February Issues Assembly

Greetings Young Democrats,

Our most recent Issues Assembly meeting on February 23 was informative, engaging and exciting… as always!

We were joined by two members of the Village Independent Democrats who brought our attention to an urgent matter on the energy front. Spectra Energy is spearheading the Algonquin Incremental Market (AIM) project to more than double the capacity of a pipeline that passes through the Hudson Valley near the Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant. Any accidents at Indian Point Energy Center, located 25 miles from New York City, pose a huge threat to the millions of people living in the tri-state area.

The risk is twofold.  First, the Algonquin pipeline’s proximity to Indian Point (within 105 feet) could undermine the safety of construction on the pipeline, increasing the threat of a nuclear accident. Second, once constructed, any gas leak in the pipeline itself could compound the nuclear threat even further.  As such, our guests from VID shared a growing sentiment that an independent safety analysis must be done by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), who authorized the project, before the pipeline is built. The members of the Issues Assembly passed a resolution to support the call for this safety assessment!

aim-ip

In the wake of our Issues Assembly, we’re happy to report that these concerns have been acknowledged at the highest level of state government. On February 29th, Governor Cuomo addressed a letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) instructing that it hold off on green-lighting the AIM project until the safety analysis is complete. While this is certainly a step in the right direction, Cuomo’s letter is only a recommendation and not a guarantee for action. The Manhattan Young Democrats will continue to monitor this issue’s progress or lack thereof.

We continued on with a discussion of Mayor De Blasio’s proposal for a new streetcar line, the Brooklyn Queens Connector (BQX) and what the line’s establishment would mean for several waterfront neighborhoods, current public transit riders, etc. One important question raised was regarding what quality of service the BQX would provide that would make it superior to an express or regular bus and whether the draw of a light rail over a bus would be enough of an added benefit. We didn’t draw any conclusions and hope that this will be a continued discussion in the coming months.

In the city that never sleeps, it is to be expected that there will always be a barrage of issues that captivate the citizens. That is what makes our Issues Assembly and the forum that it provides so valuable. The three Ps (platform, passion and of course pizza) join together at the Issues Assembly, leading to robust exploration of policy issues affecting New York.