A Less Controversial PlaNYC
April 21st, 2011
To celebrate Earth Day — and his own environmental achievements — Mayor Michael Bloomberg today announced an update to his much touted sustainability program, PlaNYC2030.
The presentation in a gatehouse that houses Harlem stage offered a fair amount of glitz — free water bottles with New York’s tap water, a thick and glossily illustrated book replete with testimonial from attractive reportedly average New Yorkers, a panel discussion and then the speech by the mayor to an overwhelmingly adoring audience. Bloomberg pronounced New York under his administration as the leader in making cities environmentally friendly — and most in the crowd apparently agreed.
Bloomberg’s speech and to a lesser extent his plan offer nothing as bold or controversial as the congestion pricing proposal he advanced last time around. He did advance some new initiatives — 132 by the mayor’s count, some old and some new. Many, though, had either been issued or reported previously — allowing car services to accept street hails in the outer boroughs, for example, launching an East River ferry services and reducing the use of highly polluting heating oil to cite a few.
Much of Bloomberg’s speech focused on cleaning the air pollution spewed out by buildings. This would involve phasing out use of dirty grade 6 and 4 heating oil by 2015 and 2030 respectively. The relatively small number of buildings using the oil, Bloomberg said “produce more pollution than all the cars and trucks in New York City combined.”
He also announced formation of a New York City Energy Efficiency Corp., that would provide financing and information to property owners big and small seeking to improve the energy efficiency and cleanness of their operation.
The book released at the event included dozens of proposals not mentioned in the mayor’s speech. Most notably, perhaps, the book deals with solid waste. The first PlaNYC did not address solid waste and many anticipated the 2.0 version would confront the rising price and environmental costs associated with New York’s garbage glut.
But the mayor did not mention garbage in his address, let alone call for waste to energy plants. The plan does call for efforts to increase recycling and also says “new and emerging technologies that convert solid waste into either energy or fuel” should be part of the city’s overall solid waste plan. To begin to test that, the administration plans to solicit proposals for pilot waste to energy projects.
Oh and on the city’s nettlesome traffic problem the plan calls for the city to “pilot technology and pricing based mechanisms” to reduce it.
In his speech, Bloomberg called congestion pricing “the elephant in the gatehouse” and left no doubt he still likes the idea. Problems of reducing traffic and funding mass transit still exist, he said, so we “have to find ways to do what’s right in the future.”
Ways, perhaps, that don’t involve the New York state legislature.By Gail Robinson on April 21, 2011, 3:03 pm
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