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EEAC Meeting June 16, 2021 Wed 5:30 pm – 7 pm Online Zoom Meeting
Committee Reports and Updates
- Previous meeting minutes approved
- Program Committee (Fran acting program chair)
- STEM Expo Recap – Mary + River
Feedback: Fran, Mary, River – Virtual Workshops – in total around 10 teachers – one critique was that there was not a set time for participants to explore Expo booth – Mary’s solution was sending her avatar to other booths to gather as many participants to ours as possible. Welcome to the virtual era of Expos and Conferences. It was generally agreed that virtual reality still needs improvement, and we questioned whether it will be worth it the next time. We’re looking forward to when in person events return. The technology faltered, but after the tech was sorted out – it seemed to be overall worth it – Fran’s slide show was great
- 6/15 Program Recap – Partnership Building for Environmental Educators
Great speakers from RISE (Resiliency Innovations for a Stronger Economy) + HS for Climate Justice – good symmetry between the two groups. Even though not so well attended (about 16 attendees including 5 steering committee members + 4 presenters). The recording is worth it. A “natural conversation” among presenters took place and it didn’t feel forced – will be visible on line by next week.
- Recording now available on the website
- Events like these are recruitment opportunities for active volunteers or Steering Committee members in the future –
- Elissa Levy/HS for Social Justice would like to learn more about joining EEAC and would like to volunteer with the Programs Committee – Bonnie R agreed to reach out.
- RISE has an Environmental Educator on staff, Gisselle, who would like to be more involved in August
- Need to connect with stem teachers NYC as well, to open up avenues for participation.
- We could make use of exit surveys to identify those participants who we could tap on shoulder
- Question: How should we collaborate to address our pressing global problems? What role can EEAC play in this work?
- Further need to Pop corn ideas – IDEAS from the group… EEAC could:
- host a matchmaking/speed dating event – EE program provider w/ school
- Continue build out the the website as a place to find resources
- Help cut the red tape for schools: help researchers reach schools by finding ways to bypass Independent Review Boards (IRB status), provide fiscal sponsorship for schools looking to apply for EE grants, streamline processes for Environmental Educators to receive volunteer status from the DOE… as currently happens for tech experts with Microsoft TEALS, list-serv a great tool for quick resources, consider having more voice from school day teachers in current EEAC work, currently balance is shifting towards non-profit educators
- Sarah’s notes: In thinking about upcoming events, I am wondering if we should consider planning for the more in-depth topic of diversity and pay in our field for the Fall, and try to do a socially distant in-person/outdoors event this summer. It would be great for our community to gather in person on a weekday afternoon. Maybe we can see if any members with parks or outdoor spaces would be interested in hosting a tour with light snacks or something?
- 26 folks checked out youtube videos. Mike added that this was a good sign despite lack of attendees, indications are that over time it will be productive and worth it.
Rebranding/Logo Redesign: Still in a loop with Sarah but question arose whether we are placing all our eggs in one basket. Suggestions made that there may be EEAC Members who could help. River suggested reaching out to Sarah one more time and then going to membership – Alternatively, we also might consider something we spend money on.
Committee urged to review member engagement strategies
Bonnie M. Shared Website and Newsletter Survey results.
Communications meeting scheduled for Monday, June 28 – to discuss Newsletter/blog/flow
TBD New Member Packet, Marketing Plan
The internal section:
SC members still to be given access?
Instructions to using WordPress (WP):
How-to screen recording (video) #1 – Login Steps:
Next videos will include, navigating in WP, and using Dashboard. Or, set zoom appointment for a hands-on guide.
Website plan – upcoming:
Redesign of the website based on the Adaptive Plan – will follow the rebranding/logo redesign phase.
Membership system – will be tested in our permanent testing site which is now at testsite.eeac-nyc.org.
Mary M. raised the question of there now being several lists being used and the recurring need to be updated – can some be automatic? Features are available to facilitate management of several lists.
Decision: this will be tabled until future Communications meeting
PUBLICIZING WEBSITE? Suggestions Professional Development tools for Teachers, STEM/ Discovery Team/ Rebranding or Retweeking/- regardless a Professional Learning Resources Focus. There is a Gap – we know who we are but need resources – can also share info about curricular resources and field trips – open to discussion
Issuing PRESS RELEASE?
Press release is ready to go – once we get 25 entries – Mike suggested that 10 entries might be fine.
Reaching out to DOE STEM – who is best person? Sasha
Follow up on 2 requests via the website’s contact form, to subscribe to the listserv.
Shig continues to experiment with Newsletter-blog using WordPress.
- EEAC and NYSOEA Partnership
Updates from Cristina:
NYSOEA Registration and raffle tickets coming soon
Proceeds from raffle goes towards camper scholarship (one person) and EAI events
Equitable funding – working on putting up on Committee page
Reclaiming YOUTUBE page for others to share
2021 Conference will be a hybrid virtual/in-person (November). Registration not yet open. Hop in virtual/live in person hybrid
Metro Region host: Jones Beach State Park
Still looking for proposals – for in person days – skill shares 15 minute shares. Opportunity also for 60 minute workshops – but largely looking for the brief presentations/ less of an ask/ less in terms of prep.
Cristina would really like the City EEAC members to be more involved and engaged, not many last year at the totally virtual conference.
Still looking for carpool coordination
- Projects Forum
Mike will keep us up to date on Environmental Amendment to NYS Constitution (In order for us to learn more in detail about this I have reprinted here an article from New York Law Journal dated June 21, 2021 by Karen Meara and Christopher Rizzo). Mike is in continued correspondence with State Senator Robert Jackson. If we get behind it – increase the hype etc., it could be adopted – and it would be a significant thing to do.
Environmental Amendment to NYS Constitution Will Be on the Ballot in November
This November New York state voters will be asked to decide whether to amend the New York State Constitution to create an individual right to clean air, clean water and a healthy environment. The proposed environmental rights amendment (the Amendment) would add a new §19 to Article 1—the section titled “bill of rights.” If history is any guide, voters are likely to approve it. New York voters have approved 19 of the 25 ballot amendments referred by the legislature since 1995. While the clear intent is to increase protections for individual New Yorkers from environmental hazards ranging from tainted drinking water to asthma-inducing air pollution, the Amendment is vaguely worded—the entire text reads “Each person shall have a right to clean air and water and a healthful environment”—and thus its full implications are unclear and subject to judicial interpretation. This article considers what the Amendment might mean for New Yorkers, lawyers and courts.
Proposed amendments to the Constitution may only be sent to the voters for a referendum if they are approved by both houses of the New York state legislature in two consecutive legislative sessions. See NYS Const. Art. XIX §1. The Amendment was first introduced during the 2017-2018 legislative session and passed by the Assembly, but never made it out of committee in the Senate. It was reintroduced in the 2019-2020 legislative session and approved by both houses. Finally, as required under Article XIX, it was sent again to the legislature after the 2020 elections and approved by lopsided votes of both houses early in the 2021-2022 legislative session.
A Constitutional Right to a Clean Environment?
Environmental protection is a concept utterly lacking in the U.S. Constitution, although it is included in the constitutions of many other nations. In contrast, New York’s constitution directly addresses environmental issues. It includes provisions requiring the conservation of certain public lands and requiring the legislature to “protect and conserve natural resources.” Article XIV, §4 specifically requires the legislature to “include adequate provision for the abatement of air and water pollution and of excessive and unnecessary noise, the protection of agricultural lands, wetlands and shorelines, and the development and regulation of water resources,” and §5 allows any citizen to bring suit to enforce violations of §4. However, the few New York courts that have interpreted these provisions have held that, while they impose an affirmative duty on the legislature and state agencies to act on conservation matters, those state actors retain substantial discretion in how to do so. In other words, New Yorkers do not, presently, have an affirmative right to a clean environment—at least according to courts.
So why now? As previously pointed out (https://www.law.com/newyorklawjournal/2021/03/15/why-do-we- need-the-green-amendment/) in these pages by Prof. Katrina Fischer Kuh, it may have a lot to do with the appalling tainted drinking water case from Hoosick Falls, N.Y. There, a resident concerned about high rates of cancer in the community six years ago tested the drinking water and found high levels of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA). Because the contaminant was not then regulated by federal or state drinking water regulations, residents had little recourse other than begging the legislature and government agencies to take action. Increasing awareness of environmental justice issues and income-based disparities in water quality, air quality and respiratory health also serve as a motivating factor—the “justification” in the Senate’s 2021 memo in support cited both “recent water contamination and ongoing concerns about air quality” as a basis for establishing a “fundamental right.”
Experience From Other States
Federal courts have uniformly held that the U.S. Constitution contains no affirmative environmental rights. States courts have reached differing results, holding in a few instances that state constitutions do implicitly provide affirmative rights to a clean environment. The authors’ survey of state court litigation indicates over 100 court decisions addressing explicit and implicit environmental rights in state constitutions. The decisions have varied wildly and not always in the way red state/blue state politics might indicate. For example, California has no express environmental protections in its constitution and courts have held that the document contains no implicit environmental right either. Alabama courts reached a different conclusion and have held that its state constitution does contain implicit environmental rights. Most of the litigation comes from the few states with explicit environmental rights in their state or territorial constitutions—including Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, Montana, the Northern Mariana Islands, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island. Of those, courts have been most likely to enforce the environmental rights in Hawaii, Pennsylvania and Montana.
The presence of explicit environmental rights has proven to be very meaningful in those three states. The most instructive example is from Pennsylvania. Its Environmental Rights Amendment to the state constitution states: “The people have a right to clean air, pure water and to the preservation of the natural, scenic, historic and esthetic values of the environment. Pennsylvania’s public natural resources are the common property of all the people, including generations to come. As trustee of these resources, the Commonwealth shall conserve and maintain them for the benefit of all people.” In 2012, as interest in Pennsylvania’s considerable Marcellus Shale gas reserves exploded, the State passed “Act 13”, which in part banned local regulation of fracking, including through zoning. One provision declared that such activities must be permitted as-of-right in all zoning districts. Citizens and certain towns sued the state, claiming in part that the law violated the Environmental Rights Amendment. The state’s top court agreed. It held that the state could not, in the name of advancing a certain industry, both usurp municipal authority to regulate that industry consistent with the Environmental Rights amendment and ignore its own affirmative obligations to comply with that amendment. It also held that citizens could litigate to enforce the rights guaranteed under Pennsylvania’s Environmental Rights Amendment. Robinson Twp. v. Commonwealth, 83 A.D.3d 901 (Sup. Ct. Pa. 2013); see also Montana Environmental Information Center v. Mt. Department of Environmental Quality, 296 Mont. 207 (Sup. Ct. Mt. 1999) (statute authorizing environmental agency’s issuance of a mineral exploration permit allowing discharges of pollutants to nearby waters without non-degradation review violated state’s environmental amendment).
Colorado’s top court reached the completely opposite result in 2016, in part because the state constitution contains no affirmative environmental rights or environmental amendments. The City of Longmont banned fracking and disposal of fracking wastes. The state’s oil and gas trade group sought a declaratory judgment that state law preempted local regulation of oil and gas drilling. The court agreed, stating: “[t]he Colorado Constitution does not include a similar provision [to Pennsylvania], and the citizen intervenors have not cited, nor have we seen, any applicable Colorado case law adopting the public trust doctrine in this state. We therefore conclude that the inalienable rights provision of the Colorado Constitution [reserving unnamed rights to citizens] does not save” the local law. City of Longmont v. Colorado Oil & Gas Ass’n, 2016 Co. 29, 62 (Sup. Ct. Colorado 2016).
What Is the Amendment Likely To Mean for New Yorkers?
In the best-case scenario, the amendment will push the legislature to do more to ensure that all New Yorkers are protected from environmental harms (and give citizens an enforceable right if the state fails to act.) The vagueness of the provision, however, means courts will have a lot of interpreting to do and that may produce some unintended consequences. There is a very real possibility that municipalities will invoke the constitutional right to a “healthful environment” to restrict some of the most controversial land-use initiatives in the state—affordable housing, high-density development, wind and solar facilities, electric transmission lines, etc. However, if government proponents of these initiatives include vigorous environmental protections and public review procedures, they will probably avoid the overreach that doomed the Pennsylvania fracking legislation in Robinson Township. We will see if courts agrees.
Karen Meara and Christopher Rizzo are attorneys in the environmental and land use group of Carter Ledyard & Milburn
DISTRIBUTION OF MINI-REPORT TO ALL LISTS TO INFORM THEM ABOUT THE FORUM V REPORT ON THE WEBSITE!!
REPORT ON SYLLABI BANK and FOLLOWUP ON PROJECT IDEAS FROM FORUM V
July 2020 – today 627 views 373 downloads – that seems great – redoubled efforts
83 downloads in month of May responding to the notice – We don’t know who is downloading or how it’s being used.
NYU Bank Street
In June 18 views of page but 37 downloads
Memorial for Terry Ippolito is now up on the website for people to look at
- Adaptive Plan Accountability
Bonnie had to hop off Sent out a doodle poll for next AP check in – date does not seem to be set – next week sometime
- Review and approve “New Initiative Considerations” document
- Next Steps
- COOP (Bonnie M.)
- Term limits and Steering Committee Service Roadmap (Thank you Mary Most for this idea!)
- (c) Steering Committee members shall hold office for three (3) year terms; provided, however, that any Steering Committee member elected to fill an unexpired term (whether resulting from the death, resignation or removal of Steering Committee members) shall hold office until the next annual meeting at which the election of Steering Committee members is in the regular order of business and until a successor is elected or appointed and qualified. Steering Committee members may be elected to no more than two (2) consecutive terms (six years). A Steering Committee member can, pending nomination, return to the Steering Committee after a one term (3 year) hiatus.
Bylaws in a separate page as a draft with proposed changes/notes: https://eeac-nyc.org/internal-bylaws-draft/
- Membership and Finance:
Mary Most: We approved a zoom account but not yet bought one. Someone needs to coordinate it also, but if we don’t need it we don’t need it. Decision needs to be reached.
Membership: NO CHANGE from 5/19/2021 stats:
About 50% of members have renewed for 2021; only 24% of our Organizational memberships have renewed.
20 Individual Members, 1 student, 35 Indiv thru 7 orgs, 32 LIfetime
(vs 2019 = 42 Indiv, 12 Student, 79 Indiv thru 29 Org, 30 Lifetime)
1 new organization since March: Rocking the Boat
Note: we keep “expired” members on the roster for a year or two
EEAC Finances as of May 31, 2021
Bank acct: $8,163.57
Paypal balance: $513.67
Eventbrite balance: $135.00
Current Balance: $8,812.24
- Filed IRS Form 99N to renew EEAC’s tax-exempt status.
- Eventbrite lists: Bonnie Ralston and Mary Most compared and updated the Eventbrite lists to include membership list and TEEP lists, prior to sending invites for the June 15 Skill Share, which promoted the Membership options but yielded no new memberships.
- Researched and updated membership specifics on Finance google sheet for any sign-ups via Eventbrite and PayPal. Save monthly “report” on Google Drive.
- Receipts were handcrafted and emailed to each person and organization who paid 2021 membership, and saved in the GoogleDrive
- Google Group lists: Carol Franken and Mary Most have systematically compared the membership list with the Google Group and added about 60 EEAC members who were NOT on the Google Group.
- Mary Leou recently accessed the EEAC mailbox at NYU and found several checks dating back to November 2019!
- Mary Most will contact the senders and make arrangements for replacement payment via PayPal or Eventbrite.
- For the record: Amalgamated Bank still shows Judith Hutton at NYBG as primary contact. Check if they’ve updated signatories to Mary Most, Sarah Pidgeon (remove Jacqueline Pilati, Judith Hutton).
- Mary Most will initiate “2021 Membership Drive” — invite all GoogleGroup subscribers and Eventbrite subscribers to join or renew. We’ve held off since the pandemic. Link: https://2021-eeac-membership.eventbrite.com
Mary emphasized that eventbrite list maintenance should move to Programs or Communications Committees