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.