Africatown Public Comment Opportunity: Kimberly-Clark’s Air Pollution Permit

Speak Up for Environmental Justice TODAY!

The deadline for Public Comment on the Kimberly-Clark Corporation paper mill and distribution center’s Draft Clean Air Act Title V Major Source Operating Permit (Draft Title V Permit) is tomorrow, Friday, April 23 by 5pmCST, but there’s still time to demand that the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) perform an Environmental Justice review as part of the permit!

Insultingly, 27 years after Executive Order 12898 that established Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice, ADEM still does not perform any of the required Environmental Justice reviews as part of its federal air permitting program when it comes to Africatown air polluters.

It’s time to tell ADEM to do the right thing and consider Environmental Justice factors in its air pollution permits for Africatown polluters like Kimberly-Clark!

Email or Telephone your comments to:
Ronald W. Gore, Chief
ADEM-Air Division
(334) 271-7861
airmail@adem.alabama.gov
(All comments must be received no later than 5:00 p.m., Friday April 23, 2021)


In the past couple of years alone, federal air permits drafted by ADEM for significant Africatown air polluters including UOP LLC (petrochemical refinery), Plains Marketing LP (petrochemical storage tank farm), and Kemira Chemicals INC (petrochemical refinery) have all simply skipped the mandate to perform any Environmental Justice review.

If you find that upsetting, please tell ADEM to do the right thing and consider Environmental Justice factors in its air pollution permits for Africatown polluters like Kimberly-Clark!

Email or Telephone your comments to:
Ronald W. Gore, Chief
ADEM-Air Division
(334) 271-7861
airmail@adem.alabama.gov
(All comments must be received no later than 5:00 p.m., Friday April 23, 2021)


MEJAC and our partners at Africatown~C.H.E.S.S., Mobile AL NAACP, GASP (Birmingham), and the Deep South Center for Environmental Justice (New Orleans) have routinely objected to ADEM’s administration of federal air permits in Africatown, and in our reviews of the permits we’ve mentioned, including Kimberly-Clark’s, we’ve found glaring problems not just with the lack of Environmental Justice reviews but with record keeping requirements, pollution estimates, fugitive dust requirements, facility compliance histories, and much, much more.

We are still analyzing what all this means for our work, but we will keep the communities we fight for informed and will share our findings publicly on the MEJAC blog very soon.

In the meantime, please submit your public comment to ADEM and tell them to do the right thing and consider Environmental Justice factors in its air pollution permits for Africatown polluters like Kimberly-Clark!

Email or Telephone your comments to:
Ronald W. Gore, Chief
ADEM-Air Division
(334) 271-7861
airmail@adem.alabama.gov
(All comments must be received no later than 5:00 p.m., Friday April 23, 2021)

Webinar Series: De-Coding the City of Mobile’s proposed Unified Development Code (UDC)

Join MEJAC, the Mobile Alabama NAACP, and directly affected Mobile residents from across the city in taking a critical look at the City of Mobile’s proposed Unified Development Code (UDC) zoning code rewrite based partly on MEJAC’s UDC report, “Changes are Necessary for the Proposed City of Mobile UDC Zoning Code Rewrite”(https://mejac.wordpress.com/2021/01/19/final_udc_comments/).

We will open our panel discussions every weekday February 15-19 for a lively and revealing conversation about the Mobile zoning code and its proposed UDC rewrite at 11am followed by a brief audience Q&A.

To attend the Live Zoom Webinar, please click on the titles below to register for each event separately. Otherwise, you may catch it on Facebook Live via both the MEJAC (https://facebook.com/MEJACoalition) and Mobile Alabama NAACP (https://facebook.com/MobileALNAACP) Facebook pages.

Note: the Passcode into every Zoom webinar is 251000.

Monday, February 15 @ 11am
Episode 1:
We Can’t Breathe! How zoning “Protection Buffers” fail to protect in Africatown

Register (or watch On Demand after we air!): https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_-mq3lW0DS3SoF3nmk4vtIA

Tuesdayn February 16 @ 11am
Episode 2:
The many Missed Opportunities of the UDC’s “Africatown Overlay”


Register (or watch On Demand after we air!): https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_DuEQpKbaRiqlGDmWOxU4LA

Wednesday, February 17 @ 11am
Episode 3:
Above Ground Oil Storage Tanks shouldn’t poison community air


Register (or watch On Demand after we air!): https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_kuRmW4-BTViJo2IBGpmAKQ

Thursday, February 18 @ 11am
Episode 4:
Zoning and Mobile’s Affordable Housing Crisis


Register (or watch On Demand after we air!): https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_4rzHvv68RH-MoV3BqTmGhg

Friday, February 19 @ 11am
Episode 5:
More Dirty Coal Corruption?!


Register (or watch On Demand after we air!): https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_IMNFBfi-R7212ZgWKY0v2Q

Note: the Passcode into every Zoom webinar is 251000.

=========================================================

TAKE ACTION!

Share our concerns? Let the City of Mobile Planning Commission know for their UDC Public Hearing scheduled for Thursday, February 25, 2021 at 2pm! There’s a DEADLINE for public participation!

You should write in your own words as much as you feel comfortable, but please be sure to tell them that you support the MEJAC and the NAACP recommended changes to the UDC including:

• strengthening the Africatown Overlay to do more to combat industrial blight, protect air and water quality, and prohibiting any new Above Ground Oil Storage Tanks in the neighborhood;
• strengthening “Protection Buffer” standards for residents living along industrial fence lines in places like Africatown, Crichton, Down the Bay, and Theodore;
• requiring new and upgraded Above Ground Oil Storage Tanks to be outfitted with vapor capture technology to prevent noxious and toxic vapor releases into Mobile neighborhoods like Africatown;
• either amending the Coal Handling Operations ordinance per MEJAC and NAACP recommendations or removing it entirely in favor of a separate public adoption process altogether; and
• amending Residential Zone design standards to expand access to affordable housing in Mobile, like the Stimpson administration said it would do in 2017.

SPEAKER DEADLINE: Wanna speak up at the public hearing? You MUST REGISTER by 12pm on Friday, February 19, 2021 here:
https://mapformobile.org/udc/#feedback

COMMENT DEADLINE: Written comments must be must be received no later than noon on Friday, February 19, 2021 and may submitted online by clicking here (https://mapformobile.org/udc/#feedback) or mailed to:

City of Mobile Planning and Zoning
PO Box 1827
Mobile, AL 36633

Send your comments to your Mobile City Councilperson (https://www.cityofmobile.org/government/city-council/), too, because if the Planning Commission recommends adoption of the UDC, the City Council will then conduct its own public hearing and vote to codify it into law.

You may watch the UDC public hearing on the City of Mobile’s YouTube channel LIVE on Thursday, February 25 starting at 2pm here:
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCdLrEwf3ewSNmCNm21fVfNg

We publish our concerns for the enlightenment of our neighbors and in pursuit of environmental justice in Africatown and beyond.

As always, thank you for your interest in and support of our work.

-Mobile Environmental Justice Action Coalition & the Mobile Alabama NAACP

The New City of Mobile Zoning Code: Kudos and Concerns

The Africatown community faces huge changes through proposed revisions to the City of Mobile Zoning Code. Advocates have released the following responses to the Planning Department. There is much to potentially be excited for, but unfortunately, there also appears to be many unnecessary and inappropriate zoning designations proposed, as well. As complex as this issue is, Africatown advocates agree that the City must wrestle with the contradictions in the current land use designations, how properties are being used, and the interests of the Africatown community to protect both its residential integrity and respect its many environmental concerns.

Build Mobile’s proposed Unified Development Code (UDC) Background

Africatown residents and regional advocates, as well as many environmental justice community leaders from around Mobile provided significant participation during the Map for Mobile project. This resulted in the creation of a Future Land Use Map (FLUM) of the entire city that provided a non-binding sketch of what a comprehensive zoning map could look like.

The next step taken in the process to modernize the City of Mobile’s long-range planning processes was to examine all of the rules around getting “planning approval” for real estate developers, businesses, and residents in the city.

This culminated as the City of Mobile’s Build Mobile program. Its mission is ostensibly to consolidate and, in some places, “streamline” the planing approval process to make the land use rules that bind developers, business owners, and residents more transparent, modern, and less cumbersome. The Build Mobile process basically exists today as a sub-organization within the city’s Planning Department.

Cover Page of the Build Mobile proposed UDCIn January 2019, Build Mobile submitted a draft of what they are calling the Unified Development Code (UDC) for public consideration, and it’s time to PROVIDE FEEDBACK. The original deadline for this general public comment period ended Friday, March 8, but the deadline has been extended another 30 days to April 8, 2019.

The entire 386 pages of the Build Mobile UDC code is available for review here. Continue reading

Down the Bay & Orange Grove EJ Petitions Delivered to US Army Corps of Engineers

MEJAC delivered a petition with 101 local citizen signatures requesting the US Army Corps of Engineers Mobile District to adhere to the environmental justice consultation process it has publicly promised would happen with the Down the Bay and Orange Grove communities during its Mobile Harbor GRR process of considering the impacts of enlarging the Mobile Harbor ship channel to expand Port of Mobile commerce.

Our organization still hasn’t received a reply to any part of the letter MEJAC sent in early April 2018 formally requesting a response to these and other concerns. But come to think of it, MEJAC has never received a formal response regarding the first letter we sent back in February 2016 about the Mobile Harbor GRR/SEIS scoping process, either. Continue reading

Is the Corps Taking Citizen Input Seriously? MEJAC Responds to Ship Channel Enlargement Public Meetings

Ship Channel Enlargement and Port Expansion (downtown Mobile with an athsmatic child using an inhaler overlayed)

Is the Corps taking citizen input about Ship Channel Enlargement seriously? [Original Photo: Courtesy]

At this point, MEJAC has been engaged in the US Army Corps of Engineers (the Corps) General Reevaluation Report (GRR) Study for more than two years now and very little of our input has seen adequate response from the Corps.

A little over a year ago, MEJAC reacted to the Corps having yet to respond to the initial GRR Scoping input provided a year prior when they announced their first public meeting to gather input for their GRR Study on the proposed enlargement of the Mobile Bay shipping channel, referred to by the Corps as the Mobile Harbor Federal Navigation Channel.

Residents and regional environmental justice advocates have been raising concerns from day one about the impacts of Ship Channel Enlargement. And we still have many concerns: Continue reading