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Coalition for Healthy Ports

Coalition for Healthy Ports

Air Mask Young Girl
Air Mask Young Girl
Ports Newark and Elizabeth - Economic Engines, Dangerous Exhaust

Ports Newark and Elizabeth represent the largest port system on the eastern seaboard.  Their commercial activity results in massive amounts of air pollution - the equivalent to an additional 500,000 cars on the road in the greater New York area daily, according to a study by the Natural Resources Defense Council

This air pollution creates dangerously dirty air in the communities surrounding the ports.  In 2009, the NJ Dept. of Environmental Protection published a study that showed meaningful lifetime elevated cancer risks for residents of communities living downwind from the ports.  To read the study, click here.

Unjust Labor Practices, Dirty Air

One source of air pollution at the ports is emissions from thousands of diesel trucks which carry goods from the ports to distribution centers around northern New Jersey and the greater New York area.  Since the deregulation of the trucking industry, a provision of the Federal Motor Carrier Act has classified port truckers as "independent contractors" - a classification with which GreenFaith disagrees.  A Rutgers University study in 2008 found that these drivers earned, on average, $28,000 per year after expenses, and before paying (or not paying) for health insurance for themselves and their families.  Yet because they are classified as "independent contractors," these drivers are responsible for paying for the upkeep and maintenance on their own trucks.  It's a recipe for disaster -old, polluting trucks driven by impoverished truckers. 

Photo by Michelle FrankfurterThe Coalition for Healthy Ports

GreenFaith is an active member of the Coalition for Healthy Ports - an alliance of enviornmental, labor and community groups united in seeking good jobs for port truckers and cleaner air for port-adjacent communities.  Through the Coalition, GreenFaith has advocated for changes in the Federal Motor Carrier Act to allow ports to classify port drivers as employees, shifting the cost of maintaining a fleet of clean trucks from underpaid drivers to well-capitalized trucking and shipping companies.  We've spoken to over 30 faith-based groups about these issues, and we've testified at Port Authority hearings in an effort to create cleaner air and better working conditions for port truckers and the ports' surrounding communities.

The New York Times published a feature story about the Coalition's efforts, and similar efforts nationwide.  GreenFaith is proud to be part of these efforts.  If you would like to schedule a speaking engagement focused on these issues, contact Rev. Fletcher Harper, GreenFaith's Executive Director, at revfharper@greenfaith.org.

 

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