Baruch Hosts NYS Attorney General Candidates at Environmental Forum
Andrew Cuomo, Jeanine Pirro Discuss Solutions to State's Pollution Problems
Andrew Cuomo and Jeanine Pirro, the Democratic and Republican candidates for New York State Attorney General, discussed their environmental “credentials and vision” at Baruch College at a special lunch-time forum held on Tuesday, Oct. 3rd. Before an overflow crowd of TV cameras, reporters and photographers, the candidates pledged their commitment to protecting NY State residents from mercury poisoning, lead paint, Hudson River PCBs, radiation spills from the Indian Point power plant, and the federal government’s lax enforcement of existing environmental legislation.
Co-sponsored by the New York League of Conservation Voters and the School of Public Affairs, the event was co-hosted by Marcia Bystryn, Executive Director of the NYLCV, and Professor Doug Muzzio, and organized by Barbara Fife, Director of External Affairs for SPA. Pirro, who spoke first, gave a detailed recital of her environmental record as Westchester County District Attorney, including the creation of an “Environmental Crimes Bureau” that brought some 900 enforcement cases against corporate and individual polluters, as well as municipalities such as Rye, New York, which she sued for releasing untreated sewage into Long Island Sound. Displaying firm command of the technical questions involved in environmental legislation, Pirro voiced her commitment to “advancing federal issues” in New York State. On legislation such as the Clean Air Act, she pledged “We’re going to hold the EPA’s feet to the fire.”
Cuomo, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development under President Clinton, argued that the old dichotomy ‘between protecting the environment and growing the economy” was false and obsolete and that a progressive government could do both. Like Pirro, Cuomo addressed the issue of dredging the Hudson River (both candidates argued that it was overdue) and protecting New York City’s water supply by monitoring potentially polluting development projects in the upstate watershed region. The Indian Point power plant was the subject that most clearly divided the two, with Cuomo arguing passionately that 21 million people were potentially endangered by the nuclear reactor site. “Indian Point must not be the energy source of the future,” he declared. Pirro suggested that Indian Point might eventually be shut down, but only when a good alternative energy source was found.
Both candidates expressed support for laws making polluters bear a greater share of the costs of environmental clean-up and both voiced concern for “environmental justice.” Placing a disproportionate number of “problematic facilities”, such as waste disposal plants, in poor and minority communities, Cuomo asserted, was a clear example of racial and class discrimination.
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