Lincoln Restler announces air-quality legislative package
On Thursday, Councilmember Lincoln Restler (D-Brooklyn Heights-DUMBO- Boerum Hill, Williamsburg) introduced a package of legislation aimed at protecting New York City from air quality emergencies.
When smoke poured over New York City from wildfires in Canada, the city, according to Restler, did not adequately alert New Yorkers to potential health and safety risks or provide resources to mitigate the harmful effects of poor air quality.
The first bill Restler introduced (Intro 1200) requires the commissioner of emergency management to develop and implement a public notification plan during air quality emergencies, including notifying the public about how to stay safe and access health information.
The second bill (Intro 1201) would require New York City Emergency Management to develop an emergency response protocol for unhealthy air quality events as it is required to do for other weather events under Local Law 24 of 2011.
The third bill (Intro 1199) would create “Spare the Air” days to allow the city to prohibit high-emissions activities, encourage people to reduce their own emissions at home, require the opening of clean air centers and reduce barriers to accessing shelter for the homeless. This is similar to scenarios where shelters open access to homeless New Yorkers during extreme heat or cold.
“Air quality incidents are a new reality for us all in the face of the climate crisis. As wildfires continue to increase, we need to be ready to keep New Yorkers safe,” said Restler. “No one was prepared for the dystopian wildfire smoke we experienced in June, and with this package we can ensure New York City is not caught flat-footed again.”
“The air we breathe — be it indoors or outside — has a tremendous impact on our health,” said Council Majority Leader Keith Powers (D-Manhattan). “As climate change leads to more air quality emergencies, it is imperative that the city have a well-organized system in place to notify the public, just like we do for other extreme weather events.”
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