmental justice for every Alabamian. Now is the time to become a member of Gasp and to join with us as we reaffirm our commitment to the people of Collegeville, Harriman Park, North Birmingham, Fairmont, Tarrant, Inglenook, and all of the city’s 99 neighborhoods.”

Media Contact

Michael Hansen, Executive Director
[email protected] or 205-701-4270

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About Gasp

Headquartered in Birmingham, Gasp is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit health advocacy organization working to reduce air pollution in Alabama through education and advocacy. Our vision is a healthy, just, and sustainable Alabama. We strive to educate the public on the health risks associated with poor air quality and to encourage community leaders to serve as role models for clean air and clean energy development.

“Toxic City: Birmingham’s Dirty Secret”

In 2014, Gasp produced a short documentary called “Toxic City: Birmingham’s Dirty Secret,” which highlighted several individual stories from those neighborhoods. (Watch the trailer above.) In 2014, Gasp petitioned the EPA to look into potential contamination in the nearby Tarrant and Pinson Valley areas that border the 35th Avenue Site. That investigation was approved and is ongoing. We also have two pending Title VI complaints with the EPA against the Jefferson County Department of Health alleging the the air permits for Walter Coke and ABC Coke have a disparate impact on predominantly African-American communities.

Gasp Announces New Solar Discount Partnership with Eagle Solar & Light

Gasp Announces New Solar Discount Partnership with Eagle Solar & Light

Gasp Announces New Solar Discount Partnership with Eagle Solar & Light

In an effort to expand access to clean, renewable energy in Alabama, Gasp today announced a new partnership with Eagle Solar & Light. Under the agreement, the solar energy company will offer a 5% discount on residential and commercial solar installations to members who join or renew their Gasp membership with a donation of $50 or more.

“We couldn’t be more thrilled to announce this unique partnership with Eagle Solar & Light,” said Gasp Executive Director Michael Hansen. “In order to solve many of the urgent issues facing our state like pollution and climate change, we need to dramatically increase deployment of clean, renewable energy like solar across Alabama.”

Founded in 2009, Gasp is a Birmingham-based nonprofit organization dedicated to reducing air pollution through education and advocacy. Increasing demand for and access to affordable clean energy like solar is a vital part of the group’s work to reduce pollution — including greenhouse gas emissions from fossil-fuel based energy.

Click here to join or renew your Gasp membership.

“We’re proud to partner with a community-based organization like Gasp,” said Eagle Solar & Light Founder Sam Yates. “Solar power is not only the energy of future, it’s also one of the best ways to reduce our impact on the planet because solar panels don’t emit pollution.”

Eagle Solar & Light, also headquartered in Birmingham, was founded in 2016 by Sam Yates. The company is leading provider of modern energy solutions, like solar and LED lighting, in Alabama. The company recently opened an office in North Carolina.

The savings from the discount will help to offset some of Alabama’s anti-solar policy barriers facing homeowners and businesses. With the new partnership, Eagle Solar & Light will also donate a portion of the proceeds from each project back to Gasp.

For more information, please contact Gasp Executive Director Michael Hansen at 205-701-4270 or [email protected], or Eagle Solar & Light Marketing & Advertising Director Richard Lewis at ​[email protected] or 205-202-2208.

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