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PR- 119-07
April 22, 2007


Earth Day Event at the Museum of Natural History Unveils Policy Speech with 127 Initiatives to Make New York More Sustainable Including Reducing Carbon Emissions by 30%

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg today presented PlaNYC: A Greener, Greater New York in a sweeping policy speech containing 127 separate initiatives at the American Museum of Natural History.  PlaNYC is the culmination of thousands of hours of work, informed by public meetings and feedback from New Yorkers, designed to achieve the sustainability goals that the Mayor laid out in a December 12, 2006 speech at the Queens Museum. Those goals include: housing an additional 1 million New Yorkers affordably; increasing access to parks, playgrounds and open spaces; reclaiming brownfields; developing critical backup systems for our aging water network to ensure reliability; providing additional reliable power sources and upgrading our existing power plants; reducing water pollution so we can open our waterways for recreation; and reducing our greenhouse gas emissions by 30%.  Earlier this month, the Mayor released New York’s first-ever comprehensive inventory of greenhouse gas emissions, which was the first step towards achieving major emissions reductions.

“With historically low unemployment, a low crime rate and better schools, New York is thriving – it’s a place that people want to be.  The time to build on our success is now, and I will not spend my last 984 days in office ignoring the problems that this City will face in the future.  We need to start meeting the challenges we’ll face as we grow by nearly 1 million people, and we’ll do it by working to enact these 127 policy initiatives,” said Mayor Bloomberg.  “We need to increase open space, expand housing, deal with our congested roadways, create better mass transit options, increase our energy sources and stabilize our water supply or we simply won’t be able to continue the high quality of life we now enjoy.  If we act now, we’ll have a better future, a better quality of life, and more importantly, our children and their children will too.”

Brownfield Remediation:

“We propose to speed the clean-up of all 7,600 acres of brownfields still in our city – while also ensuring public health protections by developing new time-saving strategies, new city-specific remediation guidelines, and a new city brownfields office to oversee the initiatives and encourage community involvement,” said Mayor Bloomberg.

  • Adopt on-site testing to streamline the cleanup process;
  • Analyze New York City’s soil and develop a set of standard cleanup remedies appropriate to the city;
  • Create a new City office to increase resources dedicated to brownfield planning, testing and cleanups;  
  • Ask the State to redistribute Brownfield Clean-up Program (BCP) tax credits to relieve budgetary pressures, and begin covering New York City-specific contamination;
  • Create a City-sponsored program to provide oversight of cleanups for any sites not enrolled in other programs;
  • Dedicate $15 million to a fund to support brownfield redevelopment;
  • Advocate for State reform to the Brownfield Opportunity Area (BOA) program and release planning grant funds to community groups;
  • Incentivize developers to participate in Brownfields Opportunity Area (BOA) planning;
  • Educate, conduct outreach, and provide technical assistance to communities, private developers, and City agencies to promote brownfield redevelopment;
  • Create a database of historic uses across New York City to identify potential brownfields;
  • Create an insurance program and legal protections to limit the liability of developers willing to clean up land they did not pollute.


“To accommodate nearly a million more New Yorkers, we are going to have to create hundreds of thousands of new homes – even on top of our existing affordable housing plan, the largest ever undertaken by any city.  To do it,  and to build those new homes at lower costs,  we have to make more land available for new housing, which will help ease pressure on land prices,” said Mayor Bloomberg.

  • Use upcoming rezonings to direct growth toward areas with strong transit access;
  • Continue restoring underused or vacant waterfront land across the city;
  • Use transit extensions to spark growth, like subways did more than a century ago;
  • Pursue partnerships with City and State agencies throughout the city;
  • Seek to adapt unused schools, hospitals, and other outdated municipal sites for productive use as new housing;
  • Continue to identify underutilized areas across the city that are well-served by transit and other infrastructure;
  • Examine the potential of major infrastructure expansions to spur growth in new neighborhoods;
  • Explore opportunities to create new land by constructing decks over transportation infrastructure such as rail yards, rail lines and highways;
  • Continue to pursue creative financing strategies to reach new income brackets;
  • Seek opportunities to expand the use of inclusionary zoning, harnessing the private market to create economically diverse communities;
  • Continue to develop programs to encourage home ownership;
  • Continue to develop programs to preserve affordable housing.

Open Space:

“Some of our brownfields may also become open space and parkland, which bind communities together.  In the past five years alone, we’ve added more than 300 acres to the biggest and best parks system in the nation. But still, nearly 2 million New Yorkers live too far from parks and playing fields,” said Mayor Bloomberg.

  • Open schoolyards across the city as public playgrounds; 
  • Make high-quality competition fields available to athletic teams across the city;
  • Complete underutilized destination parks – at least one in every borough; (more)
  • Convert asphalt into multi-use turf fields;
  • Maximize time on our existing turf fields by installing lights for evening use;
  • Create a new or enhance an existing public plaza in every community;
  • Expanding the Greenstreets program.


“In analyzing congestion pricing, we studied commuting patterns across the city, and we arrived at an astounding finding.  Of the New Yorkers who work in Manhattan but live outside it, only five percent commute by car,” said Mayor Bloomberg.
  • Increase capacity on key congested routes;
  • Provide new commuter rail access to Manhattan;
  • Expand transit access to underserved areas;
  • Improve and expand bus service by initiating and expanding Bus Rapid Transit routes, dedicating Bus/High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes on  East River Bridges and exploring other bus service improvements;
  • Improve local commuter rail service;
  • Improve access to subways and bus stops citywide;
  • Develop congestion management plans for outer-borough growth corridors;
  • Expand ferry service and better integrate that service with the city's existing mass transit system;
  • Promote cycling by completing the City's 1,800-mile bike master plan;
  • Pilot congestion pricing to manage traffic in the Central Business District (CBD);
  • Manage roads more efficiently by expanding the use of Muni Meters and creating an integrated traffic management system;
  • Strengthen enforcement of traffic violations by expanding the number of  Traffic Enforcement Agents (TEAs), allowing them to issue blocking-the-box tickets, and increase the use of traffic enforcement cameras;
  • Facilitate freight movement by improving access to John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) and exploring High Occupancy Truck Toll (HOTT) lanes;
  • Establish a new Sustainable Mobility and Regional Transportation (SMART) Financing Authority to advance new projects and achieve a state of good repair in the subway and on the roads.


“As we grow, and if summers continue to get warmer, the strain will increase, resulting in more breakdowns, more polluted air, and rising energy bills. In fact, if we do nothing, the city’s total energy bill will increase by $3 billion by 2015.  We can’t afford to wait and we can’t afford to continue to be held hostage to heat waves. That’s why we are proposing ways to provide cleaner, more reliable power and ways to use it more efficiently,” said Mayor Bloomberg.

  • Establish a New York City Energy Planning Board to centralize planning for the city's supply and demand initiatives;
  • Commit 10% of the City's annual energy bill to fund energy-saving investments in City operations;
  • Strengthen our energy and building codes to support our energy efficiency strategies and other environmental goals;
  • Create an energy efficiency authority for New York City (NYCEEA) responsible for reaching the city's demand reduction targets;
  • Use a series of mandates, challenges, and incentives to reduce demand among the city's largest energy consumers;
  • Expand participation in Peak Load Management Programs through smart meters which will increase real-time pricing across the city;
  • Increase the impact of our energy efficiency efforts through a coordinated energy education, awareness, and training campaign;
  • Facilitate the construction of 2,000 to 3,000 Mega Watts (MW) of supply capacity by repowering old plants, constructing new ones, and building dedicated transmission lines;
  • Expand Clean Distributed Generation ("Clean DG") by 800 (MW) and promote opportunities to develop district energy at appropriate sites in New York  City;
  • Support critical expansions to the city’s natural gas infrastructure;
  • Foster the market for renewable energy by creating a property tax abatement for solar panel installations;
  • Study the cost-effectiveness of solar electricity when evaluated on a Real Time Pricing scenario;
  • Support the construction of the city's first carbon neutral building, primarily powered by solar electricity;
  • Increase the use of solar energy in City buildings through creative financing;
  • Work with the State to eliminate barriers to increasing the use of solar energy in the city;
  • Pilot one or more technologies for producing energy from solid waste;
  • Eliminate methane emissions from sewage treatment plants and expand the productive use of digester gas;
  • Study the expansion of gas capture and energy production from existing landfills
  • Accelerate reliability improvements to the city’s grid by advocating for Con Edison to implement recommendations from the City's report on the northwest Queens power outages;
  • Pursue the passage of joint bidding legislation and ensure adequate pier facilities are available to Con Edison to offload transformers and other equipment;
  • Support Con Edison’s efforts to modernize the grid through their 3G System of the Future Initiative.

Water Network:

“About a week ago, the EPA recognized our success in keeping our reservoirs clean saving us from building a second filtration plant that would cost several billion dollars. That’s the good news.  But the system is showing its age, with some parts more than a century old.  And as development upstate continues our water supply system will require new investments,” said Mayor Bloomberg.

  • Aggressively protect our watersheds as we seek to maintain a Filtration Avoidance Determination for the Catskill and Delaware Water Supplies;
  • Construct an ultraviolet disinfection plant for the Catskill/Delaware systems, that will destroy disease-causing organisms in our upstate watershed;
  • Construct a water filtration plant to protect the Croton supply;
  • Implement a water conservation program to reduce citywide consumption by 60 million gallons a day;
  • Add 245 mgd to our supply potential through increased efficiency;
  • Evaluate 39 projects to meet the shortfall needs of the city during a prolonged shutdown of the Delaware Aqueduct;
  • Complete Water Tunnel No. 3, and begin repairing Water Tunnel No. 1;
  • Complete a backup tunnel to Staten Island;
  • Accelerate upgrades to water main infrastructure.

Water Quality:

“New York is fortunate to have not only a vast supply of fresh water, but also a wealth of rivers, creeks and coastal waters.  From time immemorial, they nurtured an incredible diversity of marine life, but for too long, the city polluted these waters and as our population grew, that contamination increased. We can change that,” said Mayor Bloomberg.

  • Complete Long Term Control Plans for all 14 New York City Watersheds, as required by law;
  • Reduce Combined Sewage Overflow (CSO) discharges by more than 185 mgd during rainstorms;
  • Convert combined sewers into High Level Storm Sewers (HLSS) and integrate HLSS into major new developments;
  • Capture the benefits of our public realm plan; 
  • Expand Bluebelt in Staten Island and other boroughs, where possible;
  • Make the reduction of CSO volumes and other environmental issues a priority for all relevant City agencies;
  • Pilot promising Best Management Practices (BMPs) such as: reintroducing  ribbed mussel beds; designing five expanded tree pits and monitoring impacts; piloting one swale to collect rainwater from roadways, and piloting additional BMPs;
  • Modify the zoning resolution to include design guidelines for off-street parking lots for commercial and community facilities that are green;
  • Encourage the installation of green roofs through a new incentive program;
  • Assess the vulnerability of existing wetlands and identify additional policies to protect them.

Air Quality:
“In parts of the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Harlem, children are hospitalized for asthma at nearly four times the national average. We cannot turn a blind eye to this outrage.  All of our children deserve a healthy start in life.  Many people call that environmental justice; I simply call it the right thing to do,” said Mayor Bloomberg.

  • Capture the air quality benefits of our transportation plan; 
  • Improve fuel efficiency of private cars by waiving  New York City's sales tax on the cleanest, most efficient vehicles;
  • Work with the MTA, the Port Authority, and the State DOT to promote hybrid and other clean vehicles;
  • Pilot new technologies and fuels, including hydrogen and plug-in hybrid vehicles;
  • Reduce emissions from taxis, black cars, and for-hire vehicles; 
  • Introduce biodiesel into the City’s truck fleet, and go beyond compliance with local laws, and further reduce emissions;
  • Accelerate emissions reductions of private fleets through existing Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) programs;
  • Work with stakeholders and the State to create incentives for the adoption of vehicle emission control and efficiency strategies;
  • Improve compliance of existing anti-idling laws through targeted educational campaign; 
  • Retrofit both large and small school buses and reduce their required retirement age to decrease school bus emissions;
  • Retrofit ferries and promote cleaner fuels;
  • Partner with the Port Authority to reduce emissions from port facilities and airports;
  • Implement more efficient construction management practices, including accelerating the adoption of technologies to reduce construction related emissions;
  • Capture the air quality benefits of our energy plan; 
  • Lower the maximum sulfur content in heating fuel from 2000 ppm to 500 ppm and reducing emissions from boilers in 100 city public schools;
  • Capture the benefits of our public realm plan; 
  • Reforest 2,000 targeted acres of parkland;
  • Partner with stakeholders to help plant 1,000,000 trees over the next decade in vacant lots;
  • Launch collaborative local air quality study to monitor and model neighborhood-level air quality across New York City.

Climate Change:

“Climate change is a national challenge, and meeting it requires strong and united national leadership.  The fact is, the emerging consensus among scientists is that, to avoid serious harm, we must reduce our emissions by 60 to 80 percent by 2050,” said Mayor Bloomberg.

  • Create an interagency task force to protect our city’s vital infrastructure and expand our adaptation strategies beyond the protection of our water supply, sewer, and wastewater treatment systems to include all essential city infrastructure;
  • Work with costal neighborhoods to develop site-specific protection strategies by creating a community planning process and "toolkit" to engage all stakeholders in community-specific climate adaptation strategies
  • Launch a citywide strategic planning process for climate change adaptation;
  • Create a strategic planning process to adapt to climate change impacts that will ensure that New York's Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) 100-year floodplain maps are updated;
  • Document the City's floodplain management strategies to secure discounted flood insurance for New Yorkers;
  • Amend the building code to address the impacts of climate change.

“Today is just the beginning – day one if you will.  In the weeks and months to come, the dialogue about PlaNYC will continue across our city – and with our partners in the City Council and in Albany.  Together, through PlaNYC, we can build a Greater, Greener New York,” concluded Mayor Bloomberg.


Stu Loeser/John Gallagher   (212) 788-2958

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