New York (April 22, 2007)- On Earth Day, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg called for a series of ambitious proposals intended to ease traffic congestion, reduce air pollution, build housing, improve mass transit, and develop abandoned industrial land. Included in the the plan is a call for the reforestation of 2,000 targeted acres of parkland and a partnership with stakeholders to help plant one million trees over the next decade in vacant lots.
The goal is to plant a million trees by 2030. This includes an additional $20 million per year for the city’s urban forestry program in Parks and Recreation to improve air quality and environmental justice concerns. In addition, new funds were committed to add 40 new tree maintenance staff that will enable pruning and care of 5 million trees each year.
Mayor Bloomberg Sunday presented the plan as a strategy to cope with climate change and a fast-growing population in a sweeping policy speech containing 127 separate initiatives. Bloomberg said, “I think it’s safe to say I’ve never been accused of being a tree-hugger before but facts are facts. And the fact is – people like trees in their neighborhoods, and they’re good for our health. So why wouldn’t we plant more of them? We will begin the most ambitious “street-greening” initiative in New York’s long history. The first installment in what will become a $250 million investment in nearly a quarter-million new trees on New York City streets – as well as a new public plaza in every community. We’ll also undertake the aggressive greening of our city that I just described which will include planting one million trees across the five boroughs. Trees not only help beautify communities, they also remove soot from the air.”
“A Greener, Greater New York,” has been in the works since December but the mayor chose to issue it on Earth Day to underline his goal of making America’s largest city also the greenest by 2030. Covering land, air, water, energy, and transportation, PlaNYC is the result of thousands of hours of work, informed by public meetings and feedback from New Yorkers. It establishes goals that include reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent by 2030, although the mayor says even that goal is not set high enough.
Bloomberg’s Green Plans Face Hurdles in State Legislature
Mayor Bloomberg’s plan to achieve an environmentally friendly New York by 2030 will meet resistance in the state Legislature, in the City Council, and even from those who come after him in the mayor’s office. With only 983 days left until the mayor is term-limited out of office at the end of 2009, city officials acknowledge that the success of their long-term vision for New York City would depend largely on the support of future mayoral administrations. Almost 40% of Mr. Bloomberg’s 127 initiatives, including congestion pricing, would require approval from the state Legislature or a non-city agency to move forward, and are unlikely to be addressed before next year’s legislative session, analysts say. Mr. Bloomberg ended his Earth Day announcement with a challenge to New Yorkers to think big. Quoting the composer George Gershwin’s piece, Mr. Bloomberg said, “They all laughed at Rockefeller Center. Are you laughing, too?”
Environmental News Service
New York Times
New York Sun