Mike Bloomberg on Environment
Mayor of New York City (Independent)
A: No, we're not; we're not telling them at all. We're telling them what science says is in their interest or isn't in their interest. We allow you to smoke. We just don't let you smoke where other people have to breathe the smoke that you're exhaling or comes from your cigarette. And if you remember, when we put a smoking ban in, nobody thought that was going to work. Today, all of Latin America, all of Western Europe, and almost every big city in America and most of the states are smoke-free. This is another thing: Obesity is going to kill more people this year in the world than starvation. We have to do something about it.
Q: But where is the line?
A: I do not think we should ban most things. I do think there are certain times we should infringe on your freedom. If you want to smoke, I think you have a right to do so and I would protect that. But our job as government is to inform the public.
(He finally settled on the less exotic if politically sensitive solution of containerizing the waste and exporting it to landfills by rail or in covered barges.)
"If we don't act now, when?" Bloomberg asked, making his announcement on Earth Day.
Most chief executives do not spend much time planning for the future, when they will no longer be in office to claim credit. That's why bridges fall down--from neglect by politicians worried about their today, not a successor's tomorrow.
But PlaNYC's 127 projects, regulations and innovations--an agenda so ambitious that Bloomberg likened it to the designs for Central Park and the construction of Rockefeller Center--rely heavily on political cooperation, public funds and a strong economy.
Albany being Albany, the Speaker wielded his favorite passive-aggressive tool, a handy device to bury hot issues. Saying there were not enough votes to pass congestion pricing, he never brought the bill to the assembly floor.
The mayor did not hide his fury. "It takes a special type of cowardice for elected officials to refuse to stand up and vote their conscience on an issue that has been debated, and amended significantly to resolve many outstanding issues, for more than a year. Every New Yorker has a right to know if the person they send to Albany was for or against better transit and cleaner air."
And because of exposure to sooty diesel exhaust and smoke-belching power plants that are concentrated in low-income communities, many of their residents bear the brunt of this public health menace. In parts of the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Harlem, children are hospitalized for asthma at nearly four times the national average. Four times!
We cannot turn a blind eye to this outrage. All our children deserve a healthy start in life. Many people call that environmental justice; I simply call it the right thing to do. [The goal]: eliminating roughly 40% of locally produced soot by 2030.
I understand the hesitation about charging a fee. I was a skeptic myself. But I looked at the facts: in cities like London and Singapore, fees succeeded in reducing congestion and improving air quality.
In setting the fee, there’s no magic number, but it has to be high enough to encourage more people to switch to mass transit and low enough not to break the bank - for businesses and for those who have to drive. We believe that an $8 charge would achieve these goals, for cars traveling south of 86th Street on weekdays.
|Other big-city mayors on Environment:||Mike Bloomberg on other issues:|
Tom Barrett (D,Milwaukee)
Bill de Blasio (D,NYC)
Rahm Emanuel (D,Chicago)
Bob Filner (D,San Diego)
Steven Fulop (D,Jersey City)
Eric Garcetti (D,Los Angeles)
Mike Rawlings (D,Dallas)
Marty Walsh (D,Boston)
Rocky Anderson (I,Salt Lake City)
Tom Barrett (D,Milwaukee,WI)
Mike Bloomberg (I,New York City)
Cory Booker (D,Newark,NJ)
Jerry Brown (D,Oakland,CA)
Julian Castro (D,San Antonio,TX)
Rudy Giuliani (R,New York City)
Phil Gordon (D,Phoenix)
Tom Menino (D,Boston)
Dennis Kucinch (D,Cleveland,OH)
Michael Nutter (D,Philadelphia)
Sarah Palin (R,Wasilla,AK)
Annise Parker (D,Houston)
Jerry Sanders (R,San Diego)
Antonio Villaraigosa (D,Los Angeles)