Towards A Clean Energy Future

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[Urban Issues: Comment]


With each passing day it becomes clear that New York is going to need unprecedented leadership to steer us through our worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.

Championing progressive tax relief for homeowners and small business owners alone will not suffice. A new economy must be visualized in order to spur economic development, investment and creation of much-needed jobs, – one that embraces bold and new technologies, while promoting fairness and opportunity. The first step toward a new economic renaissance is making an unbreakable commitment to a clean energy future.

Our nation’s next great economic expansion will be led by those committed to a clean energy future. Similar to the Internet boom of the 1990’s, emerging and existing clean energy technologies are a proven economic engine - one that generates revenue for businesses and releases homeowners from the grasp of sky-high energy bills. A clean energy future will create a growing economy that will produce jobs for those in and just entering the workforce, while reducing greenhouse gases and the air pollution which has placed so many of our neighborhoods children at risk for asthma.

My office has taken an aggressive stance to elevate energy and environmental issues to the forefront of a new, progressive urban agenda. As Bronx Borough President, I created the Bronx Initiative for Energy and Environment which supports construction of green roofs, green school yards, and increased energy efficiency. My work on the Hunts Point Monitoring Committee has provided the much-needed oversight and upgrades for the wastewater treatment plant, and my office has worked tirelessly to ensure Bronx residents have access to open spaces and waterfronts.

Despite our best efforts and intentions here in the Bronx, energy policy emanating out of Albany and Washington, D.C., continues to place the economic health of our neighborhoods and businesses at risk. A continued reliance on dirty energy sources and opposition to operating licenses for existing sources of clean energy will result in a historic rise in energy costs that will leave many small businesses in a catch 22 – forced to decide between paying escalating energy bills or expanding their businesses to create much-needed jobs.

In order to realize economic and health care benefits for the Bronx and all of New York City, we must support strategic partnerships created to give small businesses owners and homeowners a voice in the debate over our energy future. One such organization, the Hispanic Energy Coalition, has brought together respected institutions such as the New York Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the League of United Latin American Citizens, and the Bronx Chamber of Commerce, to educate and initiate policy reforms on the energy and environmental issues affecting our community. By supporting the important work of the Hispanic Energy Coalition and other clean energy non-profits, we can begin to lay a foundation that will ensure a strong economy.

Energy and environmental issues extend into almost every sector of our daily lives. The most noticeable are our ever-increasing monthly energy bills, but higher energy costs are also resulting in dramatically higher corn, milk and bread prices at the grocery store.

We must be mindful of just how great of an impact high energy costs have on our daily lives. It is only when we begin to view energy and environment issues as economic, education and health care issues will we understand how vital it is for us to embrace a clean, green energy future.

Adolfo Carrion is the Bronx’s 12th chief executive since municipal incorporation in 1898.


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