Make Nassau County Carbon Neutral by 2035
By Joshua A. Lafazan
Though it may be obvious, I begin with a reminder about something that we too often forget here in Nassau County - that we - all 1.3 million of us - live on an island.
And while living on this island, our exposure to climate change is a constant threat to our homes, our communities, our infrastructure, our drinking water, and our collective safety. In fact, Long Island ranks fourth among major population centers for its exposure to the physical and economic risks of climate change.
Reports show that Long Island is especially vulnerable to warming temperatures, extreme weather, sea level rise and “water stress” from our reliance upon a sole-source aquifer for potable water. This underscores the need for collective urgency here and how the actions we take now will help protect Long Island for generations to come.
This view is not hyperbolic. Powerful once-in-a-generation storms that happened every century are happening every month. Recently, 26 people died from the extreme tornado in Mississippi. Thirty-seven people died this winter from extreme storms in Buffalo. And lest we not forget Hurricane Sandy, where 44 New Yorkers lost their lives, and 69,000 people suffered property damage.
Local governments are on the front line of this crisis, and we have the opportunity to transform our community and make it healthier and more sustainable. That is why I have introduced legislation to make Nassau County’s government operations carbon neutral by 2035. New York State has already set a timeline of 2050, and there's no reason that we shouldn't be ambitious in leading the way right here in Nassau.
To be absolutely clear, my proposal strictly relates to Nassau County's government and our municipal operations. So, while this law does not establish new mandates for individual Nassau County homeowners, all citizens in Nassau will be the beneficiaries of a cleaner environment.
Whether it’s improving the quality of our air, our drinking water, our beaches, buildings, parks and preserves, we all benefit from a greener Nassau. And of equal importance, this bill will make Nassau County a “Climate Smart” community, ensuring that state and federal grants offset the costs of these improvements, so we don’t have to hike a single dollar in taxes. In fact, going green will actually save taxpayers money by making our operations more efficient.
A bipartisan group of U.S. mayors representing 130 American cities have joined the initiative “Cities Race to Zero” to move towards a zero emissions future. I’m calling on County Executive Blakeman and my Republican and Democratic colleagues in the Legislature to join with them by passing this bill and making Nassau County the 131st participant. We don’t have any time to waste.
Joshua A. Lafazan, of Woodbury, has represented the 18th Legislative District since 2018.