Cory Booker on Environment



Vegetarian since 1992; vegan since 2014

I had been a vegetarian since 1992--a lifestyle choice that had started as an experiment. I realized that there was a lot about food I could never fully pin down. After poring over data on health, the environment, and how industrial agriculture treated animals, I thought I should try to go without meat. Did I need it? Was I the master of my desires, or had my desires mastered me? I decided to try being a vegetarian.

Within a couple of months I was astounded by the results. Active as I was, when I went vegetarian my body felt supercharged. I felt energy like I hadn't ever had before. My sleep improved, my recovery after workouts improved, and I felt lighter, stronger and more capable. I never looked back. 22 years later, after more reading, study and self-examination, I decided to try another experiment for the same reasons: from the day after Election Day 2014 until the end of that year, I would try being a vegan. It, too, would become an experiment that would stick.

Source: United, by Senator Cory Booker, p.124-5 , Feb 16, 2016

Passaic River poisoned because it was cheaper for business

One American chemical company, Diamond Alkali, started producing Agent Orange in a factory along the Passaic River in Newark--and reportedly dumped "bad" batches of Agent Orange directly into the river. At the same time, the chemicals at the factory site leached into the earth below the factory. Installing catch basins and properly disposing of the chemicals would have added hundreds of thousands of dollars to the business costs; pouring them into the river was the cheaper route for the company- even if far more expensive for the commons.

In 1983 the EPA confirmed what was already know - that the extreme levels of contaminants at the Diamond Alkali plant and in the lower Passaic River posed a grave threat to human life. The EPA added the site to its National Priorities List of Superfund sites around the country, making it eligible for taxpayer-funded cleanup.

This was my environmental awakening [about externalizing pollution costs].

Source: United, by Senator Cory Booker, p.197 , Feb 16, 2016

Dumping pollutants into rivers externalizes costs

In 1983 the EPA confirmed what was already known- hat the extreme levels of contaminants at the Diamond Alkali plant and in the lower Passaic River posed a grave threat to human life. The EPA added the site to its National Priorities List of Superfund sites around the country, making it eligible for taxpayer-funded cleanup.

The destruction of the Passaic River is an example of the perversion of the free market. In theory, goods & services are to be priced according to the actual costs of production with an addition of incremental cost for profit. What actually happened in Newark and communities around the country--and continues to happen today--is that key costs of production were shifted onto society while the profits were kept by the enterprise. With their costs externalized, the enterprise's profits increase. In the case of the Passaic River, and in the cases of so many other national treasures, these externalized costs are paid for over and over again by one generation after another.

Source: United, by Senator Cory Booker, p.197 , Feb 16, 2016

Trees reduce erosion & increase property values

In our efforts to green our city, we ended up having many discussions about trees. Before these conversations, trees to me were often sources of constituent complaints--fallen branches that needed to be cleared, dead trees that needed to be removed, roots that were pushing up sidewalks. But Newark's activists and leaders educated me on the benefits they provide, and soon we set out to find every way possible to plant more of them. Trees cool a city, provide oxygen, and help clean and filter the air of particulate matter, helping to combat respiratory problems. Trees help reduce storm water runoff, reducing erosion and the pollution that is carried into waterways. They even increase property values, adding beauty and character to a block.
Source: United, by Senator Cory Booker, p.203-4 , Feb 16, 2016

2003: Neighborhood development instead of new sports arena

Booker was highly critical of James's focus on big projects. The biggest plan was to build a sports arena in downtown Newark. This arena was initially planned to host NJ Nets basketball games, in addition to NJ Devils hockey. James made the arena the centerpiece of his 2002 mayoral campaign.

Cory Booker was an ardent critic of the arena and of most of James's development projects in 2002. He argued that James focused on downtown development at the expense of neighborhood development. He also thought that the arena project was wasteful.

When Booker was elected mayor in 2006, he tried to enjoin the ground-breaking for the arena. His request was denied, so he was stuck with having to make the best of what he perceived to be a bad situation. Booker's economic development office worked to try to make the arena as much of an economic boon as possible.

Source: The New Black Politician, by Andra Gillespie, p.130-1 , May 7, 2012

Vegetarian because of environmental impact of eating meat

Booker tears into a takeout container of scrambled egg whites with peppers and onions. He's been a vegetarian since Oxford, where he was a Rhodes scholar. As Booker describes it in his soothing, storyteller's tenor, "I decided to take to heart Socrates' admonishment about the unexamined life"--the one that says such a life isn't worth living. "And I started reading everything I could. And the more I read, from the environmental impact of eating meat to the health issues to Gandhi, the more I realized that eating the extreme amounts that I really enjoyed was not resonant with my spirit, with my values. So I tried to go cold turkey, and my body just took off--I felt so good. I'm not one of those judgmental vegetarians who says everybody should do this, but for me it works, and it works very well." In a city not known for its salad bars, Booker is an anomaly
Source: Oprah Magazine on 2013 N.J. Senate race , Sep 1, 2010

Work with Urban Environmental Institute on solar technology

We are creating job opportunities for Newark residents in the New Green economy. We attracted two new solar companies to our City. Another illustration of our job creation efforts is our City's newly constructed motors garage on Wilson Avenue. This facility, built using local contractors and local resident labor, contains new solar technology installed by the Urban Environmental Institute, a program employing and training our Newark youth in the growing industry of solar installation.
Source: 2010 State of the City Address at Newark Symphony Hall , Feb 9, 2010

Save our environment while creating jobs and wealth

From energy audits on City facilities, to distributing thousands of compact florescent light bulbs, to green businesses, tax incentives for green construction, job training programs for a new green economy, with Innovation Fuels, a biodiesel fuel production facility in Newark and other green business coming, Newark is saving money, saving energy, saving our environment all while creating jobs and wealth in our City.
Source: 2009 State of the City Address at Newark Symphony Hall , Feb 9, 2009

Require labeling genetically engineered food.

Booker signed Genetically Engineered Food Right-to-Know Act

Congressional Summary:

Discussion of pro/con (Huffington Post 4/25/2013):

Polls show that the overwhelming majority of Americans--over 90%--supports mandatory labeling of foods with GE ingredients. 64 other countries already require such labels. However, strong opposition from the agriculture and biotech industries has scuttled proposals for GMO (Genetically-Modified Organisms) labeling laws in the past. The most recent and high-profile of these failed attempts at a GMO labeling requirement was California's Proposition 37, which was narrowly defeated after opponents spent $50 million lobbying against it. "Unfortunately, advocates of mandatory GMO labeling are working an agenda to vilify biotechnology and scare consumers away from safe and healthful food products," a Biotechnology Industry Organization spokeswoman wrote.

Argument in opposition (Food Democracy Now 5/26/2012):

Exactly 20 years ago today, the first Bush administration declared genetically engineered foods to be "substantially equivalent" to foods that farmers had traditionally bred for thousands of years. With this single policy, the US government radically altered the food supply, introducing novel genes into our food that had never before been consumed by humans. Corporate executives at Monsanto colluded with elected officials to make sure that their new "products" were placed onto the market as quickly as possible. Two decades later, Americans are still denied the basic right to know what's in their food because of this infamous policy.

Source: S.809/HR1699 14_S0809 on Apr 24, 2013

Endorsed Endorsed by LCV; supports conservation efforts.

Booker is endorsed by by the League of Conservation Voters

The League of Conservation Voters (LCV) is a national non-profit organization that works to turn environmental values into national priorities.

Source: 2014 LCV Action Fund Senate Endorsement website 14-LCV+ on Aug 11, 2014

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Other big-city mayors on Environment: Cory Booker on other issues:

Mike Bloomberg (I,New York City)
Cory Booker (D,Newark,NJ)
Julian Castro (D,San Antonio,TX)
Rahm Emanuel (D,Chicago)
Phil Gordon (D,Phoenix)
Tom Menino (D,Boston)
Michael Nutter (D,Philadelphia)
Annise Parker (D,Houston)
Mike Rawlings (D,Dallas)
Jerry Sanders (R,San Diego)
Antonio Villaraigosa (D,Los Angeles)

Former Mayors:
Rocky Anderson (I,Salt Lake City)
Tom Barrett (D,Milwaukee,WI)
Jerry Brown (D,Oakland,CA)
Rudy Giuliani (R,New York City)
Dennis Kucinch (D,Cleveland,OH)
Sarah Palin (R,Wasilla,AK)
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Page last updated: Sep 22, 2016