Suozzi has several environmental goals

Environment concerns both Tom Suozzi and Mazi Pilip in special election for New York's 3rd Congressional District


As the special election for New York’s 3rd Congressional District approaches, members of local environmental groups and North Shore residents gathered at Sea Cliff Beach on Jan. 11 to declare their support for former Rep. Tom Suozzi, who discussed his future climate policy.

Dozens of people showed up despite the wind and cold, many representing organizations Suozzi has worked with in the past. They praised his focus on environment conservation over the course of his 30-year political career.

Suozzi claimed that his Republican opponent in the race, Nassau County Legislator Mazi Melesa Pilip, agrees with “the Conservative Party talking points,” he said, “which actually (say) that climate change is not real, and that we should pull out of the Paris Climate Accords, and that’s her platform.”

Brian Devine, communications director for Pilip’s campaign, has vociferously denied the claim, writing on her behalf that she had always been a strong supporter of environmental protection and conservation.

“I have prioritized environmental protection and sustainability during my time in the Legislature,” the statement read. “During my time as a member, I voted to allocate millions of dollars in funding for sewer and stormwater improvements, drainage projects, hazardous waste remediation, bicycle and pedestrian pathways, park improvements, historic property restoration, and groundwater protection in Sea Cliff.”

Julie Tighe, president of the New York League of Conservation Voters, a nonpartisan environmental organization, emphasized Suozzi’s environmental record and said that the league had officially declared their backing for him. Devine, however, wrote that the organization had supported Pilip during her campaign for re-election to the Legislature last fall, recognizing “the important work she has done while there.

Tighe stressed that the upcoming special election is of the utmost importance. “So to all the voters out there, we ask you to vote for Tom Suozzi on Feb. 13, or to vote early,” she said.

Tighe noted the environmental dangers now threatening New York, and Long Island in particular, “from the hottest summer on record to devastating floods.” She touted Suozzi’s strong support for environmental measures to fight climate change.

Also in attendance was Al Fredericks, the president of Sierra Club Long Island Group, which focuses on

local, regional and national actions to preserve the environment, including the use of wind power and solar energy, and protecting wildlife. Fredericks said that the club was “extremely pleased to endorse Tom Suozzi,” pointing to his long history of environmental action dating back to his time as mayor of Glen Cove and Nassau County executive.

“We are confident that Tom Suozzi will restore integrity and confidence to this important office, and that he will be a strong advocate for the environment,” Fredericks said. “In each public office that he’s held, Tom Suozzi has been a staunch champion of the environment, orchestrating the cleanup of brownfield superfund sites and other contaminated venues, preserving and expanding public open space and protecting and improving water quality.”

Brownfield superfund sites are properties where the continuing presence of contamination may complicate future use and endanger local wildlife. Fredericks also pointed specifically to Suozzi’s work in Congress, where he “helped to direct significant resources to New York for environmental protection.”

The last to speak among the environmental groups was Kevin Curtis, executive director of the NRDC Action Fund, which focuses on averting climate change and conserving and protecting nature and wildlife. Curtis said that although he has not closely followed the former congressman until recently, he and the action fund were proud to endorse Suozzi based on his environmental record.

When Suozzi addressed the shivering crowd, which included Delia DeRiggi-Whitton, minority leader of the Nassau County Legislature, and Danielle Fugazy Scagliola, a Glen Cove City councilmember, he emphasized the importance of protecting the environment both in his community and nationwide.

Suozzi mentioned that he had seen a bald eagle while working at home several weeks ago, and described how wonderful it felt to see wildlife that wasn’t around in his youth returning to Long Island, thanks to decades of work by local environmental groups.

“You don’t see the results right away — you don’t see it happen overnight,” Suozzi said. “But after 10 years, 20 years or 30 years, you see dramatic improvement. I can’t tell you how much clearer the water of the Long Island Sound is since I became mayor of Glen Cove.”

In the statement from the Pilip campaign, Devine wrote that Pilip had supported several environmental initiatives during her two years in the Legislature, and that she was “eager to explore bipartisan solutions” to the climate crises facing Long Island, New York and the country.

“I will continue to work on the issues that I have prioritized during my time on the legislature, which greatly affect my community,” the statement read. “In specific, this includes sewer and stormwater improvements, drainage projects, hazardous waste remediation, as well as work with the U.S. Navy to expedite their remediation efforts at the Grumman Navy Plume.”