Queens MP Introduces Legislation to Stop Allowing Dirty Energy Sources – QNS.com

Queens activists and community leaders gathered outside the Ravenswood Generating Station in Long Island City on Monday, Jan. 31, to support Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney’s new legislation to advance clean energy.

The Justice in Power Plant Permitting Act would not allow major pollution from sources such as the Ravenswood Generating Station (also known as Big Allis) which advocates say is causing indelible damage to surrounding communities. To replace these plants, the legislation proposes the Just Energy Transition Fund to support clean energy projects. As the bill is introduced at the federal level, it would ensure that the federal government acts as a partner with affected areas to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and pollutants by 2030.

Maloney and others gathered outside New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) Queensbridge homes to comment on the detrimental effects power plants often have on underserved communities.

“Air pollution from Ravenswood has inflicted asthma, heart disease and cancers on this community,” Maloney said. “This is an environmental justice crisis and it needs to be stopped. These units kill my constituents and far too often these units are placed in communities of color. We cannot sit idly by and let this continue.

U.S. Representative Carolyn Maloney speaks during a news conference outside Ravenswood Generating Station to unveil environmental legislation Monday, Jan. 31, 2022. The legislation aims to prevent major sources of pollution from being allowed by fossil fuels. (Photo by Paul Frangipane)
Ravenswood Generating Station is in service on Monday, January 31, 2022. (Photo by Paul Frangipane)

The legislation would not allow major sources of pollution, such as fossil fuel power plants, to build up in an area, which Maloney said significantly affected the health of his constituents due to the city’s 28 units.

Bishop Mitchell Taylor, a community leader and activist, said the legislation is a first step to stopping the city’s biggest polluters.

“We are host to a dirty power plant that provides 45% of the electricity in Manhattan but 100% of the pollution in Queensbridge,” Taylor said. “This factory here is next to the largest housing development in the country. People are dying every day because of pollution.

Bishop Mitchell Taylor speaks at a press conference outside Ravenswood Generating Station in support of new environmental legislation on Monday January 31, 2022. (Photo by Paul Frangipane)

Queensbridge Houses contains 96 buildings and has 3,147 apartments with approximately 7,000 residents, making it the largest NYCHA development. According to US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)the Ravenswood plant emitted nearly 3,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide and 0.06 metric tons of methane in 2020. The total population within 3 miles of the plant there are 1,214,778, 45% of whom are people of color.

The Ravenswood plant changed its name to “Rise Light & Power” last year in what the owners called a rebrand and a reflection of their commitment to New York’s transition to green energy.

Raya Salter, a climate and energy lawyer and member of the state’s Climate Action Council, said New York is working to end pollution from power plants like the Ravenswood Power Plant, but can’t. do it without the help of the federal government.

“The Justice in Power Plant Permitting Act opens new avenues for energy justice in America,” Salter said. “It recognizes the cumulative damage done to black and brown communities by pollution from power plants and prioritizes solving this problem. This will help end the concentration of polluting capacities in black, brown and poor communities.

Climate and energy lawyer Raya Salter watches U.S. Representative Carolyn Maloney speak during a news conference outside the Ravenswood Generating Station to unveil environmental legislation Monday, Jan. 31, 2022. ( Photo by Paul Frangipane)
Former Councilor Costa Constantinides speaks at a press conference outside Ravenswood Power Station in support of new environmental legislation on Monday January 31, 2022. (Photo by Paul Frangipane)

Queens County has an above-average rate of asthma, particularly among adults, with 9.3% affected compared to the national average of just 7%, according to the CDC. Northwestern Queens has been considered “Asthma Alley”, due to the disproportionately high rates of the disease.

Arif Ullah, executive director of environmental justice organization, South Bronx Unite, said no community should have asthma as a defining characteristic.

“The South Bronx and Astoria, as different as they are, have at least one thing in common, and that’s asthma,” Ullah said. “Both communities are known as Asthma Alley due to the air pollution we are exposed to. Many of my friends growing up had asthma because it was so common. It seemed normal. It’s a tragedy.

Rosemary C. Kearney