An Environmental IQ Test for the Next Mayor of New York

The WABC mayoral debate takes place tonight at seven. On behalf of hundreds of thousands of children who will suffer for generations if you make bad environmental decisions, I'd like to get both your responses to the following puzzle:

There are garbage transfer stations in industrial areas in the outer boroughs. To get to them, unregulated private garbage trucks must pass through residential neighborhoods causing pollution. Fearing for their children's health, the residents want help.

As mayor of this city, which of the following solutions would you support and why?

Solution A: Improve recycling and reduce waste; help the private trucks to become 95 percent cleaner like city trucks; and study modern solutions used by other cities that do a better job than we do.


Solution B: Build another dump costing $230 million in a more polluted and more densely populated neighborhood right next to a playing field used by 30,000 kids from all over the city, a stone's throw from 1,000 public housing units, and in the worst kind of flood zone there is.

The "hypothetical" above is actually a reality -- only worse. In the early stages of construction between Yorkville and East Harlem, Solution B will be 10 stories high, cover 2 acres, and operate 24 hours a day, six days a week. It will be closer to more people than all equivalent dumps in the entire city combined. It will do nothing to help those living in the outer boroughs. But for an anachronistic zoning "oddity" it would be illegal.

The plan is for garbage to be trucked 80 blocks up through Manhattan from as far south as 14th Street and as far west as 8th Avenue only to get towed all the way back down the city along the East River on barges. Tug boats are far more toxic than trucks, so prevailing winds will blow new pollution into many areas seeking relief.

The dump is so unjust, so bizarre, so expensive, and so pointless (even for those it is supposed to help) it raises questions of corruption and pandering that extend far beyond East Harlem and Yorkville. I will write more in coming days, but for the moment suffice to say that the only people who will unquestionably benefit from this are big real estate developers.

Here are some links supporting and expanding on the above:

Debate Details

Pollution Map of New York City

Independent Budget Office Report on the dump:

Tug Boats More Toxic Than Trucks

General Facts on the dump

Bill de Blasio and Real Estate Developers

Asthma Hospitalization Rates in NYC This report shows East Harlem as having THE worst asthma rates in the city (see page 16), but hospitalization rates may be telling us more about poverty than pollution. It seems probable that the entire rationale for this dump is based on false premises, this being only one of them, and that everyone involved knew this from the start. If they didn't then, they ought to now.