Trying to make Nassau County carbon neutral


The impact on the environment from Nassau County’s 1.39 million residents is significant.

In a bid to reduce the carbon footprint of one of the most populated counties in New York, Nassau Legislator Joshua A. Lafazan introduced a bill that would require the county to become carbon neutral by Jan. 1, 2035.

Lafazan was joined by members of the Legislature’s Minority Caucus and advocates from the Citizens Campaign for the Environment on March 28 to explain details of the legislation and its importance.

Lafazan’s proposal, which was filed on Feb. 15, 2023, would require Nassau to create and deliver a carbon neutrality action plan to the Legislature no later than Dec. 1, 2024 and provide triennial updates to the Legislature, starting on Dec. 31, 2024, outlining the county’s progress toward achieving carbon neutrality.

Because Lafazan’s proposal is strictly focused upon municipal operations, there will be no new mandates for individual Nassau County homeowners, but they will reap the rewards of cleaner air, water, and green spaces.

“Our exposure to climate change is a constant threat to our homes, our communities, our infrastructure, our drinking water, and our collective safety,” Lafazan said in a release. “Local governments are on the front lines of this crisis, and we have an opportunity to transform our community.”

While New York State has already passed laws to mandate the elimination of greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2050, Lafazan and environmentalists want to implement a more aggressive timetable for Nassau County to address the heightened future risk of negative climate impacts upon our region.

According to a recent Moody’s report, Long Island ranks fourth among major American population centers for its exposure to the physical and economic risks of climate change. The report states that Long Island is especially vulnerable to warming temperatures, extreme weather, sea level rise and “water stress,” which is based upon an elevated risk of droughts stemming from the Long Island region’s reliance upon a sole-source aquifer for potable water.

New York’s average temperature has increased by 3 degrees since 1970 and is projected to increase by another 3 degrees by 2080, according to the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation.

Winters in New York are warming at a rate three times faster than summers; and sea levels in the Long Island Sound are rising at a rate three to four times greater than the global average. Hundred-year storms such as Superstorm Sandy have been devastating communities with much greater frequency and potency.

“When local government leads the way, it acts as a beacon and a pathway for others to follow,” said Adrienne Esposito, executive director of the Citizens Campaign for the Environment, in a release. “That’s why this bill is important, and we are thankful that there are leaders in county government that understand the impact of climate change and the need to act.”

–Mark Nolan