‘A new standard’ — opponents celebrate collapse of Amazon’s plans for Newark airport

'A new standard' — opponents celebrate collapse of Amazon's plans for Newark airport

Labor unions and environmental activists are celebrating the end of a deal between Amazon and the Port Authority to build a massive cargo hub at Newark airport.

At a Friday press conference, a coalition of nonprofits chanted “shame, shame, shame, our communities are not a game,” claiming victory after a 10-month fight opposing the 250,000 square-foot cargo facility. They’d said it would spew pollutants and emissions in an already polluted area and could displace union jobs that better protect workers.

The airport straddles the cities of Newark and Elizabeth.

“We have to push back on these corporations who think they can come into our community and pollute our communities,” Kim Gaddy, founder and CEO of the South Ward Environmental Alliance in Newark, said. “One in four children in this city have asthma right now. We don’t need more trucks. Look around—they’re everywhere.”

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey announced on Thursday it and Amazon had agreed to pull out of negotiations to finalize a 20-year lease.

“Unfortunately, the Port Authority and Amazon have been unable to reach an agreement on final lease terms and mutually concluded that further negotiations will not resolve the outstanding issues,” Port Authority’s chief operating officer Huntley Lawrence said in a statement. The agency hasn’t yet responded to an email sent Friday morning, asking it to elaborate on why the deal fell through.

Immigrant groups, unions and activists spent months protesting Amazon’s $432 million plan to redevelop two air cargo facilities on 23 acres at Newark airport, which the company estimated would create 1,000 jobs. They said Amazon wasn’t willing to commit to labor and environmental standards the communities sought, and walked away.

But Amazon spokeswoman Maria Boschetti said the decision to end talks was shared with the Port Authority. She said the company was disappointed it was unable to finalize a deal.

“Despite this outcome, we value our relationship with the Port Authority and we’re proud of our robust presence in New Jersey, and look forward to continued investments in the state,” she said.

The Port Authority initially approved its partnership with Amazon last August, but community groups said they didn’t have an opportunity to weigh in. They criticized the deal as secretive and fast-tracked.

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