2001-09-12 / Editorials


Clean Energy Initiative Bodes Well

If the Clean Energy Initiative written and sponsored by Assemblymember Michael Gianaris and signed into law two weeks ago by Governor George Pataki is an example of what we can expect from our freshman legislators, the future of Queens, New York City and the state would appear to be very bright indeed.

The Gianaris bill provides power plant operators with an incentive to modernize existing plants by granting approvals for those plants in six months, rather than the one-year approval period now in effect. Approval is contingent upon a 75 percent reduction of pollution emitted by the modernized plant.

The benefits to the communities in which modernized plants are located are obvious: reduced pollution means a decrease in the rates of asthma and other respiratory ailments attributed at least in part to power pant emissions. A community with clean air is one attractive to businesses and families, one with real potential for growth.

The benefits to the power plant operators are equally obvious. Modernized plants demonstrate generating capacity improved by up to 90 percent, due mainly to substantially lowered pollutant emissions. Faster approvals mean plants are bringing in profits sooner, and modernizing an existing plant is considerably less expensive than building a new one. Legislation to bring all these elements together to the mutual betterment of plant operators and area residents is a lasting service to both.

For Gianaris the clean energy initiative legislation is by no means the culmination of his efforts in service to the people of his 36th Assembly District or even Queens in general. He calls it "only a first step towards enacting policies to address New York's growing energy needs while ensuring that our communities have a safer, healthier environment." Growing energy needs are a matter of serious concern for us all. From an interesting novelty scarcely more than a century ago electric power has come to be a vital, essential part of all our lives. Generating that power cleanly, cheaply and with a minimum of disruption to the environment is of paramount importance to maintaining the living standards we enjoy.

There are two sides to every coin and the Gianaris bill does an admirable job of addressing both of them. New York City was formed out of the consolidation of the five boroughs in 1898 for, among other reasons, the continued improvement of the safety and health of the residents of the communities within its borders. A law that encourages retrofitting power plants to make them more efficient and less polluting not only addresses an immediate problem, but also is indeed a first step in ensuring a steadily improving environment for all the residents of New York City. Other similar measures, sponsored by Gianaris and other Assemblymembers and state Senators, will surely follow. The result will be cheaper, more accessible power and a cleaner, healthier city for us all.

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