How Green Will the Next Mayor Be?

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Mayoral candidates at a forum on sustainability and green policy. (New York League of Conservation Voters)

Brian hosted a mayoral "forum" on conservation issues last night. We play highlights with Marcia Bystryn, Executive Director of the League of Conservation Voters.


Mayoral "Forum" on Sustainability (Full Audio)



Marcia Bystryn

Comments [20]

saneenergyproject from NYC

EDF, when are you going to stop shilling for the oil and gas industry, taking their money, and pretending that gas is good for the environment? You betray your name on a daily basis, your staff are ex-industry employees ( and even Food and Water Watch has called you out on your betrayal of the public interest (

If you really wanted to promote clean air for NYC you'd promote pure biodiesel which produces ZERO emissions. Belatedly getting on board with the 2% bioD blend, which is required by law anyway, wins you no points in our book. You are frauds and greenwashers for the most destructive industry on earth, and NPR is quickly following your downward spiral. Unless people like Brian Lehrer, whom we have respected for decades, break with the advertising dollars public radio is so willingly taking from IOGA and other gas interests, all respect will be lost. For shame, all of you.

May. 25 2013 07:53 PM

RE: saneenergyproject

Thank you for expressing your concern about the NYC Clean Heat program, saneenergyproject. The program has and will continue to inform buildings about available fuel options for cleaning up their heating systems, including Ultra-Low Sulfur (ULS) No. 2 oil with biodiesel. Recently, the program released a Request for Quotation (RFQ) for cleaner oil suppliers and contractors to start incentivizing ULS No. 2 with a biodiesel blend. One of the shared goals of both NYC Clean Heat and Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) is to use the program as a catalyst for a more competitive market for bioheat in NYC and to make it easier for buildings to move to these cleaner-burning fuels. Responses to the RFQ are currently being accepted and vetted, and the program continues to do outreach to inform building decision-makers about biodiesel blends.

The heating oils used in one percent of New York City buildings create more soot pollution than all the cars and trucks in the City combined – that’s why upgrading these buildings to cleaner heating fuel is the single largest step New Yorkers can take to solve local air pollution. Please see our website: for more information on the many ways NYC Clean Heat helps buildings convert to cleaner fuels.

Abbey Brown, NYC Clean Heat Coordinator, Environmental Defense Fund –

Apr. 25 2013 11:11 AM

It's unfortunate that Marcia from the LCV ends the show promoting both gas boiler conversions and the lie that there is "gas and then there's fracked gas." Nearly ALL gas is fracked now, it's fracked in Texas, it's fracked in Pennsylvania, it's fracked out west, it's fracked in canada. The only gas not fracked is mostly a by-prodicut of oil production, which itself is increasingly fracked. We must understand that fossil fuel of all types is available now only via extreme extraction, and those methods are poisoning air and water in SOMEONE's backyard, and warming the climate for ALL of us.

Of course the League is incredibly gas friendly and in cahoots with EDF (The Environmental Destruction Fund) which is the agency responsible for promoting boiler conversions.

Is it good to stop burning sludgy number 6 oil? Yes. Is it a good idea to reduce the annual 120 asthma deaths caused by particulate matter each year? Yes. But if that were actually the goal of boiler conversions, the move would NOT be towards gas, which creates MORE particulate matter than number 2 oil (one of the options available to buildings currently burning number 6). And if the goal of the City's Clean Heat program were actually to burn clean heat, they would be more heavily promoting Biodiesel and bioD blends, because B100 creates ZERO particulate matter and almost no emissions at all. A combo of biodiesel, solar thermal to heat hot water, and efficiency measures (which all the candidates were hip to!) is the best option for new York's air quality. It is also the least expensive to convert to. Moving to BioD can cost as little as $10,000, while gas conversions can cost hundreds of thousands. And BioD requires no explosive pipelines to deliver.

Apr. 23 2013 02:04 PM

Great Job Brian! I was there last night and thought, "what would we do without Brian Lehrer". It is disappointing that the only one who had a detailed grasp of environmental issues and could parse those issues over the course of a "debate" - was the moderator. Sad, considering how Blue this state is with some of the finest schools in America - not to mention home to the EDF and Riverkeeper amongst many others.

This is Christine Quinn's race to lose. She has her issues, but if she will move to the left and behave she'll win. I just don't understand. Demographics: 28% Hispanic, 25% African American, 51% women. There was one white lady from "Manhattan" running. Shameful. The biggest idiot of the night was George McDonald. His statements regarding the homeless makes the Doe Fund very suspect. "Get the homeless out of laying around in the homeless shelter"? All they truly want is a "room" and a job? He proved he has no more understanding of the homeless and the 46% of New Yorkers living at the poverty rate than Michael Bloomberg or Seth Diamond do. Shame on him. You can't talk environmental sustainability if you don't even know the populace. In every shelter in NYC, you must leave the shelter at 8AM and cannot return until 5PM - 5 to 6 days a week. The homeless don't "lay" around the shelter, they walk the streets or go to the public libraries, or they are in a mandatory job program unless they are on disability. What a dolt. As though cleaning up trash in Midtown is somehow rewarding. God - I need to stop. It's getting me furious just thinking about his shameful opulence. Too much time at Asphalt Green. Gross.

Apr. 23 2013 12:50 PM

Re: Replacing the electricity from Indian Point

And yet another blue print for any necessary replacement power from Indian Point should be available by fall - this one from the Public Service Commission. This is all part of Gov. Cuomo's Energy Highway that put out a request for proposals. The proposals rolled in, along with a plan from Con Ed and NYPA for replacement power.

The ISO is clear that the entire 2,0237 MW capacity does not need to be replaced for reliability, nor does it need to come from new generation. It can come from a reduction in usage, conservation, or transmission from far away sources. It is important not to confuse what we use with the capacity of the plant to produce electricity. We use very little of the electricity from Indian Point in our NYC/Westchester grid.

When it comes to pollution - it is more than just air, although there are regular and routine releases of radioactive isotopes. Thermal pollution, water that carries away heat from the plant and dumps it in the river, is a huge factor and must also be considered. This is why the NY Dept of Conservation has refused to issue a Water Quality Certificate, which is required for re licensing. The owner of the plant is now in the appeals process.

The carbon footprint of gas and nuclear power is very similar, according to the Dept of Energy. More importantly the spent fuel rods stored at the plant are high level radioactive wast and are a clear and present danger to the metropolitan area. David Lochbaum of the Union of Concerned Scientists has testified before both Houses of Congress aobut this. His testimony is available on line.

Fukushima has made it very clear that the the area of concern around a reactor needs to be extended to 50 miles. Indian Point is 34 miles from Times Square. Welcome to the world of reactor communities New York City.

Marilyn Elie

Apr. 23 2013 11:25 AM
Julian from Manhattan


I'm not talking only about businesses, but about luxury housing that has shot up all over Manhattan and to a lesser extent, elsewhere. Here we face economics vs. the environment. The economic boom the city has had, such as it is and for whom it is, was facilitated by the housing and businesses, most of them corporate as opposed to small business, that went along with it. Tax base vastly increased, city revenues up. But unavoidably, greenhouse emissions and energy use up as well. What is the better choice? The answer is easy to see in the short term, but the long term effects of continued economic growth, as it's been done here and elsewhere, are incompatible with reducing energy use in our current framework. Remember, a lot of zoning laws were changed to facilitate the building boom, changed by politicians who had been bought by the developer/ real estate interests.

Apr. 23 2013 11:21 AM
Roger Witherspoon from Cortlandt manor

Indian Point provides only 5% of the area's electricity. The free market, and cheap electricity from gas, has largely replaced it. NYPA uses NO juice from IP to run the subways, airports, street lights, or housing authority. ConEd, which transmits all the electricity, gets only 550 MW from IP -- and the city/Westchester County uses 13,000 MW daily. Replacing IP will not significantly alter air quality. Further, IP kills 300 Billion fish annually -- according to NRC -- and is a primary cause of decline in fish stocks along the north Atlantic seaboard. A replacement plant would avoid that aquatic environmental degradation.

Apr. 23 2013 10:51 AM
Amy from Manhattan

I was sorry to hear Ms. Bystryn support switching buidling boilers to natural gas. There are better alternatives: Sane Energy Project recommends combining energy efficiency, solar thermal, & biodiesel fuel or blends (

Apr. 23 2013 10:49 AM

Julian - those businesses would have been created somewhere... and it is a FACT that densely populated urban areas with a lot of public transport are MUCH more beneficial than sprawl...

Apr. 23 2013 10:47 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

I fully agree with Greening the city as much as humanly possible, including retrofitting buildings, solar on the roofs, hanging gardens and farms, etc. However, all of this is going to cost money, and someone is going to pay. The fact is, that upgrading to a truly Green, carbon neutral society is going to be costly up-front. It will pay in the long run, but in the long run we're all dead. So the whole question boils down to how do we pay for it all in the short term. But we don't do it, our planet will pay for it in the long run, and not so long run.

Apr. 23 2013 10:38 AM


How does someone SO stupid get to be so rich?!?!?

Oh, right... gouging New Yorkers on their industrial groceries.

Apr. 23 2013 10:38 AM
The Sallan Foundation from NYC

Building retrofits -- makeovers to make our thousands of buildings more energy efficient. Not sexy, but candidates ALL recognized that retrofits are key to cutting NYC's carbon footprint. Pretty amazing.

A city of energy efficient buildings will cut its operating costs, save tenants money every month and ease need for building more power plants or importing fuels for heat and light from other places

Apr. 23 2013 10:38 AM
Julian from Manhattan

Crediting the Bloomberg administration with reducing building energy consumption is a farce. The greatest building boom in the city's history took place under Bloomberg. Green or not, our energy consumption from buildings has risen under Bloomberg, as have CO2 emissions from the powerplants which supply our electricity.

Apr. 23 2013 10:36 AM

a caller doesn’t understand why there is a transfer station where people live?
but people are the cause of the garbage.
try reducing your trash or take it with you on your Hampton jitney

Apr. 23 2013 10:33 AM
michael from bk ny

Urban Hanging Gardens??? That is the DUMBEST most PSEUDO "eco" idea EVER! Does tha ignoramus realize the amounts of urban pollution in the air and water?? Cars, etc That is the fastest way to cancer there is. Urban Bee POllen has been found to contain stratospheric levels of heavy metals, cadmium, lead, arsenic, etc etc

This demonstrated the candidates complete LACK of environmental "green" knowledge and more pseudo political posturing. That guys is a fraud like all the rest.

So sad why can;t we get a qualified person to run this city instead of these frauds who will say anything.

Apr. 23 2013 10:29 AM

Mr.Gristedes, Red Apple etc. expresses at every opportunity absolute contempt for his customers on Roosevelt Island - his "megastore" was just remodeled (cosmetic) because it was so filthy (bird poop everywhere) - outdated overpriced food - people go shopping anywhere but on RI - now fortunately we have a Whole Foods on 57th St. Gristede's is actually more expensive!!! Lord help us if he becomes mayor!

Apr. 23 2013 10:28 AM
steve from Upper west side of Manhattan

Contrary to Ms. Bystryn's response, I don't know of ANY other garbage transfer stations that cuts directly through a children's park. Nearby or even under, but not through... As for this particular problem, of course there's a solution, but the next mayor has to be willing to apply some funding -- to build a new entry route for the garbage trucks from either E. 93rd St. and FDR Drive, or even 96th St., and build a new bridge just for them that will cross the highway north of Asphalt Green, and enter the station from along the river. The topography would allow this, and it would solve this problem -- allowing the Asphalt Green campus to be united and ultimately safe for the children. Where there's a will, there's a way.

Apr. 23 2013 10:28 AM
Amy from Manhattan

I was hoping to go to the forum last night but couldn't make it. Will a recording of the whole forum be made available on WNYC's or the LCV's site or anywhere else online?

Apr. 23 2013 10:21 AM
Nils from Brooklyn

What were the candidates' positions on sustainable transportation, particularly bicycles and bike infrastructure?

Apr. 23 2013 10:21 AM

1) It will take at least 20 years to find reliable, renewable energy to replace Indian Point. It should be phased out... but that can't be done soon.

2) Every borough should have to deal with their own garbage... Upper East Side kids wouldn't face anything other kids do either.

3) The reason some parks are deplorable is because sometimes the same ppl in the neighborhoods around them - destroy them.

Apr. 23 2013 10:19 AM

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