Congressman Serrano believes clearing the air and improving the environment is a top priority in the South Bronx. Actively supporting a new, healthy vision for his District, the Congressman has worked for decades on environmental justice issues such as quality parks, breathable air and clean waterways. His view that poor environmental conditions affect the socio-economic conditions of a community have led him to champion environmental justice campaigns that have made the Bronx a better place to live and work.
To those familiar with New York’s landscape, the Bronx is known to have some of the most polluted air in the City. Whether it’s the noose of highways that chokes more than half of the Congressman’s district, comprised of the deadly Major Deegan (I-87), the clogged Cross Bronx Expressway (I-95), and controversial Sheridan Expressway (I-895), or the disproportionate burden of waste transfer stations, air quality is the number one environmental justice crisis faced by his constituents. Compounded by the odors generated by waste handling, including the largest sewage-to-fertilizer plant in an urban area, noxious and often nauseating air has been directly associated to the alarming rates of respiratory problems present in the Bronx, particularly among young children.
Beginning in 1997, the Congressman brought national attention to the disproportionate burden of waste and its associated diesel truck traffic shouldered by the South Bronx when he filed a Title 6 environmental justice complaint with the Environmental Protection Agency. To further the complaint with research and data the Congressman also secured funding for the South Bronx Environmental Health and Policy Study. Structured as a partnership between the NYU’s School of Medicine and the Wagner School of Public Service and undertaken in cooperation with the impacted community, the Study analyzed the environmental and public health effects associated with living near pollution sources, including waste transfer stations and major expressways. Among its findings is the direct relationship between asthma symptoms and fine particle soot, a toxin most commonly associated with diesel truck traffic.
In response to these findings Congressman Serrano has introduced legislation which provides tax credits to businesses that use clean-fuel vehicles in areas with high pollution. Promoting fleet conversions through business outreach and technical assistance in collaboration with Bronx Community College, the Congressman considers cleaner fuels and “green” technology as not only essential for improving our immediate crisis in air quality but also as a budding, job rich industry that Bronx students and institutions should lead. Seeding the creation and on-going programs of the Center for Sustainable Energy at Bronx Community College, alternative fuel technology development helps to create jobs from innovative, environmentally friendly companies that provide economic growth and cleaner products. One of the great myths of our day holds that environmental protection and economic growth are incongruous. The Center for Sustainable Energy at Bronx Community College works to dispel that myth, showing the connection between growth and protection through education, training, and community engagement. Complementing this job training and technical expertise in alternative fuel technology, the Congressman has also secured the initial funding for the first public alternative fuels fueling station in New York City.
The Congressman’s work for environmental justice in the South Bronx is also about identifying ways to mitigate historically poor planning and more recent environmental racism with regards to the citing of polluting infrastructure and facilities. Promoting projects that redefine the ways communities relate to each other, such as the restoration of High Bridge over the Harlem River – which connects the West Bronx to Upper Manhattan through the City’s oldest and only pedestrian bridge – as well as a street-level bridge connecting the South Bronx to Randall’s Island, the Congressman’s vision is community-focused in connecting people to local resources. The Congressman has also sought to address zoning and geographic barriers within park-starved communities by supporting visions such as the South Bronx Greenway – a belt of parks and paths that cuts through industrial areas to connect several neighborhoods to their immediate waterfront – and preserving and making public the lost ecological and historical wonders of North and South Brother Islands.
Perhaps the best example of the Congressman’s vision for reclaiming the South Bronx is his commitment to restoring the Bronx River, New York City’s only true freshwater river. In less than two decades this once highly contaminated waterway known for illegal dumping has been transformed into a healthy eco-system now capable of sustaining migrating herring and the first beaver in New York City in over 200 years. The Congressman’s leadership in bringing together federal agencies, local institutions, and community-based organizations has made the Bronx River’s success story resonate in urban communities around the country. Now lined with beautiful parks and paths and visited by students, birders, and boaters, the Congressman’s consistent advocacy and resourceful earmarks have created a highly celebrated local resource for the communities lining the banks of this channel.
Congressman Serrano’s work on environmental issues goes beyond signaling out polluters and public health problems in his District. Working collaboratively and bringing diverse partners to the table, the Congressman has highlighted environmental justice disparities while working to understand and change environmental conditions that lead to a poor and sick community. Understanding these challenges the Congressman has been incredibly effective in promoting and supporting alternative visions and creating precedents that make sense for those living, working, and raising families in the South Bronx.
More on Environment
Today, Congressman Serrano issued the following statement on Hurricane Maria and its impact on Puerto Rico:
In Washington, DC
Congressman Serrano Reaffirms His Commitment to Protecting DREAMers
The Bronx, NY – U.S. Representative José E. Serrano, U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, U.S Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, and Governor Andrew Cuomo today announced $2,484,746 in federal funding for GrowNYC. The funding was allocated through the Economic Development Administration (EDA) and will allow GrowNYC to move forward with construction of a new Greenmarket Regional Food Hub in the South Bronx.
Washington, D.C. – Congressman Serrano today applauded the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) inclusion of the Hudson Canyon in its inventory of sites being considered for National Marine Sanctuary status. The inclusion was a result of the advocacy efforts of local elected officials, including Congressman Serrano; private sector stakeholders; and environmental groups.
NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver, FAICP, today joined Congressman José E. Serrano, Office of Wetlands, Oceans and Watersheds Deputy Director David Evans, Amtrak Senior Vice President/Chief of Government Affairs and Corporate Communications Joe McHugh, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., Assembly Member Marcos Crespo, Council Member Rafael Salamanca, NYC DDC Commissioner Dr.
Washington, DC – Three Puerto Rican Members of Congress have written to the Speaker of the House of Representatives calling for Congress to swiftly allocate resources to address the growing threat of the Zika virus.
In a letter to Speaker Paul Ryan (D-WI), Congresswoman Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY), Congressman Pedro Pierluisi (D-PR) and Congressman José E. Serrano (D-NY) called for Congress to appropriate $1.9 billion in emergency funding to address Zika, as previously requested by the Administration.
Washington, DC – Congressman José E. Serrano today announced that Bronx Community College (BCC) has been awarded $899,744 in funding to develop an Associated of Applied Science degree in Chemical and BioEnergy Technology for Sustainability in collaboration with industrial, governmental, and academic partners. The new program’s curriculum combine the disciplines of biology, chemistry and engineering with the objective of preparing community college students for careers in the growing bio-economy and the areas of green chemistry and fermentation science.
WASHINGTON – Senators John Hoeven (R-N.D.) and Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) and Representatives José Serrano (D-N.Y.), Wm. Lacy Clay (D-Mo.), Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.), and Kristi Noem (R-S.D.) today announced that both the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives have now approved legislation to name the bison as the National Mammal of the United States.
Washington, DC - Today, Congressman José E. Serrano announced that a provision he inserted into the report accompanying the fiscal year 2017 Energy and Water Appropriations bill directs the Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy to offer technical and programmatic assistance to the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.
Connector Will Provide Critical Transportation Link for Pedestrians and Bicyclists Between the South Bronx and Randall’s Island, Providing Access to 330 Acres of Open Space