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Adirondack Council Forever Adirondacks Campaign Director Aaron Mair in New Orleans at Environmental Justice Summit

FOREVER ADIRONDACKS CAMPAIGN GUIDING U.S.  ENVIRO-JUSTICE INVESTMENTS  

Aaron Mair in New Orleans with WE Act of Harlem and Colleagues from the South

NEW ORLEANS, La. – Adirondack Council Forever Adirondacks Campaign Director Aaron Mair is participating this week in Justice40 Initiative: A Time for Righteous Investment, a retreat held by WE Act for Environmental Justice (West Harlem Environmental Action), the Deep South Center for Environmental Justice and Texas Southern University. 

The Justice40 Initiative was created in 2021 by the Biden White House to ensure that at least 40% of specific federal investments flow into disadvantaged communities that are “marginalized, underserved, and overburdened by pollution.” 

This is the first meeting of the initiative’s most effective boosters, which is designed to build a grassroots support and community-based organizations to advocate for: 

  • Transparent stakeholder engagement;  
  • Removal of bias and systemic racism embedded in federal programs;  
  • Use of federal investment to reduce pollution in environmental justice communities. 

The Justice40 Initiative’s first session will conclude on Wednesday, August 24. 

“The Adirondack Council is very happy to have a representative at this meeting,” said Adirondack Council Executive Director William C. Janeway.  “We want to work for environmental justice for all New York residents.  Aaron has the skills and experience to help this initiative succeed.”  

Mair was a pioneer in the environmental justice movement that works to reduce the pollution and other industrial impacts on poor, urban communities that are wedged into commercial and industrial areas. As a resident of Albany’s historic Arbor Hill community, he helped to found organizations and encourage activism that changed the city’s treatment of all BIPOC-majority neighborhoods.  

Mair is also an expert in using digital mapping technology to identify and address societal problems, having recently retired as an epidemiological spatial analyst for the state Department of Health.  Federal planners are also recognizing that some poor, rural communities have similar problems to poor, urban neighborhoods. That includes five areas of the Adirondack Park where economic conditions, poor public health outcomes, low income, blighted industrial sites and other problems persist. So, Mair is working toward both urban and rural solutions.  

“This is a great opportunity to network with people facing similar problems and seeking similar investments and solutions,” said Mair.  “It is an honor to be asked to participate in this discussion.  It will be good for New York to have our voices heard in this conversation.  Our experience can help other states make progress too.  We have a long way to go, but getting a federal commitment to investments is the first big step toward success.” 

Other New York environmental justice voices at the retreat include Peggy Sheppard, Bob Bullard, and Dr. Beverly Wright of WE Act.  

According to the federal government’s Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool used to identify overburdened and underserved communities, the five Adirondack areas center on: 

  • Southern Essex County around northern Schroon Lake and Paradox, where high energy costs are coupled with low incomes and few people with higher education degrees;  
  • Southern Lewis County, near Lyonsdale and Port Leyden, and Southern St. Lawrence County, near Cranberry Lake, which had similar criteria to southern Essex County; 
  • Western St. Lawrence County, near Russell, Fowler and Pitcairn, where unemployment is among the worst in the state (91st percentile) 
  • Southern Hamilton County, near Hope and Wells, where high rates of heart disease combined with high energy costs, low incomes and few college degrees. 

 Sections of small cities around the Adirondack Park also contain federally identified underserved/overburdened communities, including parts of Plattsburgh, Watertown, Utica, Glens Falls, Gloversville and Ogdensburg.    

Established in 1975, the Adirondack Council is a privately funded not-for-profit organization whose mission is to ensure the ecological integrity and wild character of the Adirondack Park. It is the largest environmental organization whose sole focus is the Adirondacks. 

The Council carries out its mission through research, education, advocacy and legal action. It envisions a Park with clean water and clean air, core wilderness areas, farms and working forests, and vibrant, diverse, welcoming, safe communities.  Adirondack Council advocates live in all 50 United States. 

For more information: 

John Sheehan, Adirondack Council, 518-441-1340 

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