Greening The Big Apple

On September 27, 2012, the New York League of Conservation Voters ("NYLCV") published "Blueprint for a Greener New York City". The policy agenda sets forth NYLCV’s vision for the further "greening" of New York and makes dozens of detailed recommendations that will help guide city leaders through the end of the current mayoral administration. The Blueprint covers a wide range of sustainability issues, from water quality and climate change to transportation and solid waste.

Non-partisan and greatly respected on both sides of the aisle in Albany, NYLCV is the only statewide environmental organization in New York that fights for clean water, clean air, renewable energy and open space through political action.  The publications of NYLCV and its sister organization, the 501(c)(3) New York League of Conservation Voters Education Fund, provide an excellent source for background on the environmental issues that confront all of us as citizens of New York.. One such publication is "Protecting Your Community: A Citizen’s Guide to Reporting Environmental Offenses", which stresses the importance of citizen participation in reporting environmental crimes. This publication sets forth in detail how an environmental crime is defined, how it is identified and how it should be reported.     





Cas Holloway Brings Energy And Vision To NYC’s DEP

On February 26, 2010, the New York League of Conservation Voters (“NYLCV”) hosted an Eco-Partners Breakfast with New York City Department of Environmental Protection (“DEP”) Commissioner Cas Holloway, DEP’s energetic new commissioner.  Mayor Bloomberg appointed Mr. Holloway to head DEP in November 2009 after a year long nation-wide search. Prior to his appointment, Mr. Holloway served as a Senior Advisor and Chief of Staff to Ed Skyler, New York’s Deputy Mayor for Operations. Mr. Holloway, a former Cravath associate who earned an undergraduate degree at Harvard and a law degree from the University of Chicago, brings to the position a rare combination of political savvy and operational know how that should serve DEP well.  Although DEP has a $1,000,000 budget and a staff of over six thousand, it often flies below the radar screen. DEP performs four basic functions. (1) First and foremost, it is a water utility. It is responsible for the supply, distribution and treatment of New York City’s drinking water. Unlike California, which delegates the supply and treatment functions to different agencies, both functions fall within DEP’s  aegis in New York; (2) DEP is a customer service agency. It more or less determines the price of water; (3) DEP is a capital projects agency. For example, it is building at a cost of $6,000,000,000 the third underground tunnel that will carry drinking water from upstate to millions of New Yorkers; and (4) DEP is an environmental regulator on, among other things, air and water issues.   Based upon his first few months on the job, Cas Holloway appreciates the importance of working with various stakeholders and interest groups. On February 25, 2010, Mayor Bloomberg, Mr. Holloway’s agency,  NYS Department of Environmental Conservation and several environmental groups announced an agreement-in-principle to significantly improve the health of Jamaica Bay through sewage treatment plant upgrades and investments in marsh restoration. As a result of the agreement-in-principle, DEP headed off a potentially costly Clean Water Act litigation arising from the alleged failure of its four sewage treatment plants to prevent nitrogen discharges to the bay. Mr. Holloway described the resolution of the Jamaica Bay dispute as a "paradigm shift" and a case study for how he hopes DEP will resolve future disputes. Up next for Mr. Holloway is the threat to water quality in the New York City Watershed posed by natural gas companies  seeking permits to exploit valuable natural gas deposits in the Marcellus Shale through the extensive use horizontal drilling and hydrofracking.  All New Yorkers should wish Mr. Holloway well in addressing this new Watershed concern.

Environmental Champions!

At last night’s Spring Gala for the New York League of Conservation Voters ("NYLCV"), former New York Governor George Pataki and Mayor Michael Bloomberg received well-deserved standing ovations from both environmental activists and business leaders for their truly heroic accomplishments on the tough environmental issues New York faces.  It is rare that I come home completely inspired and renewed after listening to speeches, but that is precisely how Mr. Pataki and Mr. Bloomberg made me feel.  Based upon his exemplary record as New York’s governor, Mr. Pataki should give consideration to running for the U.S. Senate seat left vacant when Senator Clinton became Secretary of State.  Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is terrific (she delivered last night’s keynote address), but she would be challenged to match Mr. Pataki’s charisma and his record.  The prospect of having the strongest environmental governor in New York’s history representing the State in the Senate, particularly on the Republican side of the aisle, would be potentially transformative were Mr. Pataki to bring to Washington the passion for the causes he championed in  Albany.  Paul Elston, NYLCV’s Founding Board Chair, was right when he said last night that George Pataki forced environmentalists to change how they dealt with politicians.  Previously, environmentalists prodded the politicians to adopt pro-environmental policies.  After Mr. Pataki became governor, environmentalist had to run just to keep up with Mr. Pataki’s broad-based initiatives, according to Mr. Elston.  Mr. Pataki’s legacy resides in every sip of water New Yorkers drink (because of his historic efforts to protect the upstate watershed as a pristine source of our water) and in every breath of air public school children inhale (due to Clean Air/Clean Water Bond Act funds used to replace out-dated and dangerous coal-burning furnaces in the City’s schools.