Volume 74, Number 39 | February 2 - 8, 2005

Lopez unhappy with her bad report card on environment

By Hemmy So

Councilmember Margarita Lopez’s environmental record in 2004 earned her a flunking grade, according to a prominent local environmental group’s newly released environmental scorecard.

Lopez scored 57 percent on the New York League of Conservation Voters’ second annual New York City Environ-mental Scorecard, which gauges city councilmembers’ green efforts by reviewing their sponsorship or votes on certain key environmental bills.

Fourteen out of over 100 bills were chosen for the scorecard. Lopez declined to sponsor six of the 14. The six bills cover carbon dioxide emissions, building access for bicycles, green buildings, parks concessions, green permits and tracking park crime.

She did sponsor, however, legislative bills covering pesticide use, energy-efficient appliances in rental apartments, environmentally clean vehicles for city agencies and reductions in diesel emissions.

Feeling that N.Y.L.C.V. used its scorecard to scare councilmembers into sponsoring certain bills, Lopez objected strongly to its accuracy and methodology in putting together its scorecard.
“I don’t sign to bills to get a nice report card from anybody,” Lopez said. “I sign when there are calls to my office, when I have clarity on what the bill does. I want to comprehend the consequences and impact of bills. I don’t sign to bills because they look nice or sound nice.”

Lopez readily pointed out her lone vote among her Council colleagues against the suspension of glass and plastic recycling programs in July 2002. She also highlighted her strong support of asthma-free zones in her district to improve air quality.

According to the scorecard, the outgoing councilmember’s record improved since last year, when she scored only 27 percent. In 2003, she had only sponsored two bills out of 11 chosen by the N.Y.L.C.V. One bill required city agencies to use recycled oil for city vehicles, and the other created the Adopt-A-Park program.

None of the bills chosen for the 2004 scorecard have come to a vote, an issue N.Y.L.C.V. highlighted in its report.

“We are pleased to see progress in scores from the 2003 scorecard but, despite majority support for nearly every bill, these bills have not yet been voted on,” said Marcis Bystryn, N.Y.L.C.V. executive director. “Those votes need to happen soon.”

The City Council’s overall score of 68 percent improved 15 points from 2003. Manhattan councilmembers outscored those in the outer boroughs this year, with an average of 86 percent. Among those receiving a perfect score of 100 percent were four Manhattan councilmembers, Alan Gerson, Christine Quinn, Eva Moskowitz and Gale Brewer.

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