MEDIA ADVISORY AND DAYBOOK ITEM FOR TUESDAY, MARCH 22, 2022

Monday, March 21, 2022, 8:56 PM

MEDIA ADVISORY AND DAYBOOK ITEM FOR TUESDAY, MARCH 22, 2022

Contact:

Alfredo Romo, N4EJ, Neighbors for Environmental Justice Director, aromo@n4ej.org 773-633-9934

Carlos Enriquez, CEJN, carlos@setaskforce.org, 815-342-5717

Ivan Moreno, NRDC, imoreno@nrdc.org, 773-799-6455

Half Billion Dollar Asphalt Contract with City of Chicago Draws Scrutiny from Residents, Aldermen and Grassroots Orgs

TUESDAY, Advocates will gather for a press conference to call for accountability from the City of Chicago as it awards a 5-year asphalt contract to produce millions of tons of asphalt, with bids for as much as half a billion dollars. Residents and supporters will be joined by Ald. Byron Sigcho-Lopez (25th) to call for the city to disqualify companies that are missing permits, have violated local or federal laws, or otherwise put the health of residents at risk.

Advocates, environmental organizations and aldermen from the Committee on Contracting Oversight and Equity will urge the city to uphold its contracting standards and health protections when selecting businesses to receive taxpayer funds. Residents will also introduce an open letter to Chief Procurement Officer Aileen Velazquez, calling for a #GreenContracts procurement process. Research by N4EJ found dozens of contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars have previously been awarded to vendors with a history of citations and complaints.

McKinley Park residents are especially concerned. In 2018 they were surprised by the sudden appearance of a hot-mix asphalt plant across the street from the park and near seven neighborhood schools and daycares. The facility had the most air pollution complaints of any address in the city in 2021, but residents say that their concerns over the asphalt plant are still being ignored. They fear the increased production required to supply the whole city would further intensify foul odors, dust and truck traffic.

When: Tuesday, March 22nd, at 9:30a.m. Central Time

Where: Streaming at www.facebook.com/n4ejchicago

Who:

• Moderator: Alfredo Romo, Executive Director of Neighbors For Environmental Justice

• Byron Sigcho-Lopez, Alderman for 25th Ward, member of the Committee on Contracting Oversight and Equity

• Kim Wasserman, Executive Director of Little Village Environmental Justice Organization

• Oscar Sanchez, Stop General Iron hunger striker

• Speaker from Warehouse Workers for Justice

Background:

The City of Chicago is seeking bids on a five-year city contract (Commodities Solicitation #8332,2) for more than 4 million tons of asphalt. A Dept. of Procurement Services livestream shows MAT Asphalt submitted a $500 million dollar bid. Given the worsening global climate crisis, growing public awareness of the dangers of air pollution, and the city of Chicago’s documented pattern of putting industrial facilities in environmental justice communities, community advocates say that this contract requires a degree of consideration, public involvement, and environmental awareness proportional to its large size and long duration.

Advocates are asking Chief Procurement Officer Aileen Velasquez to address these concerns in three ways:

1. Conduct an environmental compliance review of all vendors whose bids are being considered, including but not limited to:

• Previous violations, citations, and fines

• Current IEPA permit status

• Pending enforcement by the Chicago Dept of Public Health

• Previous record of cooperation in addressing environmental concerns, prompt resolution of issues, prompt payment of fines, etc

• Evidence of complete and correct record-keeping, consistent with the requirements of any previous city contracts for which the bidder served as a contractor, subcontractor, or supplier (e.g. dump tickets, manifests, materials testing documentation, etc).

2. Request emissions estimates from each bidder under the authority granted by section 1.20.2 of the solicitation, and use them to explicitly consider the environmental impact of this contract. The Chicago communities where asphalt production takes place are already overburdened by air pollution. The amounts of asphalt requested are quantifiable, and as a result, the estimated emissions companies will generate by producing it are also quantifiable. A low bid subsidized by the health of vulnerable residents is not truly a low bid.

3. Allow for public comment in the form of both a written comment period and at least one public hearing, so that residents who will be affected by the outcome of this bid may directly express their concerns. Chicago cannot embrace environmental justice without considering the environmental impact of its own vendors and suppliers.

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