FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 15, 2007
MAYOR BLOOMBERG DISCUSSES THE IMPORTANCE OF ACTING ON AIR QUALITY IN WEEKLY RADIO ADDRESS
The following is the text of Mayor Bloomberg's weekly radio address as prepared for delivery on 1010 WINS News Radio for Sunday, July 15, 2007
"Good morning, this is Mayor Mike Bloomberg.
"Despite our city's great success in recent years, one of the biggest challenges we still face is something that we can't see, smell, or touch - but we breathe it in every day. I'm talking, of course, about our air quality. In some communities, air pollution is so bad that children are hospitalized for asthma at a rate four times the national average. Four times! That itself almost takes your breath away.
"There are two things that we need our State leaders in Albany to do to stop the air pollution that poisons our children's future - and they both involve reducing the number of cars and trucks on our neighborhood streets.
"The first is approving our three-year pilot congestion pricing program for driving in parts of Manhattan. Now, I'm the first to say I was originally a skeptic - but I've seen other cities around the world use a fee to successfully reduce congestion. And the fact is… the less people use their cars, the better our air is going to be. Just look at what happened in Atlanta. They stopped auto traffic in the heart of the city during the 1996 Olympics - and during that time, asthma hospitalizations decreased by 20%.
"As our city continues to grow, the costs of congestion - not just to our health, but also to our environment and to our economy - are only going to get worse. So the question isn't whether we want to pay… but how do we want to pay? With more cases of asthma? With more greenhouse gases? Wasted time? Lost business? Or, do we impose a modest fee to encourage more people throughout the region to take mass transit, and then use those fees to finance expanded subway and bus service?
"The Federal government is offering up to half a billion dollars to cover the start-up costs of the program and to expand mass transit to neighborhoods that don't have enough good options. But Washington needs to know that we've got State approval to start our congestion pricing plan - and the deadline that they've set to get that approval is tomorrow!
"The second thing that Albany can do to improve our air quality is to okay a recycling transfer station near West 13th street on the Hudson River. This station is a key part of our new environmentally sustainable plan for managing the city's garbage - one we've been working on for years. Our plan would make each borough more responsible for dealing with its own waste. And it would put an end to nearly six million miles a year in trips by Sanitation trucks and diesel-burning long-haul trailers. Instead, we'd transport waste and recyclables by rail, and by barge.
"Our proposed recycling station on the Hudson River is integral to the plan because that's where we would take Manhattan's recyclable materials - much of which is now trucked to the South Bronx. Instead, we'd ship it out by barge. And that means that opening this waterfront site would alone eliminate 30,000 truck trips a year.
"Our plan is really a win for everyone. And that's why it enjoys broad-based support. Now we need all of our State leaders to get on board. I'm urging them to come together and approve both our solid waste management plan and our congestion pricing program. It's time for them to stand up for our children and our future. That certainly would be a breath of fresh air.
"This is Mayor Mike Bloomberg. Thanks for listening"
Stu Loeser (212) 788-2958