BY JOHN CAMERA ORANGE COUNTY PUBLISHED 9:27 PM ET JAN. 24, 2021
Since their founding in the summer, you can safely assume members of Next Step Hudson Valley, the overarching organization that includes Melanin Unchained, will be cleaning up a street in Newburgh. But when they spent this Saturday, cleaning up a portion of Route 6 that straddles Middletown and Wawayanda, their message was more than just beautifying an area. “It’s important to keep the streets clean and keep our environment clean because environmental justice is racial justice," said Amir Barksdale, the community liaison for Next Step. "And our community is impacted by both.” What You Need To Know
845 Unity, Next Step Hudson Valley, and Protect Orange County worked together to pick up garbage off the side of US-6 in Wawayanda
They want to see the plant stop operations and for the DEC to deny the plant's permit
They say achieving environmental justice is one part of getting racial justice
After collaborating on a clothing drive for Martin Luther King Jr. Day last week, they’ve teamed up again with 845 Unity to fight for environmental justice, in front of the CPV natural gas power plant. “We are out here cleaning up so that way they know that we’re not forgetting and we’re gonna go to social media and we’re gonna let our politicians and the public know that we’re still out here,” said Ali Muhammad, Next Step's founder. This section of Route 6 is no stranger to grassroots activism; Protect Orange County, an environmental group, has been out here every Saturday calling for the plant’s closure. 845 Unity’s president says this collaboration between Hudson Valley groups is important because achieving racial justice is connected with environmental justice. “Unity’s in our name and that’s what we’re about. We’re about unifying communities, we’re about unifying organizations, we’re about unifying people,” said Allan McClain. The plant is currently operating without its Title V permit, which is required for facilities with significant air emissions. This is due to a court ruling, allowing the plant to run while the DEC evaluates the permit. On their website, CPV says that their modern and highly efficient site, contrasted with older facilities, will have a net effect of improving air quality.