New York City’s watchdog sets her sights on climate change

As New York City’s public advocate, Letitia James is first in line to succeed Mayor Bill de Blasio. The first woman of color to be elected to hold citywide office in the Big Apple, she investigates complaints against city agencies and introduces legislation in the city council. Effectively, she’s the city’s official watchdog. And she recently set her sights on climate change, which she regards as an imminent threat to New Yorkers.

Last week, James held a public hearing to discuss what she called “the catastrophic consequences” of a warming planet. New Yorkers hoping the city would take the lead on climate-related matters — at a time when the federal government has all but abdicated responsibility — gathered at the Borough of Manhattan Community College in Tribeca, a neighborhood that James pointed out would be completely underwater by 2200 — if the world continues warming at its current rate.

Politicians and environmental groups met to call attention to the dangers climate change poses to New York’s most vulnerable, including children and seniors hospitalized during heatwaves and the disproportionate number of residents of color who live near heavy industry and storm-surge zones. According to Eddie Bautista, executive director of the NYC Environmental Justice Alliance, 420,000 of the 620,000 New Yorkers who live within a half-mile of busy ports and industrial areas are people of color. Source:

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