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Showing 20 results

Rebecca Bratspies headshot

Rebecca Bratspies

Professor of Law

Carmen Gonzalez, Rebecca Bratspies | November 1, 2023

The Unbearable Whiteness of Environmental Law

Member Scholar John Knox's article, Environmental Justice as Environmental Human Rights, recognizes the many accomplishments of U.S. environmental law while pointedly acknowledging its greatest shortcoming: the failure to address environmental racism. As a solution, the article proposes stronger linkages between environmental justice movements and international human rights law. As the article explains, international human rights law provides an important tool for understanding how environmental racism undermines U.S. environmental law.

Rebecca Bratspies | January 20, 2023

What’s In a Name? Urban Infrastructure and Social Justice

Arriving in New York City, you might take the Van Wyck Expressway past the Jackie Robinson Parkway on your way from JFK airport. Or you might cross the Kościuszko Bridge as you travel from LaGuardia airport. Or you might take the George Washington Bridge to the Major Deegan Expressway. Or, you might use the Goethals Bridge, or the Pulaski Skyway, or the Outerbridge Crossing. What, if anything, would those trips tell you about the city (other than that we desperately need better mass transit)? All this infrastructure commemorates individuals who helped shape the city’s history. Yet, few people remember that, before these names became a shorthand for urban congestion, they were actual people.

Katrina Fischer Kuh, Rebecca Bratspies | June 28, 2022

New Yorkers’ Environmental Rights Are Under Attack

In November 2021, over 70% of New Yorkers voted to amend the state's constitution to explicitly protect New Yorkers' fundamental right to clean air, clean water, and a healthful environment. New York thus joins Montana and Pennsylvania in enshrining robust constitutional environmental rights in the state constitution. Unsurprisingly, corporate defendants argue that the new right doesn't change anything.

Rebecca Bratspies | June 7, 2022

No Sacrifice Zones in Research Either!

Lessons from A Community Science Research Partnership in South-East Queens

Rebecca Bratspies | August 23, 2021

Building Environmental Justice in New York City

This November, New York voters will decide whether to enshrine an explicit environmental right in their state constitution. If adopted, the new section will read, “Every person shall have a right to clean air and water, and a healthful environment.” New York would join several other states, as well as the United Nations and roughly 150 countries across the globe, in recognizing a fundamental human right to breathe clean air and drink clean water. We all deserve to live in healthy communities. Yet, the grim reality is that Black communities, communities of color, and low-income communities frequently have to fight tooth-and-nail for these basic human rights. This situation is neither accidental nor inevitable. New York City is a clear example.

Darya Minovi, Rebecca Bratspies | December 9, 2020

Will the Biden Administration Invest in Environmental Justice Reforms?

On October 22, millions of Americans watched the final presidential debate, taking in each candidate's plan for oft-discussed issues like health care, the economy, and foreign policy. Toward the end, the moderator asked the candidates how they would address the disproportionate and harmful impacts of the oil and chemical industries on people of color. President Trump largely ignored the question. But former Vice President Joe Biden addressed it head on, sharing his own experience growing up near oil refineries and calling for restrictions on "fenceline emissions" -- the pollution levels observed at the boundary of a facility's property, which too often abuts a residential neighborhood. Less than three weeks later, Biden was elected president of the United States, making it possible for him to turn his campaign promises into action.

Rebecca Bratspies | September 21, 2020

Environmental Justice Is Not Un-American

Recently, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler spoke to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the EPA's founding. He used the opportunity to reiterate the agency's commitment to its “straightforward” mission to “protect human health and the environment.” He also emphasized that the agency’s mission meant “ensuring that all Americans – regardless of their zip code – have clean air to breathe, clean water to drink, and clean land to live, work, and play upon.” Yet just last week, EPA postponed an internal speaker series on environmental justice. The reason for this postponement: the appalling suggestion, as per a recent White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) memo, that recognizing racial disparities in environmental protection is somehow "un-American."

Rebecca Bratspies, Sarah Lamdan, Victor Flatt | September 24, 2018

From Surviving to Thriving: Disaster in Disaster: The Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act Must Be Enforced

Sarah Lamdan, Professor of Law at CUNY Law School, co-authored this post, which is part of CPR's From Surviving to Thriving: Equity in Disaster Planning and Recovery report. This chapter is excerpted from a law review article that is forthcoming in U. Arkansas Law Review, titled "Taking a Page from FDA’s Prescription Medicine Information Rules: Reimagining Environmental […]

Rebecca Bratspies | November 13, 2013

Tales from our trash: New York City’s sanitation workers, sustainable cities, and the value of knowledge

We have a problem in New York City: We generate more than 30,000 tons of waste each day. Roughly one third of that waste is household trash, and the daunting task of collecting garbage from New York City’s three million households falls to 7,000 workers from the NYC Department of Sanitation.  They are, in the words […]