Environmental Justice – Making sure the Green New Deal remains Green
As we deal with a global pandemic, it is more important than ever to feel safe at home. But for far too long, countless Manhattan residents, in particular those residing in low-income neighborhoods, have been denied this fundamental right because they live in apartments plagued by environmental hazards like mold, pests and lead paint. Take for example, the yearly record number of East Harlem’s children who have the highest rates of asthma related emergency visits and hospitalizations compared to those in the rest of Manhattan. And recently, the court-appointed monitor for NYCHA reported that lead paint was found in 9,000 apartments where children lived or spent a significant part of their childhood.
As the former head of the Construction Fraud Task Force, Diana learned first-hand how unscrupulous employers failed to provide adequate protective gear in lead paint and asbestos abatement, and illegally disposed of materials subjecting families and workers to protracted harm with little fear of legal consequences. Environmental crimes are Crimes of Power and need to be addressed as such.
Environmental Crimes Unit
In order to address environmental crimes which are historically overlooked and underenforced, Diana will create the Environmental Crimes Unit. The Unit will employ a community-based model and develop strategic partnerships with non-law enforcement government agencies, community organizations, labor unions, community leaders and other city and state agencies, tenant and block associations, housing advocates, lawyers and elected officials.
The Environmental Crimes Unit will work closely with the Housing Bureau, the Labor Crimes Bureau and, of course, the Construction Fraud Task Force to proactively prosecute crimes that impact New Yorkers. It will also work with the Public Corruption Unit to safeguard taxpayer monies to hold accountable companies and vendors that defraud taxpayers by falsifying work in government projects such as rebuilding affordable housing, coastal and waterfront resiliency projects among others.
In order to combat climate change, community involvement is vital. Within the newly implemented Environmental Crime Unit, Diana will partner with community organizations, groups, and leaders associated with climate and environmental justice issues. They will meet regularly with the Unit to ensure the Manhattan DA’s Office is kept up to date with climate change goals and initiatives.
The proposed NYC Green New Deal will offer people new opportunities to jobs, access education, and training, but these opportunities need to be shared with all communities, especially communities that for years have disproportionately been exposed to toxic conditions.
As part of Diana’s Pathway to Re-Entry, Diana will fund local green jobs training programs that will be available to people that have been justice-impacted.
Diana will support and promote community local organizations like WE ACT’s Northern Manhattan Solar Cooperative that helps participants become entrepreneurs in the fast-growing solar energy sector.
Diana supports the following:
- NY State Fossil Fuel Divestment Act (A.1536-A/S.2126-A), requiring the NY State Comptroller to divest the state pension fund from fossil fuel holdings.
- The Climate and Community investment act (S.7645), an act that seeks to transition NY to 100% renewable energy, create hundreds of thousands of jobs, protect workers currently in the fossil fuel industry, and support communities most impacted by climate change and pollution.
Any and all legislative efforts that are associated with The Green New Deal, The Green New Deal for NYCHA or similar bills at the citywide, statewide or federal that combat climate change, lessen our dependence on fossil fuels and center community and worker participation in the decision making process.