With a new job at the Environment Protection Agency waiting for him pending Congressional approval, Mathy V. Stanislaus, a leading technical advisor on environmental issues, celebrated a career in environmental advocacy, when he received a lifetime achievement award from the Mayor’s Office of Environmental Remediation at the Museum of the City of New York Monday morning.
“I was humbled by this and inspired by what people had to say,” Stanislaus said. “They honored the history of my work trying to ensure that the voice of communities helps inform good environmental policy.”
On March 31, President Barack Obama released a new round of nominations to key administration posts, including the EPA’s Assistant Administrator for the Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response. Sources believe Stanislaus will be confirmed by Congress this Spring, though Stanislaus would not comment about the process. A spokesperson from the EPA also declined comment.
Stanislaus, an environmental lawyer and chemical engineer, has been nominated to the EPA position because of his twenty-year career advocating for legislation and policy supporting brownfields redevelopment, Superfund enforcement, and solid waste disposal. In addition to co-founding and co-directing New Partners for Community Revitalization, Inc., Stanislaus has also served as assistant regional counsel for the EPA’s New York regional offices and is a founding and current board member of the New York City Environmental Justice Alliance, Inc.
“Mathy Stanislaus has been an invaluable asset to the city of New York,” Katie Schmid, Director of the Newtown Creek Alliance, said. “He has been involved in every sector of the city from working with the government to nonprofits and the business community, making brownfields development a cooperative process instead of an antagonistic one.”
In Greenpoint, Stanislaus is most well known as NCMC’s Technical Director where he has served as a solid waste advisor to the community committee for the past thirteen years. Christine Holowacz, NCMC’s Community Liaison, said she was thrilled that the city honored Stanislaus for his brownfield development work and appreciated his presence on the committee during the upgrade of the Newtown Creek Sewage Treatment Plant.
“He’s been very helpful, helping the committee understand the technical issues that have come about through the upgrade of the plant,” said Holowacz. “He made it very easy, helping explain things that are very complicated such as odor control issues. He was able to make the committee understand what needs to be done.”
Stanislaus is proudest of his work getting the Brownfields Opportunity Area (BOA) Planning Program passed into New York State law and ensuring that planning dollars get allocated to communities such as Sunset Park, Greenpoint and Gowanus, for their own redevelopment.
“Newtown Creek is just beginning but there is recognition that cleaning up brownfields around there is so critical for making the neighborhood better for affordable housing, developing open space and generating businesses,” said Stanislaus.
Stanislaus believes that NCMC’s committee structure can be a model for community engagement, helping community organizations utilize technical assistance in their advocacy work. The Newtown Creek Alliance has already brought in brownfields experts to explain pollution events in Greenpoint and Neighbors Allied for Good Growth has brought in planners to help with their transportation campaigns.
With Stanislaus likely joining the EPA soon, community leaders are optimistic that brownfields redevelopment will move at a faster pace and that Greenpoint’s broader environmental problems will receive more attention from the federal level. Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez has already requested that Newtown Creek should be listed as a federal Superfund site and Assemblyman Joseph Lentol has hosted community forums regarding the state’s remediation of contaminated soil plumes near Meeker Avenue.
“I want to give my heartfelt congratulations to Mathy Stanislaus,” Lenol said. “Mathy has done exemplary work for this community and the environment. The fact that President Obama has recognized his talent or that his peers are honoring his life’s work should come as no surprise to those of us in North Brooklyn who know him. Especially through his work with NCMC, Mathy was one of Brooklyn’s pioneers of environmental activism, for which we are very grateful. He continues to make us very proud and I wish him luck in the big leagues!”