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Ken Thompson unveils plans for environmental protection unit at Brooklyn D.A.'s office

Ken Thompson

As Brooklyn continues to struggle with some of the worst air quality and highest rates of environmental-related health problems in NYC, former federal prosecutor and candidate for Brooklyn D.A. Ken Thompson today unveiled his detailed environmental protection agenda, including a real unit dedicated to investigating and prosecuting environmental crimes in Kings County. Unlike other local District Attorneys, D.A. Charles Hynes does not have a robust unit that focuses on the protection of Brooklyn's air, land and water.
 
"From aggressively prosecuting polluters to fighting for environmental justice for all our neighborhoods, we need a D.A. who will put Brooklyn's health and safety first," said former prosecutor and candidate for D.A. Ken Thompson. "Our families need a champion who will fight for a healthier communities by taking an active approach to safeguarding our air, land and water. As District Attorney, I will ensure that environmental protection never takes a back seat in my administration."
 
As part of Thompson's environmental agenda, Ken has proposed a robust Environmental Protection Unit to prosecute violations of the state’s Environmental Conservation Law, including cases of air, land and water pollution and threats to wildlife. The unit will work closely with state and federal law enforcement and environmental protection agencies to safeguard Brooklyn's ecosystem. The Environmental Protection Unit will not only aggressively investigate and prosecute environmental crime in Brooklyn, but also to ensure that these crimes do not adversely impact the public's health and the county's natural resources. These crimes may include air, land and water pollution resulting from illegal dumping, storage and transportation of hazardous or toxic chemicals, materials and waste, in addition to crimes involving wildlife.
 
Unlike Brooklyn, other local District Attorneys, including Nassau County's Kathleen Rice, Westchester County's Janet DiFiore and Suffolk County's Thomas Spota all have strong environmental crime units.
 
In addition to establishing a robust Environmental Protection Unit, Ken's environmental agenda includes:
 
  • Establishing a “Dirty Dozen” list of Brooklyn's most dangerous environmental polluters, to be published and updated regularly on the D.A.'s website.

  • Aggressively enforcing a wide range of environmental protection laws, including prosecuting polluters for illegal dumping of toxic and other hazardous materials.
  • Partnering with the city and state's Departments of Environmental Protection, as well as the Attorney General's Environmental Protection Bureau to best serve the people of Brooklyn through smart enforcement actions.
  • Creating a borough-wide environmental crimes task force where key stakeholders, including advocacy organizations, government officials, and law enforcement can share ideas to better protect Brooklyn's air, land and water.
  • Pursuing environmental justice to ensure that disadvantaged communities do not unfairly bear the brunt of environmental planning decisions.
  • Cracking down on "green" fraud where unscrupulous companies have tried to exploit consumer's environmental consciousness by fraudulently marketing products as environmentally sound (ie. organic, produced with natural products or through clean technology) when they are not.
 
Severe air quality problems affect most of Brooklyn, and are associated with serious health impacts in neighborhoods throughout the borough. Many areas of Brooklyn have asthma rates greater than the city average, and five neighborhoods (Bushwick, Williamsburg, Park Slope, Brooklyn Heights, and Downtown Brooklyn) exceed the national average by 20-40%. Airborne particulate matter causes residents in South Brooklyn and parts of North Brooklyn to suffer mortality rates up to 80% higher than the NYC average, and residents of Brownstone Brooklyn and parts of South Brooklyn are hospitalized up to 50% more than the rest of the city. Brooklyn's children suffer in particular, with kids in Bushwick, Bed-Stuy, Crown Heights, Brownsville and East New York visiting emergency rooms due to asthma at up to three times the citywide average.
 
In addition, Brooklyn is host to a wide variety of environmental pollution problems, both from current industrial and transportation sources, and a legacy of pollution going back decades. The borough contains two large areas with extensive toxic chemical pollution, which are subject to decades-long federal cleanup efforts under the EPA's Superfund program, with chemicals and gases seeping into residents' homes in Greenpoint/Williamsburg and Gowanus.

 

June 9, 2013 - 9:15am


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