Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez says the Green New Deal needs to start right in Queens.
The environmentalist lawmaker led a belated Earth Day celebration with a call to block an Astoria power plant from being retrofitted to burn natural gas that is produced by fracking.
“That fight now is right here at home in our backyard with the Astoria power plant,” AOC said. “We’re not going to allow our water to be compromised. We’re not going to allow our air to be compromised.”
Power producer NRG says its retrofit of the 50-year-old natural gas-burning plant near the Triboro Bridge will actually reduce emissions.
The plant is called a “peaker” facility because it provides needed additional power to the electric grid during peak consumption periods, like during scorching summer heat waves when millions of New Yorkers switch on their air conditioners.
But AOC and other officials including Mayor de Blasio insist the plant should be converted to renewable energy or shut down altogether. Ocasio-Cortez says fracking pours invisible methane into the air and should be banned.
“You’ll be breathing (the emissions) in, or they’ll be in the environment, and we can’t even see it,” AOC said.
The firebrand congresswoman was the main attraction at a festive post-Earth Day picnic that drew about 400 people to Astoria Park on a sun-splashed afternoon. Along with speeches, environmentalist groups set up information booths and kids enjoyed games and painting.
Speaker after speaker called for renewed effort to combat climate change and pass AOC’s signature Green New Deal plan.
State Sen. Jessica Ramos (D-Queens), a progressive ally of AOC, spent 16 years living in Astoria, which she said has the worst air quality in the borough.
“Nobody deserves this. No human being, none of our pets,” Ramos said, drawing enthusiastic cheers. “Nobody deserves to be breathing dirty air.”
Ocasio-Cortez lauded what she called the political revolution that has allowed the Green New Deal to get a hearing in Congress over the fierce opposition of conservatives and the powerful fossil fuels industry.
“We’re doing it to create not just a more sustainable way of life, but to create a more sustainable society that we can pass along to our kids,” she said. “Because that’s ultimately what this climate crisis is all about.”
To scattered chants of “AOC for President,” Ocasio-Cortez vowed that an eco-friendly transformation of American society would benefit working people the most by producing millions of well-paying jobs.
AOC said the Green New Deal would also end the discriminatory impact of pollution on poor and urban communities and ease the plight of so-called climate refugees who flee their countries due to climate change-induced poverty and instability.
Republicans scoff at those claims and predict AOC’s plan will kill thousands of jobs in the energy industry and do little to save the planet.