Environment

Working with Mayor Bloomberg, Chris Quinn has helped to make New York one of the greenest cities in America. From fighting global warming to protecting our watershed to passing the City’s first comprehensive solid waste management law, Chris is proud to have helped lead the way on this critical issue.

As Speaker, Chris:

  • Passed the Climate Protection Act, requiring the City to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30% by 2030.
  • Passed first-in-the-nation laws to green city buildings, which will save 30 billion gallons of water annually and reduce our carbon footprint equal to the total carbon emissions of Oakland, CA.
  • Passed a new Solid Waste Management law, diverting thousands of tons of waste every day from overburdened neighborhoods, and reducing pollution and congestion on city streets by 6 million truck miles per year.
  • Dramatically expanded recycling in New York City to include electronic waste like computers, plastic shopping bags, clothing, and all plastic containers.
  • Added hundreds of new recycling bins in public spaces, and brought composting to all five boroughs.
  • Provided funding to help purchase and preserve tens of thousands of acres in the City’s watershed, and has been a strong opponent of hydrofracking in the area.
  • Removed cars from the road by providing better access to green transportation, including launching the highly successful East River Ferry and expanding bike storage and parking.
  • Passed laws requiring city buildings to use cleaner heating oil, reducing pollution from school buses and ferries and prohibiting vehicles from idling outside schools.
  • Funded repairs to hundreds of public parks and playgrounds and won critical protections for our community gardens.

As Mayor, Chris plans to:

  • Rebuild smarter to address the challenges of climate change. Chris believes we need to invest in significant infrastructure upgrades to ensure that all of the city’s neighborhoods are able to handle future storms. Chris will take steps to build protective structures around our city based on the recommendations of the Army Corp of Engineers. These may include hard infrastructure like seawalls, bulkheads, or floodgates, or more natural defenses like sand dunes, wetlands and embankments, or raising elevation above the floodplain.
  • Protect power lines from storm damage. There are a number of neighborhoods, particularly in Staten Island, Queens, and the Bronx, where overhead power lines seem to come down every time we have heavy winds. Chris will work to make sure that utility wires in parts of these neighborhoods are buried underground, where they’ll be better protected, just as they are in most parts of the city. 
  • Implement major changes to the region’s gasoline distribution network. Hurricane Sandy devastated our ability to access gasoline, whether it was needed by commuters or emergency vehicles. In the immediate aftermath of the storm we saw six-hour waits at the pumps, and volunteers unable to reach hard-hit areas due to a lack of fuel. We need to stormproof critical systems at refineries and storage facilities to protect them from flooding and provide significantly more back-up power when the lights go out. We need to build in redundancy so if the supply chain is compromised, fuel can still get to where it’s needed. And big oil companies need to do much more to support their local stations. 
  • Seek safeguards against flooding of the city’s transportation system. There are steps we can take to protect our subways from the flooding we face not just during a hurricane but practically every time it rains. There are small steps that we can take today like installing raised buffers around subway grates to prevent water from seeping in or elevating the entrances to our stations a couple of feet above ground. Then there are new technologies that we’ll explore like industrial balloons that can completely seal off subway or vehicular tunnels from flooding. Chris is also committed to continuing to invest in more resilient means of transportation like buses and ferries.
  • Better prepare Con Edison and other utilities to handle future storms and emergencies. Hurricane Sandy knocked out power to more than 800,000 homes and businesses in New York City for days, even weeks. Chris will work with our utility companies to take real steps to improve how they handle future emergencies. Con Ed needs to improve their protocols for shutting off power to vulnerable substations. All utility companies need to erect structures around power plants and substations in at-risk areas to protect them from storm surges of at least 20 feet. They also need to take immediate steps to flood-proof vulnerable infrastructure.
  • Accelerate investment in New York City’s sewer system. Sewage overflows that pollute our waterways remain far too common. Residents and business owners who have to deal with sewer backups have had enough. Chris has a plan to accelerate major sewer and wastewater treatment projects, to make sure they stand up both to major storms like Sandy and to more common flooding. Electrical equipment and other critical systems also need to be elevated at treatment plants in flood zones. Pumping stations must be upgraded and protected from storm surges. Lastly, we need to speed up our efforts to improve our sewers themselves and install tools to help absorb water runoff.