FOR BREAKING NEWS VISIT WWW.QNS.COM DECEMBER 19, 2019 • THE QUEENS COURIER 11
Advocates unite around Renewable Rikers legislation
BY MAX PARROTT
A coalition of environmental justice advocates and
criminal justice reformers came together last week to
rally for the plan to make Rikers Island into a hub of
Th e newly assembled coalition of New York Lawyers for
the Public Interest, NYC Environmental Justice Alliance,
JustLeadershipUSA, were joined Astoria Councilman
Costa Constantinides, who unveiled a suite of three
bills in June that would start the process of transforming
Rikers Island into a symbol of environmental justice.
“Th e planned closure presents a once-in-a-lifetime
opportunity to turn this island of shame into a showpiece
of sustainability,” said Eric A. Goldstein, New York environment
director at the Natural Resources Defense Council.
In June, a panel of advocates envisioned goals for a
Renewable Rikers like building solar panels that could
provide enough energy to shut down Queens’ three
power plants, a new wastewater treatment facility, investing
pension funds in renewables, and building marijuana
greenhouses on the island.
Th e bill package would transfer control of the island
from the Department of Correction to the Department
of Environmental Protection, study its renewable energy
capacity, and assess how much wastewater can be diverted
to the island.
“Th ese bills are done in partnership and following the
leaders who have done so much of the work in getting
Rikers closed,” Constantinides said.
Th e bills have been picking up steam among environmental
advocates since this summer. Th e New York
League of Conservation Voters (NYLCV) recently added
the Renewable Rikers bills to its scorecard for the coming
year. Th e group uses this metric to grade City Council
members on their support for environmental priorities.
“Relocating the wastewater treatment plants away from
environmental justice communities and into the island
Photo: Max Parrott/QNS
is also a means to combat the historic environmental
burden that many of these neighborhoods have borne
for decades,” said Adriana Espinoza, NYLCV’s program
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