Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez held her monthly town hall at P.S. 70 in Astoria on Wednesday night to speak about progress made with the Green New Deal ahead of Earth Day this weekend.
The congresswoman opened the meeting with data showing that greenhouse gas emissions are set to rise, which will inevitably lead to half the world’s landmass becoming inhabitable.
“What we have to do right now, and our responsibility is to dramatically alter the way our economy is dependent on fossil fuels,” Ocasio-Cortez said.
According to Ocasio-Cortez, geographically, Queens is the borough with the most land area at risk of coastal flooding due to sea levels rising.
“We started to see just a sneak peek of that with Hurricane Ida last year,” Ocasio-Cortez said.
Twelve people died during the massive flooding caused by Hurricane Ida in early September. More than half a foot of rain fell within the first few hours, killing at least 28 people across three states.
At the federal level, Ocasio-Cortez said that she helped secure funding for a jobs program, training over 300 State University of New York Maritime College students in skills necessary to build underwater pylons, which are crucial in developing wind turbines and making the switch to renewable energy.
“This is very sophisticated job work,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “These are the jobs of the future. What we’re able to do is make investments in our community so that we can train people in jobs that won’t just last 10 years, but jobs that last a lifetime.”
The congresswoman stressed the importance of transitioning to renewable energy and touted the success of shutting down NRG’s proposal for a peaker plant in Astoria-Ditmars.
“It’s not just about what we’re taking away, but the investments we’re putting in,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “The shutdown of that peaker plant was paired with the earmark to build out offshore wind and give jobs to our community.”
Ocasio-Cortez also revealed that the Green New Deal is getting its first congressional hearing next Thursday. The Oversight Committee will be hearing from economists, activists and scientists.
“For context, it took Medicare 10 years to get its first congressional hearing,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “And just three years for the Green New Deal — not bad. We’re really excited and it is truly historic to get this hearing.”
The congresswoman also announced at the town hall that Congress has identified 79 Green New Deal projects across the U.S., which are set to start this year.
Though not climate-related, the congresswoman mentioned other programs she pushed forward, one being the $3 million in funding that went towards a new OB-GYN unit at Elmhurst Hospital.