|Photo: Joshua Kristal, South Brooklyn Post|
It seems like the pressure applied by our representatives - State Senator Daniel Squadron, City Councilmember Brad Lander, CM Sarah Gonzalez, Congresswoman Nydia Velasquez - as well as advocacy from Community Board 6 and our own community members and organizations, made the Port Authority see the light. So, yesterday, the plan's full funding was approved.
Here is part of the text from Senator Squadron's press release (full text here):
The agreement, which was reached over a year ago at the urging of Senator Squadron and other community leaders but was not approved until today, will allow cruise ships to plug into the electrical grid rather than burning diesel fuels while idling at the port. The Port Authority expects implementation to be completed by 2014.
Senator Squadron released the following statement:
"Brooklyn just breathed a sigh of relief -- because shore power means we'll be able to breathe a little easier. The implementation of our agreement gets us closer to ending the dirty and dangerous fumes spewed by cruise ships idling in the Red Hook port, which is good news for Brooklynites and good news for our environment.
"For two years, I worked with the community and my colleagues in government, including Congresswoman Velazquez and Councilman Lander, to push for the agreement that's made shore power possible. By implementing the agreement, the Port Authority will make New York a leader as the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal becomes the first on the East Coast to adopt this cleaner, healthier technology.
As the statement notes, this will be the first terminal in New York and on the entire East Coast to use shore power - despite this life-saving and environmentally friendly technology being used extensively on the West Coast; first being used over 10 years ago in Juneau, Alaska; used by the US Navy for over 50 years; and implemented in many other parts of the world.
Hopefully, the Brooklyn plan will set a precedent for the wider use of shore power by all types of ocean-going ships in our city's ports - the 3rd largest in the country - and elsewhere on the East Coast. Then these carcinogenic and asthma inducing emissions created by the idling ships can be eliminated and the resultant health and environmental benefits shared by even more of our city and country's residents, especially our most vulnerable - the elderly, kids with asthma, low-income communities, etc.
But, for now, we can be happy that in 2014 - as well as looking forward to the full implementation of the Affordable Care Act, also approved yesterday - the big cruise ships visiting Brooklyn will be turning off their engines, plugging-in to our electrical grid, and our port-side communities can look forward to breathing a little easier.