Climate and Environmental Justice
The environment is one of the biggest concerns of the 21st century, for the world and for Queens. Our waterfronts are flood zones, and air pollution here has made Queens residents more vulnerable to respiratory illnesses and to the dangerous symptoms of COVID-19. Meanwhile, more fossil-fuel based plants are being proposed. We need to take bold steps to address the systemic ways in which we have been destroying the Earth, moving away from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources, actively preserving green space, and protecting flood zones.
Green New Deal infrastructure investments
There is widespread appreciation for the necessity of climate action in both NYC and Albany, as evidenced by the passage of the Climate Mobilization Act and the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, but this is only the beginning. The next step for the city should be a major green infrastructure investment in projects such as efficiency upgrades for public buildings, especially NYCHA; waterfront protections; renewable energy and battery storage capacity; environmental cleanup, such as for Rikers Island; and improvements to our transportation infrastructure. These investments will also create many jobs and bring lasting economic gains to the city. And since they are capital projects they can and should be funded by borrowing.
End the expansion of fossil-fuel related infrastructure in NYC
Astoria is one of the neighborhoods with the highest numbers of air quality complaints filed to 311 and District 26 is a hotspot for fine particles and black carbon. The cause? Heavy development, which led to higher traffic and pollution, as well as the dirty power plants in the area. It’s good that efforts are being made to replace old peaker plants with battery storage, but at the same time new fossil fuel generators are being purchased to replace old ones. I will oppose any new fossil fuel based power plant in favor of those that will produce power using renewable energy sources.
Build more solar and wind farms, as well as green space
When fully complete, the Empire Wind project, in the Atlantic Ocean east of the Rockaways, will deliver more than 2,000 MW directly into the city, and wind turbines for it and other wind farms will be assembled in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. These are welcome developments, and we need to build on them. We might start by conducting a feasibility study of a solar farm over Sunnyside Yard. Creative thinking about our energy infrastructure, as well as more green space, is what our city needs in order to thrive.
Environmental protections on all our waterfront areas
New York City has 520 miles of coastline. Most city council districts, including ours, have flood zones that are vulnerable to superstorms and hurricanes. This is a citywide problem, and with the rising sea level it is getting worse. Sadly, funding for coastal resiliency has been inadequate and inconsistent. This needs to be a priority at every level of government, including in the City Council. And we should favor nature-based resiliency infrastructure because of the concomitant benefits to waterfront communities, many of whom are environmental justice communities.
Fully fund our composting efforts
Composting has a positive climate impact because it avoids the release of methane from landfills, and San Francisco has shown that large-scale urban composting can be successful. New York’s program has been fragmented and inconsistently funded. We need to fully commit to citywide curbside composting, and make sure we do our part to minimize waste.
Electrify school buses
The vast majority of New York City’s school buses run on diesel fuel. Alarmingly, children inside many of these buses are subject to extremely high levels of toxic exhaust, not to mention the harm to the broader community and the contribution to climate change. Electrifying school buses would serve as an example to the rest of the state and country. School buses transport more than 150,000 NYC students to school and back. Let’s make them safer for the environment and for our children.