Legislative package would accelerate phase-out of dirty fuel, and expand organic waste collection, community recycling, electric vehicle chargers, greenways, resource conservation by buildings, and tree plantings
City Hall, NY – On Earth Day, the New York City Council continued its legacy as a leader on environmental policies by announcing a new package of environmental legislation. It includes bills to accelerate the phase-out of dirty fuels, expand curbside organic waste collection citywide, establish community recycling centers, and increase tree plantings, the availability of electric vehicle chargers, greenways, and tree plantings. The package would also include legislation to build upon the City’s groundbreaking energy and water usage benchmarking law to cover buildings of at least 10,000 square feet, creating greater transparency around usage and greater efficiencies to reduce waste. The legislation will be introduced in the coming days, with hearings to follow in the coming months.
“The New York City Council has a history of advancing local laws for successful environmental policies and programs that have become global examples of responsible leadership,” said Speaker Adrienne Adams. “This Council will continue to build on that record of promoting sustainability, reducing pollution, and protecting the environment. We celebrate Earth Day by establishing a commitment to always do our part in confronting the climate crisis with action. I look forward to working with my Council colleagues to advance these important bills during this session, while supporting global efforts to preserve our planet for future generations.”
The environment-focused legislative package includes the following bills:
Citywide Curbside Organic Collection (sponsored by Council Member Hanif, Speaker Adams, Council Members Won, Nurse, Bottcher, Gennaro, Menin, Hudson and Cabán, by request of the Brooklyn Borough President) – Establishing a mandatory citywide organic waste curbside collection program for the diversion of organic waste from residences. An earlier pilot program that covered only a portion of the City was discontinued during the pandemic. This local law would require a permanent citywide program for organics collection, just as programs currently exist for the collection of metal, glass, plastics and paper.
Accelerated Phase Out of Dirty Fuel Oils (sponsored by Council Member Gennaro, by request of the Queens Borough President) – Requiring that no newly installed boiler shall burn fuel oil grade no. 4 and that no boiler in the City, regardless of when installed, shall burn fuel oil grade no. 4 after January 1, 2025. This would be a significant acceleration of the current phase out date, which is in 2030, and would hasten the further cleaning of our local air from pollutants.
Electric Vehicle Chargers in Parking Lots (sponsored by Council Member Brannan, by request of the Queens Borough President) – Requiring parking lots above a certain size have certain percentages of spots either electric ready or supplied with electric vehicle charging equipment by certain dates. By making electric vehicle charging more accessible, it encourages the transition to emissions free vehicles and reduces air pollution in the City.
Encourage Community Recycling (sponsored by Council Member Powers, at the request of the Brooklyn Borough President) – Two pieces of legislation, aimed at establishing permanent drop off points and community recycling centers where New Yorkers can drop off waste, including materials that are not otherwise accepted for curbside collection, such as hazardous materials.
Citywide Greenway Master Plan (sponsored by Council Members Rivera and Brooks-Powers) – Requiring the Department of Parks and Recreation and the Department of Transportation to develop and regularly update a master plan on maintaining and expanding the City’s greenway network. Greenways are open spaces developed for use by pedestrians or non-motorized vehicles and a stronger greenway network encourages the public use of open space and eco-friendly travel.
Tree Pit Plantings (sponsored by Council Member Bottcher) – Requiring the planting of a tree or other vegetation in abandoned tree pits within a certain amount of time, to encourage the further greening of the City. An abandoned tree pit is one in which only dirt, or sometimes a tree stump from a previously removed tree, remains.
Expanded Benchmarking of Buildings (sponsored by Council Member Gennaro) – Expanding the City’s groundbreaking energy and water usage benchmarking law to cover buildings of 10,000 square feet or more. By creating greater transparency around the usage of energy and water by buildings, greater efficiencies and waste reductions can be encouraged and the success of conservation programs can be better understood.
From passing groundbreaking legislation that has become a global model on how to reduce carbon emissions from buildings (Local Law 97 of 2019), to requiring the electrification of newly constructed buildings (Local Law 154 of 2021), to requiring a transition to a zero emission City school bus fleet (Local Law 120 of 2021) to championing a green future for Rikers Island (Local Laws 16, 17, and 31 of 2021), and even to reforming the commercial trade waste industry to ensure emissions reductions and a greater emphasis on environmental goals (Local Laws 198 and 199 of 2021), in recent years the City Council has advanced significant environmental policies that have served as models for New York State and jurisdictions around the world.
In fact, the Council’s history of pushing forward local laws advancing environmental policies extends further back as well, with many of those policies having now established themselves as successful programs and global policy examples. The New York City Panel on Climate Change’s regular reports are a trusted source for local climate science; the phasing out of the dirtiest heating fuel oils has already helped clean our local air; restrictions on engine idling have helped clean the air and reduce fuel consumption; and the establishing of larger citywide emissions goals established targets that all City agencies are expected to work towards meeting.
The Council is dedicated to continuing with sound environmental policies for the City – by establishing new initiatives and fine-tuning existing policies to increase their impact. This work does not begin or end on Earth Day, and will continue throughout the legislative session, with more announcements expected.
“On this 53rd Earth Day, I salute Speaker Adams for her steadfast commitment to ensuring that the Council use the full range of its legislative, oversight, and budget powers along lines of environmental excellence,” said Council Member James Gennaro, Chair of the Council’s Environmental Protection Committee. “In the more than thirteen years that I have had the privilege of chairing the Committee on Environmental Protection, there has not been a time when the environmental stakes have been higher – areas of our City that have been epicenters of environmental injustice must be unburdened; the climate crisis and all the local and devastating manifestations of this crisis must be mitigated; and the gains that have been made to protect and improve the quality of our air, drinking water, and coastal waters must proceed apace and be accelerated. This is a time for the boldest and most innovative environmental leadership, and Speaker Adams has risen to that challenge, and the Committee on Environmental Protection and the Council as a whole will do no less. I applaud the Speaker’s comprehensive environmental agenda, and my colleagues and I are inspired to achieve her good vision for our green and just future.”
“On Earth Day and every day, it’s important to center the organizing and advocacy of environmental justice leaders and green workers across the City,” said Council Member Sandy Nurse, Chair of the Committee on Sanitation. “New York City has a unique opportunity–and a responsibility–to be an innovator in tackling the climate crisis. We are running out of time to meet our Zero Waste, climate, and environmental justice goals. With today’s Earth Day announcement of this slate of environment-focused legislation, the City Council is unified in establishing our environment as a key legislative priority. Going forward, we must continue to use all of the tools at our disposal to put forward bold and equitable solutions to tackle the short-term impacts of climate change, and position our City for a more sustainable future.”
“The first Earth Day was 52 years ago, but its mission remains as relevant as ever: we must act urgently to protect our air, water, and land, for our health, and for the health of our planet,” said Council Member Shekar Krishnan, Chair of the Council’s Parks and Recreation Committee. “As Chair of the Committee on Parks and Recreation, I join Speaker Adams and my Council colleagues in calling for a greener New York City this Earth Day 2022.”
“In honor of Earth Day this year, I am very proud to sponsor the “Community Organics and Recycling Empowerment” (CORE) Act,” said Majority Leader Keith Powers. “This landmark legislation will not only greatly expand equitable access to composting and recycling across our city, but keep a substantial amount of waste out of landfills. Climate change is at our city’s front doorstep—and we must keep taking swift, bold action to confront the urgent crisis.”
“This Council is deeply committed to making New York a proven leader in the fight for our climate,” said Majority Whip Selvena N. Brooks-Powers, Chair of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. “On this Earth Day, we are moving on legislation that will prioritize the environment and transform our communities. In the coming days, I will introduce legislation with Councilmember Rivera that will establish a cycling greenway plan, and a bill with Councilmember Ariola that will reduce boat and barge dumping in Jamaica Bay. I look forward to working with my colleagues and making our City cleaner, greener, healthier, and more resilient.”
“The climate crisis is no longer some abstract future; it’s here, and fighting it will mean taking big, bold action and sweating the small stuff all at once,” said Council Member Justin Brannan. “My bill with Queens Borough President Donovan Richards will move our city as quickly as possible towards supporting more and more electric vehicle use, helping cut emissions and curbing our contributions to climate change. I am proud to be part of the Earth Day legislative package, and I am proud of the Council for facing this challenge of our time head on.”
“Almost ten years after the first composting program began in New York City, I am so proud to be introducing legislation to bring this essential program to every neighborhood in our City. Composting is good for our environment, and economy, and its expansion to every corner of our City is long overdue,” said Council Member Shahana Hanif. “Nearly 35% of the waste New York City sends to landfills is organic waste that can be composted. With this new universal program, we can eliminate nearly a third of our landfill waste and cut billions of metric tons of greenhouse gases. This Earth Day, New York City is proud to commit to a sustainable zero-waste future, and composting is going to help us get there.”
“In light of Earth Day, I am proud to join my colleagues in introducing groundbreaking legislation that prioritizes environmental justice, including my bill to create a Citywide Greenway Master Plan with Majority Whip Brooks-Powers,” said Council Member Carlina Rivera. “For far too long, investment in green infrastructure has been reserved for the most wealthy neighborhoods. Greenways can create and extend open space into every corner of the city. New Yorkers of all backgrounds, ages, and abilities from every borough should have access to a Greenway that is designed with robust community engagement to meet the context of each neighborhood.”
“Our planet is in crisis and we need to do everything we can to protect it,” said Council Member Erik Bottcher. “From planting more street trees to mandating curbside composting, I’m proud to serve on a Council that is pushing this city do keep doing more. Thank you to Speaker Adrienne Adams for being the driving force behind all of our work and to Chairs Sandy Nurse, Shekar Krishnan, and Jim Gennaro for their leadership on these issues.”
“The Council’s Earth Day Legislative package demonstrates that proper waste management is a top priority for the City Council – as it should be,” said Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso. “Many components of the package are programs I championed during my time as Sanitation Chair on the Council and I’m glad they’re still being advocated for. I am particularly excited about the prospect of a mandatory citywide organics collections program, a bold step that avoids the half measures of past organics programs. If adopted, these programs will not only improve our waste management system, but improve quality of life and combat climate change in our beloved city.”
“From Superstorm Sandy to Hurricane Ida to Astoria’s ‘Asthma Alley’ and beyond, our city has been victimized by climate change and the consequences of unchecked fossil fuel consumption for generations. But from that pain, we have made incredible progress in becoming a global leader in environmental protection and sustainability. This legislative package, which I am honored to have helped build, will help advance that mission even further,” said Queens Borough President Donovan Richards Jr. “I commend the City Council for realizing the urgency of these actions and I will continue to work tirelessly with all our elected and community partners to build a stronger, more resilient Queens and New York City.”