Tag Archives: New York League of Conservation Voters

Katz outlines plan to ‘Green Queens’ if elected borough president


| mchan@queenscourier.com

One thousand new trees would grow in Queens and government rooftops would be painted an energy-saving white should Melinda Katz win her bid to lead the borough.

The former legislator outlined her “Plan for a Green Queens” on Tuesday, September 3 with her newest supporter, the New York League of Conservation Voters.

“With a total absence of federal legislation on environmental issues, there is a real need for local leaders to step in and fill the vacuum,” Katz said.

The candidate said she would use her borough presidency to allocate more park space, make Queens government buildings more energy efficient and lead regular electronic waste drives.

“These are simple steps we can take locally that will improve our environment globally,” Katz said. “That’s the innovative approach our borough needs as we fight to create green jobs and expand the green-collar industry in Queens.”

She would also dedicate indoor and street recycling bins — a spin on a different initiative her Democratic opponent proposed last month.

Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr., who is facing off with Katz in a tight primary, said in August he would fund and install placards on trash cans given through the city’s volunteer “Adopt-A-Basket” program.

He also joined the White Roof Project in June to paint low-income and nonprofit roofs in Astoria with solar-reflective white coating.

 

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Op-Ed: Enough delays – let’s clean up Willets Point


| oped@queenscourier.com

BY MARCIA BYSTRYN

At a recent meeting of the Queens Housing Coalition, a major developer outlined a commitment to privately finance the cleanup of a massive 23-acre brownfield at Willets Point. Amazingly, there were some who questioned the existence of contamination and the need for remediation.

The hard truth is that Willets Point has been a toxic dumping ground for nearly 100 years. In addition to a lack of sewers, there is widespread petroleum contamination, with additional potential contamination from paints, cleaning solvents, and automotive fluids.

Some of the problems persist today, as existing businesses operate with almost no regulation. Imagine people spray-painting cars without taking air quality precautions or changing oil with no regard for safe disposal procedures!

Further exacerbating these environmental hazards is a high water table that spreads pollution throughout the Willets Point site. This means that as contaminants continue to fester in the soil and groundwater, nearby Flushing Creek and Flushing Bay become dirtier and more dangerous by the day.

Brownfields are a serious impediment to redeveloping a property, making them the target of a number of federal and state programs. But their potential to endanger public health and contaminate groundwater, surface water and soils is a far greater concern. Without action, Willets Point will in all likelihood remain an unusable, contaminated public health hazard.

The time has come to transform Willets Point from a toxic wasteland into an environmentally conscious, 21st century community.

In an area that is clamoring for open space and recreational opportunities, the cleanup and redevelopment of Willets Point means that the waterfront on Flushing Creek and Flushing Bay will finally become safe and accessible to the community.

This is also a great opportunity to redesign Willets Point in a smarter and more holistic manner. Willets Point is close to the No. 7 train, so people can leave their cars at home more often. And it’s near major highways, meaning that people can get in and out of the neighborhood quickly without further straining traffic in downtown Flushing. The development will also create approximately 12,000 construction jobs and 7,100 permanent jobs, as well as lead to a $3 billion private investment.

This is clearly a redevelopment project where the economic and environmental benefits work hand-in-hand to improve the health, well-being and vibrancy of the neighborhood, and for the entire borough of Queens.

Marcia Bystryn is president of the New York League of Conservation Voters, a statewide environmental organization.

 

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Queens congressmembers get mixed results on environment


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Some Queens congressmembers aced their green test last year. But some were average, and one was at the bottom of the class.

That is according to the New York League of Conservation Voters (NYLCV) latest national environmental scorecard.

Congressmembers Steve Israel and Carolyn Maloney were tops, with each scoring a 97, followed by Joseph Crowley with a 91. Both of the state’s U.S. Senators, Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, scored 93 percent. Nydia Velázquez trailed slightly with an 86 percent and Gregory Meeks pulled a 77 percent.

Former representative Gary Ackerman scored a 74. But another retiring congressmember, Bob Turner, had an abysmal 3 percent, a low matched by Tea Party Republicans representing Big Oil districts in Texas.

The scores are based on 14 Senate votes and 35 House votes on public health, clean energy, land and wildlife conservation issues.

“In the face of unprecedented attacks on laws protecting water, air and land, environmental allies like Steve Israel, Caroline [sic] Maloney … stood up for our values and put New Yorkers first,” said NYLCV President Marcia Bystryn in a statement. “While Americans were seeing the historic impacts of extreme weather right outside their window, members like … Bob Turner continued to ignore the reality of climate change.”

The state’s average House score in the most recent review was 65 percent, falling drastically from 97 percent in 2010.

“The U.S. House of Representatives sided with Big Oil and corporate polluters time and time again in 2012, cementing its status as the most anti-environmental House in our nation’s history,” said Gene Karpinski, president of the country’s League of Conservation Voters.

“The best that can be said about this session of the 112th Congress is that it’s over,” Karpinski said.

 

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