Cortney O'Brien

More money well spent. From Governor Cuomo’s official website,

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced more than $1 million in environmental justice grants have been awarded to 34 organizations from around the state that serve communities facing multiple sources of environmental harms and risks. Funds will be used for projects such as inventories of polluting facilities, air monitoring, urban tree planting, community gardens and alternative energy projects.

"The Environmental Justice Community Impact Grants are an important resource to low-income and disadvantaged communities facing pollution and other environmental burdens across the state," Governor Cuomo said. "From expanding green space and increasing homegrown produce to clean energy projects, pollution remediation activities, and education efforts, these initiatives can help contribute to a healthier environment and an improved quality of life for residents in these communities. I look forward to seeing the progress that will result from our partnership with these organizations."

Here are just a few places the money is going:

- UPROSE - Brooklyn - $49,992 Community Impact Grant to create community-based capacity to monitor street-level air quality and engage public and private sector decision-makers about improving community sustainability and resilience in Sunset Park

- Outrage - Brooklyn - $50,000 Community Impact Grant to further understand, assess and identify the risks related to solid waste processing and its attendant truck traffic in the Greenpoint neighborhood and develop recommendations to mitigate those risks

- Added Value and Herban Solutions - Brooklyn - $40,000 Community Impact Grant to provide job training on urban farming, composting, outreach, and education to a select group of community leaders as part of a broader urban agriculture effort

- Niagara Arts and Cultural Center - Niagara Falls - $10,000 Green Gems Grant to fund soil testing of vacant lots to determine suitability for conversion to community gardens and support related environmental education efforts

- Groundwork Buffalo - Buffalo - $25,073 Community Impact Grant to support the conversion of a vacant lot in the Hamlin Park area into a rain garden and related environmental education efforts

- Schiller Park Community Services - Buffalo - $10,000 Green Gems Grant to support conversion of a vacant lot into neighborhood green space

That’s an awful lot of money going toward “understanding” and “green spaces.” Can anyone tell me what exactly constitutes a “green space”?

A bit of “digging” on these environmental organizations allows one to discover that the Organization United for Trash Reduction & Garbage Equity (OUTRAGE) produced this strange video in 1999 in which concerned citizens marched through the streets of North Brooklyn chanting, “Stop the Garbage, Stop the Trucks!”

Over at GroundworkBuffalo, they have a program called Little Sprouts, in which, among other environmentally conscious activities, team leaders teach children to do “Moon” and “Sun” dances.

Instead of funding rain gardens and Moon dances, how about using that $1 million to fund programs designed to help the homeless and the hungry in New York City? The city recently reached a record high homeless population of more than 50,000, according to the Coalition for the Homeless. Or, how about investing in job-producing businesses in Buffalo? Considering these unsettling statistics provided by the Cato Institute, the city could more than use it:

A quarter of Buffalo’s housing stock is vacant and its poverty rate is twice the nation’s. The city has lost half its population since 1950. Syracuse, Rochester and Albany have shrunk by a third. Between 2000 and 2007, the region as a whole lost 32,000 jobs.

But, by all means, let’s fund the building of “green spaces.”

Here's a full list of the 34 organizations benefitting from the generous Environmental Justice grants.

The figures just might make you turn green.


Cortney O'Brien

Cortney O'Brien is a Townhall web editor. Follow her on Twitter @obrienc2.

Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography