From The Mayor's Desk ...
Millions of Americans, and millions of New Yorkers, celebrated Earth Day on April 22. We renewed our commitment to protecting the quality of the air we breathe and water we drink, and to passing on a better, cleaner environment to our children.
But the fact is that over the past four years, our administration has worked to make every day Earth Day in New York City.
We recently had a great example of that when Governor George Pataki joined us in announcing an historic $36 million plan to clean up a former industrial brownfield on the Brooklyn waterfront and begin converting it into a 23-acre park.
And that's far from an isolated instance. From the High Line - an abandoned mile-and-a-half long elevated railway on Manhattan's West Side - to Fresh Kills-formerly the world's largest landfill on Staten Island - our administration is turning many once-desolate and derelict areas in all five boroughs into new parks and recreation areas.
Our commitment to the environment also extends to improving air and water quality. That's why, for example, city agencies use more alternative fuel vehicles than those in any other American city. Over 3,300 of city cars, trucks, street sweepers and other vehicles are powered by ethanol, compressed natural gas, and other clean-burning fuels. That's a big reason why over the past four years City government has been able to substantially reduce the release of greenhouse gas emissions into the air.
The purity of New York's drinking water is renowned worldwide - and our administration has also been vigilant in safeguarding it. Over the past four years, we've added more than 27,000 acres - an 80 percent increase - to the land the city controls around our reservoirs in the Catskills, protecting that water from polluting runoffs. And we're building an underground filtration plant to clean the water that comes from our Croton reservoir in Westchester County. By building that plant in the Bronx instead of Westchester, we're saving more than $200 million-money we're using to improve parks all across the Bronx.
We're also investing millions of dollars in upgrading our wastewater treatment plants to clean the water the City discharges into our rivers and bays. And our award-winning system of "bluebelts" on Staten Island controls storm water runoff, reducing flooding while also creating and preserving wetlands that are vital wildlife habitats.
We're also aggressively promoting energy conservation and sustainable development throughout the city. There just isn't enough time to describe everything we're doing on this front, so let me close with just one example. Thousands of the apartments being rehabilitated through our affordable housing program-the largest ever by any City government in the nation-will incorporate strong energy conservation measures, such as improved insulation, and replacement of old, wasteful appliances with new, energy-efficient ones. The result will be millions of dollars in annual energy-cost savings-good news, every day of the year, for building owners and tenants, and also for Mother Earth.