33 THE QUEENS COURIER • APRIL 1, 2022 FOR BREAKING NEWS VISIT WWW.QNS.COM
New York needs a $15 billion investment toward climate justice before the next Ida hits
BY ASSEMBLYWOMAN JESSICA
In August 2021, Tropical Storm Ida fl ooded New
York’s subway stations and tunnels, submerged
businesses and homes, and killed 13 people, at
least 11 of whom were from Queens. Th e storm
unleashed far more rain than was expected and
revealed how far New York still has to go to build
Storms like Ida will only become more frequent
and severe if New York continues to drag its feet
on implementing the Climate Leadership and
Community Protection Act, the state’s landmark
climate bill and model for the federal government’s
Justice 40. Th at’s why I’m calling on Governor
Hochul and legislative leadership to include $15
billion in climate justice funding for the 2022–2023
fi scal year, and increase funding in the years to
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate
Change’s latest report reaffi rms what Queens
letters & comments
Mayor Eric Adams has made an exemption
allowing unvaccinated athletes and
performers to perform in New York City.
Meanwhile those in the NYPD and FDNY,
as well as Department of Education teachers,
have been fi red for not being vaccinated
In my opinion, this is a double standard
and the mayor is being a hypocrite.
It seems as if only the rich and the famous
are getting exemptions to being vaccinated
as a condition of their employment. Why?
Our police force and fi refi ghters protect
us from harm and our teachers educate our
children and are extremely essential to our
Th is just is not right!
I’m 72 years old and my wife is 68 and we
had all of our COVID-19 shots, plus our fl u
shots. Yet, in January, we came down with a
mild form of the virus. If we had not gotten vaccinated
we could have ended up in the hospital!
Th is disease is still out there and we all
need to be vaccinated. Nobody should be
Frederick R. Bedell Jr., Bellerose
PROMOTE FROM WITHIN
MTA Chairman Janno Lieber’s announcement
that he is appointing former
Massachusetts Secretary of Transportation
Secretary Richard Davey to serve as the next
New York City Transit president, eff ective
May 2, is disappointing.
Th e job requires a good working knowledge
of the agency organization, staff,
operations, stations, yards and shops, other
facilities, bus and subway car fl eets, other
equipment, customer needs, ongoing planning
initiatives and navigating the diffi cult
political landscape of New York City, City
Hall and Albany.
Th e portfolio also includes $40 billion
worth of NYC Transit bus, subway and
Staten Island Railway capital projects within
the MTA $54 billion 2020-2024 Five-Year
Capital Plan. Th ere is little time for on the job
training to run the nation’s largest subway
and bus system.
Any good organization develops in-house
talent by promoting from within. Lieber
could have appointed the current Acting
NYC Transit President and Senior VP for
Department of Subways Craig Cipriano (who
has been serving as acting president since July
2021); Demetrius Crichlow, acting senior vice
president for the Department of Subways;
or any one of many other senior vice presidents
within the NYC Transit management
team as the next president of NYC Transit.
It could take an outsider — like Davey
— many months to come up to speed in
understanding such a complex system and
Just like many of his predecessors brought
in from the outside, watch how he will depart
within a few years for the greener pastures
of a higher salary position at another transit
agency or consulting fi rm. Or perhaps he will
fall out of favor with the current governor
and be asked to leave.
Why didn’t Lieber have confi dence in the
ability of someone from within the NYC
Transit management team already in place
to fi ll this position on a permanent basis?
It is an insult to the hard working current
NYC Transit management team for Lieber
not to have appointed someone from within.
Larry Penner, Great Neck
residents already know: the climate
crisis is already here. Coastal cities
like New York need plans to keep
people safe from storms and rising
seas, and reverse decades of bad
policies that have perpetuated environmental
communities of color and immigrant
communities have borne the burden
of environmental inequalities for
My district, Assembly District 34, which
encompasses Corona, East Elmhurst, Jackson
Heights and Woodside, and comprises nearly 90%
people of color, was among the hardest hit during
Tropical Storm Ida, for example. Right now, New
York has the opportunity to invest funds in climate
justice measures that would allow communities
across the state to thrive, including my own.
NY Renews, a coalition of over 320 communitybased
labor, environmental justice, faith and
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climate groups, fi rst introduced the
$15 billion investment in climate
justice funding campaign.
The $15 billion figure was
adopted from the New York State
Energy Research & Development
Authority, which estimates that
New York state must invest a
minimum of $10 billion annually,
with increases every year, to
reduce climate risks. Included in
the proposed funding is $5 billion
toward a Community Just Transition Fund, which
would provide grants to community organizations
that allow them to create local climate, adaptation
and resiliency projects, particularly in frontline
communities like my own.
It would also provide funding for disadvantaged
communities across the state to develop their own
grassroots transition solutions, such as cooperative
solar projects and urban and rural food sovereignty
initiatives. It’s vital that we shift control
out of the hands of powerful technocrats to a broad
base of community members who are hit fi rst and
worst by climate and environmental catastrophes.
While a $15 billion annual investment may
seem steep, the truth is that New York state already
loses over $27 billion each year in climate pollution
costs. Th is number will only increase, as will
needless deaths in our city. Scaling up investments
is vital to the health, well-being and survival of our
I’m proud to fi ght for my constituents by advocating
for the inclusion of $15 billion in New York
state’s 2022-2023 budget toward climate justice.
If Governor Hochul and legislative leadership
agree to this investment, New York will be taking
a signifi cant step toward creating an equitable, just
and green future.
Jessica González-Rojas is the assemblywoman
representing District 34, which encompasses the
neighborhoods of Corona, East Elmhurst, Jackson
Heights and Woodside.