The Challenge for Nily Rozic

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Recently elected state Assemblywoman Nily Rozic is the only Queens official on a Top 13 list of lawmakers labeled as up-and-coming environmental leaders.

But global warming and other environmental concerns can be a tough sell when people are trying to make ends meet. For example, Rozic’s environmental platform includes opposition to hydraulic fracturing in New York.

Proponents of hydrofracking say it is an inexpensive way to produce fuel. They argue that allowing hydrofracking in the state will be an economic boon, spur job growth and reduce the nation’s dependence of fuel from the Middle East.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation is waiting to finalize hydrofracking regulations until a health review of the drilling method is completed.

Rozic needs to show that important environmental concerns can be addressed without ignoring fiscal realities.

If she can’t do that, she will not be an effective voice in the state Legislature.

Marcia Bystryn, president of the New York League of Conservation Voters, which produced the list, called Rozic part of a “new generation of environmental leadership in the New York state Senate and Assembly.”

Hopefully, that’s not just wishful thinking. Rozic and others will have to take on conservative legislators aligned with the Tea Party, who view conservation as some kind of leftist conspiracy.

Even Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a liberal Democrat, will be weighing his stands on these issues carefully. He has yet to take a position on hydrofracking. In the end, he has to answer to voters throughout the state who have bills to pay.

In her response to the league’s recognition, Rozic said the organization “is a leader in the fight for a green and healthy New York state, and I am proud to be working with them to better our quality of life in Queens.”

She promised to “continue to advocate for cleaner, greener and sustainable approaches to business, energy production and transit.”

We are sympathetic with the need to address environmental concerns, but Rozic must avoid initiatives that appear extreme.

Environmental concerns need a rational, effective champion in Albany. We hope Rozic will become that champion.

Posted 12:52 am, February 15, 2013
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