South Brooklynites’ climate change concerns were addressed on Wednesday, December 13 as 47th District Assemblymember William Colton led a renewable energy forum at the Federation of Italian American Organizations of Brooklyn (8711 18th Avenue).
It being one of the coldest nights of the year was not enough to stop constituents from coming out to the forum, which was also attended by 46th District Assemblymember Pamela Harris among others. The theme of the night was “How Climate Change Affects You: Reaching 100% Renewable Energy in New York by 2030.”
Colton kicked off the discussion by mentioning how South Brooklyn’s coastal communities have been greatly affected by the use of non-renewable energy.
“Energy and climate change are issues that affects everybody and every community. For example, this past year, we had thousands of gallons of oil spill into Gravesend Bay,” said Colton, whose district encompasses Bensonhurst, Gravesend, Bath Beach, Dyker Heights and Midwood.
“That causes irrevocable damage to the water. When that happens, you can only contain so much of it, but the rest remain there,” he continued.
In total, approximately 40,000 gallons of oil were spilled into the bay.
Colton stressed that “citizen participation” was the only way to implement solutions to climate change, such as conservation,
“This is not something that should just be decided by some government bureaucracy. People have to give their input, give their suggestions, basically get behind this in a way that they will not be adversely affected. This can be a positive thing; it creates a whole new industry that would create jobs for many people,” Colton said.
Both Colton and Harris also noted that climate change was responsible for the extreme weather occurring across parts of the United States and Puerto Rico.
Harris, who represents Bay Ridge, Beach Haven, Brightwater Towers, Brighton Beach, Coney Island, Dyker Heights, Luna Park, Sea Gate and Trump Village, mentioned that Superstorm Sandy devastated a large portion of her district.
“We are here to discuss the impacts global warming has had in our community and the steps we can take to preserve our environment and mitigate future damage. I survived Superstorm Sandy, and I strongly support Assemblyman William Colton’s legislation towards 100 percent renewable energy by 2030,” said Harris, whose house was flooded with more than four feet of water as a result of Superstorm Sandy.
“Climate change is a very real threat, yet even in 2017 that statement is seen by some as controversial despite the mounting evidence and scientific proof,” she continued.
Later on in the night, community activist Ida Sanoff gave a passionate talk on the necessity of clean energy, as well as the difficulty of its implementation.
“Clean energy is essential, but resources are not limitless, so we need to reduce what we use. Conserving energy puts money in our pockets,” said Sanoff, who noted that the National Park Service had, several years ago, allowed a private gas company to build a metering station and gas lines at Floyd Bennett Field.
“Reports say that the United States could save $1.2 trillion through 2020 by sealing drafts and using energy-efficient appliances,” Sanoff told the crowd. “That would cut the country’s energy use by 23 percent.
“Turn it off and unplug it,” she said.