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Activists Call on Mayor Adams to Enforce Building Emissions Law

DAVID MARQUES, HOST: Buildings are among the largest emitters of greenhouse gasses in New York, so in 2019, the City passed local law 97…the law requires all but the smallest buildings to reduce their emissions and become more energy efficient.

EMILY SCHULTZ, HOST: But activists say some building owners have been pushing back on the law. Today in a protest in Times Square, protestors targeted one building that they say is an example of the City’s lax enforcement of Local Law 97. Shantel Destra reports.

SHANTEL DESTRA, BYLINE: The organizers of the protest describe One Bryant Park as a “super polluter” --exactly the kind of building that should be modified to meet the emission and efficiency standards of Local Law 97. Experts say large buildings like this are the source of nearly half of New York City’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Councilman and Co-Chair of Progressive Caucus fighting for Climate Justice, Lincoln Restler.

LINCOLN RESSLER: Local Law 97 is the most important piece of legislation that we passed in New York City in decades. The climate crisis is the existential challenge of our time.

DESTRA: Local Law 97 requires that buildings decarbonize their electricity systems and switch to cleaner fuels. Activists say that many buildings, including One Bryant Park are simply refusing to implement the law. And the owners of the building don’t disagree. In an email, Jordan Barowitz- the Director of External Affairs for One Bryant Park said the building may well be subject to fines under the law…but he adds, the law sets unrealistic standards for larger buildings. He says One Bryant Park is already implementing many environmental and sustainability features. Jon Pope of environmental group Food and Water Watch says complying with the law will be costly, but to not comply will cost the city far more.

JON POPE: What was the cost of Hurricane Ida? What was the cost of Hurricane Sandy? You know, these are major costs that we're absorbing as a society and we need to kind of all step up, stop screwing around, it's time to get to work.

DESTRA: Enforcing the law takes resources…funding missing from Mayor Adam’s budget for next year. We reached out to the Mayor’s office of climate and sustainability for comment, but they did not reply. Public Advocate Jumanee Williams said at the rally that it’s time for the city to back the law as passed.

JUMANEE WILLIAMS: We just need to hear from the mayor that we're gonna fully implement this we're gonna fully enforce it we're gonna fully fund it there's no excuse. It's been well thought out. Any excuse continues to harm our planet. New York needs to lead not follow.

DESTRA: The groups at today’s protest say they will continue to pressure the Mayor to enforce Local Law 97.

Shantel Destra, Columbia Radio News.


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