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Erin Heaney ’09

Erin_Heany.jpgErin Heaney ’09 was recognized by the Huffington Post as the “Greatest Person of the Day” on Sept. 6, 2011 and was named to Buffalo’s 20th annual Business First “40 Under Forty” list for her leadership of the Clean Air Coalition of Western New York, which is based in Buffalo. The area ranks among the highest in New York State for air pollution because of the concentration of 53 industrial plants. As executive director, Heaney oversees the coalition’s operations, builds coalitions with external stakeholders, and provides strategic guidance to campaigns that advance environmental justice and public health. In 2009, Heaney led a full-scale protest at Tonawanda Coke, a foundry coke plant whose emissions were contributing to benzene levels that were 75 times higher than the New York State guideline. The pressure generated by the coalition has resulted in 20 federal criminal indictments and an EPA-mandated clean-up at the plant. The successful campaign was recently featured on NPR’s investigation Poisoned Places: Toxic Air, Neglected Communities.

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