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Queens council improves green score card

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The league, the non-partisan political arm of the state's environmental community, released its second annual scorecard Jan. 26. The scorecard focused on what the league thought were the 14 most important environmental bills introduced in the Council and individually rated each member on how many he or she had sponsored in 2004. Results found that Queens legislators as a whole backed 69 percent of the bills last year. The score marked a 6 percent rise from the borough's first-place score in 2003 but was overshadowed by the more than 25 percent jump in Manhattan and the Bronx, both of whose delegations scored more 80 percent. Brooklyn supported 62 percent while Staten Island placed last at 31 percent. The Council's overall average in 2004 was 68 percent. Councilman James Gennaro (D-Fresh Meadows), chairman of the environmental protection committee who scored 100 percent in the report, attributed Queens' lower ranking to the fact that some of his colleagues who planned to eventually vote for the bills failed, however, to sponsor them -- the qualification on which the scoring was based. "We have members who are very environmentally conscious," he said. "Nothing should be read by this that we have slipped." The selected bills ranged from limiting diesel emissions by automobiles and the quantity of pesticide spraying to protecting parks and requiring more efficient, or "green" energy use -- such as saving water and lowering electricity bills. While the league, applauded the city's support rising from 53 percent of pro-environmental bills in 2003, it was concerned that none of its listed pieces of legislation had reached the Council floor. "Despite majority support for nearly every bill, these bills have yet to be voted on. Those votes need to happen soon," said the league's director, Marcia Bystryn, at a news conference last week. Gennaro reasoned that proposals to protect the environment often had broad implications that made passing uniformly liked legislation a lengthy process. "The more far-reaching and progressive the bill the more it takes to create one that will do everything you want it to do," he said. Gennaro pointed to at least two areas where hard-fought bills did pass in 2004: cracking down on idling engines and curtailing car alarms to limit noise pollution. In 2005, Gennaro said he would focus on air quality. Pesticides and diesel emission control were two packages that the conservation league particularly wanted passed, spokesman Neill Coleman said. Some borough delegates criticized the league itself for basing its evaluations on sponsorship rather than voting record. "They should expand their horizons to include how one voted on an issue coupled with what progress he's made in his district," said Councilman Dennis Gallagher (D-Astoria), who in the last two years has ranked the lowest among Queens members with a 2004 score of 7 percent. Councilman David Weprin (D-Hollis) said he complained to the league in 2003 for scoring him at 45 percent despite his having ultimately voted for every bill on the ranking. In 2004 he scored 100 percent, he said, by making sure to co-sponsor the legislation before voting. "My concern for the environment didn't change," Weprin said. "I just realized what they were asking for."Reach reporter Zach Patberg by news at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 155.

Posted 7:02 pm, October 10, 2011
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