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Queens Chronicle

Council environment scores a mixed bag

Despite a couple of low grades, Queens fairs well on evaluations

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Posted: Thursday, February 6, 2014 10:30 am | Updated: 1:47 am, Thu Feb 13, 2014.

Each year, the New York League of Conservation Voters puts out a scorecard that grades all Council members on environmental issues and for the 2012-13 City Council year, Queens had some of the highest scores and the lowest.

The scores are based on voting and sponsorship records on 17 bills that cover recycling, composting, clean energy, biodiversity, transportation, air quality, energy efficiency, resiliency and more.

According to the NYCLV, the environmental scorecard is “holding members of the New York City Council accountable for their track records,” so as to maintain a transparent view of how environmentally friendly they are.

“The City Council’s environmental performance for the last two years was very strong, as reflected by the high scores for the individual members as well as by the broad range of issues that the Council addressed,” NYLCV President Marcia Bystryn said. “We are especially heartened that many members of the new leadership team — including the new City Council Speaker, Melissa Mark-Viverito — scored very highly. This bodes well for the environmental movement in this new era of city leadership.”

The NYCLV selected the legislation on the scorecard after consultation with city environmental, transportation, public health, parks and environmental justice organizations. Of more than 36 bills, the final scorecard is based on the bills that indicate the highest collective priority including the plastic bag tax and Styrofoam ban.

While Queens had the third lowest average — tied at 91 with the Bronx — many Queens lawmakers said their grades are deceiving.

For example, Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras (D-East Elmhurst) scored a 76 — tied as the lowest grade in the city with former Councilmen Peter Vallone Jr. of Astoria and Dan Halloran of Whitestone, though that was, in part, because she had to miss a number of votes due to maternity leave.

Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park) had a respectable grade of 94, though he tweeted on Tuesday that his grade was lowered because of his vote on one bill.

“Just realized that the only reason I didn’t get 100 percent on NYLCV scorecard this year was because I opposed the infamous ‘plastic bag tax,’” he wrote.

Despite those two setbacks, four members got a perfect score — Councilmen Peter Koo (D-Flushing), Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside), Danny Dromm (D-Jackson Heights) and Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village) — the most in the city.

“The New York City Council has continued to keep environmental issues at the top of its agenda,” Van Bramer said. “There is no doubt that we will maintain an open dialogue with environmental advocates in order to continue passing meaningful legislation that makes New York City more sustainable and greener for all.”

Other high scorers were Councilmen Ruben Wills (D-Jamaica) and Mark Weprin (D-Oakland Gardens), Councilwoman Karen Koslowtiz (D-Forest Hills) and former Councilman Jim Gennaro of Jamaica Estates, who all scored a 94.

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