ASTORIA – New York City Council Member Costa Constantinides introduced on September 23 a trio of bills that will continue New York City’s position as the leader in sustainability and resiliency in the United States. The legislation comes at the heart of Climate Week, and represents the Environmental Protection Committee’s initiative to Reclaim Our Health and Restore Our Environment.
Constantinides’ initiative comes in response to the outsized role pollution played in accelerating COVID-19’s devastation in New York City. We can chart a new path forward this Climate Week, however, by focusing on clean air and resilient shores. The legislation introduced on September 23 will:
Mandate Resiliency Guidelines for City Capital Projects: If passed, this bill will require the Office of Long-Term Planning and Sustainability to launch a pilot program to create resilience design guidelines. Those rules will eventually be codified, so every capital project must adhere to uniform requirements instead of an ad-hoc, agency-by-agency approach. This will ensure every City project is prepared for more violent weather brought about by climate change. Summer 2020 drives home the need for more resilient construction, as July saw double its normal 90-degree days and the Atlantic Hurricane Season has seen an unprecedented 23 named storms.
Study Building Electrification:
The City would assess current barriers to making New York’s buildings completely electric. New York would take a comprehensive look at what renewable energy sources are currently available to landlords, costs associated with making properties fully electric, and timeframe on implementation. This is a crucial step in freeing the Big Apple from its reliance on fossil fuels, whether it’s oil or natural gas. Once the study is done, City agencies should have a clear roadmap to powering buildings with clean, renewable energy.
Support a Federal Carbon Tax:
Constantinides and Council Member Helen Rosenthal will introduce a resolution in support of the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act of 2019. This Congressional bill would impose a tax based against metric tons of CO2 emissions, with the intent of sparking innovation in new, cleaner technologies. Los Angeles County, Syracuse, and Rochester, New York, are among the many local governments already in support of the act.
“The COVID-19 pandemic, the wildfires on the West Coast, and the historic Atlantic hurricane season are a constant reminder we have to address the economic and public health catastrophic climate change has created,” said Council Member Costa Constantinides, Chair of the Committee on Environmental Protection. “Today’s bills are another step toward cleaning our air, protecting us against extreme weather, and holding corporations accountable for their emissions.”
"Climate change is underway -- the devastating wildfires in the western U.S. and the record number of Atlantic hurricanes this year are the latest reminders of the profound challenge we face. But even during this moment of national crisis, we have options. The Federal Energy Innovation & Carbon Dividend Act will help to ensure that CO2 emitters pay the real cost of their climate-altering pollution, incentivizing clean energy technologies. I am so proud to co-sponsor a resolution supporting this bill with Council Member Constantinides, and I thank him again for his unfailing leadership on the question of climate change," said Council Member Helen Rosenthal (Manhattan, District 6).
“To deny climate change is to deny the overwhelming evidence that thousands of scientists agree upon: carbon dioxide emissions are contributing to global warming which are causing more severe weather storms to wreak havoc on our communities. We need innovative solutions that move this country away from dirty fossil fuels to a clean energy future, like the bipartisan Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act of 2019. I’m proud to support this bill in Congress, and I commend Council Member Costa Constantinides and Council Member Helen Rosenthal for introducing a resolution to urge the Congress to pass it. It is timely and it is necessary. Our kids’ future depends on us taking bold steps to create a clean energy economy today,” said Congress Member Grace Meng (NY-06).
Council Member Costa Constantinides represents the New York City Council’s 22nd District, which includes his native Astoria along with parts of Woodside, East Elmhurst, and Jackson Heights. He serves as the chair of the City Council’s Environmental Protection Committee and sits on three additional committees: Sanitation, Resiliency, and Technology. For more information, visit council.nyc.gov/costa.