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Mike Bloomberg on Environment

Mayor of New York City (Independent)


Smoking ban has spread from NYC to every big city

Q: As the executive of NYC, you're telling people what they can & cannot do.

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.

Source: Meet the Press 2013 interviews: 2016 presidential hopefuls , Mar 24, 2013

Containerize 12,000 tons of daily trash & export to landfill

The mayor's holdover from his pre-City Hall years was his fondness for engineering. He was intrigued by the problem of garbage disposal: how to rid the city of over 12,000 daily tons of solid waste after Giuliani had closed the last landfill without providing an alternative. Bloomberg drew numerous sketches of garbage schemes and had his staff running in circles investigating not only upstate landfills but even the possibility of hauling garbage in submarine--like barges to Caribbean islands.

(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.)

Source: Bloomberg: Money, Power, Politics, by J.Purnick, p.132-133 , Sep 28, 2010

PlaNYC 2030: 25-year plan for pollution & infrastructure

A year into his 2nd term, he ginned up his administration to go green, creating PlaNYC 2030, an ambitious 25-year blueprint to reduce air pollution, build housing, improve mass transit and develop abandoned industrial land. The proposals ranged from the innocuous--planting one million trees--to the contentious--charging drivers a fee to bring their cars into midtown Manhattan, a toll system called congestion pricing.

"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.

Source: Bloomberg: Money, Power, Politics, by Joyce Purnick, p.159 , Sep 28, 2010

Congestion pricing: fee for driving into Manhattan

The toughest proposal was congestion pricing. Bloomberg had long shied away from charging cars admission to mid-Manhattan, as London and other cities do. This time Bloomberg was determined to get it right. He won a federal subsidy from the Department of Transportation. He lined up support from the ecology-friendly organizations.

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."

Source: Bloomberg: Money, Power, Politics, by J.Purnick, p.160-162 , Sep 28, 2010

Creative housing: deck over highways & build brownfields

PlaNYC addresses our most basic resource: land. As our City grows, we propose to use our land more creatively and efficiently. To accommodate nearly a million more New Yorkers, our plan calls for doubling the amount of land available for possible housing development. We can do it by decking over railyards and highways, and using government land more productively. 95% of the sites that we propose for new housing development are within a short walk to mass transit. Some of these sites are brownfields.
Source: PlaNYC speech at the Museum of Natural History , Apr 22, 2007

Clean up 7,600 acres of brownfields; build more parks

We propose to speed the clean-up of all the 7,600 acres of brownfields still in our city - while also ensuring public health protections by developing new time-saving strategies new city-specific remediation guidelines, and a new city brownfields office to oversee the initiatives and encourage community involvement. Some of our brownfields may also become open space and parkland, which bind communities together. We’ve added more than 300 acres [but need more in some neighborhoods].
Source: PlaNYC speech at the Museum of Natural History , Apr 22, 2007

Environmental justice: clean soot in poor neighborhoods

Our goal is a simple one: giving New York the cleanest air of any major city in the nation. Today, our air - like our water - is far less polluted than it was just a few decades ago. But in that clearer air hangs this ominous cloud: New Yorkers still breathe more of the soot that contributes so heavily to deadly heart and lung disease than do people in all but one other major American city.

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.

Source: PlaNYC speech at the Museum of Natural History , Apr 22, 2007

$8 fee to enter NYC by car, to encourage mass transit

As the city continues to grow, the costs of congestion - to our health, to our environment, and to our economy - are only going to get worse. The question is not whether we want to pay but how do we want to pay. With an increased asthma rate? With more greenhouse gases? Wasted time? Lost business? And higher prices? Or, do we charge a modest fee to encourage more people to take mass transit?

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.

Source: PlaNYC speech at the Museum of Natural History , Apr 22, 2007

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Other big-city mayors on Environment: Mike Bloomberg 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: Mar 16, 2014