QUEENS, NY – On October 29, the seven-year anniversary since Sandy pummeled Queens’ coastal communities, Borough President candidate Costa Constantinides unveiled an ambitious climate plan that protects our neighbors from the next big storm. The announcement was made at the Crossbay Kiteboarding Launch Area at Cross Bay Boulevard at the southern foot of the Joseph P. Addabbo/North Channel Bridge in Broad Channel.
Despite the stark warning about climate change that fatal hurricane sent, Queens’ nearly 2.4 million residents are ill prepared for this existential phenomenon’s violent weather, rising sea levels, and extreme heat.
“Queens residents deserve leadership that ensures they aren’t displaced by rising tides or rising rents. Sadly, seven years after Sandy killed 11 of our neighbors, destroyed our coastal communities, and eroded our shores, we are still unprepared for the next big storm,” said Constantinides, who has chaired the New York City Council’s Environmental Protection Committee since 2015. “The plan we’re announcing today will put Queens on the course to a stronger, safer future that protects these neighborhoods by making them more sustainable. We can close dirty power plants blighting communities for too long while also making it more affordable to keep the lights on. Our movement will make Queens will be the national leader on green policies that create good jobs that serve as a pathway to the middle class.”
Constantinides’ plan would make Queens the leader for sustainability, resiliency and green job creation in New York City. Not only will neighborhoods from the Rockaways to College Point be protected from storm surge, the Borough President’s Office attack the root causes of climate change by closing dirty power plants that also make Queens residents sicker. A new Deputy Borough President for Sustainability will execute this ambitious plan, with a mandate to put Queens on a brighter course by 2030.
Building on his success in the New York City Council, Constantinides would reform the Borough President’s Office to:
- Close Dirty Queens Power Plants by 2025 or Sooner: Polluting power plants built in the early 2000s on the promise they’ll only run for a few years still click on whenever New York City needs power — and overwhelmingly that’s off the backs of Queens residents. By investing in solar, wind, and other renewable energy sources, we can close these plants and create thousands of good green jobs. Northwest and southeast Queens residents, who have higher asthma rates than the boroughwide average, will breathe cleaner air while simultaneously making it more affordable to keep the lights on.
- Create 50,000 Green Jobs by 2030: The Climate Mobilization Act is expected to generate 141,000 jobs over the next decade, according to the Urban Green Council, and there’s no reason Queens residents shouldn’t fill those positions. A Constantinides Borough Presidency will promote Career and Technical Education, which gives high school students on-the-job training in emerging fields such as solar. By partnering with New York’s local unions, we can create a pathway to the middle class, especially for those who come from environmental justice communities. More opportunities will come from upgrading our crumbling mass transit system, weatherizing homes and making our neighborhoods more resilient.
The Joseph P. Addabbo/North Channel Bridge in Broad Channel provided a fitting backdrop to Costa Constantinides’ announcement of his plan for a greener Queens. Photo: Courtesy of Costa4Queens campaign
- Double Queens’ Greenspaces by 2030: Trees are the vanguard of sustainability by soaking up carbon pumped into the air every day. The decimation of wetlands in Flushing and Jamaica bays, which had been a natural storm barrier for a millenium, contributed to the destructive storm surge during Sandy. Constantinides would invest capital dollars into planting trees and bioswales along our congested thoroughfares, work with the Department of Transportation to create more pedestrian plazas, and partner with neighborhoods to close dilapidated wastewater treatment plants, which will free up hundreds of acreage for public use.
- Solarize City Buildings by 2030 to Reduce Costs and Emissions: Constantinides will work with government partners to put solar on any public building in Queens where the roof can support it, such as libraries, hospitals, and courthouses. That means leading by example, so Queens Borough Hall will be upgraded with solar panels to drastically shrink its carbon footprint. If a City building cannot support solar panels, the Borough President’s Office will work to install green roofs. By using natural plantings and other green infrastructure, these roofs capture excess rainwater and reduce the heat island effect. Queens’ public buildings will set the demand for clean energy, comply with new emissions laws and significantly reduce operational costs.
- Appoint a Resiliency Czar as the New Queens Deputy Borough President for Sustainability: A well-trained expert dedicated to fighting climate change’s fatal effects will oversee Constantinides’ bold, necessary vision as the newly minted Deputy Borough President for Sustainability. This person will have a mandate to overhaul land-use decisions so they directly address the climate crisis, develop a community-based resiliency plan and create an environmental justice task force to reverse generations of wrongs in communities of color.
Sandy killed 11 of our neighbors and permanently changed the future of Queens. Conservative estimates by the New York City Panel on Climate Change predict an eight-inch sea level rise over the next 30 years, which stands to drastically reshape the layout of southern Queens. Rockaway residents would see regular tidal flooding in their homes as early as 2050 without meaningful action now. And extreme heat predicted at the end of this century is expected to kill thousands of New Yorkers — a glib future for western Queens’ children with respiratory illnesses.
Constantinides has dedicated his life to preventing Queens from inheriting this future. His proposals, if elected Queens Borough President, would build upon an unprecedented track record in the City Council to save New York City from the climate crisis. He stood up to Big Real Estate when it tried to kill the Climate Mobilization Act, which became the largest carbon emissions reduction ever mandated by any city on Earth. Constantinides has called for a New York City Department of Sustainability, the first of its kind in the nation, to ensure the Big Apple is fully committed to fighting climate change. More recently, he introduced the Renewable Rikers Act, which can close polluting infrastructure in over-policed, under-invested communities, by generating renewable energy and diverting wastewater to a vacated Rikers Island.
Costa Constantinides currently serves in the New York City Council, where he represents western Queens and chairs the Committee on Environmental Protection. His legislative accomplishments include the Climate Mobilization Act, a Green New Deal for New York City, as well as the historic 80% reduction by 2050 of carbon emissions commitment. He lives in his native Astoria with his wife and son.
For more information, visit: www.votecosta.com