New York’s last-mile boom meets anti-pollution push

Bill looks to label e-commerce facilities “indirect sources” of air pollution

New York /
Apr.April 20, 2022 11:00 AM
Assemblymember Marcela Mitaynes (Marcela for NY, iStock)

Assemblymember Marcela Mitaynes (Marcela for NY, iStock)

As the spread of last-mile warehouses picks up steam in New York, one lawmaker is aiming to cut down on the pollution that follows.

Assemblymember Marcela Mitaynes introduced a bill this week to reduce pollution from truck exhaust associated with these warehouses, The City reported. The bill would force the New York Department of Environmental Conservation to adopt a rule that labels e-commerce facilities as “indirect sources” of air pollution.

New York would be the first to adopt this type of rule at the state level, which would require warehouse operators to make plans to reduce air pollution. It would also create a point system, where facilities can earn credits for more environmentally friendly actions, like using electric vehicles or bikes.

The legislation would hit the warehouse pipeline as well. New developments or large modifications would face a permitting process that includes an environmental review, allowing the public to weigh in. Warehouses also wouldn’t be allowed to worsen levels of several harmful pollutants.

Mitaynes represents Assembly District 51, the site of several recent industrial deals encompassing sizable lots and warehouses in Red Hook and Sunset Park. Local activists have pushed back against the facilities, citing unregulated environmental impact that disproportionately affects communities of color.

A similar rule has already been passed in Southern California. The agency overseeing pollution in the area predicted it would lead to up to 300 fewer deaths, 5,800 fewer asthma attacks and public health benefits ranging from $1.2 billion to $2.7 billion.

In responding to the legislation, Amazon told The City the company is “committed to finding innovative solutions to reduce emissions.”

Last-mile facilities are becoming ubiquitous across the country as e-commerce continues to ratchet up. During the third quarter of 2021, a majority of U.S. industrial leasing involved parties looking for less than 100,000 square feet, according to JLL, indicative of the typical size for a last-mile facility.

Red Hook residents last year sounded alarms about traffic concerns and overbuilding in the area as developers took advantage of zoning that allows delivery hubs to be built without special permits or environmental-impact studies.

The local push came amid plans to build several last-mile facilities in the area, including UPS’ 1.2 million-square-foot facility on a 12-acre waterfront site. The Gindi, Chetrit and Nakash families have also formed a joint venture with Bridge Investment Group to develop a warehouse on a $45 million site on the outskirts of the neighborhood.

[The City] — Holden Walter-Warner





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