FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 17, 2007
MAYOR BLOOMBERG ADDRESSES NEW YORK CITY ENVIRONMENTAL LAW LEADERSHIP INSTITUTE GRADUATION
The following is the text of Mayor Bloomberg's remarks as prepared.
"Thank you, Elizabeth, and good afternoon, everyone. Now, after listening to Elizabeth speak, it ought to be crystal clear why we asked her to be a member of the City's Sustainability Advisory Board. To say that she is passionate and persuasive is like saying that Derek Jeter is a pretty good ballplayer. Big understatements, in both cases.
"When Elizabeth believes in something, she truly throws herself into it. And achieving environmental justice for all New Yorkers happens to be one of the things she believes in very strongly. As a member of our Sustainability Advisory Board, she played a big role in developing our PlaNYC "greenprint" for New York's future. Particularly on our proposals for opening up new parks and playgrounds in neighborhoods that are under-served, and also in reclaiming the thousands of acres of brownfields across our city that still haven't yet been cleaned up. Elizabeth was instrumental in helping us craft initiatives to reuse those brownfields for economic projects, for housing, and for new open space, and to make sure that community residents are involved in that process every step of the way.
"She was also very forceful on the challenge of improving air quality. Because with childhood hospitalization for asthma in the South Bronx, Harlem, and parts of Brooklyn running at four times the national rate, cleaning up our air so that all of our children enjoy the right to a healthy start in life is one of the great environmental and public health challenges of our time.
"So I want to say how fortunate we are to have Elizabeth on our team. And I'm sure that everyone who is part of the New York City Environmental Law Leadership Institute, which does such a great job of helping the legal profession improve our environment and our public health, feels the same way.
"Today, the Institute is graduating its first class. I want to offer each of the 15 graduates my warmest congratulations, especially two of you who are part of our Administration: Wesley O'Brien, who is assistant counsel at the Department of City Planning; and Andrew Wollman, who is assistant counsel at the City Department of Transportation. Wesley, Andrew: Let me say what I always tell my top commissioners and deputies: We're expecting great things from you. Now don't screw it up.
"Some of Wesley's and Andrew's classmates work in Federal and State agencies, and others practice environmental law in public interest organizations and in private firms. But regardless of where you practice, each of you is working in an exciting field of the law at a pivotal moment in our city's history.
"With crime at historic lows, with our economy strong and growing, and with our public schools making steady progress: This is the perfect moment for New Yorkers to pull together to meet the next great challenge facing our city: Keeping New York economically strong and environmentally healthy as we prepare to add up to a million more people between now and 2030; Improving air and water quality; cleaning up brownfields; and combating global warming:
"These and other crucial issues are in fact so important, and so pressing, that we can't wait for Washington to untangle its gridlock. It doesn't do us any good for Congress to set goals for the year 2050. No, the time for action is now.
"And even though it's been less than four weeks since Earth Day, when we released our PlaNYC initiatives, we're already seeing progress on them. On Monday, I met with State leaders in Albany to discuss the legislative elements of PlaNYC. And we got a very thoughtful and fair reception. I think we're definitely making headway.
"Also just yesterday, I joined former President Clinton-who is a co-sponsor of the C-40 Summit on Climate Change taking place in New York this week-on announcing a major international initiative. It will help city governments and private property owners in New York and more than a dozen other cities reduce global warming and cut energy bills by making buildings in our cities more energy-efficient, which is one of the major objectives of PLAN-Y-C.
"Now, turning the goals of PlaNYC into realities is going to be a long-term endeavor. And although we've gotten the ball rolling, you-today's graduates-are the one's who are going to see it through to completion. Your initiative, your imagination, and your legal expertise are going to make an enormous difference for our city's future.
"So I want to close by congratulating you again, and wishing you all the best, because with your leadership, you are going to help us make sure that the best days for New York are still to come. Good luck, and God bless you all."
Stu Loeser/ John Gallagher (212) 788-2958