The Environment

The importance of thinking globally and acting locally has never been more apparent. New York City and each of our communities must help lead the way on climate change, and toward a more sustainable way of living. At the community level, creating new parks and greenways, supporting the cause of environmental justice, promoting better transit and alternative modes of transportation, and greening our homes and businesses are just some of the ways we can help make New York one of the most sustainable cities in the world.

A Flood of Compassion … But Not Much Justice

By Lisa Cowan (Red Hook Initiative) and Brad Lander (New York City Council)

One year ago, Hurricane Sandy darkened the skyline and changed the lives of so many of our neighbors.  This week’s anniversary calls to mind the crowds who waited for food and supplies in Red Hook, the cars full of baked ziti and batteries dispatched to Coney Island, Staten Island, and the Rockaways, the gas station lines, and the rows upon rows of cots for hundreds of evacuees at the Park Slope Armory (and so many other places). Read more »

Final cleanup plan for the Gowanus Canal

It’s a big moment for Gowanus. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has released its final Superfund cleanup plan for the Gowanus Canal

I long believed that Superfund designation was the right move for the Gowanus – to ensure that it got the time and focus it needed. And with this plan, we have taken a major step forward toward a safe, vibrant, and sustainable Gowanus Canal. Read more »

Composting coming to Windsor Terrace

Windsor Terrace is on the cutting edge of sustainability in New York City. Next month, you will be the first neighborhood in Brooklyn to get the City’s new curbside compost collection program.

Organic waste – including food scraps, food-soiled paper, and yard trimmings – accounts for a third of all garbage created in New York City. Once collected, organic waste is turned into renewable energy or compost, which is used to fertilize community gardens, school yards, parks, and more—literally giving back to the community. Read more »

A big week at City Hall

It’s been an exciting week at City Hall, and I wanted to let you know some of what we’ve been up to.

Community Safety Act
Yesterday, we had a momentous vote to overturn Mayor Bloomberg’s veto of the Community Safety Act. This legislation, of which I am a lead co-sponsor (along with my friend and colleague, Council Member Jumaane Williams), will create an NYPD Inspector General (just plain good government) and strengthen the City’s ban on discriminatory policing. The stronger ban will be truly enforceable and will cover all New Yorkers, including LGBTQ residents, immigrants, and the homeless. Read more »

The real champions of change

I’m honored to be in Washington DC today to receive a “Champions of Change” award from the White House for work (along with Alderman Joe Moore from Chicago, and Councilmember Melissa Mark-Viverito from East Harlem) on participatory budgeting.

I’m excited to meet and learn from other elected officials, not-for-profit leaders, and community organizers who are pioneering new forms of civic engagement and open government (like Jessica Klein, co-founder of Rockaway Help, which created new technology tools to enable people to collaborate for disaster relief). 

But there is something not-quite-right about getting an award for something as inclusive as participatory budgeting (which The New York Times called “revolutionary civics in action”). The whole idea of participatory budgeting is to see elected office not as a vehicle for one person’s leadership, but as a way to bring people together to take shared responsibility.  The best part of participatory budgeting is how people step up together to act as stewards of the shared public realm – our schools, parks, public transportation, streets, libraries – that makes our life together possible, and sometimes even ennobling. Read more »

Our City's budget, and our values

Last week was a busy one at City Hall. We passed two important police reform bills (more on those here), overrode the mayor’s veto of legislation that will guarantee paid sick days for a million more New York workers, and we passed the City’s FY2014 budget, for the fiscal year that begins today (for good measure, we also passed a bill to “save brunch,” which had apparently become threatened due to an outdated law).

In budget negotiations, we were able restore the essential public services proposed for cuts by Mayor Bloomberg. Libraries will keep their full hours. Low-income families will keep their childcare. Our neighborhood firehouses, parks, and pools will remain open. You can access all the details of the City’s FY2014 budget here, and on those areas where the Council focused on restorations and additions here. Read more »

Rowing together toward a sustainable future for the Gowanus Canal

Cleaning up the Gowanus Canal has been a top community priority for many years. With the US EPA’s Superfund plan nearly finalized, we are moving closer to a cleaner canal. I’m glad to be working together with so many in the community — and joining some of you in a canoe race on the Canal this Saturday to call attention to our continued efforts. Read more »

More Steps Toward a Greener NYC

A cleaner environment starts at home – by reducing waste and saving electricity – but it also requires taking action together.

Environmental sustainability has been a priority for me at the City Council and in our neighborhoods. I’ve fought for a cleaner Gowanus Canal, reduced cruise ship pollution on our waterfront, greener building and zoning codes, and expanded recycling.

But Hurricane Sandy was a wake-up call that the realities of climate change are here, and we have to do more. Please join me this summer as we take steps for a greener New York City. Read more »

Comment on the EPA’s Proposed Plan for the Gowanus Canal

EPA and Councilmember Lander staff test canal after Hurricane Sandy

For many years, cleaning up the Gowanus Canal has been a high priority for our community – but one that seemed hopelessly far away.  With the EPA’s proposed cleanup plan, and I am thrilled to see that day getting much closer.  I am enthusiastic about the EPA’s Proposed Plan and believe that it puts forward the right steps: Read more »

DOE to replace PS 146 lights to prevent PCB exposure

Thanks to the activism of parents, New York Communities for Change, and elected officials, DOE has agreed to replace the light fixtures at the Brooklyn New School (PS 146) and MS 448. 

After leaks were discovered in the school's light fixtures last year, parents rallied to have the fixtures replaced. Light fixtures installed decades ago can leak toxic PCBs, a health risk for students. Read more »