2015-07-15 / Political Page

Constantinides Now Leads Environmental Committee

Councilman Costa Constantinides was appointed Chair of the Council Environmental Protection Committee. The appointment, in Res. 766, was approved unanimously by the full City Council.

During his time in the City Council, Constantinides has worked on many pieces of environmental legislation. In 2014, the City Council unanimously passed his legislation to reduce carbon emissions by 80 percent by 2050. The legislation, now Local Law 66, was an integral part of Mayor de Blasio’s pledge to make our city greener and the City Council’s forward-thinking policy platform to strengthen this city’s commitment to a more sustainable and environmentally conscious future.

To help achieve this commitment, Constantinides has sponsored additional legislation to encourage more use of solar, geothermal, and biofuel energy:

INT 609, which would encourage the use of geothermal systems in buildings citywide

INT 642 which would increase the use of biodiesel in home heating oil

INT 359, which would study the adverse environmental impacts resulting from governmental policies and programs in environmental justice communities

INT 54, which increases the use of biodiesel in city ferries to 20 percent by 2020

INT 703, which would open the city’s cooling centers on days when poor air quality may put our most vulnerable at risk of harm.

As Committee Chair, Constantinides plans to continue to make the city more sustainable and energy efficient. He will work to implement policies that raise awareness of climate change and lower reliance on fossil fuels. He also plans to partner with the Department of Environmental Protection and Mayor’s Office of Sustainability to implement Mayor de Blasio’s OneNYC plan, which aims to make New York more environmentally sound and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“I appreciate the Council and Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito’s faith in me with this new Chairmanship,” said Constantinides. “I look forward to continuing our vision to make our city greener and more sustainable. We have already made great strides in environmental policy and I plan to help us push even further in reducing our carbon emissions and combating climate change. The stakes are high for our city and our planet, and continued bold policy relating to our environment will lead us to a stronger, sustainable NYC.”

“Council Member Constantinides has a strong record of achievement on environmental issues, such as passage of the ‘80 by 50’ greenhouse gas reduction plan,” City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito said. “I look forward to his continued leadership in making New York City as green and environmentally friendly as possible.”

Constantinides has a long record of environmental accomplishment prior to taking office. He spent six years working with former Councilman James F. Gennaro, then-Chair of the Environmental Protection Committee. They helped to fight hydraulic fracturing in New York state and passed legislation expanding the city’s use of alternative fuels, legislation that helped green buildings, and legislation that improved air and water quality.

The appointment was supported by environmental advocates.

“Councilmember Costa Constantinides is the perfect choice to become Chair of the City Council’s Environmental Protection Committee,” said Eric A. Goldstein, NYC Environmental Director at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “He has been a long-time advocate for strong environmental safeguards, going back to his work as a community activist and as Legislative Director to former-Environmental Protection Committee Chair Jim Gennaro. He cares deeply about protecting his Astoria constituents and New Yorkers more generally from the impacts of climate change and from local air pollution sources. He has first-hand experience in fighting to keep our city’s drinking water supply safe and affordable. He understands how to get things done in government. And we know that he will be a worthy successor to former Environmental Protection Committee Chair Donovan Richards, who remains a great friend of the environment and is fortunately keeping his seat on the committee.”

“Council Member Constantinides has been a fierce advocate for the environment, championing legislation to codify New York City’s ‘80 by 50’ greenhouse gas emissions reduction pledge into law and earning a perfect 100 percent on NYLCV’s City Council Scorecard. We look forward to working closely with him in his new role to create a greener, healthier, and more equitable city,” said Marcia Bystryn, President of the New York League of Conservation Voters (NYLCV).

Constantinides was previously the Chair of the Council Sub-Committee on Libraries. As Chair during this past year, he helped secure an increase in funding of all three library systems by $39 million. This increase allows for all library branches to be open six days per week, making resources available for more New Yorkers. He has also allocated funding for ADA accessibility upgrades at both library branches within Astoria, making them inclusive for all residents. In doing so, he has widened the reach of the Queens Library into various underserved communities within the district.

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